managers on a rampage about cell phones, new hire said I should have told him about my maternity leave earlier, and more

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

1. Our managers are on a rampage about cell phones

I’m an exempt employee who works hybrid. We were fully remote since March 2020, but the CEO decided we needed to come into the office four days a week as of last week. As soon as we returned, the managers were really aggressive about cell phones. Apparently we are allowed to use our earbuds and listen to music from our phones, but the actual phone needs to be hidden. We are even permitted to wear smart watches and use those to respond to texts, just not our personal cell phones. We’ve received four mass emails within the last 48 hours reminding people of these rules and each of us have received documented discussions from our managers stating that we have been made aware that our cell phones need to be hidden. For reference, this is an office job with a lot of downtime; we are even permitted to flex our time and go home to finish our work if we want.

I find this to be so bizarre. First of all, it feels like I’m only required to make an appearance at the office. I’m not complaining too hard because I don’t want them to take away the option to flex our time and go home, but it’s aggravating to sit in an hour of traffic (no exaggeration) to be there for around six hours and then sit in another hour of traffic to finish my work. We’ve also proven we’re able to work from home with no supervision with free access to our phones, so I don’t understand the massive push against seeing our phones on our desks, as long as it’s not excessive use — and those issues can be dealt with on a case by case basis.

Do you have any insight? Why do managers hate phones so much? It feels like they just want to make things as inconvenient as possible. I don’t see the need to cause drama when work is still getting done and we are still hitting our goals. And what if we have an emergency situation and someone needs to get in contact with us quickly? I feel like I’m back in high school.

It’s hard to say from the outside. It could be an optics thing, like if your managers know the CEO has a real thing about seeing phones and they’re trying to head that off. It could be an overreaction to an isolated incident, like if someone was really abusing their phone access (although as you say, you could all be doing that when you’re working at home). It could just be that your leadership has weird ideas about what “working” is supposed to look like and/or that they’re overcorrecting now that they suddenly have control over your working environment again. If you have a good relationship with your manager, you might be able to simply ask and they might tell you.

But yes, this is weird. Not unheard of by any means — some offices do have strict rules about phones — but weird in its execution (four mass emails in two days?) and weird for your particular context.

2. My new hire said I should have told him about my maternity leave before he arrived

I’m writing for a bit of a reality check. I know you aren’t an academic expert, but this feels like more of a people management problem to me. I am a principal investigator (PI) in an academic laboratory in Canada, so I manage a small team. I started a new team member, Joffrey, in January. Joffrey is American, and it took a little time to get his paperwork in order. He was on a one-year renewable contract; I had committed to him for that period of time (breach of contract would need to be pretty egregious for me to be able to fire him —not that I was planning to). I did expect/hope that he would stay for at least two years, and that hope was communicated at the start. The point is that he had some guarantee of stability.

He’s been working on a team project with a team which includes two other PI’s and two industry partners, who he met during the interview process, and there are five other team members at his level who he is working with.

Joffrey quit after just two months – two days after I announced to the team that I was going on parental leave in five months. I announced it as part of a discussion introducing the person who would be covering my role on the team for the time I’ll be on leave (it’s Canada, so I will be gone for six months or one year).

During his resignation, Joffrey had a litany of small-ish complaints (it took a month to get him ethics approval from the hospital to see the data he was going to be working on, so in the meantime he was doing small learning “pointless” tasks, it took a month for him to get onto the extended health plan, he didn’t like his work station location). His big complaint, however, was that I should have given him the “professional courtesy” of telling him about my upcoming parental leave before he arrived – so approximately 7-8 months before the child is due.

I do get that it’s a big deal to move countries for a job, and it’s a really big thing to quit a job in a foreign-ish country after you’ve gone to the expense of moving. My guess is that it felt a little unsettling to know that his first point of contact would be leaving, but this feels like an extreme reaction. I was just one manager in a team of mentors, and I expected that he would be up and running and a well functioning team member after seven months working on the project, so the impact on his career would be minimal (or positive if he demonstrates good leadership).

Obviously I released him from his contract at his request, but I feel taken aback by his expectations surrounding parental leave. I found it incredibly regressive, but am I being unreasonable?

No. It’s not reasonable for a colleague to expect to be informed about your pregnancy when you’re only one or two months pregnant. (Is Joffrey aware that many people wouldn’t even know they were pregnant that early, let alone be sure of their plans?) Sure, I can see how starting a new job and learning that the person you thought would be managing you will be going on a lengthy leave, but (a) it’s scheduled for seven months after he started, not a couple of weeks, and (b) that’s not generally “I must quit this job” territory or “how dare you not inform me of this earlier” territory.

You told your team when you were four months pregnant. That’s really reasonable, and it’s earlier than many people do.

It sounds like Joffrey might have been dissatisfied with the job in general. Sometimes when that’s the case people search for clearly articulable reasons to pin their dissatisfaction on, even when that’s not quite the thing driving their unhappiness. Maybe that happened here, or maybe Joffrey is just unreasonable. But you didn’t owe him earlier notice.

3. I can’t get promoted

I’ve been an employee at my company for close to a decade. I started taking on additional leadership opportunities about five years ago at the encouragement of my then CEO. A management position opened up, and I got additional certifications to make myself more marketable for that position. I made it through a first round interview, but they went with an external hire. This pattern has repeated itself several times — management spot opens, I get a first round interview, I get told I’m not ready, and they hire externally. Then I get more leadership tasks assigned to me, which I do successfully, but then this repeats. I’ve now applied for and been rejected for about seven management/team lead openings at my company over the last five or so years.

The last year was frankly hell. The manager at my branch was abusive towards others and me, but I was the main target. The new CEO and HR were aware, but I was afraid to make a formal complaint. I was then promoted to assistant manager at another branch (I was told that I was moved specifically to get us apart), and then filed a formal complaint against my former manager. She left the company (HR never interviewed me after my complaint and I don’t know if she was fired or quit), and now the CEO has to be the manager of that branch and the CEO at the same time.

My new manager has told me that I’m doing a great job and has no complaints. Now they are hiring for the manager spot at my old branch. The application specifically said that for internal candidates, two years of assistant management were required. I am the only assistant manager in the company. HR forgot I applied and asked me to sit in the interviews. When I asked how that would work considering I was a candidate, they told me that I was not. Once again, I’m not ready.

I have never been disciplined, written up, or anything like that. Whenever I ask for feedback, I am told that there are only minor things, which I correct. My performance reviews have always been exemplary. I’m incredibly frustrated and feeling like this is targeted due to me being a whistleblower on my abusive boss and forcing them to make a change. I love this company and what it does, but I’m not sure how much longer I can last in an organization that treats its people this way. What do I do?

I don’t think they’re ever going to promote you. I don’t know what the reason for that is — maybe they don’t want to lose you where you are, maybe someone high up doesn’t like you, maybe it was the whistleblowing (although it sounds like this pattern started before that). But based on their actions, they’re not going to promote you. If you want to move up, the only real thing to do is to look outside this company — I’m sorry.

4. Is it weird to be privy to junior team members’ performance issues?

In my current role, there are several junior members who don’t report to me directly but work with me regularly on several admin and operations-like tasks. I was hired on as a floating team member, so I’m rotating between different teams throughout the department. I’m currently on my third rotation.

Twice now, in my last team and my current team, I’ve found myself in a situation where my manager informed me of a junior team member’s lack of performance and imminent placement on a PIP. My current manager actually opted to keep the underperforming junior person reporting to her, so I didn’t have to deal with managing him while also onboarding and getting settled.

While I’m a bit discomforted having the knowledge, it does makes sense to me broadly. Even outside such issues, I am expected to regularly provide informal feedback on these junior folks as their work is important to the success of my role and the team writ large. Having this information means I can keep an eye on their work. My feedback also goes into their annual reviews.

The working culture of my org has seemed positive so far. As far as I can see, the PIP process is clearly communicated and fair. I guess my discomfort arises from the information asymmetry, that my junior coworkers don’t know that I know about their performance. I’m curious about your thoughts on this practice, and if there are downsides or alternatives to consider.

That kind of information should be on a need-to-know basis, but it sounds like you may have had a need to know. When you’re charged with providing junior employees with guidance and feedback, it can help to know that a particular person has been struggling — it can help you correctly calibrate how closely to watch their work and where to step in and give more coaching. It also sounds like it it was relevant context for your boss to explain why she was going to keep one person reporting to her, rather than moving him over to you as you might have expected.

The assumption, of course, is that you’ll keep the information confidential — that you understand it’s being shared with you for work-related reasons (not as gossip) and that you’ll be discreet and responsible with it.

5. Layoffs — what’s reasonable to ask for?

I work in a very flat, mid-size nonprofit that just announced upcoming layoffs, and is looking for volunteers to leave. I am the most senior person at my level on my team (so probably the most expensive) and was working towards a big promotion that is almost certainly now off the table with this news. Given that, I am considering volunteering to go, but as there is currently no info out about what that would look like I can’t make a decision.

What would be reasonable to ask for? I’m assuming I’d stay on for a few months to transition things, possibly until our fiscal year rolls over July 1. I’m a fairly tenured manager with seven years of experience at this org. Would it be reasonable for me to ask for six months of severance, or would that make me look out of touch? I’d feel confident about my financial situation with that kind of runway but not with much less given the current market.

