I’m fully remote but my boss wants me to come in once a week, how much personal printing is OK at work, and more

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

1. My company made me fully remote — and my boss still wants me to come in once a week

Recently, my company made me fully remote. I signed a contract stating that I am 100% remote. After signing the contract, I had a meeting with my manager and she said that she would still want me to come in at least once a week because everyone has to come into the office. She stated that it is unfair that I am remote while the team has to come. They only made me remote to be “competitive.”

Could they do this? How do I talk to my manager and say I don’t want to come that much? I can consider coming in once in a while but not every week. How to professionally say it’s not right that I am expected to come in when remote only to make other employees feel better?

So she’s openly admitting that they only offered you a benefit to get you to stay but they had no intention of honoring it? Wow — that does happen, but companies don’t usually admit it immediately afterwards.

Whether or not they can do this depends on the contract. Was this an actual document signed by both of you with wording that doesn’t give them any wiggle room? The thing that can be tricky about work agreements in the U.S. (where worker contracts are rare) is that even when they’re written down, they’re often written to preserve the at-will nature of employment … meaning “we agree to X for now, but we can change this at any time.” So you’d need to look at exactly what the wording is. You should also talk to whoever coordinated this contract — probably HR. They might explain to your boss that what she’s asking is the opposite of what the company just committed to.

If neither the contract wording nor HR resolves it, then the framing you want for your boss is: “We just negotiated this and signed a contract stating that I would be 100% remote. I accepted that in good faith and assumed the company was operating in good faith as well. I can of course come in for major events when necessary, but coming in once a week is the opposite of what we just both signed in our agreement.”

2. How much personal printing is acceptable at work?

Is there a general cutoff for when personal printing/copying on the office machine goes from acceptable to unacceptable?

In the past I’ve used my office printer for personal items (printing out a copy of my tax return, for example). These were never more than a couple pages long.

I’m moving soon and am required to print flyers and leave them under the windshield of cars on my block letting them know the space outside my apartment will be reserved for a moving van. I estimate this will require maybe 50 flyers or so. I’m planning on just going to a copy shop, as this feels different than my previous personal printings. Is it, though? In the grand scheme of things, it really wouldn’t occupy the copier for more than a couple minutes, and wouldn’t use that much ink/toner. I realize there’s no hard and fast rule, but what is the dividing line?

I don’t think there’s an exact dividing line! I agree that a few pages is fine in most offices and 50 pages is too many. I’d say the line is maybe around 15-20 pages, but it’s not like the addition of one more page to make it 21 would make it instantly unacceptable. And to further complicate things, it can depend on what you’re printing. In a lot of offices, printing out a 20-page dull government form would read differently (better) than printing out 20 flyers for your band. And in other offices, an even higher number of band flyers would be a non-issue. (In reality, though, most people printing out band flyers would do it early in the morning or late in the day when fewer people were likely to around and probably no one would ever know.) So it’s a judgment call, depending on the norms of your office and what you’re printing … so not a very satisfying answer.

Probably the best litmus test is, “How would I feel if my boss were standing right by the printer when these came out?” That accounts for variations among bosses, offices, and content.

3. How do I choose who to lay off?

I am in an unfortunate position that I think a lot of managers might also find themselves in in the coming months — our company is likely to have layoffs this year, and I have been asked to choose who on my team would be let go. I appreciate that I am being allowed to make the decision because I think I have more insight into the strengths and weaknesses of my team members than the higher-level managers do. But the other managers and I were given no guidance about how to make the choice — we were just told the number of people who would have to go, and to submit the names by the end of the month. Do you have any guidance on how I should be approaching this, and what sorts of things I should be thinking about?

This sucks, I’m sorry.

From a strictly business point of view, you want to think about the makeup of the team that you’ll have remaining after the layoffs are over — what skills and experience will be needed, whether any projects are being added or cut (for example, you might have a really talented llama groomer, but if you’re scaling way back on the llama grooming program, you’ve got to factor that in), and how the people who remain will work together to achieve what needs to be done. Who will be the most crucial people to have on that team?

That might be obvious, but sometimes managers approach these decisions strictly by seniority (which doesn’t always correlate well with these factors) or strictly by performance (which should matter a lot, but can also be more nuanced — like with that llama groomer example).

4. When should I disclose my imminent maternity leave in a job search?

Like many, I was laid off in the fall, and have been job-searching ever since. In December, I had a final interview with a company, who has enthusiastically pursued me throughout their interview process. They told me they’d be in touch again after the new year.

When the new year rolled around, I heard from the hiring manager – and it was mixed news. They do want to offer me the position I interviewed for (hooray!), but unfortunately, their company is under a hiring freeze at least until February.

Here’s where it gets complicated – I am pregnant, and am due at the end of February. So far, I have not disclosed my pregnancy in the interview process, so as not to introduce potential bias into the company’s decision making. And when it was possible that I could have been offered the job in January, I could have worked for 6-8 weeks before having to go on parental leave. Now, however, that window is looking smaller and smaller because of this hiring freeze, and I am getting nervous about *when* to disclose my pregnancy. I don’t officially have a job offer yet, and don’t want to jeopardize the offer either way.

Here are what I see as my options: (1) Wait to disclose until I get an official offer, knowing this may mean that either the employer decides not to make the offer (which would suck), or best-case, I work for a week (or less?) before the baby arrives. (2) Knowing that the company is experiencing a hiring freeze, use a flexible start date as incentive to still hire me, and disclose now … before I have an official offer. My message to the hiring manager would be something like, “I know Company is under a hiring freeze for a while; I need parental leave ‘til at least April – does this help at all?” Worst case, again, the employer decides not to make an offer; best case, I have the job starting at a date that works for me.

Is there a third way of moving forward here that I’m not thinking of, or is one of these two options best? I don’t want the employer to feel deceived, but nor do I want my pregnancy to cause me to lose an amazing opportunity.

The thing about hiring freezes is that there’s no knowing when they’ll be lifted — and they probably can’t hire you right now for a start date in April (or later) because of the freeze. So most likely, option 2 wouldn’t help you.

Given that, go with option 1 and if they do come back to you with an offer, you’d disclose at that point. They can’t legally pull the offer because of your pregnancy, unless it’s truly that the timing of your leave means it won’t work — but that would be the case whenever you disclose. There’s also a good chance their next contact won’t be right at the start of February — it could be later in the month, or March, or even later, depending on when they lift the freeze and how much they’re prioritizing this job against other vacancies at that point. So at whatever point they make an offer, you’d just say, “I had a baby in (month) and am on maternity leave until (month) — would (date) work as a start date?”

Read an update to this letter.

{ 440 comments… read them below }

  1. My Dear Wormwood*

    #1: I’m super curious to know if this is the first time your boss has insisted on treating everyone on the team the same, even when that makes no business sense. This is aside from the whole promising with no intention of carrying through thing, which is bad enough on its own! But “it’s not fair” without some reason sounds so…teenager-y.

    1. Irish Teacher.*

      And in this case, it’s also treating work from home/remote work as inherently better/a perk rather than something that has plusses and minuses. I know people who hated it and people who loved it.

      Not that that should matter. Even if it were something everybody preferred, there are plenty of things people prefer – more money, the nicest office, etc – that aren’t “equal,” but in this case, one job can be done from home; others cannot. There are benefits to working from home – no commute, possibly the ability to flex a schedule a bit, etc – but there are also benefits to being in the office – less feeling you have to work late, more interaction with colleagues, easier to collaborate.

      And insisting somebody do something for no other reason than “you’d have it too good otherwise” is terrible reasoning.

      1. Pugetkayak*

        The RTO thing is so old at this time. Let people work where they work the best. Full stop.

        Also, your manager is awful and actually admitted this.

        Beyond this particular issue, this is a huge problem and they are a terrible person and manager.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Weirdly, I have encountered a lot of bosses who don’t really “get” how much remote is remote. She may be thinking, if the standard is ‘in the office every day from 9-5, asking only once a week is very generous.’ But that’s more like a “work from home” policy versus a fully remote role, where you have no desk in the central office because your office is your house. I also had a job where told me up and down I could work from home a few days a week, but when I started they immediately shifted that to, “it’s okay if you’re sick / waiting for a repairman once in a blue moon.” – That’s just flexible work, not even a work from home policy, and here I am dreaming of being fully remote! This has improved since the pandemic but sadly it hasn’t fully changed.

              1. A*

                I also guessed that and thought that’s how managers obsessed with butts in seats are referring to remote work these days!

      2. Just a different redhead*

        Yeah, and personally, if I had just signed something that the company had just signed too about being remote… I would be considering it as avoiding the whole mess of me explaining just how physically messed up going into most offices makes me. To then be faced with explaining it again just so my manager could have a way to rationalize their fairness sense?

    2. Momma Bear*

      In my old office, we had varying levels of remote work. Some people were irked about it but we had different roles and negotiated different situations. I’d be peeved if I was in OP’s situation because they agreed to something the boss has no intention of honoring. Definitely clarify what the contract says.

      If they really made me come in once a week after negotiating remote work my next step would be to look for a truly remote job elsewhere as they breached their own contract.

    3. All Het Up About It*

      But it happens all the time with grown adults at work!

      I was having a discussion, just in general about how some positions don’t translate well to work at home and…. I was shocked by how resistant people were to the idea. This wasn’t even in the reality of “you have to come into the office everyday” conversation, just a “fair doesn’t mean equal” hypothetical and my mind was blown by the responses.

  2. Samwise*

    #4. Tell them NOTHING about your pregnancy, due date, need for maternity leave — NOTHING. Wait until they’ve offered and you’ve accepted.

    We have made several hires in the last few where this has happened. It’s been a paim in the butt for our office, and absolutely the right way to go about it.

    Many years ago I was up for a promotion. I said not one word about needing maternity leave until after I got it. The dismay on my boss’s face made it clear how right I had been (he immediately tried to cover for it, but I’d seen it).

    1. SemiAnon*

      I don’t know where the LW is located , but they might need to check if she *can* take maternity leave in the first place. If there’s no legal requirement to offer it, or if she’d only be eligible after a certain period of time (like for FMLA), they could just say no to the leave, and leave it up to her to decide if she wants to take the job and keep working immediately after the birth, or resign.

      1. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

        No, they can’t fire somebody or not hire somebody for being pregnant. That is illegsal discrimination and separate from FMLA.

        1. Eric*

          But they can decline to offer you leave and fire you for not showing up for weeks, if you aren’t covered by FMLA.

          1. Lizy*

            Not under the ADA, which does have a pregnancy/baby clause. You are allowed to take time to recover, according to doctor’s orders, and they cannot fire you for it. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been there 2 days or 20 years – ADA is completely separate from FMLA.

            1. Lauren*

              But not necessarily paid time. Short term and FMLA both can have time clauses attached. (e.g. must be with company for 12 months.)

                1. Mid*

                  15 employees is the Federal threshold for ADA and FMLA, but some States have lower requirements or additional protections. (For example, for paid/protected family leave, Colorado’s new FAMLI plan covers 12-16 weeks of paid leave for everyone, and California, Delaware, Washington, and several other states have similar state funded plans. Oregon’s law applies to all employers with one employee, and Washington is all employees after 820 hours of work.)

            2. Me ... Just Me*

              Yeah. But, medically, you’ll be cleared to work in a few weeks (if not sooner), so they don’t have to let you off for a couple of months and hold your position for you. They can simply move on to hiring someone else.

          2. Pudding*

            Only if they’d handle situations similarly for someone who had any other health emergency requiring a recovery period, according to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

            And the LW can still confidently state that she’s on parental leave until X. The official definition of parental leave is not the point of that statement, and she’s obviously going to need some recovery time.

        2. MK*

          “Of course we will hire you, even though you are about to give birth! Job starts 2 days after your due day, see you then!”. Also, even in countries with strong parental leave laws, you likely won’t get the time paid right after you start.

          1. Xyz*

            My old company did this multiple times. Company policy was that you are not eligible for any non legally mandated parental leave until you have been at the company for 14 months, when they have had people get offers and come back and say they need parental leave sooner then that, the response is always you can take what ever PTO you have accrued by that point and if it’s less then 1 week you can have 1 week unpaid but you have to return full time. They said they don’t have time to train and hire people who are going to disappear for months before they have even proven themselves. For anyone wondering the 14 months was a company wide vote in like 2016 when they first started offering paid parental leave.

                1. Xyz*

                  Considering they had some of the highest pay and low turnover for the industry and area I don’t think it mattered that to the people they were hiring, it was very much a mentality of you choose to have kids you figure out how to take care of them, why should the rest of us have to pay for your choices.

            1. ijustworkhere*

              This is similar to how my company handles it. They offer up to 20 workdays (unpaid unless you have your own leave to use) to anyone needing medical leave for a serious medical condition who doesn’t qualify for any other legally mandated leave, but after that you have to return to work. You get this option once every three years of full- time employment. This covers people who have used up their FMLA protected leave, people who haven’t worked long enough to qualify for FMLA, and people who have exhausted their paid leave. You cannot use it intermittently.

            2. Lenora Rose*

              One week of leave — after working there for as much as a year — is INSANE. This isn’t even on the order of “we’d rather not hire a person who disappears in two weeks”, which I can understand. This is “You got pregnant 5 months after you started and we’re still treating you like dirt for it.”

              1. Xyz*

                If you had been there for a year you would have accrued PTO and sick time, I don’t remember the exact number but we accrued something like 3 days of PTO a month so in 9 months you could easily have close to 30 days off to use. But yah it was a little crazy. Very much a young persons company and the people who were older had kids later in life when they were more financially stable or didn’t have kids.

          2. Emmy Noether*

            Also, even in countries with strong parental leave laws, you likely won’t get the time paid right after you start.

            This is not true. In countries like Germany (where I know for sure, but certainly also others, I believe there is a EU directive), paid maternal leave is a legal requirement, and there is no minimum time worked before starting leave. Mat leave is 14 weeks full pay, always (it is financed communally through health insurance, not the individual employer himself though, which seems fair). Also, one cannot fire pregnant people – not just not fire because of the pregnancy, not fire for any reason (exceptions for gross misconduct).

            1. AcademiaNut*

              If parental leave is organized on a national, labour insurance level, it tends to apply even with new employment – the same way if you started a new job, and got laid off two months later, you’d still be eligible for UI.

              Companies that offer more than the required amount can have restrictions on that part – my sister got the 1 year standard UI-like maternity leave, and her employer would top it up to full salary, and let her stretch that 1 year salary over 18 months leave, but she had to commit to staying at the employer for 6 months after returning back to work.

            2. Bit o' Brit*

              In the UK you automatically qualify for the leave once you’ve signed an employment contract (which almost every job has), but you have to have been on the job six months to qualify for the pay.

              1. Foxgloves*

                You actually don’t even have to have been on the job for six months for maternity allowance! It’s pennies, but it covers basically everyone.

                1. Bagpuss*

                  Yes – but it is claimed directly as a State Benefit, it isn’t paid by/through your employer
                  (If you get Statutory Maternity Pay it’s paid by the employer who then claims most of it back from the government)

                2. Bit o' Brit*

                  From the government website it looks like you get it by default, but the company can say “actually this person doesn’t qualify”, so it’s opt-out rather than opt-in. And companies can offer better than the legal requirements (e.g. mine does 3 months at 100% pay instead of the minimum 6 weeks at 90%). It says for SMP the employee must have been “continuously employed by” their employer for 26 weeks to qualify, and give notice 15 weeks before the leave, so actually closer to 10 months at the point of taking the leave.

                3. bamcheeks*

                  @Bit of Brit– I think you’re talking slightly at cross purposes. :) Maternity Allowance and SMP aren’t interchangeable names for the same thing, they’re different things. Statutory Maternity Pay is for people who are in employment and qualify through their employer, and Maternity Allowance is for people who don’t qualify– usually people who are new in post, have just left a job or are self-employed.

                  Maternity Allowance doesn’t include the “six weeks at 90% of your pay” bit, just the £156.66 for 39 weeks bit.

                4. Bit o' Brit*

                  @bamcheeks – ah, thank you, that explains it! I’d only ever heard of Statutory Maternity Pay before, didn’t know there was another kind

            3. Sloanicota*

              “One cannot fire pregnant people – not just not fire because of the pregnancy, not fire for any reason (exceptions for gross misconduct).” – But they can still be laid off, right? What if the company goes bankrupt or the whole division is let go?

              1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

                I have the impression that many Europeans consider US expectations around layoffs to be horrifying and inhumane, but I don’t actually know what their rules are.

                1. Emmy Noether*

                  Layoffs exist, but there are quite complicated rules, depending on the size of the company etc.

              2. Emmy Noether*

                Nope, no layoffs either. If the whole company ceases to exist, then indeed, there’s no job anymore, nothing to be done (but of course unemployment will kick in). If the division is closed, a job in another division has to be offered. It’s quite strong protection.

              3. MBK*

                I have an acquaintance who was just laid off from their job yesterday, along with the rest of the part of their team based in the US, because the team’s main project has been canceled.

                The part of the team based in Europe is being reassigned instead, because paying them off would violate the law.

              4. Kuddel Daddeldu*

                When a company in Germany goes bankrupt, the employees get a minimum of 3 months’ pay from unemployment insurance. When the company closes a division, they have to make a “social selection” on who to let go, balancing the needs of the company with those of the workforce. Protected classes can’t easily be laid off at all – the company needs to find work for them (retraining as necessary) for significant time.
                Semi-paid (state funded) maternity leave extends up to 14 months with guaranteed return to the job.

          3. KateM*

            As Emmy Noether said, in countries with strong parental leave laws the maternal leave would not be paid by the employer but by government, and so they would absolutely pay because that money is meant to mitigate the fact that you can’t EARN money because you just had a baby.

            1. Emmy Noether*

              small detail: the 14 weeks aren’t paid by the government, they’re paid by a fund all companies pay into. It works like a sort of (mandatory) insurance. I think this is the only way to do it without completely screwing either small companies or their employees.

              There’s also money from the government, which kicks in after the 14 weeks mandatory fully paid leave. That’s for another, optional, up to 12 months, during which the employer has to hold the job for you.

              1. amoeba*

                Yup. Also, just to add – the first part is called “Mutterschutz”, translating to “mother protection”, and actually starts 6 weeks before the due date. So, you don’t work six weeks before and eight weeks after the birth (it does get adjusted based on the actual day of birth, but I don’t know the exact details).
                During the eight weeks after the birth, you’re actually not legally allowed to work unless you’re self-employed – for health reasons, basically.

                (Only a very small percentage of women comes back to work directly after as the vast majority take the parental leave that kicks in after – which can be taken by both parents, but sadly is still mostly taken by women. But that’s a separate discussion, for sure.)

          4. Loch Lomond*

            Yes, in the US all I’ve seen is that you have to have been there for a year before you can get paid maternity leave; is it different in some US companies?

            1. SqueakyWheel*

              I work at US HQ for a company that is nominally Australian, I was eligible for full leave on Day 1.

            2. AcademiaNut*

              You have to have been employed for a year to be eligible for FMLA (and work for a large enough company, and enough hours), but that doesn’t need to be paid. California offers, I think 6 weeks paid (8 for a Caesarian); if I recall correctly there is a requirement about working for a certain amount of time first. Most states don’t require any paid maternity leave, if companies offer it, it’s up to them to set their own rules.

              1. Goldie*

                California offers 6 or 8 weeks for the birth recovery (disability) and 8 weeks for baby bonding. Still not enough, but better then most of the country. Its paid at around 65% of salary but no taxes for the first 6-8 weeks.

            3. BethDH*

              I was eligible for 12 weeks unpaid on day 1 in the US, and full pay for leave after 3 months (I ended up needing it about 4 months in).
              I had seen that info on the benefits website but wasn’t sure if it applied to me because postdocs often aren’t considered regular employees, but it did.
              My department was super supportive too — I told them day 1, and didn’t get a single undermining comment, just a party and some extra planning meetings.
              Not saying that to brag but to note that I felt like this mindset was so good because the people at the top treated paid leave as the default.

            4. Totally Minnie*

              US companies are not required to pay for maternity leave of any length, no matter how long you’ve worked for them. At the national level, the only protection we have is that employees who have been working for a company of 50 or more people for at least a year can take 12 weeks of unpaid leave for their own health condition or that of a family member, and the company is not allowed to fire or demote the employee while they are on federally protected leave. That’s it.

              Some individual companies have paid parental leave policies, and what you’d have to do to qualify will vary company to company. But everybody I’ve worked with who’s had or adopted a baby has used their own paid sick leave and vacation time to cover their parental leave because it was the only way for them to receive an income while they were out. Which is a huge problem, because now you’ve used up all your sick leave and you live with a baby who is more likely to get sick and require you to take off from work.

              It’s a mess, is what I’m saying.

              1. Aitch Arr*

                There are some states that have PFML (Paid Family Medical Leave), which both companies and employees pay into.

            5. TKR*

              Yes! I’ve changed jobs twice while pregnant and most companies in my industry (tech, FWIW) are moving towards full eligibility on day 1. Some places have shorter periods like 12 weeks, but are willing to grant exceptions.
              There’s still a little ways to go – one company offered me 12 weeks off but only 6 weeks paid (they had a 12-month qualification period). But most places are realizing that it is a silly thing to do.
              Twice I was able to be eligible for 12+ weeks of fully paid leave plus something.
              So one was a ramp-up period (coming back at 20 hours a week and working my way up).
              The other was actually short-term disability coverage, with 3 of the 6/8 weeks fully paid (thanks to PTO/FTO).

              It isn’t FMLA job-protected leave, so in theory I could come back to a different role. But honestly I was worried I would have to take 12 weeks unpaid leave and that has not been what I’ve found.

            6. Cat Tree*

              There’s a huge range of variety across the US. A lot of people seem to jump from what is universally required to what is uniformly done everywhere. “White collar” industries and the large companies within them often have great benefits. They have to offer that to attract and retain employees. Since I graduated college in 2008, every company I’ve worked for has had benefits start the very first day. I have a work friend who interviewed when she was very obviously 8 months pregnant (while interviews were still in person). She started the job and then got full paid maternity leave a month later. At that time it was 6 weeks paid, and now it’s up to 20 weeks fully paid (all parents get 12 weeks paid and birth mothers get 6 or 8 weeks on top of that). So some places have good benefits that start immediately – when they have to.

              BUT plenty of people don’t get benefits that work like this. This is especially true for service jobs or other low-paid hourly work. Employers absolutely could improve benefits if they had to. But they don’t.

              The disparity is a huge problem, but the entire country isn’t just some dystopian wasteland. In some ways the disparity is an even worse problem.

          5. Bébé chat*

            Well it really depends, in my country you would get the time paid even if you were hired yesterday.

        3. Mongrel*

          And yet it happens all the time, especially in hiring processes.

          While it’s illegal to discriminate against pregnancy unless they actually state that as the reason it’s devilishly hard to show that it you weren’t hired because of it

          1. Aggretsuko*

            Yeah, they can fire you for having blue shoes on and Elfie hates blue, just as long as you don’t spell out “pregnancy.”

            1. WillowSunstar*

              The most common thing is to say “you aren’t a good fit” and leave it to the person to wonder why. I used to get that all the time being a shy, nerdy, introvert person. Sorry but we aren’t all cheerleaders/jocks.

              1. Henrietta*

                But introverts are not always a good fit. That is not the same as pregnancy discrimination, it is about your aptitude for the job.

                1. Good Wilhelmina Hunting*

                  Then, by the same token, there ought to be times when an extrovert would not be a good fit, because a more introverted personality would be have a better aptitude for the job. But I’ve literally never heard an employer say that!

        4. Pugetkayak*

          True. But then if you are out and can’t be on FMLA or collect leave pay, that could be a major issue.

        5. TootsNYC*

          That wasn’t what the comment you were referring to said; they made no reference to hiring or firing. They were specifically discussing ONLY FMLA and other leave policies.

          They said the company might not be required to offer maternity leave if you’re a new employee; in the US, many companies only offer such leave to people who’ve worked there a year (and the law requires that length of service before it covers you)

      2. rayray*

        Could this be done by requesting to see the benefits package before accepting? That might answer the question without having to disclose anything.

      3. Pregnant & Searching (LW)*

        Hi, this is LW! Unfortunately, I am in a state with no mandated maternity leave, so this is 100% a possibility. I’ve essentially decided that, if the company makes the offer and then pulls it OR if they don’t offer the possibility of even unpaid leave, that’s a red flag, and I may not want this job long-term anyway!

        1. Sal*

          If they make an offer and then pull it, not only do you not want to work there, you should consult with an employment lawyer (get stuff in writing now, btw).

    2. MK*

      Dismay is a very natural reaction to hiring someone who will then be on leave for months. You know your boss best of course, and maybe you have reason to believe he would have denied you the promotion because of your pregnancy, but… feeling dismay isn’t a sign of that.

      My most common reaction to coworkers’ pregnancies and educational leaves is “oh, shit”. I don’t begrudge them their legal benefits, but of course I am not happy that I will shoulder part of their workload for the coming months, why should I be?

      1. Decidedly Me*

        I agree with this. The fact that he showed dismay at the news doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have promoted you. It’s tough when you plan on someone being around and then learn they won’t be! This is true of vacations, leave, resignations, etc. I’m going to have 5 people out on parental leave this year (so far) and 4 of those will be overlapping to a large extent. It’s stressful for me and causes extra work, but no one has lost out on an opportunity due to those feelings.

        1. Samwise*

          He was a good guy, very ethical, but even so he would have thought hard about it. He needed someone to do that work right away, and I was not the only someone who could do it. I didn’t need the leave immediately, I was not that far along. So I was able to get programs set up and started before going on leave.

          It would have been very stupid of me to have asked for the leave before the decision about the promotion. Because even the best boss will feel dismay, and may factor in “Samwise will be out for X months, whereas Frodo — an unmarried, unattached, go-getter young fellow — will not. Samwise will get more chances after she comes back from leave.” (not actually true, those promotions were rare.) The boss has to decide for the whole department, not just for Samwise.

          My point is, if I tell the boss, then someone (the pregnant person) could very well lose out on an opportunity due to those feelings.

      2. Phryne*

        I disagree. You work with people, not robots. People will have stuff happen in life, they will have kids, get ill, go on vacation, leave jobs. Why would you ge though your workday being resentful of the fact people are human causing yourself constant stress?
        You would be better off accepting that this is a normal, ordinary and frequent part of work you just need to deal with, just as you need to deal with equipment needing service and office supplies needing to be ordered.
        If you are constantly under a higher workload because your workplaces way of dealing with this is to dump the problem on other peoples desks, than that is the problem to be annoyed about, not your co-workers being humans.

        1. SnowedIn*

          1000% this! I’d say a repeat reaction of “oh shit” when someone announces pregnancy has more to do with the poor structure your company has put in place and your own views of humanity (try revisiting) than the actual “inconvenience” of your coworkers living a normal life with interruptions, unexpected events, and happy times like HAVING A BABY!

        2. ecnaseener*

          Resentment is different than disappointment. You can be happy for someone and still disappointed and frustrated at the impact to you. (Because, y’know, you’re human and you don’t always have Morally Correct emotions.)

          1. Emily on leave*

            Fwiw I got both reactions when I told people I was pregnant. Most humans reacted first with joy /happiness for me and then somewhat worried about what happens to workload. My one boss first was thrilled and about 5 min into the conversation said oh *expletive* what will we do without you. A different boss wasn’t nearly as honest about the second part and yet was clearly more resentful they’d have to backfill.

        3. BethDH*

          I’m in full favor of expanding leave but really think dismay is different than disappointment. Because, as you say, people aren’t robots and I can just slot someone else into a position and have it be the same.
          I fully expect that my bosses were simultaneously dismayed and sincerely excited for me when I told them about my pregnancy.
          Now, they shouldn’t show it beyond perhaps the first startled expression, but if the boss was supportive in word and deed it seems unnecessary and unrealistic to declare him anti-parental-leave because his first thought was “uhoh!”

          1. Samwise*

            I did not declare him anti-parental leave. He was an excellent boss, very humane.

            But he had to run a department and he had to have people to do the work. No matter how committed to parental leave, etc., if he’s got several people to choose from, he may well choose the person who doesn’t need maternity leave. Just as he might decide against the person who is about to go on vacation, or who is starting a Ph.D. program, or whose spouse is looking for jobs both in and out of town.

            Just like we tell people all the time on this blog — do NOT tell your boss you’re job hunting. Same thing. Exact same thing.

        4. MK*

          I fail to see how a first gut reaction is equivalent to going through the workday feeling resentment. Or how feeling dismayed at the prospect of increased workload means you don’t accept people are human.

        5. Roland*

          Yes, you work with people and not robots, but you are also a person and are allowed to feel annoyed in your own head about having an increased workload for a bit. It doesn’t make you a bad person who hates others and thinks women shouldn’t work. Just like you allowed to wince at your tax bills and it doesn’t mean you have government programs, you’re allowed to be annoyed that the only parking spot is far away and it doesn’t mean you think you’re better than those parking up close, etc.

      3. Luck*

        I agree.
        If, for example, which happens at my place of work frequently, hiring freezes and retirements combine into major resource shortages, and I FINALLY get permission to hire, I would feel dismay if the person I was hiring was not going to be available for months. Not because I’m not happy for their family growth and for them to have a personal life, but because I thought I had improved my resource situation, and it turns out that I haven’t.

      4. MBK*

        I have, on several occasions, responded to a coworker’s news of impending departure or leave to pursue a professional or person opportunity with a cheerful, “Oh no! That sucks! Congratulations! That’s fantastic!” followed by whatever type of well wishes are appropriate to their new job/awesome vacation/well-deserved fellowship/impending parenthood.

        There’s no resentment in it at all. But there’s no point in refusing to acknowledge that you can be thrilled for them and their good fortune while still feeling the (temporary or permanent) loss of their presence and participation.

        I think I’d be pretty bummed if I didn’t think my coworkers saw a downside to my extended absence.

      5. Pierrot*

        As long as the boss is not my most recent boss— when the manager informed Business Owner that she was pregnant, the owner said: “Are you continuing it?”
        I kid you not, those were the first words out of her mouth. I was there when the owner got the call from the manager, so I heard the owner’s side of the conversation. Most people aren’t that tactless and awful (hopefully). If someone looks a little disappointed for a moment or internally feels anxious but they maintain friendliness and are professional, I think that’s okay.

      6. Aitch Arr*

        A wise employment attorney once told me (and a large group of HR professionals): the first thing you say to an employee who discloses that they are pregnant is “congratulations.”

      7. Anonymous for this*

        I do understand this feeling of dismay – in my case it was, oh sh*t. I’m currently the only person in my department – both of my closest colleagues are on FMLA, one on maternity and the other on intermittent due to cancer. We have temps, but it’s a lot on me, and I would be lying if I said I haven’t cried from stress in my car at least twice a week on the way home in January.

      8. Quickbeam*

        As someone who spent a lifetime of work covering for maternity leaves….working double for not one extra cent….it was often hard for me to be overjoyed hearing the news. The reason I retired when I did was “no more maternity leave coverage! Ever!”. No hospital or company in my 50+ years of work (RN) ever had a decent plan for covering leaves except for existing staff to work harder.

      9. Boof*

        I’d reckon a good manager would know they should school any personal feelings about a leave and be ready to offer up the appropriate reaction (congrats, how can we help, etc). I get what you’re saying and it does probably require some foresight or training (ie, when i hired a household employee, i thought about how i might handle sick leave, parental leave, etc; fortunately we have a few people who can cover so i can give a little paid time off for parental leave: when it came up i already knew what i ought to say!)

      10. münchner kindl*

        That’s the fault of the system too thin to cover absences, though, not your coworkers fault.

        In non-US countries, where 20+ days of vacation, and up to 6 weeks of sick leave, and 6 weeks before birth, 8 weeks after birth for health of mother, plus parental leave for parents to bond with the baby, are legally required regardless of the size of company – people don’t get angry because companies must plan for absences with enough spare, otherwise everything would crash the first time an employee takes 2 weeks leave and another breaks a leg.

    3. Jolene*

      I don’t agree with the advice to say nothing until offer. Yes, legally they cannot pull offer. But I don’t think that’s the best intro to the team. It’s one thing to go on maternity leave at present job. But to join a team knowing you are immediately going on disability? When they are hiring bc they need something in that position? I don’t like it. Making your situation their problem when you are essentially a stranger to them. As an “Ah ha! Surprise! Gotcha!” I don’t like it.

      (Before I get attacked: I literally returned from maternity leave 4 days ago. I don’t at all feel guilty about leave at firm or reduced profits at firm, bc I’ve been here for a few years. Maternity leave is legitimate and a societal cost and something employers have to anticipate if they are going to employ humans and not robots. But I did delay looking for new job bc I knew I was planning to get pregnant, and I didn’t feel that was right to spring on someone with whom I didn’t have a history. My employers are small businesses bc of my field. I would feel different if employers were big businesses.)

        1. Myrin*

          As far as I’m aware from reading here, it is considered a temporary disability in the US with regards to worker’s rights/absences from work. I’m not from the US so I might be getting this wrong but I know that the verbiage around this throws me off every time but, I mean, if it’s called that, “going on disability” is the correct way of saying it in that context.

        2. Reba*

          In many cases maternity leave is paid through short-term disability insurance, which I think is what Jolene is referring to. This is also used for things like recovering from surgery (often true of new parents!).

          Moreover pregnancy and delivery are life altering medical conditions/events, even if they go well and even if the condition is temporary (many of the effects actually aren’t). Speaking as a chronic illness haver i don’t see the purpose of gatekeeping disability in this instance.

        3. Moira Rose's Closet*

          Penguin, in the context of employment law, pregnancy is referred to as a disability. It also falls under “short-term disability” as defined by insurance plans. That’s all Jolene is saying.

        4. DataSci*

          In the US maternity leave often falls under
          short-term disability. It’s a issue of how the paperwork is written. (Also, your comment reads to me as somewhat ableist, that having a disability, temporary or otherwise, is a horrible thing you want distance from. By any consistent definition, nearsightedness bad enough to need glasses to drive is a disability – the assistive devices are just common enough and good enough that we don’t usually think of it that way.)

        5. Aitch Arr*

          It is for the purpose of many company short-term disability policies. That’s how childbearing parents get paid while on leave.

        6. jojo*

          Technically correct. However, in my company, childbirth is covered under short term disability. Which is a benefit the company pays for. You get 65 percent of pay. Maternity leave is not mentioned. Your disability starts when you go into hospital or the doctor gives you a written letter if inability to work for medical reasons.

        7. Blackcat*

          But it often is.

          I had hyperemsis, which is debilitating. A friend had orthopedic problems so bad she ended up in a wheelchair.

          To me, “pregnancy is not a disability” comes from a place of ableism. Both pregnancy and many disabilities require accommodations. Pregnancy very frequent causes short term disability akin to those caused by illnesses and injury.

      1. Language Lover*

        It’s usually a good way to go, period. But in the scenario presented in the letter, it’s absolutely the way to go. If she discloses now, she’s up against any possible unconscious bias people hold about pregnant people/new mothers while they’re considering a final offer. If she waits until she gets an offer, she’d likely already be partway through her leave. They already put the job on hold for a few months. They can probably survive until the end of her maternity leave. They may just negotiate a later start date.

        1. BethDH*

          Agree, and as someone who has been on the hiring side I would prefer not to know! I want to be unbiased but it’s definitely mental work in progress, and there are a lot of places bias can enter in hiring besides this that I’m trying to fight in my own head at the same time, and some of them can’t be suppressed at the time of application.

        2. CG*

          Agreed, especially when coupled with the fact that they are “under a hiring freeze *at least* until February”. To me, that means “assume you will never get an offer from this company ever, but someday, they might pleasantly surprise you, not necessarily in the time frame originally suggested” more than it means “on February 1, they will reach out to see if I can start two weeks later”.