Six months of severance pay is a lot and would be an outlier, especially at a nonprofit. A really common formula is one or two weeks of severance per year of employment (so for seven years, seven to fourteen weeks). You could ask for two weeks per year without looking out-of-touch; they might say no or counter with something else, but it wouldn’t be outlandish to propose.

You also could just ask what kind of exit package they’re envisioning, without making an initial offer of your own. It’s a bit silly for them to ask for volunteers without providing any details, and you can ask for more info.

{ 506 comments… read them below }

  1. fgcommenter*

    LW1: It’s often an emotional reaction, or a power game. Notice that often the ones restricting you are also flaunting their ability to do the restricted activity; in which case, it’s often hypocritical entitlement, or a psychological play to make you feel lesser and thus less likely to stand up against poor treatment.

      1. fgcommenter*

        It’s not so sophisticated as that, it’s just the brutish behavior of a common bully.

          1. lilsheba*

            I have to agree with this. And yes it’s a bully power play. We are grown ass adults, we can have our phones and *gasp* we can have streaming music or movies on and work too! Amazing!!

      2. 1LFTW*

        I’ve definitely had managers who are that Machiavellian, but I agree they’re not the norm.

        I feel like it’s much more common for this dynamic to be unconscious. For instance, we’ve probably all had a manager who genuinely feels like they’re not doing their job unless they’re telling someone off. If their team consists of generally competent people who perform well, they need make up some BS rule on the spot just so they can scold someone for breaking it (or send out all-staff emails).

        1. TechWorker*

          Maybe I’ve been particularly lucky but no, I’ve worked a few different places and had plenty of different managers & never had one who thought they had to tell people off to be effective.

          1. Kara*

            But this particular workplace decided to suddenly mandate 4 days in the office, for no reason that the OP is aware of. Frankly, i think the phones thing is a symptom of greater control issues.

            1. I have RBF*


              Upper level managers who make up petty rules for “all employees” rather than one or two that they see as problematic are just flexing their power and ability to control. RTO is a big symptom of that, especially since once people show their faces in the office after lengthy commutes they can go home to work.

              The phone thing is an extreme form of this. Controls like this are usually only done in schools to underage kids or retail organizations where inattention to customers is a problem, and phone use is always perceived as inattention to customers, even in the back office. In a general office environment? It’s a pure power move, bordering on mass bullying.

              Your management sucks, OP #1. They have no clue of how to manage for productivity, so they act like everyone is juveniles needing micromanagement every minute. The phone thing is a prime example of that, as is the RTO. This is likely to get worse before it gets better. I suggest looking for a new job.

              The whole thing reeks of a power move to grab hard control of a “rogue” workforce that was getting too comfortable after working from home. It’s a really bad look for management, but they don’t care, and may not even after people get a gut full and leave.

              1. Allura Vysoren*

                My old job was a great example of “solving a problem with one person by making it everyone’s problem.” To keep from being bored out of my mind during eight hours of staring at my computer, I listened to music, podcasts, and audiobooks on my phone.

                One day, our department head came around: “Big Boss says we can’t use our phones anymore and they have to be kept inside our desks.” No exceptions. I found out later that Big Boss had been on social media during work hours and seen a new post by an employee.

                I ended up buying an iPod off eBay and loading everything onto it. I still remember one incident where I went to HR’s office to ask a question and they had their phone out on their desk. They felt the need to tell me: “I’m having a family emergency and I need to be able to see when someone’s calling. I care more about them than this job.”

            2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

              They might just be trying to see whether staff can be even more effective if they’re not goofing off on their phones. Given that OP says there is down time, they might be trying to determine how many they can lay off without it being a problem.

          2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

            You’re lucky. I seem to have had a string of toxic bosses, I’ve been calling the last two ToxicBoss1 and ToxicBoss2, but there were a couple before that too.
            Definitely into power plays, not letting my colleague shift her hours from 9-5 to 8.30-4.30 being the last. ToxicBoss1 looked at the productivity stats, and saw that I was more productive than the others, so the others all got shouted at (I could hear everything despite the closed door) but I never got any kind of praise bonus or pay rise.

        2. MassMatt*

          Ugh, “management” by all-staff emails is awful, surpassed only by management by all-staff meetings, in which everyone is lectured about the behavior of one person, who remains oblivious that the whole meeting is about them.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            At a previous workplace, they found some dog poop on the carpet once. It was brought up in a 5,000+ employee all-hands staff meeting as an issue we all needed to address. So while we all stared at the picture someone had taken of the dog poop, one brave staff member stood up and said it was probably from his dog and apologized (derailing the mass lecture). Not all heroes wear capes.

        3. Shandra*

          @MassMatt: Maybe the all-staff email, or meeting, is so the one person can’t claim they’re being singled out.

          A previous employer sometimes dealt with a single incident, with a solution which dragged everyone in a group down to the level of its lowest performer.

          1. MassMatt*

            That’s the usual rationalization, but behavior–both good and bad–SHOULD be singled out. I can never get back the HOURS that were spent in meetings with one particular group all about one idiot employee’s persistent terrible behavior.

            During the upteenth one of them, the person who it WAS about complained “why do we have all these meetings about this?” “Because of YOU, Bob. Because YOU keep doing _________”. He was gobsmacked; the manager had NEVER spoken to him directly, he assumed he was doing great!

    1. raincoaster*

      One email every 12 hours…I’d be so tempted to REPLY ALL just with “ok” and encourage others to also reply all.

      1. wilma flintstone*

        I’d be tempted to reply-all with questions about carve-outs: “But I can use my cellphone for 2-factor ID, right, otherwise, I can’t access [government website I work on]?” “But I can use my cellphone for emergency child-care calls, right?” And so on. Yes, chaos will ensue. But don’t they have it coming?

          1. BluRae*

            You MICROMANAGE Miette? You police her cell phone use like the middle schoolers? Oh! Oh! Jail for Managers! Jail for Managers for one thousand years!

            1. Mmmmmmmmmary*

              You have officially won the internet for the day, our representative will be following up with you shortly to coordinate your award ;-)

    2. Artemesia*

      You get passed over for promotion a couple of times when you have been doing work that supports the idea that you are ‘ready’. and the company doesn’t work with you to be ‘ready’ — yeah. they aren’t doing it. Time long ago to look elsewhere. Good luck.

    3. Cottage Fromage*

      I managed a small team in a much larger department that was similar to this. It wasn’t quite as pushy. But we had employees who were watching video streams on their phones while they were working. And I get it…if their work isn’t suffering, who cares? Focus on output and metrics and if there’s a problem it should show there. I took that stance as a manager.

      Here’s where it gets tricky in management, though — when one of my employees had to quit suddenly because of a health issue, and I needed help from surrounding teams to stay afloat, my team’s streaming activity cropped up and I had an extremely difficult time getting help. “Your people have downtime, I see them on their phones all the time, Sarah was watching Marvel movies at her desk yesterday. Cover the work within your own team.” When a partner was mad that their urgent request took four hours when they wanted it in two, they snarked about seeing people watching Netflix at their desks in the past (normal turnaround time was 48 hours, 4 hours was a freakin miracle, but the phone impression hurt my ability to defend against their disappointment). When a round of layoffs happened, fighting to keep all the people I had was harder because people had the impression we weren’t busy. When another team needed help with unappealing grunt work and I said no, and their manager saw one of my people using her phone for something that wasn’t work related 30 minutes later, I heard about it. My team had plenty of work to do…sometimes it came in waves so they had a small amount of downtime, but spending it noticeably goofing off created problems for me. I was constantly competing with other managers for resources, and any evidence that my team had time on their hands made those fights harder.

      After some particularly difficult situations like the ones I described above, I wound up telling my team that if they weren’t busy, they needed to ask me for work to do, they needed to take breaks away from their desks, and if they had available time and it didn’t make sense to fill it with another work task, I didn’t really care that they weren’t working, but they needed to LOOK busy, and part of what that meant was not watching videos at their desks.

      1. fgcommenter*

        Right. It was an emotional reaction from other managers.

        they needed to ask me for work to do

        Workers are paid a small percentage of the money they earn or save the company. Taking on more work with no additional pay only widens that gap. The more reasonable way of catering to the emotions of those who are obsessed with appearances, like the other managers you mentioned, is to slow down work so that work is always being done instead of having cycles of high-stress -> relaxation -> high-stress -> …

        1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

          It’s reasonable to assume that if his team is watching movies on their phones, they have down time.

          1. Mister_L*

            Personally, I think “looking busy” is an integral skill in any job that has even the possibility of being observed.

            1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

              It’s much easier to look busy goofing around here than watching films. I mean, it involves text on the screen and typing in answers, nobody can tell that I’m not working.

        2. MassMatt*

          I find the “don’t have your phone visible” directive odd too. But I’m perplexed at the number of comments that suggest watching videos at work is no big deal and a manager that takes issue with it is somehow an overreach.

          IMO the proportion of what value an employee brings to the company vs: their compensation is irrelevant. Someone watching videos when they’re supposed to be working is just asking to be fired, and yes a department where multiple people are seen watching dancing cats vs: working is not going to have much luck making an argument for help from other departments or other resources.