        3. Emily on leave*

          100%. I had a candidate tell me she was pregnant before final interview and I declined to pass the information along. When we made the offer my ceo was furious that she didn’t tell them because she thought it was a relevant fact in hiring. Which is to say she wanted to be able to discriminate against her in hiring process. I’m the end, we only offered her 4 weeks of leave (as in no unpaid after because not protected b y fmla that new) so she declined

      2. Alice*

        I kind of agree here though feel icky about it. If a team is hiring and in need of a new employee and that person “immediately” goes on what could be several months leave- that leaves the team in a really bad spot and doesn’t give a good impression of that new employee. Especially if it’s a small company and the workload is unmanageable (hence the decision to hire). Companies don’t hire for fun, they are typically filling a need.

        Completely understand why it’s done though and how job hunting when pregnant can be fraught with issues and discrimination. The system is at fault here, not the job hunter.

        1. Greige*

          Well, it was also pretty inconvenient for OP that the company that was recruiting her ended up having a hiring freeze. That contributed to the poor timing, also. Not to mention that her old company laid her off while she was pregnant. So it’s not just OP who has to consider things other than ideal timing for filling the position.

        2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          I’d guess that if it was so vital to get someone in immediately, they would have gotten around the hiring freeze. If they can wait a couple months due to the freeze, they can probably wait another month or two. And if having one position out for a couple months would create unmanageable problems, the organization needs to revise its staffing plan.

          I get that it’s not an ideal situation, but there are human rights at play here. People get pregnant, they get sick or injured, they get other jobs or win the lottery. It’s a fact of life and companies need to take that into consideration when they decide how many staff they need.

        3. Observer*

          doesn’t give a good impression of that new employee.

          I keep on seeing comments like this and I really don’t understand. Like someone has to have a “history” and “prove” themselves “worthy” before having a baby is acceptable? Otherwise it’s proof of being a poor planner, ignorant, insufficiently dedicated to their career, and / or a “hillbilly” or **insert your own stereotype**?

          If a team is hiring and in need of a new employee

          Then don’t put hiring freezes in place!

          1. Jolene*

            I don’t think it’s about “worthy of a baby” or whatever. But the reality is, especially if you are at a small business, they likely need the help which is why hiring someone. And if you are the person who accepts the job and then immediately you are like “j/k, I’m not available! But hold my spot!” Sure you have a right to do that, but does negatively impact others at that small business. Including the other employees. It’s not a great introduction. Generally “I’m making my problem your problem and we just met” is not a great way to start a relationship.

            The bigger problem is maternity leave policy in the US. There is a better way to do this, and it involves billionaire paying their fair share of taxes.

        4. Cat Tree*

          The company doesn’t feel icky about a hiring freeze while they need employees, and they don’t feel icky for delaying OP’s potential offer or even stringing her along with hints when an offer might never come. It’s not icky to look out for yourself when employers are looking out for themselves. We can’t but be primarily invested in benefitting the company.

        5. metadata minion*

          It leaves the team in the same bad spot whether they find out about it on the new hire’s first day or at the interview (probably not more than a few weeks before the start date unless it’s a very high-level position or you’re somewhere like academia where hiring drags out forever).

      3. Accounting Gal*

        I get what you’re saying but… this person needs a job. They were laid off in the fall and have been searching for a while. They’re pregnant and have a family to support. What are they supposed to do? She needs to lookout for herself and her family and take this job, and yes it will be inconvenient for them and she will likely have to overcome some poor first impressions on the team, but I don’t see that she has another choice. Most people aren’t wealthy enough to go a year+ without working just to make things easier on potential employers. Plus employers will make whatever decision is best for their own interests even if it is not convenient for their employees so unfortunately employees need to operate the same way.

        1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

          Yeah. I think if you’re IN a decent job already it’s not necessarily a bad idea to avoid introducing yourself to your next team as the person who was out for three months right after hire (not least because in the US you may not get the leave paid, if at all), but if you don’t have a job (or are in a very bad situation) you should look out for your needs first, whether it’s ideal for your new team or not.

      4. Pregnant & Searching (LW)*

        Hey, this is the LW! I hear you on this, Jolene; thus my struggle (and writing in to Alison). I don’t feel *great* about not disclosing, but as a commenter mentioned below, I also don’t feel great about introducing potential bias into the hiring process.

        Additionally, I don’t have the economic privilege of waiting ’til after my birth to job search — I need to search now, and my goal was to secure a job before the baby arrives. Unfortunately, that goal has been delayed because of this company’s hiring freeze. It’s not an ideal situation, of course! If I could have waited, I 100% would have — your point is taken and appreciated!

        1. Observer*

          I just hope you’re not waiting on them and are still actively jog searching!

          In any case, lots of luck!

            1. Jolene*

              Best of luck to you! I’ve been through this myself in the last year – trying to make a living and also juggle all the drs appointments, fatigue, etc., and then dealing with anxiety over maternity leave (and loss of income and career impact) and now trying (struggling) to get back to work. The struggle is real, and you only know it if you’ve lived through it.

              I’m sorry it I came across as implying you are trying to “pull a fast one” or whatever. I don’t think that! And you gotta do what you gotta do, and think about yourself first. We all do. The problem is not those of us trying to make it. It’s a larger policy issue, the way maternity leave is dealt with in the US.

              Seriously, I wish you the best!

              1. Pregnant & Searching (LW)*

                100% agreed – it’s NOT an us-problem, it’s a system problem. Living in parental solidarity with you!!!

      5. Samwise*

        If you are ok with losing out on the opportunity, then that’s fine for you. If you have the cushion that allows you to postpone or lose an opportunity, that’s a privilege.

        In general, for many people, not a good plan.

      6. Emily (she/hers)*

        As a potential team member, I’d totally understand why a candidate/new hire waited to say anything. The risk is too high otherwise. And if the company has been waiting since December to fill the role and is now looking at a one-month hiring freeze, it sounds like they don’t have an *urgent* need to fill the roll and can wait a few more weeks till LW is ready to start.

    4. BeenThere*

      This was me!! I did training to switch fields while pregnant and then was job searching while 7-8 months pregnant. All of the HR and recruiter folks in my life told me absolutely do not disclose it until you have an offer in hand and all of the managers in my life told me they would feel a bit like they had been deceived in that scenario.

      I ended up telling them at the end of my in person interview where they asked me to reconfirm when I was available to start. I decided that while I had no obligation to do it, if they were going to hold it against me, then that was not a place I wanted to work. The interviewer got super flustered, but then asked when I would be done with maternity. They came back the next day with an offer that had a start date 13 weeks after my daughter was born.

      Not that I’m necessarily advocating for that option, I just know when I was in that position I was desperately looking for examples where someone else had been there and how it turned out. Good luck!!

    5. Marie*

      This was me in 2020. Don’t disclose until after you have a job offer plus negotiated salary. I also say this as a person married to an employment attorney — do not give the employer any opportunity to treat you different. I was not eligible for FMLA but my employer offered disability leave (6-8 weeks depending on type of birth) and I negotiated a reduced schedule (32 hrs/week) for the first six months after baby was due. Pregnant workers are a fact of life. Don’t feel bad at all to look out for yourself first (job offer) before disclosing your need for your medical leave (labor and delivery + recovery). I am US based. Good luck!

    6. Momma Bear*

      Agreed. So many things can happen. Say nothing. Babies and job offers don’t always align and better not to show your hand too early.

    7. NaoNao*

      Hm–I dunno here. If I promoted someone into a role and they immediately announced they’d be out for months or longer, I’d be a little thrown as well. I promoted *them*. But now they’re not going to be around, so I either have to make do with someone else or hire a temp, train the temp, and then just as the temp is getting up to speed, move them out so that original hire can come back. And depending on how long that leave was–which I get in the US is mere weeks–get that person back up to speed.

      I don’t think it’s all that unreasonable to be upset that the person you are counting on isn’t going to be around for whatever reason, including taking maternity or paternity leave. Making choices based on that, not okay. Showing a flash of emotion–very understandable to me.

      1. Samwise*

        I guess my feeling then (and now) was: of course the feeling is understandable, but it shows me that it could have made a difference to the decision. It’s a piece of information the boss cannot unhear and unknow, and even if they work very hard to leave it out of their decision, it’s still likely to color the decision-making.

        When I chair a search committee, I will often get negative information (or opinions) about candidates dropped into my lap. Sometimes “probably can’t start right away because of work or life situation.” (Sometimes it’s a bigwig applying some pressure in favor of a candidate — I get asked to chair a lot of search committees because I’m good at resisting such pressure in a professional way) With very few exceptions, I keep that info to myself and don’t share it with the committee. Of course I have heard it and weighed it, but decisions about who to recommend to the hiring officer are made by the committee as a whole, and when I write the plus/minus summary for each candidate, I leave out that dropped in my lap info.

        This one reason why we have a committee and not just a hiring officer. Sometimes higher ed practices are good, even if they’re clunky and slow.

    8. Caroline*

      The thing is, from the other side, it is genuinely quite irritating – or it can be – when you’ve got all excited about having a person to start, they’ll be trained up to help with the busy season, so great, what a relief!

      Oh wait. No they won’t. They’ll be on leave for quite a substantial time very shortly after joining, and knew this from the get-go. That is annoying, whatever the reason for the leave. Feeling annoyed for a short time is a normal response. Very few people in that position would be overjoyed about the situation. Being nasty about it, being punitive, or not recognising that people need to be out of the office for quite significant periods, quite unexpectedly, quite often, for a huge range of reasons… and this is a fact of life, is the sensible next step after that ”dang!” first emotion.

    9. Rosie*

      Wow! When I recruit, it’s because I have an immediate need. Withholding that info would put an irretrievable strain on the employment relationship.

  3. Your Computer Guy*

    I would be livid for Letter #1. At this point, I think a lot of the people seeking full remote work are doing so for pretty specific health or life management reasons. To get that all negotiated and seemingly locked down only to have the manager go “jk, upend your life” would have me searching again immediately.

    1. Livid*

      I’m not LW1, but I could have written an almost identical letter. I was indeed livid when this happened!

      Not in the USA, hired to be fully remote, all written out in the employment contract. I start and all of a sudden I have to be in the office FIVE DAYS A WEEK. This meant I had 5 hours of commuting daily.

      They also lied to me about I suddenly “needed” to be in the office full time. Supposedly it was all meant to be for only a couple of weeks, and it was supposedly all about “equipment shortages”.

      Then, it was apparently not about equipment, but a change to cybersecurity policies! I’d apparently misread 3 weeks’ worth of emails where I was clearly told it was about equipment shortages.

      But when I spoke to Cybersecurity, they told me that that was complete nonsense, and sent me an email stating the same.

      Then the manager started saying she’d told me from the interview onwards that I was “always” going to be working full time in the office “for several months” until I “earned the privilege to work remotely”.

      This was in violation of both my contract and company policy. I thought, do I bother going to HR?

      Then she started bullying me, making my job impossible through interference, and talking a lot about performance management processes she “liked to use”.

      I was the only person in the company with the skill set and experience needed for critical projects. This clearly didn’t matter, so I resigned.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        This is such a curious lie to tell. I wonder if yours and OP’s boss was even able to assess if commuting was even possible. Did they have your address? Vehicle status? Are you on the train line etc? Did they know if you had kids to drop off or pets to care for? I know bosses don’t usually make that assessment, but that’s usually because the job seeker knows to do it!

        1. Sloanicota*

          Unfortunately, I do know of companies that had trouble finding applicants to hire during the “great resignation” period, and started to fib a little. I clearly heard one person say they had to offer remote to get applicants but they were hoping they could transition the role to in-office, which I thought was a really backwards way to go about things. I think they start to believe once you’re on board and have met everyone, you’re going to be so passionate about the work and the mission – or just stuck – that you won’t “mind” being in the office. I say mission because I’m in the nonprofit sector and they’re always hoping the mission will keep you through some questionable employment situations.

          1. ferrina*

            Things like this warrant a post on Glassdoor. I would be livid if they did this to me (and I’d likely just not ever come in, and leave it to them to figure out if they want to try to punish me or not). I hate job searching (like many other folks) and would rather not waste my time talking to a company that doesn’t honor commitments.

            1. Curmudgeon in California (they/them)*


              During my last search, I applied for a job that was listed as remote, and indeed the friend who referred me was 100% remote. Then they found out that I was local to headquarters, and said that their policy was that local people had to come in to the office X days a week. I declined to move forward with the interview process. I was looking for 100% remote for a reason that was not a whim. I didn’t like this lie of “100% remote unless you are ‘local’, then you have to commute and get sick and risk your life and your housemates lives because we want butts in seats if we can force it.”

              Covid is not over, long covid is not something I want, and each time you get covid your risk for nasty long term consequences goes up. Unlike a lot of people, I know my risk factors, and know that I can’t change them. No job is worth knocking years off of my life because coworkers won’t mask.

          2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

            If a company did this to me, I’d be super pissed and start wondering what else they were lying to me about and what other ways they would be willing to manipulate people. I’d never trust any commitments they made. At minimum, I’d start a serious job search.

      2. Fishsticks*

        Happened to me, too! Hired after two interviews into a job EXPLICITLY DESCRIBED in writing and in person to be fully remote. Once I was hired, they needed me in the office for “a month for training”, which seemed fair (I was in the same city, anyway). Then that month turned into needing me in-office for three months. And then just never letting me work from home at all. The business owner/boss eventually at least admitted to me she never intended on me working from home, because she “doesn’t trust people who she can’t watch”.

        Notably, my direct supervisor lives in FL (I’m in SC) and works from home. The person actually training me was fully remote. But the boss wanted to be able to look over my shoulder whenever, and so she pulled the bait-and-switch. It wasn’t personal – she’s like that with everybody.

        The bait and switch was a nasty trick, and the only way it changed was actually because of the pandemic and lockdown. I shifted to remote-completely as part of the lockdown and just flat out refused to come back in the office more than once a week or so as needed afterward. I left and took a new job primarily for more money, but the bad taste of the trick they’d pulled on me when hiring never quite left, either.

        1. Wilbur*

          So your boss is just a liar. I’d love to hear what they would say if you flat out said that they lied to you.

          1. Fishsticks*

            I did, at one point. Her explanation was that she ‘changed her mind’ between the time I took the job and the day I started it.

    2. Alice*

      I feel a lot of employers have their head in the clouds. I had a similar issue where I was hired with the intention my time was fully flexible as long as I delivered by end of week. First day training the boss lays out three large tasks that need to be performed at an exact time on an exact day- completely opposite to flexible schedule. I lasted a week before I just resigned. I made a point to detail how disappointed I was to have been bait and switched and told them in no uncertain terms to be clearer with further candidates (I had reached true dgaf stage by that point due to a number of other instances of poor management/ training).

      1. lilsheba*

        Situations like this, where the company ends up being bad, and in situations like with my husband’s work, where the employee ended up being useless, prove just how useless the whole interview process really is. The interview can be amazing and then one or both sides fall apart, which you don’t really see until someone has been around for a while.

      2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        Awesome that you pointed it out so clearly to them that they f***ed around and, as a result, were finding out.

    3. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      And this is a huge reason I’m sticking with my job for now. It’s not a great fit, but my team was intentionally created to be perma-remote and that’s not so easy to replace. That gives me peace of mind that they aren’t going to suddenly pull a RTO plus I’m not at a disadvantage for being at home if others are at an office. I’m wary of positions where it seems like WFH is tolerated but not part of how their work fundamentally.

      In this case, even if our LW gets the contract honored it would likely be a bad situation as the boss has little interest in fully accepting and integrating a remote teammate. It’s a no-win.

    4. MigraineMonth*

      “Competitive” is such a great word to encapsulate “we lied to you because we knew people wouldn’t take the in-office job.”

      My employer actually went the opposite direction. For over a year, they insisted that the WFH was just temporary and we’d be back in the office as soon as the pandemic ended. Then they had so much trouble hiring for my position that they changed it to fully remote in order to attract/keep employees.

  4. Jolene*

    #2 I disagree with Alison here that 50 pages is too many. 50 pages is nothing in my opinion. Costs your employer maybe a nickel. I’d put the line at … 500 pages maybe?

    I say this as a lawyer, who routinely has to create 5 copies of exhibit binders for court hearings, and each may have THOUSANDS of pages. And we don’t bill for copy costs. (And no, there is not an electronic option, and yes it’s horrible for environment, and no I didn’t make the rules)

    1. John Smith*

      I have an opposite situation. Woe betide anyone who prints something that isn’t strictly work related. Yet one colleague insists on printing multiple copies of almost anything that appears on her computer screen “just in case”. She must have single handedly destroyed rainforests the world over with the amount of paper used (not to mention the toner) and management do absolutely sweet FA about it despite having policies against printing unless absolutely necessary. She hardly gets anything useful done as she spends so much time either printing or collating the printouts.

      1. WellRed*

        I used to work with her. Copies of emails even. She finally stopped after having to move offices a few times. Plus, everyone making fun.

          1. All Het Up About It*

            I still recall hearing at a conference about the lady who after the department had moved to an software system…. would print off every record she worked on and carry it to a cabinet and lay it on top of the stack of other records print outs….

      2. urguncle*

        We have an older developer who prints out every ticket he receives. Bless his heart because he is legitimately really good at his job, but I can hear the printer spooling up every time I add a comment to a ticket.

      3. Third or Nothing!*

        One of the salespeople at my old was like this too! He had stacks and stakes of paper all over his office. I have no idea how he ever found anything once he “filed” it away.

        1. Nobody Cares What I Think*

          It may be a brain processing issue, some people just cannot comprehend as well words on a screen as they can a printed page. Printed pages lend themselves better to highlighting and note taking, and reference. Does everything need to be printed? Probably not, but belittling those who print more than you do because you don’t understand why is not good.

          1. Jolene*

            I’m so so sorry to report that this is me. There are two “paper people” left in my office, and I’m the youngest at 42 :)
            It’s the way my brain works. It’s actually not really an issue of processing words on paper, and more ADHD. When the words are on those 4 corners, much more contained, manageable. Especially with multi page docs, I get lost in scrolling through pages electronically. I see something that catches my eye and it’s game over.
            But paper is much more manageable for me.

    2. annie*

      She’s talking about PERSONAL printing. Your exhibit binders are for work. 500 pages of personal printing would have been way over the line everywhere I’ve worked.

      1. Antilles*

        Yeah, 500 pages of personal printing would be out of line everywhere I’ve worked. And in my industry, it’s totally normal to produce written reports for regulatory agencies that are several thousand pages and we print off full-sheet size 22″x34″ architectural drawings in color as a daily matter of course.
        But those are all *business* related costs. Printing off 500 pages of purely personal printing all at once would raise some eyebrows.

      2. ferrina*

        Eh, I think in certain law firms it’s a little different. 500 would be extreme at any place I’ve worked, but law firms can have a really different standard for a reasonable amount of printing. One of my friends printed an entire ebook at the law firm he worked at- no one noticed or cared. It didn’t dent their printing budget in the least.

        1. Sally*

          I’m surprised that a law firm wouldn’t keep strict track of copies made, by whom, at what date/ time, and bill for it.

          1. Jolene*

            It varies by firm. In some the cost-benefit of tracking and applying to bills is not worth it. It costs money to pass those costs to clients directly on one-to-one basis. Easier to bill paralegal at $5 more an hour or whatever.

    3. Jade Rabbit*

      Ten pages a day for five days isn’t unreasonable (IMO). Fifty at once is more likely to get noticed.

      1. Language Lover*

        Yep. I was thinking the same thing, except I was thinking 5 pages a day for 10 days, and it wouldn’t raise any eyebrows, but 50 pages at a time, even if you never print anything personal for the rest of the month, still might raise some eyebrows.

        Ah those weird nuances.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          2-3 pages per day is my personal limit and it tends to be things like confirmations of bookings or e-tickets. I may not print anything for several weeks though.

          Printing a first draft of my magnum opus probably would not go down well!

          1. CheeryO*

            That’s mine too. I work in state government and I’m pretty sure the official answer is “none,” but a minimal amount seems to be acceptable. I do go to a print shop if I need to do more than a few pages at once.

        2. MsSolo UK*

          I think in my office, it would be a matter of whether it’s one 50 page document, or 50 one page documents. The former would be fine, but the latter frowned upon – I think partly because there’s still a perception that multiple documents take longer to print (ah, the old days of having to manually release documents from the print queue….) so pulls you away from work for longer. It also feels less necessary, like you could have printed it once and then taken it to get copied, whereas a long document is a long document regardless. it’s definitely less about the expense of printing and more about how long you’re tying up the printer for other people and stepping away from your own work.

          (all this said, I’m pretty certain I printed off my wedding order-of-services at work, which was around 100 multi-page documents! But I did wait until most people had left for the day)

      2. Splendid Colors*

        I also wondered if the “flyer” needs to be a full sheet of paper, or if it could be a half-sheet, quarter-sheet, or third-sheet. If you can fit more than one flyer on a letter-size sheet of paper, that will drastically reduce the number of sheets to print.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          This is an EXTREMELY good point. Reminds me of a Taskmaster episode where they had to print and laminate signs and then put them on chairs.

      3. Smithy*

        I used to work in an office that had stamps around and it was understood that if you needed the “occasional” personal “stamp or two”, the office manager was happy to give them or direct you to where the stamps were so you could take what you needed. At the time I had a landlord where I needed to mail my rent – so I’d say that I roughly took 12 stamps/envelops a year, but certainly could have been a few more here or there.

        Now had someone started using those stamps to support shipping for a side business or pen palling every day, I’m sure that office perk would have gone away. And I think in general when it comes to things like “moderate” personal printing, taking office snacks, or supplies – I think at their best are viewed as supporting work-life balance. No one is going to tell you to take home the occasional box of tissues or roll of paper towels, but if someone’s been traveling a lot for work and does that – lots of coworkers would chuckle and admit having been there before.

        My vote is to get to the office early or stay late and print the 50 fliers. Or do ten at a time over 5 days. Be discrete, know you don’t do it often, and also be mindful if you do work for a place that mkaes you sign out how many new pens you get at a time. Because that place will react differently.

    4. ECHM*

      When I worked at a church, they had a little container on the printer to collect “10 cents per page for personal printing.” I had to laugh when I saw this letter because just today I need to do 50 pages of personal printing. I’m sure if I asked my boss (small family business) he would be OK with it but it makes me nervous so I think I’m just going to do it at my church and throw some extra in the offering plate.

      1. Shiba Dad*

        After I graduated college (early 90s), I lived with my parents because I had not landed a good job. In those days no one had computers or printers at home. I lived in a rural area and the closest copier was at the local church.

        I used that copier, with permission, to make copies of my resume. I didn’t make a lot of copies and I usually used my own paper. I left some money cover toner.

      2. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        The printer code at my church is a closely guarded secret. I think a blood oath may be involved.

      3. Kelly L.*

        I once went into the office on a Saturday because I needed to print a ticket from my email and the home printer wasn’t working. I kind of panicked when I saw one of my bosses in there…till i realized she was…printing.

    5. amoeba*

      I can imagine that how much you print for your job will influence your idea of what “a lot” is.

      I’ve been at my current job for over two years and I think I’ve maybe had to print… 10 to 20 pages total for the entire period? So yeah, printing 50 pages for personal use seems like a lot. (I already print more personal than work things for sure, and it’s only stuff like tickets – so maybe 2-3 pages every few weeks).
      I’m sure that if I were routinely printing triple-digit number of pages per week, 50 would seem like nothing as well.

      1. DyneinWalking*

        Yeah, there’s no hard and fast rule for this, it’s going to depend on the office. You’ll have to factor in amount of average printing, the size of the company, and the attitude in the office about using equipment for personal stuff.

        In addition to Alison’s limus test of “how’d you feel if your boss was watching you while printing out the flyers”, I’d suggest to also apply Kant’s universal law – if it’s ok to do, then it must be ok for everyone else to do as well, and your ability to do this without causing issues shouldn’t depend on everyone else not doing this. Would it be fine if your coworkers also printed this many pages in the same time frame as you, or would that cause the company to ban personal printing?

      2. TX_TRUCKER*

        Agreed. We are on a big waste reduction initiative and encourage folks to read work related documents on tablets.
        Printing is certainly noticed. I think this question can be related to yesterday’s post about work norms.

      3. ferrina*

        Agree. There’s a lot of office nuances that go in to this. How much the copier is on lockdown, for one (if you are likely to get caught, just don’t do it). How often you need to print personal documents. How big a dent this would put in your organization’s printing budget. How fairly you are compensated (yep, I count this. If you pay me below market rate for my strong performance, I may add some extra benefits. A ream of paper is cheaper than that raise that they keep mentioning yet never get around to giving).

        At some places I worked, 50 pages as a one-time thing would be just fine. At others, it’s a no go.

      4. lilsheba*

        I’m just confused as to why this person doesn’t have their own printer? I’ve had one for decades, replacing them as they broke down/changed technologies etc. That’s the logical way to go.

        1. Anne Kaffeekanne*

          I also don’t own one – they take up space, for one, which is already at a premium in my small apartment and the ones at work are vastly more reliable than any personal printer I have ever encountered.

          I print a couple of pages every few weeks at work – booking confirmations etc. Absolutely not worth wasting shelf space on a personal one.

        2. amoeba*

          I’ve actually never owned a printer and have no idea what I’d use it for on a regular basis. Used to be able to print at uni when it was still a little more common than nowadays, but I’m basically 95% paperless now (well, printerless! I still take handwritten notes and read paper books.)
          The two to three times a year when I actually need to print something certainly don’t warrant the trouble of getting a printer. If I cannot/feel like I shouldn’t print something at work, I can just go to a copyshop (as the OP also mentioned as the alternative…)

        3. AngryOctopus*

          I don’t have my own printer. I print *maybe* 50 pages a year, and that’s a big year. I’m not going to invest in a printer to take up space in my house if I can just print at work. It’s not logical at all for me to have my own printer.

        4. Not Totally Subclinical*

          Not if you rarely print things and have access to a copy shop that’ll do it for you. If I spend $15/year to use a copy shop, it’ll take a few years before I spend what a printer would cost. If I needed to print things daily or weekly, then sure, my own printer would be cheaper.

        5. BethDH*

          I didn’t for years. Only got one when my husband started working from home. We print personal stuff maybe three times a year, usually under 5 pages each time. Why would we buy a printer?

        6. ceiswyn*

          I own a printer. I have needed to print something maybe three times in the last five years. AND each time I’ve needed a whole new ink cartridge, since the old ink dried out.

          That is… not the logical way to go about occasional printing.

        7. Lenora Rose*

          A lot of home printers have a terrible per page cost, and the ink for them is more likely to be the kind that dries up if you don’t print for months at a go. For a lot of people, it’s just not cost or space effective for the amount it’s needed. For others, and you seem to be one, it’s essential equipment.

      5. Mr. Shark*

        I think if you had to print 50 copies of one thing, like a flyer, once in every, say, 6 months, you’re fine.
        If you’re doing that every week so you can advertise your band on the weekend, then that could be a problem.
        So a once-off larger printing job, okay, that can probably be supported easily. But it can’t become your own print shop.

    6. nobadcats*

      I’m giving a heavy, snidely side-eye to the landlord in this situation. Why the eff is the tenant “required” to advertise their apartment being up for sale or open for rental?!

      Having just moved a year and a half ago after living in our four flat for 13 years, my former roomie and I would have blown this off in a second. It’s NOT my job to find a new tenant, even if we’d broken our lease (the building was sold, the new owners made it clear that they wanted a clear out of all current tenants).

      The issue isn’t printing at work, but that the OP has to find a new tenant/advertise the unit. That’s not their responsibility. That is solely on the landlord.

      Don’t print anything. Move out with a clear conscience and get on with your bad self.

      1. nobadcats*

        And more to the point of the question, no one is “required” to notify the street or neighborhood that a moving van will take up some space. This is just the price of being a landlord. My old neighborhood was constantly parked up by suburban commuters who took up spaces to take the Brown Line EL downtown. Sorry, so sad you didn’t get a parking spot convenient for you.

        My movers jammed everything in the van within three hours. My dad and I moved my delicate computer stuff and my super-angry kitty into his car and met the movers in my new space, which took them five hours to offload and put my bookshelf, bed frame together, and my 40 boxes of books stacked against a wall.

        1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

          Actually, in my municipality I am required to alert my neighbors — but it’s in the form of “no parking” signs that I have to get from the city and post x days in advance.

          1. Sally*

            Me, too, although it’s amusing to me how the systems differ from city to city.

            In one city, you have to make copies of the “no parking on X date” notices to put on cars several days in advance, and you have to put the official “moving day – no parking” signs up so drivers will heed them. And you get to figure out how to block the space physically until the moving truck arrives. And then do the same thing in the destination location.

            In another city, someone from the city came out to put up the signs and sawhorses themselves. And then came and collected them the next day.

            And in my current town, when I moved in, a cop came by and dropped off cones and “crime scene” tape to block the parking spaces. And they never came back for the cones, so they’re still in my basement.

            I think it’s hilarious how each town acted as if their process was the most obvious, best way to do it, and they were surprised that I didn’t already know how it worked.

        2. Mr. Shark*

          Wow, 5 hours to offload? It took less than 2 hours for two guys to offload all of my stuff and put together two bedframes and bookshelves! That seems like a long time.
          I’ve never had to deal with traffic issues like that, I guess I’m not on a busy enough street where it would cause problems with neighborhood parking, I’ve never even thought of that.

          1. nobadcats*

            The movers had to reassemble my bed and my bookshelves, one of which is a room divider. Plus schlepping up three flights of stairs with over 40 boxes of books and sundry, so offload was a bit longer than moving my crap out of my first floor flat.

      2. Ferret*

        I think you must have misread the letter – it says nothing about this being a requirement from the landlord or about finding a new tenant. This is to let the neighbours know there will be a large vehicle taking up space at a certain time and while it may be required by local rules or the tenancy is also just common politeness. My parents did this when I moved out of theirs although since they aren’t in a flat it was just a few conversations rather than printing out flyers

        1. nobadcats*

          Accurate, yes, I did at first misread.

          But still, it’s not on the tenant to notify neighbors that a moving van will be parked on the street. It’s just the cost of living in a city. No parking? Okay! Moving van parked at the site for a few hours, that’s to be expected and people should just deal with it. It’s not on the tenant to notify the entire neighborhood that they’re moving. Moving vans and people moving in and out are part of the natural rhythm of a community. Just like I know that the recycling bins at the back are going to be just about fit to burst during the end of/start of the month, so I have to hold my recycling til mid-month because they only collect 2x per month.

          1. Acronyms are Life (AAL)*

            Oh, I thought it was so that they would leave the area clear for the moving van and let OP not have to walk down to wherever it can be parked with their stuff.

            1. nobadcats*

              My old neighborhood was going through a big spate of renovations for the last few years before Angry Cat and I moved away. We never had any notice that a big skip would be at curbside in front of our flat for six months.

              I think people in general have unrealistic expectations about living in a major urban center. If you live in a college town, as I do right now, or a neighborhood city space, you’re going to be inconvenienced at times. It’s not on the tenant to notify the entire street or neighborhood that a moving van will be parked for four or five hours. That’s just the cost of living in a neighborhood.

              1. I am Emily's failing memory*

                This was super common when I lived in Richmond Virginia. The city public works department would give you temporary “no parking” signs for the dates you requested and you could legally have the city send tow trucks to remove cars that were still parked there when the restriction started. You had to hang the signs and give advance notice to other cars yourself, that was the “price” you paid for the city giving you a legally enforced reserved parking space for your moving truck, which carried no actual fee as I recall.

                A lot of people didn’t know about or take advantage of this program but it was still widely used. I used it multiple times myself during my college years.

                1. Yorick*

                  Yes, I had to do this to be able to have the moving van in front of my building in Cincinnati, OH

              2. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

                She’s not asking for allowance to have a moving van, it’s to notify them not to park where she wants to park the van. OP wants everyone to leave the spot in front of the doors or wherever is more convenient for her to move her stuff out of the building, she needs to ask that others to not park there.

              3. OP #2*

                Howdy. Just to clear things up, this was required by the city, not the landlord. And it’s a requirement to reserve the space for moving. It’s not mandatory, but in the city I live in (Boston) if I didn’t reserve the spots in front of my building, the moving truck might need to park several blocks away.

                1. Urbanite*

                  Yeah in a lot of dense neighborhoods in big cities there is simply no way you’d find an empty stretch of curb big enough for a moving truck without claiming that space ahead of time. Very different than the burbs, where most people have garages and driveways. (Plus, at least in my old neighborhood, if the moving truck couldn’t park, it would be blocking the entire street because the streets were so narrow.

                2. Pharmgirl*

                  Yes, we had to do this for sister in Boston. Not everyone pays attention to the signs but if you have allowance from the city they will tow cars to make space for the moving truck.

                3. Allison in Wonderland*

                  Yeah, in NYC the moving vans will just double park and ask you to have a person standing there to watch out for cops coming to ticket them. Not great! I don’t know if there is a more legal way to do it.

              4. I Talk About Motorcycles Too Much*

                Where I live this is expected because the moving truck will come and park outside my home, no matter who is parked out at the curb. The note is more to notify you that if you want to be able to access and move your vehicle during that time you should move it before the truck arrives or you may be pinned in and stuck for a while. It is a courtesy warning for the neighbors, not for me or the movers. Puts a whole different spin on your “just the cost of living in a neighborhood.”

            2. AngryOctopus*

              Correct. I used to live in a place where you didn’t need flyers, but you did need to have signs posted a week before the move saying “no parking” for your move date for the truck (and people would be towed for parking in the zone during the times listed). Most moving companies would do it for you and just add the $30 to your bill, which was fine. If you don’t do it, you can be liable for any parking ticket the moving truck gets.

          2. SchuylerSeestra*

            Policy may vary depending on city? In my city residents are required to get a permit if they are blocking off the street for a move. Official signage needs to be put up at least 48 hours in advance so neighbors know to move their cars.

          3. Allegra*

            It’s so you can legally enforce saving the space for the truck–you post signs where the truck is going to be, and put flyers on windshields of the cars that regularly park on your street. That way you can have people towed for parking in it when the time comes. In big cities with limited street parking it’s a necessity, because the movers will also charge you more for having to walk a distance if they can’t park at your place.

      3. FisherCat*

        They’re not printing flyers to advertise the apartment. They’re printing flyers to notify neighbors that the space their moving van is going to be parked in will be reserved for that purpose for a specific time. This type of notice is a requirement in my city and others when you want to reserve a piece of otherwise public parking for something like a move.

      4. JSPA*

        Re-read for content.

        They need the parking spaces for the moving van (and their town or city apparently doesn’t have a method to request a temporary no parking) so the process of reserving the parking is D.I.Y.

        1. nobadcats*

          My last move was a year and a half ago. We scheduled our movers for early morning. There was no way to block off parking on my old street or alley, and same for my new town.

          I’ve moved cross-country five times, and internationally twice. Reserving spaces for the moving vans was never part of the equation.

          1. Jo*

            It sounds like it varies a lot by locality. In DC, for example, you can reserve a street parking space for a moving van. I don’t believe it is required, but it guarantees you a spot. I’m not sure if there are notification requirements as part of this.

            1. Reba*

              Yes, in DC it’s a bit arcane! You pay the fee and have to print special fliers that you can only print at police stations, and put them up (but not on trees) 72 hours before hand, replacing them if they get ruined by weather. You submit a photo of your posted fliers, and then that actually entitles you to have cars towed that don’t get out of the way of your reserved space.

              1. SchuylerSeestra*

                Yup! I went through this for my move last year. Though I did tape my sign to the trees outside my house.