          The employee vs: employer pendulum has swung dramatically in favor of the employee in the last several years, and in many ways that’s a great thing. But at some point it is going to swing in the other direction, and people doing the bare minimum while watching TikTok videos are going to have a lot of trouble justifying their jobs.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            I think jumping straight to firing for watching videos is an overreaction. I have lots of trouble multitasking, but even aside from the YouTube videos I watch for work, I’ll occasionally watch a lyric video or similar as a break from work.

            During a particularly stressful period at ex-job, I watched a five-hour video of puppies sleeping over and over again. I’m sure it looked bizarre from a network resources perspective, but it helped to keep me from locking up from the stress.

          2. So Tired*

            I watch videos at work all the time. I have ADHD (this is not an accommodation for that, I’m just saying I have a diagnosis) and I work better when I have non-music noise in the background. So I put on let’s play videos on youtube or twitch and work while they play. My boss knows and doesn’t have a problem with it, and the alternative would be me getting little, if any, work done. I have a friend (non-ADHD) who puts on episodes of TV shows while she works. And several other coworkers that watch videos or listen to audiobooks. Just because something is playing doesn’t mean that is the only thing you are/can focus on.

            1. yala*


              I don’t *always* use videos, but there are times when it essentially serves as body-doubling and is the only think really keeping me on task. If it’s more precise work that I need to be doing a deep read on, I won’t (even though it can make it feel like trying to dig through a wall with a spoon). But if I’m just, say, checking to make sure that all of the teapots have one red flower, one yellow flower, and one blue flower, on comes some youtube media commentary–preferably one that I’ve heard before and can just sort of go in and out on (Todd in the Shadows tends to be a good one for me, because it’s more or less mellow, has some music, and is just sort of bite-sized without being too short?)

              That said, I’m not usually WATCHING the videos.

          3. Sharon*

            It’s also possible that the issue stems from someone taking photos or video at work or facetiming personal calls, and the managers wants to be sure confidential info at the office stays confidential. I don’t think it would be out of line to ask your manager for clarification about the rationale/behavior they are trying to prevent to help you comply with expectations.

          4. NotAnotherManager!*

            It can be an optics issues in some offices. I work at a client-services company, and the clients are often in the office (which, yay, is all glass and open). They pay top dollar for the work, and do not want to see people for whom they pay hundreds of dollars per hour watching videos, reading on their kindle, or surfing social media. Streaming video also competes with the work-related bandwidth on our network – we are all awaiting the inevitable drag when the NCAA tournament starts and everyone tries to surreptitiously watch their alma mater’s every game.

            Stupid or not, organizations are not always well-positioned to “educate” their paying customers on the latest research on background noise or unofficial ADHD accommodations, etc. If you’re not visible and there are no paying-client visitors in your workspace, different story, but no principal here is going to use political capital explaining to a big client that Bob is watching YouTube to help him concentrate.

            1. I am Emily's failing memory*

              Yeah, my organization had a policy against streaming video from the office purely because our broadband connection would not have been broad enough to support all 250 of us streaming video at the same time. It was purely on the honor system because they knew there were plenty of times sometimes legitimately needed to stream video for a work-related reason, so after the first time there was a bandwidth issue from a lot of people streaming something at the same time they 1) started a select few events with mass appeal from a big screen TV in a large conference room so that many people could watch one stream, and 2) considered but quickly dismissed the idea of blocking video sites like Youtube at the IT admin level. Instead they just told us all why it was important to keep non-work-related streaming to a reasonable minimum so that we could all have the bandwidth we needed when we needed it, and from what I saw people generally understood that and complied.

          5. I have RBF*

            The only videos I watch at work are training videos, even when I have down time. I really can’t understand watching movies or TikTok on work time. I may take a few minutes to read news, but watching videos? No.

            But in this case I would say “Please don’t watch videos on work time.” Texting with a coworker, reading a quick news item, okay, but not watching TikTok or Netflix type feature films or episodes.

          6. fgcommenter*

            IMO the proportion of what value an employee brings to the company vs: their compensation is irrelevant.

            It’s relevant when making the argument that someone isn’t doing enough work or should be doing more work. If they actually needed to do more work to cover their compensation, then saying they should ask for more work can be justified; but if they’re already bringing in much more than their compensation and the issue is merely one of not meeting the idea that time at work should be filled with constant work, then slowing down to ensure the work is constant instead of bursts solves that issue.

            The employee vs: employer pendulum has swung dramatically in favor of the employee in the last several years

            It’s been so far in the employer side for so long that this dramatic swing, when looked at over 45 years, amounts to shifting from 30-degree angle on the employer side to a 24-degree angle on the employer side.

          7. MurpMaureep*

            I’m a generally lenient and understanding manager and I 100% get that people are not going to be solely focused on work for the entire time they are logged in during the day. I also get that taking breaks is good and helps people decompress and not get burned out. I allow staff flexibility with their schedules and try to judge people on their output, not on what they are doing every second.

            I did this when we were in the office and I take the same approach now that we are almost entirely remote.

            I take breaks during the day, run errands and schedule appointments as needed, even watch some light TV during lunch or sometimes have sports on in the background.

            All that being said, I would still be pretty shocked if I found an employee watching a full length movie during the work day. That’s a higher level commitment to a non-work activity than I’m comfortable with. If I knew another manager allowed that, and that manager asked for my team’s help covering work, I’d be hard-pressed not to bring it up. Maybe it’s optics, or some outdated notions, but saying it’s fine to flex your time because you have to take your kid to the dentist or being fine if people read the news is way different than committing to a long format narrative.

      2. Lydia Bennett*

        Same at my company. With the return from the pandemic (in office 3 days a week) there were suddenly tons of ‘fascinating crotches’. People gazing at the Gilmore Girls in their crotches, tons of feet up on desks texting etc.
        I like my cell phone! But I do recognize that tons of micro-distractions from texts etc are a massive distraction. We used to have a ‘no phones on the floor’ rule and I think it’s going to have to go back that way. I’m not a manager and I’m seeing a lot of phone use, especially for the new-hires (younger and older) who were hired during the pandemic and it’s kind of shocking how blatant the phone use is compared to pre-pandemic. Stuff has changed a lot – the evening shift wear PJs, it’s jeans day every day, no one wants a buffet, but this is a change for the worse IMO.
        Our company, in part, is in insurance. We deal with angry customers, we deal with businesses who expect a high-level of service, we need accuracy. I’m not sure that being constantly distracted by a pinging phone helping. I realized I was constantly distracted so now leave my phone in my locker.
        We have reliable phone lines for kids/elderly parents to get in touch if there is an emergency. I think a ‘phones in drawers’ is fine during work time.

        1. WellRed*

          I agree with a lot if what OP says, but where I disagreed was the notion that at any given time there might be An Emergency! Necessitating instant phone access.

          1. AngryOctopus*

            That is what makes the most sense, though. Daycare calls for a sick kid, your teen has something cancelled and needs to be picked up 2 hours earlier than you thought, the doctor’s office calls because they’ve had a cancellation and you can come in 5 weeks earlier than you thought. People need their phones available.

            1. mlem*

              And not even just personal emergencies — sometimes there’s a tornado bearing down on your warehouse and the only way you find out is by your phone, because Amazon certainly doesn’t want you evacuating when you could be working.

            2. doreen*

              Yes , but if you can listen to music on your phone then it’s not a situation where you can’t bring your phone to your desk ( like some places I’ve worked). Daycare etc can call even if you have the phone in a bag/pocket/drawer rather than visible on your desk. I think it’s weird to have a rule that phones can’t be seen but emergencies also don’t happen every day and if they aren’t allowed to have cell phones visible , chances ae there is a landline where they could be reached in an emergency.

              1. Artemesia*

                phone can’t be seen. means you are not playing games or watching movies on it. I think we all know there is tremendous phone abuse — heck people are often playing with their phone at social events and dinner parties. No phones out, but phones can be in desks seems like a good compromise. People underestimate how distracting playing on a phone while working really is, I think.

                1. I have RBF*

                  I use my phone for 2FA several times a day. I would not put it in my desk.

                  I WFH, so it’s not a visibility issue, but right now my phone is dark, because I’m not using it, even though it’s right in from of me. I check it for messages about once an hour. I did this when I was on site, too. But I don’t watch videos on it – it’s too small to use that way, IMO. Plus, I have work to do.

      3. Littorally*

        Yup, this is a valuable (albeit very frustrating) point. Office politics suck, but agreeing they suck doesn’t mean they can be ignored.

      4. Zarniwoop*

        “When another team needed help with unappealing grunt work and I said no, and their manager saw one of my people using her phone for something that wasn’t work related 30 minutes later, I heard about it.”
        If they’ve got time to watch a full length movie, why *don’t* they have time to help with “unappealing grunt work?”

    4. MicroManagered*

      a psychological play to make you feel lesser

      I heard an expression once like “don’t assume malice to explain stupidity” or something like that… basically, it’s highly unlikely that someone intentionally thought “let me eff with their minds by making phones-out a felony, meanwhile I flash my own so they feel less important than me!”

      It’s probably just an overreaction to something. Bad management makes blanket rules to deal with the one trouble-maker.