          2. Antilles*

            First off, OP says it’s “required” to do so. Presumably OP knows their own situation and is aware of the local regulations on the topic (whether that’s through the city or an apartment complex/whatever rule).
            But even if it’s not truly required, why not do it? If 10 minutes of putting flyers on cars has even a *chance* of making it easier for me to get a primo parking spot rather than having to walk extra / have someone start slamming the horn because I’m blocking the alley / etc? Sounds like a good investment of 10 minutes of my time.

          3. Happy meal with extra happy*

            Certainly you realize that different jurisdictions are going to have different rules? And even if you’ve personally moved ten times, there are hundreds or thousands of medium to large cities in the US?

            In Philly, at least a decade ago, one could reserve space in front of an apartment, but they would need to put up signs for a period of time before.

      5. Glass House, White Ferrari, Live for New Year's Eve*

        Agree with others that this is to reserve the parking spots for the van. In my city you can pay for signs to reserve spaces, but the signs must be posted at least 48 hours in advance. Either way signs are a good idea rather than just towing cars with no notice.

        1. doreen*

          Assuming you can tow the cars without notice – and that would be a big assumption as you certainly couldn’t in some places. In fact, I’m guessing in most places a random person couldn’t get a car that is legally parked towed without some sort of notice.

          1. Clisby*

            In my city, a random person can’t even get an illegally parked car (like one blocking your driveway) towed. Only the police can do that.

      6. I'm Just Here For the Cats!*

        It doesn’t seem that the landlord is asking the OP to advertise the apartment. It’s so people don’t block the space for the moving truck. “I’m moving soon and am required to print flyers and leave them under the windshield of cars on my block letting them know the space outside my apartment will be reserved for a moving van.”
        This still doesn’t make sense because what if someone who is just visiting parks there not knowing it’s reserved. Really the landlord or whoever should look at getting signs put up that says reserved X to X so that anyone who comes knows. My city does this for tree removal and I think you can request it for if there’s going to be a large item parked on the street like a dumpster.

        1. nobadcats*

          As I said earlier, I misread the original post.

          My former roomie and I had no means to reserve a spot on our street or alley for our moving vans (we were moving on different days, I was 7/15, she was 7/20). Chicago is arcane in its ways and means, there’s no method to alert neighbors to possible reserved parking. Don’t get me started on “dibs” after a snowfall (thank goodness we had a garage for her car–one snowpocalypse we resorted to filling up our recycling bins and dumping them in the back yard so that we could clear the alley). So it was catch as catch can and we already had two skips on our one-way street for renovations, so there were even fewer parking spaces.

          The local community had tried for years to get permit parking allocated on our former street, but the exurban parkers who were only there for the EL outnumbered us, so our street was free parking.

        2. Pharmgirl*

          OP mentioned in a comment this is Boston. The city also requires you to post on street lamps / other permanent structures to advise anyone who may not get the flyer so there are still signs to make people aware.

    7. I should really pick a name*

      I’m pretty sure that’s covered under

      So it’s a judgment call, depending on the norms of your office and what you’re printing

    8. Pugetkayak*

      50 pages not a big deal at all.
      Maybe at not for profit or something, but at a for profit company, people print like there is no tomorrow.

    9. MK*

      I think it time matters also. If your office only has one photocopier that is operated manually and you want to print 50 separate pages, it will take more than half an hour. If they have a whole copy room and you can just feed everything into an automated printer and be done in a couple of minutes, it’s fine.

    10. STG*

      Government here. Everything is printed with accounting codes so that departments can be charged their fair share of the overall maintenance/support cost.

      A few pages here and there…okay. 50 from a position that doesn’t normally print would likely catch a department heads’ eye.

    11. AnonForThisIndustry*

      It’s industry dependent. We’re largely electronic these days and the company laptops are configured so you can only print to an office printer. Remote or site visit – company provides portable printers in limited circumstances. It’s due to 1) contract requirements for security and information handling and 2) we’re a tech firm so we use the latest equipment, networks configs, and databases.

      But oh, as a remote employee, there are days when I fervently wish to be able to print large docs for reading or review and give my eyes a rest from the screen.

    12. to varying degrees*

      I thin the type of printer matters too. Desk top (like what I have now)? Too much. Big standing printer like where I was at before? Not that big of a deal. B&W printing was included in the lease contract at my last company so really, if you brought in your own ream and did no color printing, you were probably fine.

    13. I'm Just Here For the Cats!*

      I think it really depends on the business. Something like an lawyers office is different than a non profit. Also, if you work for the government or in my case a college you could possibly get in slight trouble for misusing student funds.

      1. Relentlessly Socratic*

        I was at a (US) state university for a time. Any personal use of state-owned printers/copiers/etc. would have been a violation of equipment use policies, because everything was paid for by the public. Even taking home cheap-ass pens would have been considered a violation by the strictest interpretation.

        How enforceable was it? Honestly, I couldn’t say, but I certainly wouldn’t print 50 non-university-related flyers. I surely must have used a cheap-ass pen for personal use from time-to-time (like WTF, I can’t write a grocery list for myself at my desk using a Bic pen?).

    14. Lacey*

      Ok, so it’s nothing to you because for work you print tons of stuff. But most people aren’t printing that much for work. I worked for a printing company and I didn’t print that much stuff for work.

      And, that job was one where it was super not a big deal to print off basically as much as you wanted from the printer. I remember being super worried the first time I accidentally printed off 8 pages of a personal document instead of the single page I needed and my boss laughed and said, “Print whatever you want”

      But 500 pages would have raised some eyebrows.

    15. Self-Appointed Bear Safety Trainer*

      The number-of-pages threshold seems pretty employer- and industry-specific: there are places I worked where it would have been noticed and frowned upon if 50 sheets of paper had disappeared from the one or two reams that were kept on stock at any time! But also places that printed tens of thousands of pages per day who wouldn’t have blinked an eye at somebody printing a book.

      I might consider additionally whether what you’re printing is something you’re ok with others in your company reading. I worked in a firm where all the printers and copiers were set to send a copy to the nosy, judgy, gossipy office manager, of everything printed, scanned, or copied: would you be ok with her having your tax returns?

    16. Momma Bear*

      Depends on the office. I could probably print 50 sheets over the course of several weeks but not 50 all at once. I have a printer at home for that. If I didn’t, I would go to Staples or the library.

    17. Firm Believer*

      Have you ever paid for toner? It’s definitely not a nickle, especially if it’s color. I would be very angry if an employee used my toner to print 50 pages.

      1. Lenora Rose*

        But how many pages does that toner cover? It really varies, but for some, it’s in the tens of thousands or more. The last one I worked on where I have cause to know the calculation (ordered the toner, saw the contract) was about 0.46 cents per page. So, no, not a nickel. 23 cents for 50 pages.

        But you can get cheaper.

    18. Mid*

      I also work in law, and it was always totally fine to print large amounts of personal stuff, because it was a drop in the bucket compared to what we printed for cases.

      I think my record was 9 reams of paper in one day for one case. (4500 pages, and yes, it took forever.) We billed for some printing but not all of it (only the really big clients got billed for printing and only for things that were printed because they wanted them/needed to be printed, and only when it was over like 100 pages. Some of the attorneys wanted printed things that weren’t necessary so we didn’t bill for that.)

      So in my (small law) office, printing 100+ pages for personal reasons in one day wouldn’t bother anyone. People printed out entire non-work books. People printed out color photos to decorate their office. People printed out an email chain that was formatted poorly and ended up being 150 pages long and was immediately thrown away. The only thing was making sure that the important stuff got printed first, and it was really easy to make print jobs jump up the queue.

      Basically, it depends on the office, but offices with high print volumes probably care less about personal printing than ones that don’t print a lot.

      1. Jolene*

        “People printed out an email chain that was formatted poorly and ended up being 150 pages long and was immediately thrown away”

        This is, essentially, the legal profession in a microcosm.

    19. nnn*

      More broadly, I’m wondering if part of the calculation might be “Would the number of pages you’re printing be conspicuous in your office?”

    20. Lenora Rose*

      My husband was the IT guy who ordered the printers. He knew the per page cost, and splurged on the printer with a high up front cost and the lowest per page. He had absolutely no issues with anyone printing anything black and white (and not much for colour), and did print 600 pages for me once.

      YMMV: not all printers are cheap per page, and the smaller the budget for buying a new one, the less likely its per page cost is reasonable. You know your workplace, etc, etc.

  5. SMH RN*

    Letter writer 2: one of my favourite stories about personal printing is when a night staff printed a 350 colour cookbook (which would have required at least on paper change) and then forgot it in the printer to be discovered by admin the next am. My workplace never minded a few pages here and there but they felt that was a bit much and there’s a sign now lol

    1. Delta Delta*

      I worked with a guy who would print big jobs in color on the sly. Until one day he got found out and then he didn’t work there much longer.

  6. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

    OP1, is your contract binding for a certain lemgth of time? If it is, the remote clause should be binding. But if it is not, imagine instead that you are a subject matter specialist and you get paid significantly more than your boss. Your first day of work your boss tells you that the salary is going be a whole lot lower: they gave you that higher number just to be competitive. This situation and your real situation aren’t just bad faith, they’re deceit. They lied to get you to accept the job and figured you’d be stuck since you quit former position. Since your boss said they made you that offer in order to be competitive, he was involved and knew about this before you started. He doesn’t like that you have a perk he wants. That’s not your problem. I wouldn’t trust them for anything. If they deceived you to get you to accept the job, what are they going to do next? As Alison always says, this probably isn’t an isolated incident.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Yeah, I am confused as to who OP signed the contract with and how the boss could be so out of sync with the contract. Alison’s advice makes a lot of sense. It would be worth going back to whoever signed the contract to say that the boss isn’t honoring it. But probably also good to start with boss, following Alison’s script and responding to what the boss says to that. And maybe also saying that coming into the office once a week just isn’t possible. No reason to get into details, you could maybe say something, when asked why not, about how you’ve built your daily schedule around working at home and at this point it’s not possible for you to make any changes to that. What if you had a childcare situation that started at the exact time you started working and not whenever you started commuting? What if you had to walk your dog three times a day and no one to cover for you when you are in the office? (I realize you might have to deal with this on the occasional days you came to the office, but that’s different than having to deal with it every week.) To say nothing of the annoyance of having a great work setup at home and then suddenly having to disrupt that once a week just to show your face in the office. (Seriously, hybrid work is my nightmare, I would forever be leaving something important in the place I wasn’t and then not being able to do stuff because of it.)

        I’d say stand firm, OP! Don’t let your boss bully you into coming into the office once a week.

      2. Ama*

        Yes what this sounds like (entire speculation on my part but I’ve seen similar situations play out) is that Boss doesn’t agree with whatever initiative the company is offering that allows for people to go fully remote and thinks they can just ignore it because OP reports to them, so OP has to do what they say.

        OP, I would definitely flag to any HR person who might have been involved in processing this form that your boss is now telling you to come in one day a week and you would like some clarification on whether this can be required of you due to the previously signed agreement. Their response will tell you a lot about whether this is your boss going rogue or if the company never intended to honor any fully remote agreements. But I’d be prepared to start looking for another job because even if they tell your boss to knock it off, your boss seems like the type who might punish you for getting your way.

    1. AngryOctopus*

      Yeah, I’d first be saying to the boss “maybe they made the remote offer only to be competitive, but I signed a contract stating that I’m fully remote, so I will be abiding by that.”. If you get any pushback, then it’s time to involve HR. I’m assuming the fact that you have a signed contract is going to be very helpful here, as you’ll be able to consistently and directly refer to it.

    2. Lulu*

      I’m imagining that as part of the hiring process the company encouraged them to consider making the position remote “to be competitive.” Or they were having trouble filling it, and so they decided to make it remote “to be competitive.” But the boss may have heard that wording as “we should *offer* remote to be competitive” and interpreted that to mean that it didn’t then need to be honored. That would be wrong, but I can see an individual manager interpreting things in accordance with their own preferences and biases, and HR being appalled if this gets back to them. I’d definitely just say directly to the boss that “I’m sorry, but the position I accepted is remote so I’m not able to come in regularly,” and then loop HR in to the conversation to make sure they understand that you’re being asked to work in-person as a remote employee. Obviously ymmv on that front, and your own personal circumstances will dictate how much of a risk you want to take.

  7. sara*

    For #2, I think a lot of it depends on how much the printer gets used overall at your office. Like at my old work (500+ person non-profit tourist attraction), we had a whole copy room with printers, laminating machines, colour printers, etc. People would frequently (for work purposes) print hundreds of pages at a time, but departments/people had printer codes. So it kind of depended how much your manager (or person who was in charge of that cost centre) cared – mine didn’t care/notice at all as long as it was B&W. I definitely printed many, many non-work things on the scale LW is talking about.

    At my current office (70ish pre-pandemic), there’s no printer codes or anything, and I doubt anyone at all on my team has ever printed anything work related. For personal items I’ve only printed a couple pages here and there (non-digital tickets mostly), and I know no one would notice/care if I printed more but I feel like it would stand out a lot more.

    And I feel like more than a couple pages wouldn’t pass the “how would I feel if my boss was watching me do this?” test that Alison mentioned. She probably wouldn’t react/care in the moment, but I would feel weird about it and maybe think that it might reflect poorly.

    1. hbc*

      I agree, printer usage matters a lot. I also think that perception matters (maybe more than it should), so 50 pages of something logistical and stodgy would be better than something that reads as social and frivolous. The likelihood that something might be regularly printed is a factor too. Parking notifications for a move or lost pet posters are on the right side of both those considerations. With band flyers, the boss would probably be wondering how often they’d need to be replenished.

      1. Ama*

        I mean OP says this is a city requirement — at my office this sort of “life admin” printing is always allowed, it would be flyers for, say a party you were throwing or a side business you were promoting that would be frowned upon.

        1. All Het Up About It*

          This is a good point. While these are flyers they are still more “life admin” (LOVE this term!) than a fun band flyer or side gig for tutoring flyers. So it still might be fine.

  8. MK*

    #3, I think it would help if you looked at it from the perspective of who do you want/need to keep instead of who you must lay off. Say you were choosing a team of 7 to do the department’s work out of 10 potential employees. Who would you pick?

    1. Bumblebee Mask*

      Where I’ve been they also first looked at the trouble makers and/or the worst personalities. The ones nobody could get along with. The ones who may be competent or even good at their tasks but were generally such assholes nobody wanted to work with them. Or the ones who were not so incompetent at their jobs they required a PIP but still not great. Those were the first to go in layoffs.

      1. Momma Bear*

        Personalities will matter because there will be a lot of mixed feelings among those who are left. If they are stuck with the people who might be competent but surly, they may decide it’s not worth it for the additional workload and start looking.

    2. Just me*

      I’ve been in this situation multiple times, or initiated it as an employee who restructures departments. Alison is spot on – you are being asked to plan for the future business needs.

      Do NOT get caught up in the emotional or social aspects of the individuals. Every single person who is to be let go is going to have a dramatic life change and one person’s experience does not necessarily trump another persons. You don’t know everything about their lives. A young person with no kids probably has no other form of income where a family might have another income coming in or a single parent might be eligible for aid packages that the other two scenarios are not. You tie yourself in knots if you try to resolve these issues. Remove them entirely from your mind. It’s awful, but everyone has issues in this situation. The only time I’d consider this differently is if there’s a healthy redundancy package and a person has reached key milestones towards retirement or medical retirement and might be favourably advantaged by this, it’s nice to be able to give someone a small leg up on their way out when they are going ‘soon’ anyway and shows the rest of the team you tried.

      First work out how you’ll restructure the work, what you will change and what you will retain.
      Then work out who is best suited to do all of those jobs. If there’s a few people for a position or two keep them in the running….
      Then ponder – are any of these people actively looking to probably leave in the near future – maybe moving to study or similar. Not ideal, but replacing them four weeks later is hard.
      Then work out who will work the best together. Which of these remaining people are your real team players.

      Obviously there’s another option. If you have to reduce headcount by two, and you have a staff member that’s on PIP and not radically improving, there’s a quick one.

  9. Felis alwayshungryis*

    #2, have you just asked your manager if it’s okay? Most workplaces don’t mind a bit of personal printing and photocopying here and there, and 50ish pages isn’t such an egregious amount that they’d be shocked at the audacity. “Hey boss, I’m moving and I need to print out some flyers to let the neighbours know about the moving van. I need about 50 – is it ok if I print them here at lunch? Otherwise I’ll just go to the copy shop.”

    My last workplace said 10 a week but I treated that as an average. I thought it was a fair guideline though.

    1. Bagpuss*

      YEs, I think the simplest is to ask your manager.

      Also – would it be possible to print them as 2 flyers per page so you only need 25? or even 4 so you only need 12 or so? assuming the standard copy size is A4 or there about a smaller flyer is easier to manage if you a sticking them under wipers, in any event, and creating 12-15 sheets is far less likely to be n issue than doing 50.

      1. Melissa*

        That’s a good idea! Two pages per sheet. I don’t think most offices would balk at 25 copies.

    2. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

      I’m surprised at all the high numbers people are tossing around on this thread. My current job does have printers that staff can use, but my two previous ones didn’t–they prided themselves in being completely paperless offices, and you had to get special permission to use the printer (which was in a separate room. It may even have been locked? I don’t know, I never tried it.)

      1. Rebecca*

        I worked in places where I had a card to insert into the printer and a limited amount to use. If I used it on my personal stuff, nobody would know, but then I wouldn’t have enough to do my job.

        (schools. schools do this. even if I never used it for personal stuff, we never had enough printing for our classrooms needs)

        1. Gracely*

          Oh man, when I was teaching, I got so good at stretching a single copy into 4-8 copies. Resizing and front/back is where it’s at.

          But I *still* barely had enough copies/prints for my classroom needs.

  10. Jinni*

    I often printed my fiction manuscript (300) pages each time. I quit when I sold my book and paid off my loans. While my boss encouraged me to work on it while at work (I was an in house lawyer and yes it was a dysfunctional place). I did do it early morning. We had personal codes. No one ever said a thing.

    1. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

      This would get you fired in a lot of workplaces, though, so OP2, be careful. At several of the workplaces my family/friends have worked for, the employer can make a legal claim on anything you create with company property.