      1. Some words*

        Or management is eventually forced to make a blanket rule because so many employees are blatantly diddling with their phones when there’s plenty of work waiting to be done. I think this is the more common reality than sudden emergencies. This has been my experience: On mandatory overtime for months, yet plenty of people spending a lot of time scrolling through twitter/facebook/instagram (not on their breaks). Then they’d stay late and soak up some sweet OT pay.

        I can slack off with the best of them (like right now). Work in my industry comes in waves, and there are slow times. The unspoken rule is “go ahead and keep yourself occupied when there’s no work, but be discrete about it.”

      2. fgcommenter*

        Right. I acknowledged two possible causes before including the possibility of malice. Workplace bullying is common enough that the possibility of malice is statistically significant, but not a foregone conclusion.

    5. Tired but happy*

      Re LW1, it sounds like an extinction burst. I work at a Canadian hospital in an area with a lot of academic research and we have enormous rules on when we can and cannot give things to people.

      We had a note saying “If Tyrion asks for X, they are a research fellow and do not give them the info” as we had been called directly and whomever it was was not following proper protocol or ethics.

      Probably a different person. Or I hope.

      But the complaining about ethics clearance on top of your pregnancy makes me think it’s probably better that your team is seeing the back of him.

          1. Tired but happy*

            Thank you very much for the really fancy toasted marshmallow white hot chocolate with whipped cream and sprinkles.


  2. MassMatt*

    #3, Is it just you, or does your company always or almost always hire external candidates for management jobs? It may be that they value experience at other companies more than they do their own.

    This seems weird to me, but it was really common for a prior employer of mine. People would try and try to get promoted, leave in frustration (often lateral moves) and then get hired back, suddenly they were on a fast track. It’s not as though these people were bringing in knowledge or experience we didn’t have, either. IMO this sends a terrible message to employees about your culture but it happens.

    1. Brain the Brian*

      Does it matter either way for the LW, though? Either way, it seems they need to look elsewhere.

      1. Kinda*

        It doesn’t affect the basic advice really, since the situation doesn’t change for them. But it might affect what happens next – if OP is a strong employee and this is happening just because it’s how it goes at this company, then moving elsewhere is probably going to be easy enough. But if OP is not progressing because there is an issue with their work, that may affect their reputation and/or reference and thus their ability to make the step up elsewhere. If it is “just them” and others progress through these steps, it’s going to be important for them to know that so they can consider whether there is anything they can do to change that.

      2. MassMatt*

        It doesn’t change Alison’s advice, but I still think it could be an important factor for the LW.

        If this is an unwritten company-wide policy, then LW should move elsewhere and, as they say they like the organization and what it does, come back at a higher position.

        If it’s NOT a company wide policy, and it only seems to happen to the LW, then I would dig deeper into whether LW has the skills to be a manager vs: a producer, or has some other issue which is hindering their advancement. And maybe look elsewhere for a better fit.

        1. RVA Cat*

          Also, if the company doesn’t promote from within, they likely have a reputation in their industry. This will explain why OP3 is leaving without them having to “bad mouth” their employer.

      3. linger*

        That may not necessarily be the case, if the main impediment was the previous manager.
        LW3 has been in the assistant manager position for less than 2 years, so does not currently meet the posted criteria for the vacancy. No other current employee does either, which guarantees this one will be an external hire. But, given those criteria, LW3 should not have expected to be considered.
        What about the next vacancy? Here, I believe HR has given LW3 some encouraging signs by wanting her on the interview panel for the current vacancy. First, this seems to recognise she has the expertise the position will need. Second, it would have exposed her to hiring discussions which would have (subtly) identified for her any qualities she might still need to develop. Third, it would place her in an identified position of authority for the new hire — who, presumably, would then be available as a voice on the next hiring panel, with no prior knowledge of and so no bias resulting from LW3’s complaint, allowing HR to conduct a hiring process maximally fair to LW3.

    2. coffee*

      The saying “You can’t be a prophet in your own backyard” comes to mind – roughly, an organisation will still think of you as the rookie you were at the start, even if you have grown and learned over the years. It’s often easier for people to treat a newcomer as an expert compared to someone they already know.

      It’s not fair, but it can be a relief to know it’s not you or your skills at fault.

      1. John Smith*

        Quite true. Even 8 years into my role, I still had people referring to me as “the trainee” or “the new starter”. I’m also still seen as the go to person for problems in a role I originally started with but since moved away from long ago and have mothing to do with that role any more.

      2. Mockingjay*

        OP3 is the pinch hitter. Knowledgeable about the org, can fill in multiple places which frees upper management to do other things. They don’t want to promote you; you are WAY too valuable as you are. Unfortunately the fracas with the manager hire tarnished your reputation (undeservedly), because CEO/HR don’t want to admit they made a bad hire.

        Alison is correct; they are not going to promote you. Take your skills and experience elsewhere. She’s offering a discount on her job search book; grab it!

        1. Springella*

          This, and to add that they have no reason for promotion if OP does tasks of a higher, managerial list at a lower pay grade, and have demonstrated that she’s not ready to leave.

          Mood booster, my friend was in exactly the same position, she didn’t get one single promotion in 9 years. She’s recently got a job at highly prestigious company for a much higher pay. As with men/ women in private life, life’s too short to wast it on people who don’t appreciate you.

    3. Irish Teacher.*

      That was my thought too, that the company doesn’t want to promote internally, perhaps for fears of managers having existing friendships with their reports.

      It doesn’t really matter. Either way, the LW will probably have to move on to get a promotion. And it sounds like moving on might be good for other reasons too. The company seems to have problems – the previous manager, HR “forgetting” she applied.

      But it does seem like it’s probably not anything she has done wrong or any problem the company has with her personally.

      1. Observer*

        It doesn’t really matter. Either way, the LW will probably have to move on to get a promotion.

        Actually it does matter. Because even assuming that the OP is not at fault, if someone doesn’t want to promote them in particular it could affect the kinds of information or referral they provide. So, it’s worth it for the OP to consider that in how they handle the job search.

        And I do believe that the OP is not the problem – there are a number of red flags about how the company hires and manages here.

    4. Mairead*

      Yeah, sounds like #3 is not getting that promotion no matter what.

      And I’d bet management will be shocked (SHOCKED, I tell you!) whenever they get the resignation.

      1. ferrina*

        Maybe I missed something, but does LW have the required experience? HR said “2 years of assistant management”, but LW said that they were promoted to Assistant Manager within the last year. If LW’s qualifications are certifications and piecemeal tasks, I can see where they would want more experience of doing the assistant mgr job for a couple of years.

        1. Observer*

          It also sounds like the requirement was put in specifically to disqualify them – it only applies to inside hires, not external.

          1. Mister_L*

            LW mentioned being the only assistant manager. Sounds to me like they meant to say “Not LW specifically”.

        2. MigraineMonth*

          If I understood the letter correctly, the company doesn’t usually have an Assistant Manager position; it was created for LW due to the bullying situation. It seems bizarre that a requirement that only applies to internal candidates would be for something the company doesn’t usually allow, and that no internal candidate has.

          It sounds like “we don’t want any internal candidates” with extra steps.

    5. tg33*

      This has always been an issue, a friend of mine in the early 2000’s increased her salary hugely by changing jobs every 6 months or so. It was eye opening to see how quickly she advanced.

      1. kitryan*

        There was a shift around this – my dad worked for the same big company from the 1960s to about 2003. This was not particularly abnormal as a career path until later in his career.
        He ended up taking early retirement because he’d advanced to a certain point but could tell he wasn’t being considered for any further advancement because they just weren’t promoting senior execs internally anymore – tenure wasn’t a plus anymore, it was seen as a negative.
        I feel it ties in with companies generally not doing pensions anymore and the rise of the tech industry, the decline of the pension plan and general zeitgeist shifts in how we view company loyalty – both from the employee and from the company.

    6. Nebula*

      Yeah this happened at the organisation I used to work at. Most galling was the time I got passed over for a one-year contract, having been told that I actually performed the best out of all the candidates at a technical part of the interview, and then the person who was hired externally – quite understandably – took a couple of months to get up to speed, get on all the systems etc. They could have had me in that post doing the job straight away, but because I didn’t have the exact skillset on paper, I got passed over for it.

      What was also terrible about this place is that it was a governmental organisation with set pay bands. If you were moving up internally, you had to start at the bottom of the pay band, but external candidates could negotiate to start at a different point on the pay band. Since leaving, I’ve found out this is not standard for other, similar organisations: when I was applying for other jobs in the sector, all the job ads with a similar set up stated that you would be starting at the bottom of the pay band. Needless to say, this contributed towards the employees who had been there the longest feeling the least valuable (and literally having their work valued less). Don’t know why leadership at places like this doesn’t see the damage it does.

      1. doreen*

        That’s an odd policy – both of the governments I worked for did the opposite. People coming in from outside would almost always start at the bottom of the pay scale and internal promotions almost always got an increase. There was a particular situation at one for a couple of years where managers didn’t get raises while union employees did – and that resulted in people not taking promotions into management.

        1. Governmint Condition*

          Sounds like we work for the same government. If you’re promoted, you’re guaranteed an increase of a certain percentage, based on how many salary grades you’re climbing. Then they put you into whichever level of the pay band guarantees that salary. They no longer negotiate with outside hires to start mid-pay band because of the inequity that favors better salary negotiators, who tend to be male and/or white.