      1. Fishsticks*

        Or just have a different set of rules? I wouldn’t say they were “getting away” with it if their boss explicitly told them it wasn’t a big deal.

  11. Bilateralrope*

    For #1, I’d be tempted to ask two questions:

    What has changed since I agreed to the fully remote contract ?

    If the answer is “nothing”, the next question is: What else have you lied about ?

    Probably a bad idea to voice those questions out loud. But you can’t ignore the second question. Your manager has already proven herself dishonest in a major way. You can’t ignore that if you choose to stay.

    1. a user*

      This would be the point in time where I’d clarify with HR if she’s allowed to mandate this, and if yes, immediately start searching for another job. Even if HR shuts her down I’d probably be incredibly weary of staying in a team under her management.

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      Agree to come in. Then don’t. When called out on it, explain that you only agreed to be competitive. I’m probably not serious, but I’m not sure.

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        You made it very difficult for me to control my face as I read your comment during a video meeting.

      2. Boof*

        XD “oh I just said that to seem agreeable”
        But seriously, LW1 probably could seriously consider just… refusing and seeing what boss does about it, especially if remote is a dealbreaker issue / doesn’t mind being fired (honestly if they have a contract they just signed I suspect their manager might hesitate to fire them over it)

  12. Jessica Fletcher*

    I used to print all of my grad school readings at work. I was in school when the pandemic hit, and before I went home, I did all my printing for the rest of the semester. I also used to print all my tax docs and basically anything I needed, because I didn’t own a home printer.

    No one ever noticed, but I really doubt they would have cared. Paper was cheap and it’s a huge company that has bigger things to worry about than my silly little readings.

    We used to print SO MUCH STUFF, for work, in the office! Everyone got a printed agenda for every meeting! I used to have to print 30 page, legal size packets, 15 or more packets, for some meetings! Now everybody follows on their screen at home and IT’S FINE. The way we used to live!

    1. Acronyms are Life (AAL)*

      Haha, I also printed my grad school reading at work! We used to get assigned journal articles, so they were PDFs ranging from 15-75 pages. I printed double sided and tried to not print during high printing traffic times. That and make sure you don’t just leave it on the printer and normally for the bigger companies you’re fine.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        Same! I did 2 pgs per side & double sided, printed during off-periods.

        I do keep them as reference for some work stuff and have pulled them out before in meetings, much to the bemusement of my previous boss.

    2. Ama*

      Heh, a decade ago I was a general administrator for a grad school where part of my responsibilities including ordering supplies and keeping the copiers/printers stocked and the amount of paper we used to go through was wild. Although also sometimes exacerbated by the less technically adept of our faculty/postdocs — like the time someone sent a 400 page document to the printer 12 times by mistake (they only flagged me down after the copier ran out of paper midway through the third copy and I was thankfully then able to show them how to cancel jobs).

      We still had a fax machine even, because some of the professors did field work in countries where the government offices only communicated by fax and that was its own paper suck because our machine was set up to print a verification copy of everything that was sent (instead of just a one page confirmation that it went through) and we never could figure out how to turn it off.

  13. Elbereth Gilthoniel*

    OP#1, I would not even say “I can of course come in for major events when necessary”. Your manager sounds so unreasonable, all of a sudden there might be “major events” once a week!

    1. EPLawyer*

      I agree. OP signed a contract for fully remote. that means NOT coming in. Don’t open the door.

      But any company that will go to the unusual step of signing a contract in the US and STILL does bait and switch is not one you want to be stick around. Start looking for a new job.

      1. Kevin Sours*

        In my experience most US employers have “employee agreements” that you sign (and you are expected to treat as binding) which are somehow not “contracts of employment”.

        I would not assume without clarification that this is an “unusual step of signing a contract”.

    2. Antilles*

      Agreed. I’d just point right back to the “100% remote” in your contract and leave it right there – even if it’s not technically an enforceable contract, that clear language is your best friend right here.
      The instant you start to soften it, you’re opening the door for “major events” to happen regularly, for a month where you have two major events and the boss is like “you could coome in twice in the last three weeks, why is it an issue to just make it weekly”, and so forth.

  14. SleeplessKJ*

    #2, why not just ask? I’m in a small office and I’m pretty sure my office manager would say it’s fine as long as it’s black and white. (Color copies eat up the toner and are what’s an expense.) You could also offer to pay for the copies you print.

    1. Lozi*

      Agree on both points – print in B&W, and offer to pay … most likely they’ll say not to worry about it, but then you don’t need to feel guilty.
      Also, and I know this isn’t your particular question … but could you make them 1/2 sheets and then you would only need to print 25? For some reason 25 feels reasonable to me to do without asking, but 50 seems too much.

  15. Livid*

    I could have written the first letter. I feel so much for LW1.

    I admit I wish Alison had advised as to how to address the job interview question of “why did you leave this job?” if you quit because your WFH was revoked without warning, though.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      What about “I was hired for a fully remote position that was changed to in-office after I started the job.” Factual, and a very reasonable reason for leaving. Plus, if you’re interviewing for another employer that’s thinking of bait and switching on the issue, they’ll know it won’t work on you.

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        And in the past, Alison has noted that if there’s a really short stint at a job, you can leave it off your resume. Like if LW1 ends up quitting after only being there a few weeks, they can just leave it off and not have to explain anything.

        But that’s a good script. Anyone reasonable will be OK with hearing that you accepted a job with particular conditions and that when the conditions changed after you started, you chose to move on.

      2. Kevin Sours*

        I might leave it a little vaguer. “Shortly after I was hired they changed the terms of the position from what we had agreed to and it no longer worked for me. I would not have accepted the position if I’d known the terms up front.”

        1. Rosemary*

          Not even sure you need to be vague about it, especially if you want to make sure your next job is going to be fully remote – and respect that condition of the job.

          1. All Het Up About It*

            Agree! I think Alison has covered this in approach, if not specifically. It’s the same as if you were hired to do Teapot Painting, but found yourself doing 90% Teapot Assembly, or even worse painting Lamas instead of Teapots.

            All you have to say is factually you understood the roll to be one thing when hired, but then it turns out it was different. This applies to anything, your job duties, in-office vs. remote, the number of hours you work, the bonus structure, etc. We’re taught so much not to say negative things about current or past roles that many people have come to think that anything that isn’t out and out praise is negative.

            Facts are neutral. You want an remote roll. That’s what you were originally hired for and now that it has changed, you are looking for a change.

    2. Decidedly Me*

      If you’re leaving the job essentially right away over this, I wouldn’t even bother having it on your resume.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        True, and if you feel the need to mention it (or someone at the new company interview knows someone at old company and heard you quit after a week), it’s very understandable to say “I signed a contract for fully remote work but was informed on Day 1 that they did not want to honor the contract”.

      2. Bye Academia*

        Yes, but if the LW left their previous job to take this current job, they may still have to bring it up, i.e. “I left my previous job to take a fully remote position that was changed to in-office after I started, so I am searching again.”

    3. Epsilon Delta*

      I hire software developers and hear this reasoning a lot. They want more remote work than the company is willing to approve, the policies on remote work have changed, etc. This is now a totally normal and bland response to why you’re looking for a new job, at least in my field.

  16. Greasy monkey*

    OP-1: So your boss just admitted the company flat out lied. You have to wonder what else they lied about. If the contract is the legally binding kind and of you can, it seems a good idea to consult a lawyer for advise on what can and can not be done.
    If it isn’t a legally binding “contract”, and if financially possible, I’d consider this a burnt bridge and move on so quick the boss would be yelling at my afterimage and feel the rush of air as it filled the void made when I departed.

    1. Trawna*

      L1: I think I’d just not debate this with a new manager. I’d state that I’ll continue to ably fulfill my contract as written, and then find a new job.

      Telling potential new employers that you’re leaving a job so quickly because of that other job’s bait and switch is just fine. In my experience, good employers like hiring people with maturity and backbone. It means you’ll respect their corporate practices, contractual guidelines, ethics, safety guidelines, etc.

      1. Livid*

        That is such a relief to hear, as I’ve recently had a similar experience to LW1. May I ask you if you’re willing to share the wording or phrasing you’ve used – or heard used – in job interviews to explain leaving a role after a bait and switch, please?

        1. Trawna*

          Hi. When I interviewed last year for my current job, after backing out of another offer (I hadn’t started yet, though, so a bit different situation than yours), I said:

          “I accepted a position early in my search, but it became clear that they were going to bait and switch on a couple of key factors. I’m being very selective as a result. Your ad says WFH. Is the firm committed to supporting that?”

          The HR screener was impressed. Said that since I was being selective, they’d accelerate their process, and could I meet (via Teams) with the hiring manager the next day? I repeated the same info with her; met with Grandboss a couple of days later, and here we are.

          AMA was such a help. It was a pretty hairy, stressful time for me amidst a divorce and international move. This site got me through. So, just keep reading and growing your confidence.

          THANK YOU, AMA!!

        2. WellRed*

          In addition to what Academia said above, you could name the commute time you would have faced (if it’s significant).

          1. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

            That’s way less important than the employer’s lack of integrity and their bad faith/willingness to violate the terms of a duly considered contract. There’s really no reason to frame it any other way.

            1. Some words*

              Exactly. Trying to justify why one wants/needs to WFH opens the door to the employer judging whether or not the employee *really needs* to WFH. That’s beside the point. The point is those were the terms of the job agreed on by both parties.

              1. Curmudgeon in California (they/them)*

                Yeah, I don’t want some employer deciding if my reasons for wanting 100% remote are “good enough” or not.

                Many employers don’t give a rat’s behind about the long term health of their employees and their families. “I’ve come in unmasked since March 2020 and I’m *cough* fine”, or “covid is a hoax”, or “but collaboration!!11!”. In the end, it’s my lookout, my life, not theirs. No company will ever look after my interests over theirs.

                If I make an agreement to be 100% remote with a company and they decide to unilaterally change that, I am not going to be happy, and may quit on the spot because they lied to me.

        3. Your Computer Guy*

          I’ve been honest when there’s blatant reasons for leaving a job, most reasonable people are going to understand that bait and switch is bad.

          My first job out of college, they 100% lied about pto, in that they specifically had me start after the yearly accrual date so “oh, you won’t have any for the first year” and “also, you’re going to need to cover Saturdays” (which was never mentioned). I immediately interviewed with my roommates’ manager, who had more backstory than a true stranger would. I explained that I wasn’t looking for extravagant time off or anything, just for my employer to honor the basics and not take weird advantage of me. He agreed and I went to work for him.
          I had been at the lying job for like 4 weeks, so I only have a few days notice. My manager there told me it was an insult to give so little notice. I told him it was an insult to lie to me. Never put it on my resume.

          I also left a job because the company stopped paying their part of the health insurance coverage and we were getting letters about losing coverage. Everyone I interviewed with was totally onboard with that being a good reason to leave.

      2. a user*

        I can echo this. I sometimes sit in on interviews, and we’ve had multiple people that were baited and switched like that.

        A recent example that comes to mind was a job that was advertised and agreed in the contract as remote 3 days a week and then after orientation the manager of the team the employee got posted in switched him to 5 times in the office per week so the manager and his friend could be fully remote instead. He left that job in 3 months.

        I don’t think any employer that doesn’t plan on pulling equally shady shit will be particularly aggrieved about this or worried about job hopping.

      3. bamcheeks*

        Yeah, if you have options, OP, that’s what I’d do to. Even if you get this cleared up with HR and they confirm that you’re 100% remote, this is a horrible start to your working relationship with your new manager and I would struggle to recover from it. I don’t think I’d ever feel comfortable working with someone who thought this was OK!

    2. Wilbur*

      I wonder if the boss had anything to do with it though. In my company WFH/remote work is decided at a higher level so it could be a case of the boss being unhappy with their bosses decisions.

      1. Grammar Penguin*

        In this case, the LW’s immediate supervisor works 100% remote from another state and the person who trained her works remote as well. The company is clearly fine with remote work.

  17. Irish Teacher.*

    Letter 2 is almost exactly what I commented yesterday as an example of things new employees need to learn in the thread about learning office norms.

    I’d add that how much is OK may depend on time and so on too. One school I worked in had student teachers printing off reams of stuff for their own college exams and the main problem was the timing; summer tests were coming up and teachers needed to photocopy the papers they were giving.

    I mean, I’m sure the LW wasn’t planning to print these off just before a major deadline when workmates were rushing to get things printed up or anything like this.

  18. Caroline*

    LW1 – it’s probably fine, but try to do it when fewer people are around. Other commenters’ suggestions of a few pages at a time are also good so you don’t walk out of the office with a big stack of printed paper. Going to a copy shop seems like a needless waste of time and energy when the actual printing cost (presuming it’s not all in color!) would be negligible to your employer.

  19. Madame Arcati*

    #1 how big is the company and how senior is your manager in the grand scheme of things? Alison is taking it in good faith that what the manager says is the true company position but I’m not so sure. As she does say, it’s weird they’d agree to something then outright tell you they basically lied. I think it’s more likely that the powers that be agreed your remote work but the boss personally doesn’t like it – “it’s not fair” and “they only did it because” sounds much more like Jane’s personal opinion than an HR department’s official position on a legal document, even one that may not be binding. I think you need to speak to the person/team who gave you the contract and to whom you returned your signed version (the recruitment part of HR I would assume), and get clarity.
    Of course if it’s Jane’s Construction Ltd., and she just had someone type up a contract she set down, things might be different.

        1. I am Emily's failing memory*

          Alison’s answer agrees with your suggestion that the manager might be going rogue/against the company’s wishes:

          “You should also talk to whoever coordinated this contract — probably HR. They might explain to your boss that what she’s asking is the opposite of what the company just committed to.”

      1. Pugetkayak*

        Madame is saying it may be coming ONLY from the boss. That the company agreed to it and the boss doesnt like it, or she agreed to it with the company and planned to tell the employee no.

    1. Greige*

      Thanks, that explanation is the more plausible than anything I could think of. When I read the letter, I started wondering whether there are employers who somehow think “remote” is a meaningless buzzword.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Well there are. There are employers who would promise fully remote because they think they HAVE to these days to get decent employees. Then come up with a billion and one excuses why the job is not actually 100% remote. Then complain no one wants to work anymore when people leave because they were lied to.

      2. Totally Minnie*

        When I was job searching last year, I came across SO MANY jobs that were categorized as remote on the job search board, but once you read the job description it would say in person attendance is required. SO. MANY.

        1. starsaphire*

          Still seeing this, as of this morning, on LinkedIn.

          Honestly? Once a quarter is about the most I’d agree to. Once a week, for a “remote” position, is NOT remote, it’s hybrid.

          Words mean things!

          1. Curmudgeon in California (they/them)*


            My last job search was so full of lying liars who lied around remote work. “Remote” was used so often to mean “we might let you work from home a day here or there.” No, that’s full-time in office with the occasional exception.

            LinkedIn is full of this BS. They put “remote”, but demand hybrid 1/4 (only allowed one day a week of WFH) and are a hideous commute. Then they wonder why no one is applying. I still get pings from recruiters for a “remote” job that wants me to work in person, on-site on the other side of the country. A lot of these people are high on their own supply and assume that you will suddenly be so enamored of the company that you would move across country and be willing to die to work for them.

  20. Other Alice*

    #1, I would seriously consider just… Not going into the office. I don’t know what kind of contract you signed, you might want to check with an employment lawyer whether it’s binding. Either way, not going into the office is likely to piss off your boss, but I don’t think this is a place where you want to stay. If they lied about this to be “competitive” it sounds like they have no actual reason for you to stay.

    1. Curmudgeon in California (they/them)*

      Yes, I wouldn’t consider bosses or companies that lie to be “competitive” to be a) actually competitive, or b) somewhere that I would be willing to stay. I’ve had employers lie about lesser things (like the bonus structure that in theory existed but never paid out), but never about something so fundamental as where I worked.

    2. Boof*

      yes, sort of sounds like boss is telling LW to cater to a random preference, not any actual policy. Call them out / refuse to make it easy for the manager to do this, especially if remote is a dealbreaker issue, see what happens.
      I know that’s not the first impulse at a new job, but then hopefully most people don’t discover they’ve been flagrantly lied to the first day of a new job either.

  21. Emmers*

    #2: I think this is also super dependent on the size of your office and org in general. I’m at a 15,00 person institution and wouldn’t think twice about printing 50 pages of something personal. If I was at my old job of 15 people total I probably would do it early in the morning or someplace else.

  22. bamcheeks*

    LW1, on the off chance that you’re in the UK— when I was fully remote, and my contract stated that my normal working base was my home, then travelling to the office was done on work time and I expensed it. JUST SAYING.

    1. Madame Arcati*

      Yeah it’s not clear from language etc but if OP is a Brit then she does what the contract says and her manager can talk to the hand. Via Zoom.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Yeah, I was going to suggest start submitting travel expenses/mileage. You should only need 2-3 weeks of this before finance flushes it out… if your place of work is 100% home then any travel to an office (even if it is an office that was a previous place of work) is business travel!

    3. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      I doubt she is in the UK. I am an American and this just sounds like such an American employer thing to do … sigh.

  23. Eevee*

    LW 2- I instantly thought of Sheng Wang’s special Sweet and Juicy- he has a whole bit about printing in the office and it’s hilarious. Perfect for your question :)

    1. Greenbean*

      Hahaha yeeees i was looking to see if someone had made this comment yet! LW2 print to your heart’s desire!!

    2. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      I had the same thought lol. That special had me in hysterics. Funniest stand up I’ve seen in a very long time.

  24. Madame Arcati*

    #3 (before I start can I sense check that a layoff = redundancy in U.K. speak – a no-fault parting of the ways for financial reasons?)
    Whilst I am aware that employment law my side of the pond is wildly different, it may be helpful to frame it in your mind as the rules frame it here, which is that you are making the position redundant not the person. The post can no longer be funded, as opposed to, you are getting rid of Wakeen. So echoing Alison’s advice really – if you are cutting out the llama grooming side of the business then you don’t need a groomer any more; that job won’t exist. Similarly if you are reducing the size of the alpaca sheds you don’t need all three shed cleaners; one post will have to go (and that’s when you need to choose between Jane, Fergus and Percival as to who is handiest with the broom, and other factors).
    This means the decisions are in line with business needs plus it feels less personal. Especially if your return says “we no longer need a groomer so I recommend this post (currently occupied by Wakeen Wainwright) be eliminated”.

    1. bamcheeks*

      This is exactly how it works in the UK, but that’s because we have much stricter employment terms and the only way you can end someone’s contract w/o misconduct or documentation is if you’re making the post and not the person redundant, and you can get into big trouble if you use redundancy to get rid of a specific person when you still need that function. That’s not the case in the US, AFAIUI– you can get rid of people at any time, so when layoffs come around, you can absolutely choose “last in first out”, or “I don’t like the cut of her jib”.

      But from LW’s point of view, “we don’t need this function any more” rather than “we don’t need this person” is probably the most objective way of doing it.

      1. FashionablyEvil*

        Yeah, the reasons don’t have to be strictly rational, but layoffs in the US are generally as you describe: a no-fault parting of ways due to financial or business decisions.

        My company hasn’t had layoffs very often (they call them “RIFs,” short for “reductions in force”), but they’re usually used to get rid of low performers more than anything else. Definitely varies from business to business.

        1. bamcheeks*

          You legally *cannot* use redundancy to get rid of low performers in the UK. Not to say it never happens, but if the employee can demonstrate that’s why it was done, you’re in big trouble.

          1. FashionablyEvil*

            Interesting—is that true even in circumstances like, “We have 20 accountants and have determined that we only need 15 on staff to support our new business functions” and laying off the 5 lowest performing accountants?

            1. I am Emily's failing memory*

              I think it depends on whether they still have only 15 accountants a few months later, or if they’re back up to 20. And whether after getting back to to 20 they want to cut another 5 low performers again a year later. There’s a point at which you’re clearly firing people for performance, not eliminating roles to reduce the headcount on payroll.

            2. bamcheeks*

              You absolutely couldn’t lay off the lowest 5 performing, no. Typically you’d:

              – announce redundancies, present the new structure which will go live on 1st April (uh oh, only 15 Accountants in the new structure, the current 20 accountants spot this immediately because they’re all very good at counting)
              – notify all 20 accountants that their posts are At Risk
              – offer a voluntary redundancy scheme, so if 5 Accountants volunteer to be made redundant they’ll get a decent pay-off
              – announce a process (agreed with union if you recognise one) for deciding which 5 accountants will be made redundant, and which 15 will stay if you don’t get enough voluntary redundancies

              If you’ve got differences in the job roles, then you can absolutely say that the new roles are all Clown Accountants, so it’s the Trapeze Accountant roles which are being made redundant. If they’re all just Accountants, you’ve got to treat them the same. Quite often this is done by requiring everyone to re-apply for the “new” jobs. Aaaand it’s a bastard to live through, so all your accountants start applying for new jobs, so by the time you get to the 1st April, 6 of them have left of their own accord. So now you’ve got actually got one less accountant than you need, and you have to recruit to that position.

              Caveat: I have never led this process, just been through it twice, both times in large, unionised, public-sector organisations. I don’t know exactly what the law is around how big an organisation has to be for all this to be legally required as opposed to good practice. If you’ve got like, five employees, you can probably get away with a lot more.

              In general, though, using a redundancy process to get rid of specific people rather than posts is Extremely Frowned Upon.

              1. bamcheeks*

                right, so I’ve just looked this up and it’s not at all true! Yikes. I have been misled by working in large unionised places. Gov.uk “Skills, qualifications and aptitude; standard of work and/or performance; attendance; and disciplinary record” are all adequate reasons for selecting employees for redundancy.

                However, you do have to have a consultation period if it’s more than 20 employees being made redundant, and if you recruit someone to that role shortly afterwards, the ex-employee may have a case against you since that role wasn’t really redundant, and the onus would be on you to prove that circumstances had changed and that you’d made the role redundant in good faith.

          2. Bagpuss*

            If there is a legitimate redundancy, you can absolutely select on the basis of performance – the requirement it to have fair and transparent selection criteria and performance is actually pretty normal.

            You can’t call it a redundancy if it isn’t – as above, its the role that is redundant, not the individual, so you can’t sack John because his performance is poor, call it redundancy and immediately recruit Jane to do the same job.

            It would however be legal for you to decide that a specific role is redundant, select John as the person from the pool of potential candidates as the one to be made redundant, using a selection matrix heavily weighted to performance, so in the scenario where you are going from 20 accountant to 15, it would be totally lawful to make the 5 worst performers redundant provided you had a clear selection process)

            Recruiting 2, or even 5, new accountants a few months later would not necessarily be a problem if you could show that there had been a change in circumstances which meant that the business needs were different.

            My firm actually had that scenario, many years ago – there was a major economic down turn which affected one sector of our work in a bog way, and we had to make several people redundant. Then the government made a policy change which had a big impact, and sadly we also had one of the retained staff members leave as they were diagnosed with a serious illness, so we ended up having to recruit. Its a long time ago but IIRC we did hire back one of the people who had been made redundant but took advice and were advised we were not required to do so, as it had been a genuine redundancy at the time it happened.

            1. Aitch Arr*

              This is how job eliminations/reductions in force that I’ve been a part of work as well. The new company structure as of a certain date is X, representing eliminating Y jobs. We can use various reasons as to why we select a particular individual for the job being eliminated.

  25. zaracat*

    #2 As others have said, it’s very dependent on your workplace – they may be entirely ok with absorbing the cost if the job is small compared to their overall printing load, or at the other extreme may be vehemently against it because the privilege has been abused in the past. Best to ask first. And maybe look at it from the pov that if it is such a small cost for a workplace, then it’s equally only a small cost to pay for yourself to get done at a print shop – where I live B&W laser printing at the local office supply store costs 15c per page for small jobs.

  26. AlwhoisThatAl*

    Bring in your own paper, 500 pages is about £5 in the UK. I know the ink is more expensive but if your Director was standing next to you at the copier and you say “I brought my own paper in” or you talk to your Boss and say you’ll bring your own paper in. I think that would work. Then keep the spare paper for other times like these.

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


    I’d like to see at least one state or city pass a law requiring honest job descriptions, especially with respect to whether the job is remote or in-office.

    That way, when a job listing says, “Applications not accepted from (that location),” everyone will know right away that the employer is LYING about some aspect of the job.

    1. CharlieBrown*

      I agree with you in principle, but writing job descriptions is really hard (I’ve written tons of them) and writing job descriptions for a help wanted ad is also really hard (I’ve also written tons of them) and sometimes the needs of the organization change throughout the hiring process (because we have a hole to fill and we move people around to try to fill it at least temporarily, and sometimes we find a better Venn diagram of people/skills/positions).

    2. Rosemary*

      Not quite sure what you mean by ““Applications not accepted from (that location),” everyone will know right away that the employer is LYING about some aspect of the job”. Do you mean if they say they are remote, but also say they won’t accept people from certain locations, they are lying about being remote?

      My company is currently hiring for a fully remote position (we are all remote – we don’t even have an office) but we require that they be on the East Coast both because of the time zone, and also because we DO require that people meet in person several times a year and/or come to our city for select client meetings. But it is fully remote 99% of the time). Other companies have fully remote jobs but will only hire in states where they already have an employee presence, because they don’t want to deal with setting up in a bunch of different states.

  28. JSPA*

    OP #1, I’d either do a Bartleby here (“I prefer not to”) or even more simply, every week, “sorry, that won’t work for me this week.” If they want to fire you, (noting that IANAL!) your contract should carry some weight as far as collecting unemployment.

  29. a user*

    #1 I’d stand my ground on this.

    1. Tell the manager you won’t do this and that you will fulfill your contract as negotiated
    2. If she makes problems about it, contact HR and start looking for a new job
    3. If against expectations HR arrives at a satisfying resolution to this (which would include shutting down her demands and moving you to be under a different manager, at least), then re-evaluate if you want to stay. Otherwise, ditch this place for one that doesn’t blatantly lie to your face.

  30. Hotdog not dog*

    #3, in our large company we had to do an exhaustive review of each employee, along with an evaluation of the job functions they performed, which assigned a number score to each person. Then when the layoffs were announced, all of that was ignored and it went by seniority. Our team lost its rockstar but kept the person who couldn’t wrap their mind around how to use the new fangled printer (it had a touch screen instead of buttons.) Maybe this was actually a blessing in disguise for the actual people, since Rockstar had a new job at higher pay almost immediately, and Buttons is still employed (it’s unlikely they would have been able to find a new job, being that resistant to change meant that their skillset all around was outdated.) It was terrible for the team, though. We went from high performing to struggling, and everyone who was any good left for new jobs. (Including me, I went from being a manager to high level individual contributor. It’s more money and less aggravation.) If I had it to do over, I wouldn’t give myself so much anxiety over the evaluations and use the time to coach the team on resumes and interviewing instead.

  31. Won't Get Fooled Again. Maybe.*

    #3 Skill and ability. And if all things are equal, the one you like working with the most.

    1. EPLawyer*

      Nooooooo. The one you like working with the most can be so freaking biased.

      Skills, abilitities, needs. Who are you going to still need after the layoffs are done. Can your department still function? Is it better to have the ROCKSTAR who is a subject matter specialist or it is better to keep the person who is good but not amazing at EVERYTHING.

      Who you work with best could be the person who is best at schmoozing but actually is backstabbing and putting their work off on others, you just failed to notice because they schmooze so well. Also we tend to get along with people best who are like us. Which means you keep the old white guy, and fire the young black woman. Oh hello.

      1. lilyp*

        Eh I think this response is unnecessarily melodramatic. “Who you like working with” obviously shouldn’t be your only or first criteria, but if you’ve thought through skillsets and metrics and still don’t have a clear choice, asking yourself who you like working with more could be a smart gut-check heuristic for a lot of meaningfully work-relevant stuff, like having a positive attitude, proactively addressing issues, building relationships with coworkers, communicating clearly, or solving problems independently. I think the key is to think through *why* you answer in a specific direction and see if it uncovers a meaningful difference in skills or approach (not just a back-justification for keeping on your pub buddy). And if you don’t come up with something meaningful then yeah, probably best to stick to an objective tie-breaker like seniority instead.

        1. Lily Potter (not lilyp!)*

          In my mind “who you like working with” should never be the ONLY factor when deciding staffing decisions, but it certainly can be A factor. We’ve all worked with people are technically competent (or even technically brilliant) and always get the job done BUT they are a pain in the butt to deal with on a personal level. You know the person – you’ll get what you need but it will be a high drama affair to do anything beyond SOP. Or the person is just plain unpleasant, so people work around them rather than with them. Why in the world wouldn’t someone factor this into their decisions when thinking about who to lay off?

  32. Falling Diphthong*

    Re #1, one of my favorite quiet rage quit stories on here was from someone who was offered a generous counter to stay, which she verbally accepted. Rather than wait a couple of weeks for doors to close, almost immediately she was pulled into a meeting with her manager who spelled out that all of that stuff they had just promised was actually stuff they would not do, ha!

    She hadn’t had time to say no to the other offer. So she just continued on out the door.

  33. Dinwar*

    #2: In a situation like this I’d ask. Maybe offer to bring in your own paper (ink is the expensive part, but it shows that you’re acting in good faith). But honestly, printing is pretty cheap and most offices I’ve worked out of would be fine with it if the employee asked, did it after hours (so you’re not interfering with anyone else), and did it for a one-time or extremely rare event (such as moving).

    As others have said, it’ll depend on your office, too. In a small enough office boundaries may often be nonexistent and printing personal stuff is more of a perk than a problem. In a huge office 50 pages may go totally unnoticed. In a mid-sized office (say, 10 to 20 people maybe) you’d have more trouble–it’s big enough to be impersonal but small enough that the printing may affect the budgets. I’ve known some people in mid-sized offices that bought their own printer, so there was never any question–they may use it for work stuff occasionally, but if they wanted to print out “War and Peace” no one could reasonably object.

  34. hbc*

    OP1: You say “recently, my company made me fully remote” so this sounds like you’ve been working there for a while in-person versus starting a new job. What prompted the move to remote work for you?

    I don’t think there’s any way that “you’ll be 100% remote, just kidding, I meant 80%” can be spun in a positive way, but there are variations that make them less…evil. For example, the standard legalese that they use in the contract assumes 100% remote but they use it for all cases where someone works regularly outside the office. Maybe HR got confused and offered more remote work than your manager intended.

    That doesn’t mean you have to accept that and show up 1 day a week. But depending on how you think this happened, you should use different approaches. If there was a misunderstanding, you can come back with “I can see how the mixup happened, but my understanding was that I was going to be 100% remote, and I haven’t heard a business case why I need to be here. I’d like to honor what we both signed for at least a month and see if it causes actual problems.” Or, if it’s a bait and switch they offered because they knew you were looking around, I might give a dry “What I signed was competitive, but immediately going back on a contract and giving me less than promised is not. If you actually want to be competitive, I’d think honoring agreements is a basic requirement.”

  35. Stubbornmule*

    LW #3 – One other thing to consider is whether to push back on the number of people you’re being told to cut. When my last (nonprofit) employer did layoffs, upper management decided that it would be fair for each team to cut one person and told all of us team leads to figure out who it should be. I had the smallest team and would not have been able to lose anyone without also losing the ability to meet our commitments to funders. Meanwhile, other teams had more people and weren’t fully funded by grants like my team – they were the ones using operating dollars to stay afloat. I had some political capital to spend (I’d been around a while and brought in donors), so I dug in my heels and kept my whole team. That may not be an option for you and, if not, I’m sorry you have to make decisions about who stays and who goes. But it could be worth a try, depending on the circumstances.

    1. CharlieBrown*

      Agreed. Or maybe just a post where people who have been through this can relate their experiences. That may be useful for other people in this situation.

  36. Precious Wentletrap*

    Send them either a list of juvenile fake names like IP Freely, Eileen Dover, etc or a list of most of the VP levels, whose salaries are the ones who’ll be able to take the layoff hit anyway

  37. Kari from Up North*

    LW #2 – my horror story about personal printing at work. About 10 years ago, our church secretary came into work and found the printer/copier jammed. Un-jammed it and about 10 pages of written child-porn printed off. Luckily, she had the presence of mind to keep it and call the chair of SPRC (Staff Parish Relations Council).

    Our pastor ended up being fired. Not arrested because it wasn’t pictures. The story made it to local and statewide news.

    Two of the many morals of the story: don’t read child porn and make sure that whatever you’re printing off full prints.

    We can also talk about how the governing bodies of churches still move ‘problem’ pastors and don’t evaluate or monitor issues.

    1. Lady_Lessa*


      I agree that churches, schools and other large organizations tend to move problems around rather than out the door.

    2. Boof*

      Well I’m really glad your org took appropriate action at least; fired the person and reported it as far as it could be, and didn’t try to hide it! At least that’s what it sounds like since it made it to the news etc!

  38. Anon for this*

    LW2- in my office (government contracting) the answer is zero. Everything has to have a charge code -even printing – because we cannot legally give the government something for free (because of laws around corruption). So, if you charge a contract, it can be covered by an audit (and is technically theft from taxpayers). Some managers might let folks charge overhead, but you need a code for that from your manager so you have to ask.

  39. Super Anon*

    #3 It needs to be done based on skills and ability like someone else mentioned. And you should document it because there could be optics that could get the company in trouble too. Are you laying off all of one demographic, for instance?

    I worked for an affirmative action company one time and when they did layoffs, they could only lay off so many white males, or women in a certain age range and had to make sure we still had enough African Americans left in the group, etc. It sucked because we could never get rid of the poor performers if they were in one of those protected groups, unless we had enough of them on the team to make our numbers look good.

    My point being, something to think about and if a lot of people will be let go, this is something that HR really needs to make sure is documented well — why one person was laid off as opposed to someone else.

    1. Yes Anastasia*

      I mean, the solution to your old company’s issue is not to use layoffs as a way to fire people, right? There should be a separate mechanism to get rid of poor performers.

  40. Irish Teacher*

    LW3, I’m a teacher in Ireland, where layoffs don’t happen. What happens instead (and that very rarely) is that teachers are redeployed to other schools. The way the decision is made is that the principal makes a list of all teachers in order of seniority (basically how long they’ve been in the school), then a list of what subjects each teaches and basically works up from the end. “X is the teacher we hired most recently, but they teach Irish and we only have three Irish teachers, so we can’t afford to lose them. Y is the second most recently hired but they have an EFL qualification and we have a number of students with English as a second language who need help in the area. Z is the third most recently hired and teaches Geography. We have 10 Geography teachers, so I guess we could manage with them.” Z is proposed for redeployment.

    In teaching, of course, people are being paid by the government and the decision has to stand up if the person being redeployed appeals it, so you can’t just do “X is the most recent hire but his dad is my best friend so he stays.” There has to be a good reason and you have to be able to argue their role is important to the school.

    A variant of that seems like it might be a reasonable way to work? If there are numerous people in each role, think which roles you could manage with less people in and propose whoever is least senior.

    This probably won’t help, but simultaneously with this, teachers are also offered the option of voluntary redeployment, so if somebody wants to move, well, that pretty much solves the dilemma. Of course, it is far less likely anybody would want to be laid off and I am guessing the company is not going to offer voluntary redundancies? Where people get a pay out if they choose to leave? But there might be people considering retirement, etc or people who would be happy to do less hours. I don’t know if any of those are possibilities in your role. Probably not or you’d probably already have suggested them, but just in case.

    1. Irish Teacher*

      Oh, rereading that, I want to clarify that layoff don’t happen in teaching here, not that layoffs don’t happen at all. They certainly happen in private companies. Just realised that the way I phrased that made it sound like I meant nationally.

  41. scurvycapn*

    #1: I’d ignore the manager and go straight to HR at this point to not give her any inkling that you may be calling her out to avoid her building any kind of defense strategy.

    I’d state the facts and call out that she’s calling them liars. That’s not a good look.