    7. Phony Genius*

      It could be that they think they can pay an external candidate less than they would have to pay a promoted employee, based on the LW’s current salary.

      1. Carol the happy elf*

        This was my thought, too. If they promoted you, they’d need to cough up a significant raise, but now, they have you already doing the work, to prove you can do the work– AT THE LOWER PAY.
        They have you doing the Pretzel, they keep picking up the finish line and moving it just out of your current reach and resetting the distance while you work yourself silly trying to impress them.
        I did this once, with a husband. (1.0 The Failed Prototype) It’s like watching a honeybee get stuck inside the house. It finds a window and knocks and smashes itself against the glass, over and over because it can clearly see where it really belongs, but getting there is impossible. It IS impossible in the house, and the only rest it gets is on the windowsill, wondering why its hard work won’t get it outside, doing Bee Things.
        In the meantime, it works itself to death trying to make the impossible happen.
        The difference is that the homeowner might help the bee….
        You might also look up something called “The Pick Me, Pick Me! Game”, or something like that. It’s about losing power in a relationship by trying to be the very best for someone else- who exploits your desire to be selected on your own merit.
        Employees, spouses, students, and children are often put through this game, trying desperately to please uncaring manipulators in life.

        (Anybody ever have a professor who said “I do not ‘give’ A grades.” ?? I spoke up and said, “I don’t want to be ‘given’ an A grade, but if I EARN an A grade, I will demand it because it’s mine and keeping what’s mine would be theft.”)

        OP, do not be the bee, the moth-and-flame, the betrayed spouse, the “Good Child we can smother and crush.”
        Don’t go to them and say “I’m quitting, but if you give me that promotion….” Go to them with another job offer, and tell them, “I’m giving my 2-weeks’ notice. Thanks for the invaluable lesson, and I wish y’all the best.”

    8. Qwerty*

      It sounds like their company doesn’t really have a good stepping stone into management. The OP mentions that they are the only Assistant Manager and it sounds like they were original trying to jump from team member to Manager before, so I’m not sure if the Assistant Manager role was an option they were skipping over or possibly created for the OP. Leadership tasks and certifications are not the same as actual management experience, so the external candidates would have had much more of an edge in the interview.

      This doesn’t change the advice to find a new job. In fact, even if OP was guaranteed a promotion once they hit 2yrs of being an assistant manager I’d still recommend to leave. They will learn more and get better experience at a place that has more of a track record of training and promoting from within.

    9. delazeur*

      LW3: “I can’t get promoted.”

      Also LW3: “I was just promoted last year.”

      Am I the only one seeing that?

      1. IDIC believer*

        LW indicates the “promotion” was just a way for the company to fix actions of a bad manager and avoid LW pursuing reparations. The promotion was to a previously non-existing position and a level that exists nowhere else. It was a pacifier only.

  3. Daisy*

    LW2 – Complaining he wasn’t told you were pregnant when you were one month along is really out of touch with reality. Many wouldn’t be sure they were even pregnant, and *especially* in a work situation would not mention it unless they were having physical symptoms that couldn’t be explained in other ways. My first thought was he became extremely homesick and was reaching for any reason that didn’t reflect back on himself. My second was he is extremely entitled and you got lucky he left on his own. I wouldn’t give Joffery a second thought.

    1. Turquoisecow*

      I knew I was pregnant from day one because we did IVF, but I didn’t tell my parents or in-laws until about 3 months. There’s a test for genetic abnormalities at I think 12 weeks, so most people wait until after that to share the news. Anyone other than close family or friends would probably not be expected to learn even that early. Coworkers or new employees? Definitely not.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        We didn’t tell either set of parents until I was six weeks! I told my boss sometime around three and a half months but no one else at work until several weeks later after a major scan.

        1. Rachel*

          LW2: Fellow academic here , and to speak to a specialist point about the month’s delay in accessing hospital data. That seems entirely reasonable. Getting ethical approval to access medical data is a lengthy and rigorous process. A delay of a month or even a few is not uncommon and, assuming you were not negligent in the approval process, not really a cause for complaint from Joffrey.

          1. NotBatman*

            I was coming to say the same thing! I’ve had jobs with a 4-month delay between starting and the IRB finally approving me to look at confidential patient data. It’s a major pain, but that’s just how the system works.

          2. KatieP*

            Higher Ed administrator here, US-based. Just commenting to agree with Rachel. Just onboarding in a research institution can generally take months to get through everything. All the regulatory training, process training, not to mention he probably had to get through Canada’s version of export control before he could even be assigned to the project. Neither the delayed access complaint, nor the maternity leave complaint, are grounded in reality.

            1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

              It really sounds like he was just unhappy or homesick and wanted an excuse to leave.

        2. very secretive*

          With our last child, there were a lot of question marks we didn’t tell anyone (including grandparents) before six months – probably later than OP2 told her colleagues. Although to be fair, I think an employer did realize when she offered me job in October and I said I won’t be able to do it until the end of school year. Long-distance friends learned only after baby was born, because I knew them well enough to know I would not want to answer their questions about why did I decide to refuse this or that invasive test.

          1. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

            With my recent, high-risk pregnancy, we didn’t tell family until 14/15 weeks, I didn’t tell my work until I was 28 weeks and couldn’t physically hide the baby bump anymore, we didn’t tell social media/long-distance friends/people who hadn’t seen us in person in a while until we announced the birth.

            There were too many risk factors, too much uncertainty, and frankly quite a lot of ‘this is not your freaking business’ going on.

            I did tell my direct report earlier than the rest of my work, but only because she was going to be directly impacted by my absence. But the people I tangentially work with? They found out when we rolled out the plan for my maternity leave, because it was a whole lot of not their business to know earlier.

            The idea that an employee thinks he’s entitled to your family planning information that early is ridiculous, and I agree with the earlier posters who think he used this as an excuse to cover up wanting to go home.

      2. Antilles*

        From what I’ve seen, 3 months is generally when people talk about it beyond their immediate immediate circle. The explanation I’ve always heard is that around 3 months is when a number of significant miscarriage risks go away. No idea if that’s real medical science, partly superstition, or pure hearsay – but I’ve heard that explanation and time frame in a bunch of different places and from several different couples.
        The idea that you’d tell a random co-worker 1-2 months in is laughable.

        1. spruce*

          3 months is both when you’d have a very reduced risk of miscarriage and also around the earliest you can find out if there are life-threatening development issues in the foetus that might lead someone to decide to terminate the pregnancy. It makes complete sense someone wouldn’t tell others aside from their very close circle until then.

          1. thatoneoverthere*

            Agreed, we told our immediate family right away. But waited to tell almost everyone else until I was 12 weeks along. Everyone is different though, on when they feel comfortable sharing.

      3. SimonTheGreyWarden*

        I knew I was pregnant long before I took the test. We told our parents at 3 months, and I also told my boss (at the time) then also because I was having extreme anxiety which was affecting some of what I did at work. I didn’t tell anyone else until I was at 6 months because of risk factors and because I didn’t want to deal with congratulations only for things to go wrong. (Like I said, extreme anxiety.)

      4. I am Emily's failing memory*

        Seriously, it’s such a deeply personal thing to share, it’s wild to me that anyone would feel entitled to that information at that stage.

    2. allathian*

      Yeah, I like your reasoning here, and Joffrey’s demands were unreasonable.

      I work for a governmental agency in Finland, which means that a typical recruitment process takes months rather than weeks. To get paid parental leave, employees must inform their employers of the pregnancy at 26 weeks . So I’d expect that if the hiring manager is in the third trimester, the candidates would be informed of the impending parental leave. In an ideal situation, the person who’ll be subbing the hiring manager would also be involved in interviewing the candidates, but if the maternity leave sub is an external hire, they probably won’t be working yet.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Yes, if your leave is already arranged, then you should tell any new hires. But if you are still not announcing or making arrangements, new hires are not entitled to insider info.

        This guy found out the job wasn’t for him, for whatever reason, and is blaming the lack of information about his boss’ pregnancy (!!!?????) as the reason.

        1. NotBatman*

          Yes. My husband and I have both had the “you’re hired! And now the person who hired you is leaving!” experience, and it sucks. I think it’s a valid reason to leave a job. That said, Joffrey is completely off-base (and quite possibly misunderstanding human pregnancy) by blaming the soon-on-leave manager for this situation.

          1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

            He’s a misogynist rather than ignorant because nobody expects anyone to announce pregnancy that early at work.
            For approvals to take a while, I’d say is only to be expected, it’s a serious thing that needs to be done properly. One month learning about stuff while waiting to get started proper when you’ll be working there for a couple of years doesn’t sound over the top to me.
            Joffrey sounds like a right tool to me in fact, and OP is well rid of him, it sounds like he could have made life difficult for everyone else complaining about stuff that’s really perfectly normal.

    3. ChattyDelle*

      I had to announce my pregnancy very very early, as I was very sick with morning sickness & came in an hour late for a few weeks until it passed. do NOT recommend – the amount of “mommy” comments when I was still getting used to the idea! Jeffrey is so far out of line here, he’s miles away from appropriate expectations

      1. NotBatman*

        Yeah, I wonder if Joffrey literally did not do the math about how maternity leave works. He might see childbirth as a voluntary medical experience that people can plan for, and doesn’t realize how much uncertainty is involved in conception or pregnancy.