    “I was recently told by my manager that I need to be in the office once a week. I reminded her of the recent contract negotiation which states that I am 100% remote. Her response was that this is not fair to other employees on the team, and that you only put that into my contract to be competitive. I find her claims that you were deceiving me to be troubling. Does she have the authority to override my contract?”

    1. irene adler*

      If manager DOES have the authority to override the contract, then, the contract isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.

      And employees can count on other conditions of employment being altered down the line.

      1. Dinwar*

        Put another way: If the situation brings Cloud City and Darth Vader to mind, assume it’s going to go the way the situation on Cloud City went. :D

  42. Lolllee*

    I once wrote a book that my family decided they wanted for Christmas. So, I needed to print off 5 books at about 500 pages total and bind them. My work had the capability. I talked to our admin and my manager about it and they allowed me to use company equipment, if I came in during off hours like early morning or late afternoon, and if I supplied my own paper, covers and binding material. Because they were fully black and white they decided I didn’t have to pay for ink. It still turned out to be cheaper than if I printed it at a printing place and far more convienient.

  43. CRM*

    OP2: Are you moving for a work-related reason? If so, I think that would be a good justification to use your work printer.

    1. Dinwar*

      At my company I could swing it as health and safety related. “Taking safety home” is a big thing, and correcting potentially hazardous conditions is a major push. Something like this? My safety team would eat this up. Even better if it was a contractor asking for this–they’d see it as solid proof that the contractors were taking the message to heart; my safety manager may even get an award for it. The political good will would be worth WAY more than the paper and ink.

      Just goes to show how different various offices can be. At some it would be considered unjustifiable; at others, it would be considered a sign that you’re a great match for company values.

  44. lunchtime caller*

    Re LW 1, if someone wants to renegotiate with me, then we’re renegotiating everything. Oh you want to revisit my remote schedule? Totally fine, but then we’re talking about my pay again because that day in office is going to cost you whatever number I feel like charging for it. Suddenly maybe you don’t need to see my face that badly after all, hmm?

  45. I'm Just Here For the Cats!*

    #2 I never thought of printing my W2 or my pay stubs as personal printing because it’s still work related. My employer doesn’t give printed tax forms so therefore I am going to print them at work. Even when I had to pull the last 6 months of pay stubs and print them out I didn’t think anything of it. Now if I was printing my bank statements that would be different. Or in your case printing 50 copies of a flyer is a lot and shouldn’t be done at work, unless you can get permission.

  46. JustMe*

    LW 2 – You could also just ask your manager how they feel about personal printing and what they feel the dividing line is. I went though this at my own work not too long ago–I work full-time at a university and am also doing a master’s degree at the same university part-time, and I like having hard copies of my readings for highlighting/annotating, but students and staff are charged for using printers in the campus public spaces. I was having a conversation with my manager about needing to go to the library to print when she said, “Oh, why don’t you just print in the office?” I asked how much would be reasonable and she clarified that printing some readings for class wasn’t too much, also citing how it’s also directly related to my professional development and a benefit provided by the university.

    For my own conscience, though, I always print double-sided, black and white, with two pages on each side.

  47. NervousHoolelya*

    #3 — At my last job (I’m in academia), we weathered a big layoff as part of a major management changeover accompanied by dire financial straits. For the most part, it was clear that the people chosen for the layoff were infamously poor performers, or their divisions were being eliminated, or their positions were being restructured in such a way that the person’s skillset was no longer sufficient.

    Except in one case. That person was renowned for going above and beyond. She did not make much money, but she was constantly on campus (even on evenings and weekends) and constantly going out of her way to help students and faculty/staff. She was smart and engaged, and could absolutely have managed to pivot to new responsibilities if the position had to be restructured. We were horrified that she was chosen for the layoff. It didn’t make any sense.

    Over time, though, I came to understand why her supervisors made that decision. There was no room for growth in that position. There was no way to get her a salary that reflected the true depth of her contributions. She loved the position and the students, so she was not likely to voluntarily seek other employment. Her supervisors chose to lay her off because they knew her only route to promotion lay elsewhere. She had a few months of severance, and she used that cushion to land a much higher paying position at a much more stable university, with multiple potential avenues for promotion.

    It took me years to understand the reasoning behind that decision, and I do think the administration should have been more transparent about their reasoning both directly to her and to those of us of who remained. But that may be an avenue to consider for the OP.

    1. Polly Hedron*

      No, Nervous Hoolelya, you were right the first time: you should have stayed horrified! A manager who is forced to lay off employees should do it on the basis of each employee’s likely value to the company, without paternalistic motives.

      OP #3, do not consider this avenue. Never lay off any employee “for going above and beyond”.

      1. Lily Potter*

        The fact is that Nervous’ managers laid off her above-and-beyond co-worker for hitting the pay ceiling. They’ve just spun it somehow in their own minds to have made the decision a “good” one for the employee and to absolve themselves of guilt.

        They laid her off because they knew that she’d eventually be looking for more money, and it was more convenient to lay her off at a time of the employers’ choosing than when the employee decided to walk out the door.

        Here’s the internal conversation:
        “We love Brenda but we know we can never promote her or pay her more money. One day, she’s going to accept that in her own mind and she’ll leave right in the middle of Fall Welcome Week or the week before Commencement. Better to lay her off now and get her job duties reassigned while we’re in the middle of layoff pain with everyone. It’ll be what’s best for everyone.”

    2. MAC*

      That “reasoning” bites, in my opinion. Maybe she was perfectly happy where she was and wasn’t interested in growth opportunities or promotions. Maybe she didn’t want to uproot her life to move to a new university. They obviously had the right to lay off whoever they chose, but they did not have the right to decide FOR HER that she’d be happier/better off somewhere else if she was an excellent performer.
      Not to mention what it does to your mental health to be in that situation of knowing you’re good at what you do and knowing everyone else thinks so too, but you were still let go. I was one of a dozen people laid off over 5 years ago and while I was assured it wasn’t for performance reasons (and SO many people would tell me “I can’t believe they did this to YOU!” — their emphasis) the blow to my professional self-esteem was massive — to the point that I’m still surprised daily that my current job thinks I’m a rock star.

      1. Lily Potter*

        Been there too MAC. Laid off during Covid “absolutely not for performance reasons!” because my reviews were exemplary. My suspicion is that they knew I’d outgrown the job, they had no intention of promoting me, and it was easier to lay me off for “Covid financial reasons” than to wait for me to leave at a time inconvenient to them. All turned out okay in the end but man was it a painful hit to the self-esteem.

      2. Curmudgeon in California (they/them)*

        Yeah, I had good reviews, etc, at my university job, but when the Covid layoffs hit I was cut. I was out of work for a year. In my case it was pretty obvious that layoff were based on seniority, and I had “only” been there four and a half years, whereas others in my group had been there 10 or more. Nevermind that I was the only person who answered pages after 9 pm. shrug

  48. ABCYaBYE*

    Not that it matters exactly, but I’d be wondering what the answer is if LW1 asks the boss, “What exactly would be different in my job duties when I’m in the office versus working remotely?” It doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things because they’ve already told you that you were lied to. But if they can offer some sort of actual reason beyond, “It isn’t fair to everyone else” it might change the dynamic.
    The whole situation sucks, but I’m wondering something. The company made you remote. You weren’t applying for a remote job. They made the change. So what was said in the announcement of the change? Why are you fully remote and others aren’t? And of course, what does your contract say?
    If you want to go back to the boss and ask what specifically is changed when you’re in the office, I’d say go right ahead. You might get some insight, or some additional information when you go to HR.
    I’d probably lean toward going to HR. Tell them that you were offered a fully remote position and you’ve signed a contract with those terms. Let them know the boss told you it was a lie and ask them if that is indeed the case. They’re not acting in good faith, and just like others have said, what if the offer of money (or any other aspects of the offer) were lies.
    And then (if not before) talk to a lawyer.

  49. YesIAmRetiredNow*

    #3: Another factor to consider: if remaining staff will have new types of job duties, different than what they are currently doing. As opposed to, the remaining staff still have basically the same tasks, just now being done by fewer people. For the former, you will need to have people getting trained on/doing new things. People who have been extremely resistant to change, people who have the “it’s not my job, I won’t do it” mindset, people who have generally been unhelpful in a pinch previously, you might want to consider as layoff candidates. It will be tough enough with the added stress of these types of people.

    I went through something similar to this when computerization hit the workplace. Some people who could accurately and quickly used a typewriter, suddenly went to single finger hunt-and-peck when it involved a computer keyboard and the occasional “hand off keyboard to use a mouse” instead of “hand off keyboard to use the return feature”.

  50. can't check that off yet*

    #2 I used to work for a company that required you to scan your badge to use the printer. The VP of my department would pull the print logs each month and scold anyone who was printing too much, even if it was all strictly for work. As long as your printing isn’t excessive and you don’t have someone religiously combing through your printer usage I don’t see why it wouldn’t be okay to print personal documents every now and then

  51. ABCYaBYE*

    OP2 – I don’t see a problem with occasional printing and would agree with Alison’s thought about your boss standing there and seeing what you’re printing. It is one of those “you can’t define it but you know it when you see it” sorts of things.

    You could, if you wanted, buy a ream of paper and use your own if you want to be a little more above board. Yes, there’s cost of the toner, but if you’re nervous about it, replacing the paper you’ve used might help you feel better.

  52. ACDC*

    LW #2: If you haven’t seen Sheng Wang’s comedy special on Netflix, I highly recommend it. He has a whole bit about printing at work, like saying the only reason to have an office job is to use the printer

  53. Amber Rose*

    #2: Remembering the time my coworker straight up grabbed a ream of printer paper out of the cupboard to take home: acceptable use is so variable. I’ve had bosses who’d throw a fit over a single personal document, and then workplaces like this one. Nobody would even blink at me printing out a hundred pages, as long as I wasn’t hogging the printer for hours.

    As with many things, try to get a sense of where your company culture sits, or ask someone you trust.

  54. Bibrarian*

    OP #2: I’d make them postcard-ish sized and print 4/sheet in black and white; because personal printing is acceptable for your office, you could limit the resources you’d be using to fewer pages, or just save money/paper if you still go to the print shop.

  55. AGC*

    #2 – In addition to considering what your boss would think about it (which I agree is the way to go), I would also consider whether you actually… need to print those. Have you actually seen them on individual cars in the neighborhood? Is there other moving permit signage displayed? I live in Boston and even though I believe they “provide a flyer,” I have not once seen them distributed in my street-parking neighborhood.

  56. Observer*

    #1 – Fully remote, but need to be in the office.

    Start with HR, but if you need to talk to your boss, use Allison’s wording to start with. Do NOT engage with whether this is “fair” or not. This is the contract you signed, and these are the conditions you both agreed to. If she starts the “we just did it to be competitive” also do NOT engage. Their reasons for agreeing to this are not your problem. Although you might want to ask her if she meant that they just made an offer that they KNEW they were not going to honor so that they could LOOK competitive. And get her response in writing if there is the least chance that you will either need to hold her to her word (ie she backs off) or you might need to document that she actually is still insisting that you come in despite the agreement (eg you want / need to kick it upstairs). Because if she still pushes, you know that she will lie and say whatever it is that she thinks will be good.

    Also, if she holds firm start looking for a new job, if you can’t afford to quite. Because aside for this just being a garbage move, you do NOT want to be working for someone this dishonest.

    1. Curmudgeon in California (they/them)*

      … you do NOT want to be working for someone this dishonest.


      I have been willing to quit jobs over ethical lapses by other departments. Even with nothing lined up.

      IMO this falls into the same area. Mistakes and misstatements are one thing, blatant bait and switch lies are quite another. Your boss is a liar who will blatantly change things like he assumes that you have no options but to take it. Do. Not. Let. Him. Get. Away. With. It.

      What happens when you want a vacation? Does he approve it, then tell you the day before you are going to leave that he changed his mind, you can’t actually go, and that he just approved it to be competitive, but it wouldn’t be “fair” to someone else?

      My trust would be gone after something like this. Even if HR made him honor the agreement.

  57. Cirus Monkey*

    For the printing issue…for your twenty flyer you can print in small batches per day….like 5 a day over a four day period ……or four a day over a five day period….etc.

  58. A Pound of Obscure*

    LW #2 – you didn’t mention what type of industry you work in or whether your office had a written policy about personal use of company equipment and supplies. Many do, and that would be far more important than “how would I feel if my boss were standing next to me” (although that’s also an indicator). I work in government, where we are to assume that anything can be made public. Anything could be revealed in a subpoena. A digital copy machine might store digital images of anything copied or printed — and it would certainly record which users have sent which jobs to the print queue. I can say with 100 percent certainty that I would never presume to print 50, or even 15-20, copies of anything that was not work-related.

  59. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP#1 — I agree with Alison that the wording in your contract is key here. It might be a worthwhile investment to get an employment lawyer to read it before you talk with HR. An attorney with the right background may be better at sussing out tricky language and helping you understand the agreement.

    If HR decides this issue in your favor, be prepared for some acting out on the part of your manager. This may not be a good long-term position for you.

  60. LuckyClover*

    #2 If you are worried about the optics of printing that quantity but know printing a little bit of personal is okay – why not batch print them over the day or over a few days.

  61. gawaine*

    #3 – if they’ve told you ahead of time that this is coming, and that other managers are having the same problem, then this is also a place where you can hopefully come together and potentially reorganize quickly. Why? Because if you and Joe each have to cut 3 out of 10 people, then you’re each cutting three people you don’t individually need, but you might find that they’re not the least useful 6 out of 20. All the more so if you have a larger organization. This is a way to avoid punishing people who actually managed performance during the year or hired well in this kind of environment.

    Used to go through this every year at the telcos I worked at, and we’d end up swiftly figuring out how to ensure that the teams were balanced in terms of people who would be reduced.

  62. Ex-Teacher*

    RE: #1- I was on a hiring committee with my very-bureaucratic organization, and we raised the question of whether the role would have remote/WFH options (so that we could adequately respond to a candidate’s questions). The manager for the role said “Oh yeah, you can tell them this role offers WFH.”

    I pressed for details, and the manager said “Yeah don’t worry about it, when they accept the offer we can tell them that we expect them in the office for the first 3-6 months for onboarding, then they might be able to do 3 days/week from home.”

    The manager was flabbergasted when I said “If you tell someone that on day 1, they won’t come back on day 2 because we lied to them. And if they do come back, its because they need the money while job searching.”

  63. TootsNYC*

    re: printing copies at the office
    I once worked at a company whose employee handbook said (paraphrasing):

    “We know you will occasionally use company resources for personal reasons (making photocopies for your family or a club, spending time on a phone call, sending emails, mailing insurance forms). We expect you to do this and are happy to offer these capabilities to you. However, we expect you to keep it to reasonable noncommercial use. Since it is hard to define what ‘reasonable’ is, we get to be the final decision makers, and you don’t get to argue with us about our judgment.”

    I actually kind of liked that.

    1. TootsNYC*

      I also worked at a place that said, “It’s Christmas, and people will have packages to mail. We’re far from a post office, so we’re happy to offer the services of the mailroom to mail personal packages; you will need to pay the postage in cash. During the Christmas season, you must come after 3pm; when it’s not Christmas, you can come any time of the afternoon, since the mailroom is particularly busy in the morning.”

    2. Observer*

      Yes, this is good. Gets away from nit picking, lets the company do something nice, but really reduces the chances that someone is going to rules lawyer you into revoking the whole thing.

  64. kayakwriter*

    LW#1’s situation has a lot of the same vibes as the famous Seinfeld Rental Car Reservation scene. “You know how to say you’re offering remote work to be competitive; you just don’t know how actually allow remote work to be competitive.”

  65. Budgie Buddy*

    For LW #2, the answers boil down to “Be very good at picking up social cues.” This advice is if LW 2 isn’t (for whatever reason).

    In general, it’s probably to print your flyers out of the office. It’s not worth the social capital you might lose by printing a number of copies that’s seen as bizarrely excessive. (If LW is leaving the job soon, this may be less of an issue, but you still may not want to burn bridges.)

    If you are the type of person who can’t accurately gauge what your boss might think if she happened to see you printing personal use flyers, or who occasionally does something that seems perfectly innocuous to you but produces at “WTF why would anyone Do That???” response, then you can’t rely on your instincts.

    Even if other people in the office occasionally use the printer for non work related materials, there may be unspoken rules such as black and white is fine but color is a no-go, you need to do the prints sneakily and not in full view of office mates, or certain people will have their technically not allowed prints forgiven because those people are especially popular, abrasive, or have been with the company longer.

    If none of this seems like it would be an issue, print away. Otherwise it’s not worth the social blow back when you can pay to resolve the issue with money.

  66. Rob P*

    #2 – I’ve previously been in situations where I don’t have a printer at home and have had success just talking to my boss in advance. Assuming you have a good relationship, a quick chat may be all you need. Just be clear that it’s a one-time thing and you’re happy to arrange printing elsewhere if it’s at all a problem.

  67. Jonquil*

    #4. Agree with others on saying nothing until you have an offer in hand, but also I wouldn’t put too much stock in the hiring freeze only lasting until February. “Until at least February” is pretty broad. It could mean they’re up and making offers on 1 Feb, or it could mean nothing is happening through to the end of the month and they won’t start making offers until 1 March, it could mean they are only making “essential” offers and potentially that doesn’t mean your role. It could be extended, given the climate of layoffs at the moment. And that’s assuming the company has recruitment/HR staff available to process the offer and onboarding paperwork.

    1. Pregnant & Searching (LW)*

      Hey, this is LW4 – Appreciate this perspective, Jonquil – you’re absolutely right. There’s a lot unknown. I’m glad for Alison’s advice and folks’ input; it seems to jibe with what you brought up!

  68. Mothman*

    LW 1: Do they have to be full page? You could probably fit 4-5 notices on one page, since all you have to say is “Parking space 123 will have a moving can in it on [date]. People blocking the spot will [consequence]. Thanks for understanding!”

    Print in black and white, but maybe bring in some bright colored paper of your own so it’s noticeable.

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