        1. Appletini*

          It’s a common and awful misconception — how many commenters here like to say “having children is a choice” as if every aspect is under conscious control?

    4. Green great dragon*

      Honestly, a lot can go on in 7 months. I know academia has different expectations about job moves but you could have found an outside job, your partner could have found a new job in a different place, you could have had health issues, you could have won the lottery.

      If someone would refuse to take the job unless they’re sure you will stay for a full year after you’ve signed a contract they probably shouldn’t take the job.

      1. Venus*

        If it was for the length of his employment then he was expecting more like 2.5 years. It was likely to take at least a few months to do paperwork to move internationally and then organize the move, and the potential work term was for 2 years.

        I agree with Alison that he was looking for an excuse to leave and wanted someone to blame and this came up at the wrong time.

      2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        It’s especially egregious since the LW says that there are several PIs involved in the research team. There will continue to be solid leadership while the LW is on leave.

      3. daffodil*

        This part! When I was pregnant I did a fair bit of documenting and making sure stuff was accessible if I had to quickly become unavailable, but soon realized that there’s always a chance for a sudden illness or injury to take somebody out of work for a while. Pregnancy is a rare case when we get a chance to prepare.

      4. Mianaai*

        Yeah, weird unexpected stuff can happen. During the first week of my postdoc, my mentor learned that his previously-in-remission cancer was out of remission and likely terminal, and he unfortunately passed away a couple of months later. It’s not something that either of us could have foreseen. The rest of the team came together and made sure that I had mentoring and projects to work on while he was ill, and someone I’d started working with took over formal mentorship after he passed. It sounds like LW3 ensured that Joffrey would have mentorship and projects during her leave if he’d stayed, which is ultimately what’s required in these situations.

          1. LW #2*

            Thanks — yes, while I was the point person on the hiring, they really were working closely with the other PI’s on the team.

            I mean — it’ OK (not ideal but OK) to decided the situation isn’t good for them — it was the expectation (and the accusation) that they thought they should have been told in the first trimester that really shook me.

            1. Relentlessly Socratic*

              That first sentence changes almost every comment I made re: postdocs. If you aren’t the main person he’s working with then..??? his reaction is all the more wild.

              And still hella off-base for being so wound up over the expectation that they should have been told sooner.

    5. Harper the Other One*

      As an addition to this: even if Joffrey was looking for an excuse, picking the parental leave and making it such an issue is… a problem. In the context of the other complaints he made, it makes him look extra out of touch/troublesome. If you do an exit interview or similar wth Joffrey, it would be a good idea to politely but firmly address professional norms on all three, and I don’t think it would be amiss if you’re ever asked for a reference to mention this, with the caveat that it was potentially because of his lack of experience. It could be “new to the work world” stuff, but especially if he’s been a top student, it could also be a sign of some real entitlement issues that will hold him back and make him thoroughly unpleasant to work with.

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

        If he is complaining about paperwork delays in academia I have bad news for him about his chosen career…

        1. len*

          Yep. It’s also much worse in Canada than in the USA in my experience, and would only get worse with time. Sounds like he made the right choice for himself without knowing why.

        2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          Yeah, the complaint about it taking a month to get ethics approval from a hospital was… something… That seems super quick to me!

          1. EPLawyer*

            a month to get on the health plan. And he’s American. Was he still on his parent’s plan so he never knew what that actually takes?

            My husband had to complete his 90 day probationary period before he was eligible for their health plan at his job.

          2. former academic*

            Yeah, I fear that whatever unicorn IRB he’s worked with as a graduate student. has set him up for extremely unrealistic expectations about approval timelines…

            1. MigraineMonth*

              Yeah, even the “accelerated” IRB that my field used took a while, and my field was computer UI design.

              (Yes, I had to answer questions about the amount of psychological distress I thought my new slider control would cause in test users. Now that I’m in industry, I can torture as many people as I want with poorly designed UI!)

          3. LW #2*

            To be fair, we already had ethic approval for the project — it was a month to get permission to add him to he project.

      2. LW #2*

        My department chair did try to do an exit interview, but Joffrey didn’t show up for it.

        I do think Allison is right, I think he might have been homesick. It doesn’t excuse the comment, but it explains it. I’m over the guilt/anger at this point and can feel a little sympathetic.

        1. Relentlessly Socratic*

          At OldJob, I was hiring a new person to be senior level on the team, that person was never to report to me, but to the person under me. At the time I was the department head, but knew that I was likely leaving to take a new position. Flash forward to when new person started, and later that week I did announce I was leaving. This person was So Very Upset with me for leaving and for not telling them and and and–it was very out of proportion considering that I wasn’t going to be her boss or mentor or anything. Ultimately, this person ended up not working out for the team, which was unfortunate, but the writing was kinda on the wall with their reaction to my news.

        2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          I’m not sure that someone who chooses to criticise you for having a baby deserves your sympathy, but you’re perhaps a better person than me.

    6. tg33*

      I’ve seen parental and maternity leave used interchangeable here, I’m not sure if that makes sense, as a pregnant woman I was entitled to both maternity and parental leave, my husband was entitled to paternity (it didn’t exist at the time, but it does now) and parental leave. Maternity and parental leave are different and cover different things.

      I think Joffrey, if he grows in experiance and maturity, will look back in a few years and cringe that he used LW1’s upcoming maternity/parental leave as an excuse to leave. Not the LW1’s fault.

      1. Cat Tree*

        In the US, where many commenters are located, we don’t have any formal standard system of leave for any parents. Parental leave is often used as the generic term to cover leave for parents.

        And the difference between maternity leave and parental leave isn’t always practically meaningful. At my company, all parents get 12 weeks of paid leave, and birth mothers get an additional 6 or 8 paid weeks due to physical recovery after the birth. Yes, there are some differences about how the two buckets of leave can be used. But in every meaningful way, they’re the same. It would have been silly for me first set my out-of-office message to say I’m on maternity leave, then log in at a certain point to change it to parental leave. Or when talking about events that happened while I was out, I don’t make any effort to figure out precisely when that fell in my leave so I can accurately say which type of leave I was using. I just say I was out on parental leave at that time.

        1. tg33*

          I don’t think you need to change an out of office message (I wouldn’t put either maternity or parental leave in it either), I would just say something like ‘I am currently on leave and I expect to return at the end of June’, or something like that.

          However, HR will tie down exactly what leave you are taking on what dates, as this makes a big difference to how or if you are paid.

          1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

            Yeah, most US companies don’t work like that — the difference between maternity leave and parental leave is more likely to be how progressive the employer is. I expect parental leave to be the umbrella term (and the preferred one, in my circles, as it does not imply that a person giving birth is a mother).

          2. doreen*

            That very much depends on location and job – my jobs gave the same child-care leave to mothers or fathers. The only difference is that at one job everyone got the same amount of leave and could use their vacation time to get paid for some or all of it but only those giving birth could use sick time for the period where they were medically unable to work.

          3. Cat Tree*

            Nope. At my company the pay is the same either way. Maybe you’re thinking of countries where the government pays for part of the leave? We don’t do that here.

            1. Betty*

              I agree with the fundamental point, but some US companies may have different pay at different points of leave, depending on their system. My company (US small business) does actually do somewhat different pay– most of my maternity leave was technically short term disability, which was paid at a different rate than the official, shorter parental leave offered to all parents (regardless of whether they give birth), and I added on some of my paid vacation time to stretch the leave to 12 weeks. However, the only person in my company who needed to know any of this was the person handling payroll/interfacing with the disability insurance– and even then the distinction was between medical disability vs. other leave, not “maternity” versus “parental”. To my coworkers, it was all just “Betty’s maternity leave”.

        2. Jj*

          The point is that the LW didn’t specify so we shouldn’t say “maternity leave” because that makes assumptions about gender etc.

      2. Emmy Noether*

        I also had both (and they are meaningfully different here, paid differently and by different entities). I often defaulted to “parental leave” when I didn’t want to go into particulars, because I want to normalize that all parents can/should take leave.

        The one I really pushed back on was “maternity vacation”, because… just no!

        1. LW #2*

          1) Love the name! It’s high time that Emmy Noether got more recognition!!!

          2) I actually tried to avoid using any gendered language in my letter for a reason – I would really like to normalize both parents taking those leaves!!!

      3. DataSci*

        They’re not always distinguished, and many people dislike “maternity” leave as a term since it represents a number of assumptions (that a pregnant person is a woman, that the way a woman becomes a parent is via giving birth, that the person who gives birth will be the primary caregiver for the newborn, etc).

    7. WhatAMaroon*

      I don’t necessarily that he was out of touch with reality as I shared under Matt R.s comment below. As someone who has friends in academia who have been in these types of roles I have seen how who someone’s PI is and the decisions their PIs make about sabbatical, changing institutions, and going on parental leave can impact their research teams choices/trajectory. This can be things like having to restart on new topics under softener PIs, losing years on academia track, or having to move/restart at new institutions along with the PI. Differently from some corporate jobs a person’s PI can have an outsize impact on next job prospects, connections made, and success of next career steps (I’ve seen it go both ways) especially in a niche research space. While I don’t think the guidance is different to the LW about if they should have shared it earlier I do think is disingenuous for the LW to not be able to understand where Joffrey may be coming from given the norms of academia. There may be other things here about expectations that are off for Joffrey (involvement of PI in healthcare length of time to get access to data) but that’s probably true from someone who’s maybe young with no/very little corporate/academia experience. The expectations for PIs are different from many corporate manager jobs and I’d like to hear from more academia commentariat about this issue. I also do think Joffrey while maybe not we’ll expressed likely did have valid questions/concerns. My guidance had they written in would have been to have the conversation about how the job would look with the PI gone before jumping to quitting right away but ultimately leaving may have still been the right choice for him.

      1. Moo*

        There’s general advice in academia to move to places where there are teams of experts rather than just one person in your area. Because perhaps even more so that other sectors, academics move all the time (PI has their own contract issues, sabbatical, job more for promotion etc etc). It sounds like in this case there was a team, and other people he could potentially work with. The worse scenario is actually for PhD students where one or two years in they lose their supervisor for a variety of reasons. But this wasn’t the case here.

        It sounds to me like Joffrey is not used to academic norms of any kind (or even most workplace norms where some things take time), and that this LW/PI has actually been very considerate of people on the team. I would bet as others have said that it wasn’t working out in general and this was just what was fixed on.

      2. tg33*

        But even if Joffrey is depending on one particular supervisor, it’s unreasonable for Joffrey to expect his supervisor to plan their family around Joffrey.

        1. WellRed*

          100%! spare us from men making demands over the timing of a colleague’s maternity announcement, family planning or anything else reproductive.

        2. Lexie*

          Plus you can’t count on anyone you start with staying. There are dozens of reasons that OP could end up taking a leave of absence or leaving all together. In this situation there’s plenty of notice to make arrangements for who is going to handle what aspects of OP’s responsibilities and for Joffrey to become comfortable with the other people he will be working with. There are other situations where he could show up to work one day and be told OP is out on leave and cannot be reached or is no longer employed there effective immediately.

        3. Punk*

          There actually is an expectation that an advisor will be around for the duration of the contract.

          1. Appletini*

            Does that really give their advisee a say in their family planning, medical treatment, and so on?

          2. tg33*

            There may be an expectation that an advisor will be around for the duration of the contract, but sometimes life gets in the way and it doesn’t work out.

            Planning on starting/expanding a family does not give you any control over if or when you get pregnant, or if or when you will deliver a healthy child. The only time you need to consider pregnancy and work is when you work in a risky environment. It is not reasonable to be expected to put colleagues before family. I take the point that it’s disruptive, but I’m afraid that’s life.

        4. I am Emily's failing memory*

          Exactly. Yes, academia is different in that your mentor/PI has an outsized effect on your trajectory compared to a boss at a company, but in practical terms that means academia has a different risk profile – it does not have different norms around pregnancy disclosure. “I’m rocked because this could be a major blow to me” is a reasonable reaction to have – “You should have told me about your maternity leave 8-9 months ahead of time” is what is wildly out of touch.

          1. elle *sparkle emoji**

            Additionally, LW2 mentioned she told the team about her upcoming parental leave 5 months ahead. Since many won’t share outside of their close personal life people for the first 3 months due to miscarriage risks, sharing the news in month 4 seems pretty reasonable.

            LW2 also clarified in another comment that she wasn’t Joffery’s main PI/mentor, she was just his first point of contact in the hiring process, which makes the reaction seem extra unreasonable.

      3. Alice*

        I agree that while family planning just that – for your family – OP2 could do with extending a little grace here. Jeffrey did not move to Canada to work with a team of mentors. He moved to Canada to work with OP in particular and was relying *heavily* on OP for data, opportunities to publish, and recommendations to secure another postdoc or a tenure-track job. A recommendation from industry partners or from a “babysitting PI” is not going to be as useful, and this career path is super competitive.
        Now, I’m also side-eyeing Jeffrey for being so rude and burning the bridge. Maybe he could have salvaged something useful out of the experience if he hadn’t taken his toys home in a fit of pique. And a month without access to data sounds like a month to write up protocols, analysis plans, a data dictionary, etc – if he thinks that “pointless” training exercises were all he could do, then he’s not approaching this research in a very efficient or rigorous way.
        Congratulations on your growing family OP! Long term, I hope you can make a lab, department, institution, and field with better working conditions, so that PIs and trainees can all benefit.

        1. Colette*

          It sounds like instead of a year working with the OP, he would get 8 months, with the possiblity of renewal for another year (which would be another 4 – 10 months). I understand being disappointed, but leaving is an overreaction.

          1. Annony*

            There are time limits on how long you can stay a postdoc. He may have decided to leave to stop the clock, especially if he was coming back to the US and would need to apply to the NIH for funding. Being a first year postdoc has different opportunities than a second year postdoc. I had a bad first postdoc and stuck it out for a year. Even though I did very well in my second postdoc, I was unable to apply for certain grants that would have had a huge impact on my career. Leaving earlier would have been much better for me. I have heard similar stories from every postdoc I know who did not stay in their first lab. If it wasn’t working, leaving ASAP actually may have been the best choice.

        2. Rock Prof*

          The way I read it, it sounds like he did move to Canada to work with a team? The PI might be the main point of contact, but it’s a very large group, including industry partners. Also, I don’t see why the OP being on leave would make it so he couldn’t have access to their data? It’s not like the OP will be getting new data while on leave and there are literal months to get things in order before they’re out. It sounds like a post-doc or similar position to me, and you’re really expected to be quite independent in those roles.
          I say all this as someone who moved from the US to Germany for a post-doc with a very hands off PI, so I know the burden of uprooting your life. For all I met with my PI my second year of my post doc, he might as well have been on leave.

          1. Alice*

            I agree that OP being on a planned leave shouldn’t affect data access. And I agree that the postdoc should be more of a self-starter – for example, writing up some analysis plans while waiting for data access.
            I think that there may have been a communications disconnect going back to the hiring process. Did Jeff understand that OP has always considered this a “team of mentors” project and not a “lone genius control freak” project?

              1. Riot Grrrl*

                Actually, literally a lot of people if an association with that lone genius control freak provides a substantial boost to your career. I work in the arts and studying under a particular artist or working with a specific gallerist or collector can give you a leg up that nothing else would. I’m not in academia, but this sounds very similar.

                1. Relentlessly Socratic*

                  It can be very similar. Lone Genius Control Freaks can be highly sought-after for their connections, even if LGCF is known to be a glassbowl, frisky with the underlings, or any of a dozen missing stair situations (yanno, as long as they brought in that sweet, sweet grant money with institutional overhead). In my old field there were so many missing stairs, its amazing any of us got off of the ground floor.

              2. DataSci*

                I personally know multiple people who thought “genius” trumped “control freak”, and who really sought postdocs with specific individuals because they thought it would boost their career, regardless of the overall quality of the department. “You’re working for your PI, not your department” is a truism in some fields.

          2. Common Taters on the Ax*

            I never moved out of the country, but when I moved to another state for a job and there were multiple problems there, I up and left as soon as I could. When asked why I was leaving, I told them the biggest issue with the position, which had to do with the organization we contracted with to provide services and was definitely not management’s fault. There were also personal reasons and interpersonal reasons with the staff, and I kept that to myself. I agree with Alison that it sounds like he was generally not happy with his decision, and being unhappy with your decision to move a long way stinks.

            When a manager asks why you are leaving, sometimes they are going to hear reasons that are your individual issues about which there’s nothing to be done. Maybe he hates all the other PIs and their management style, or maybe he just plain regretted the move.

        3. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          I initially had a similar reaction to you, but it sounds like the other PIs are heavily involved in the project and wouldn’t be “babysitter” PIs. I’ve been involved in an academic group like that, where all the faculty in the group would be very aware of the projects going on in the area.

          Plus, I think there would have been enough time to set Joffrey up for success before the LW’s leave, in terms of getting access to data, coming up with research and analysis plans, etc. It’s not the ideal situation for him, for sure, but I don’t think it was that bad.

      4. Alice*

        Another example of the context that some commenters are missing is that when a prof with PhD students moves from one university to another, there will be a discussion about whether their PhD students are going to stay at the first institution with a new adviser or move to the adviser’s new institution. Funding, data access, and expertise can all be very specific to the professor, rather than being allocated at a departmental or team level.

        1. Observer*

          This is not a professor with PhD students, though. And the OP is not moving on to a different institution. The current plans are that she’ll be there for another 5 months, and then come back. And there are other PI’s who he is working with who have no (known) plans to leave.

      5. ferrina*

        I would agree if LW’s leave was imminent, but LW announced they’d be taking leave in 5 months. After Joffery had already been working there for 2 months. So Joffery had 7 months with OP out of a 1-year contract.

        Part of having a job is that the boss is human. Humans sometimes need to leave for Reasons. It’s one thing if that reason is planned for the next month or two, but to require that Boss disclose anything that might come up in the next year? “Well, I play the lottery, and if I make it rich, I’m quitting this place in a heartbeat so I can raise llamas in Colorado.”

        fwiw, if Boss had been planning to take leave of absence in Joffery’s first few months, I’d be a lot more sympathetic. I had a boss that went on parental leave within a month of my start date. I barely got any onboarding from that Boss, much less a roadmap of what to do in their absence, so that was hellish. But 7 months in? Joffery has time to establish connections and make contingency plans.

      6. Observer*

        While I don’t think the guidance is different to the LW about if they should have shared it earlier I do think is disingenuous for the LW to not be able to understand where Joffrey may be coming from given the norms of academia.

        Actually, I don’t think it’s the OP who is being disingenuous here. Evn in academia no one is expected to reveal a pregnancy as early as the OP was. In fact, given how early the OP’s pregnancy was, it could be she wasn’t eve 100% that she was pregnant or still had significant concerns about viability (depending on who you ask,between 25-40% of pregnancies end in the first trimester, and she wasn’t even 2 months in yet!). It’s a ridiculous expectation.

        Also, even in academia people are allowed to make long term plans that they don’t share with every Tom, Dick and Harry. Even one that they are thinking of hiring.

        My guidance had they written in would have been to have the conversation about how the job would look with the PI gone before jumping to quitting right away but ultimately leaving may have still been the right choice for him.

        What would have to write about? Especially since the OP is not the only PI on the project AND the OP was publicly and clearly making and communicating the plans and what it would mean for everything. I mean, she even introduced the person who would be covering for her!

        1. Mianaai*

          Yeah, at the institution/department where I did my PhD, I don’t think I know of anyone who announced their pregnancy before 7 months, for fear of being taken off of projects early, etc (illegal but common in practice, academia sucks). They may have given their students/postdocs the information earlier, but it was not common knowledge or officially announced to the department. Of course profs with pregnant spouses announced much closer to the 3-month mark….

        2. Kyrielle*

          THIS. For those who haven’t gone through pregnancy either directly or helping a partner/friend, you may not know that pregnancy is counted from the start of the last menstrual period, too. So a woman who is (without IVF or the like, where you are very aware of dates and timing!) “one month” pregnant and has a standard/average 28-day cycle has only been carrying the fetus for two weeks at that point, and has only *just* reached the day at which they might reach for a pregnancy test (if they were trying) – and it still might not tick positive for a few more days, depending.

          For people with longer or irregular cycles, they may not even know (even if trying) to reach for the test. And if your cycle is longer than average, your pregnancy may “date” to your last period three weeks before the baby existed.

          For a semi-high-risk, planned pregnancy, I think my first obgyn appointment after the positive home test was…maybe 6 weeks? Might have been 8. Or about, you know, two months.

      7. Relentlessly Socratic*

        Former academic here–for someone to travel from the US to another country to work in someone’s lab suggests to me that this is a post-doc position, and that the person may be considered an up-and-coming rock star (suggesting that he’s bringing something to the party that a Canadian wouldn’t be able to bring).

        I can certainly see that he may have come to work specifically with the PI, and that he feels as if working without her, he’s somehow getting less than he expected out of the deal. Factor in the time-lines of post-doc positions and the clock ticking on actually getting a career (with benefits and retirement etc….I didn’t meaningfully contribute to retirement until my first faculty position at 43-ish)…Yeah, I get his frustration.

        Working with dudes who were considered rock stars (young PhDs or MD/PhDs), a non-zero number of them conceivably could have reacted in an identical way to this situation. Burning a bridge this way is not a great look, for sure. I was part of that treadmill for some time, and am still health care/academia adjacent and, hoo boy, the egos are unbelievable.

        TL;DR Joffrey is unreasonable. Don’t sweat it.

      8. Heather*

        Completely agree. The OP did nothing wrong but the reaction shouldn’t be a surprise either.

      9. Darsynia*

        It is sincerely out of touch with reality to expect to be informed as a job candidate if the person hiring you is possibly 4 weeks pregnant, as he seems to be implying.

        You wouldn’t be entitled to that information even if it was a 2 person job and you were the only job candidate. It’s just too early. It’s very possible someone wouldn’t even know they were pregnant yet.

        1. Punk*

          It’s not out of touch for a postdoc who signed a one/two year contract to expect the PI to fulfill their end of the bargain.

          1. Rock Prof*

            But the PI’s end of the bargain was to provide funding and data for a postdoc, not necessarily day to day oversight. It’s also clearly a large research group with other PIs involved, and she found an explicit replacement for herself, as well as telling everyone of their future plans with months of advance notice. Not only is this fulfilling the PIs end of the bargain but going above and beyond.

      10. LW #2*

        Joffrey did have a sense of how his research mentorship would look after I went on leave (I talked about it when I announced my upcoming leave — and in the letter I did mention his mentorship team because I wanted to make it clear that it wasn’t a 1-PI is in control of the Post-docs future sort of situation).

        He was already working closely with the two other academic PI’s on the team one of whom was assuming the role of primary mentor for the duration of my leave (and Joffrey had been scheduled to do a translational stint at the industry partner so had been working with them as well)

    8. JSPA*

      Just tell me that the field isn’t biology [sigh].

      Some people are just broadly confused about life, though good with one tiny aspect. Suspect that’s what’s going on, here.

      There are plenty of more specific options (he knows and hates the replacement; he had a specific vision of working closely with the LW on a daily basis; he misunderstands “family leave” for “sabatical”; he’s had people make up force majeure stories in the past, to ditch his sorry ass; he distrusts females and organs, and went rogue when forced to face the fact that his mentor has a reproductively-functional uterus and that it’s in use; he thinks pregnancy happens exactly when you want it to, and only then; etc).

      While it is true that parts of the US are shockingly bad at sex ed (and more tolerant of misogyny?) compared to much of Canada…thus allowing him to wallow in some combination of prejudice, ignorance and assumptions… it’s clearly true that he’s just not great at dealing with life, in ways that have everything to do with him, and not much to do with coming from the US.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      Joffrey’s line about being the first need-to-know about her pregnancy was ridiculous. (I imagine a very young person.)

      The stuff about access did resonate with me though. If you’re newly within a system that is working for other people, and you are trying to get access to the data you need to do your job, access to the health coverage, access to your promised payment… it’s frustrating that it doesn’t work, and you often have no idea how much of a fuss you should be making. Is this going to resolve itself in two days if I do nothing? Do I need to identify the right person who can say “Oh, we need to add Falling to payroll” and can insist that that happen, and if so how can I get that person to respond to my emails?

      I imagine it was mostly being homesick, combined with frustration that the work, the healthcare, etc that had made the job appealing were continuously delayed and out of his control. The maternity leave was one last thing when he was looking for an excuse to bail.

    10. Seacalliope*

      Given that many American states are now legislating abortion on the assumption that 6 weeks is plenty of time to know you are pregnant, I don’t think it’s unlikely we will see many, many more American making shoddy assumptions about pregnancy based on this misunderstanding of biology.

      1. JSPA*

        I’d day they picked 6 weeks specifically because it isn’t, really, but sounds like maybe it could be.

    11. learnedthehardway*

      The major issue I can commiserate with Joffrey about is that, in Canada, maternity and parental leave are a LOT more time off than in the USA. It must have been quite a shock to Joffrey to find this out, just 2 months after he had taken the job and moved to another country (while Canada and the US share a lot in common, there are differences, and 2 months in is just about when he would have been starting to realize it and having culture shock – it’s often worse when the differences are subtle and unexpected, I think.)

      In Canada, the mother initially gets 15 weeks of maternity leave. Standard parental leave offers one parent up to 35 weeks of paid leave, or up to 40 weeks of leave shared between the parents. Extended parental leave allows for additional time in which your job is protected but you do not get government benefits. In total, you can be off for up to 18 months, job protected.

      Joffrey’s expectation of being informed before he arrived was totally unreasonable, and nobody owed him an early disclosure once he DID arrive, but it would have been nice of the OP to have had a discussion with him (and with any other new employees) about what this means for him and his contract either the same day she announced her pregnancy or even before announcing it to the entire team.

      Coming to a new job in a different country, finding out that your manager is going to be potentially gone for 18 months only 7 months into your contract – perhaps when they were a major reason you took the job in the first place – on top of all the other snafus – that’s pretty rough. Joffrey may have over-reacted, but his anxieties and concerns should have been anticipated and addressed, and something should have been done to reassure him, explain that a plan would be in place and that he would be provided the management/mentoring he needed during the time his manager was on leave.

      Sure, the manager could have left for a new job in the same timeframe, and she wouldn’t have owed Joffrey an advanced disclosure for that, either, but at 7 mo in, he’d have been more settled in the role. And a discussion about how this would affect him (or any other relatively new employee) would still have been a good management practice.

      1. Observer*

        but it would have been nice of the OP to have had a discussion with him (and with any other new employees) about what this means for him and his contract either the same day she announced her pregnancy or even before announcing it to the entire team.

        You’re seriously expecting a manager to have a confidential discussion about her pregnancy and maternity leave plans with the new guy BEFORE announcing it to every one else? Maybe it’s different in academia, but I can’t imagine that being considered appropriate anywhere else.

        finding out that your manager is going to be potentially gone for 18 months only 7 months into your contract

        Except that the OP specifically say “6 to 12 months”

        ut his anxieties and concerns should have been anticipated and addressed, and something should have been done to reassure him, explain that a plan would be in place and that he would be provided the management/mentoring he needed during the time his manager was on leave.

        This is supposed to be a competent adult we’re talking about, not a child! Furthermore, the OP was clearly making and sharing plans! She even introduced the person who was going to cover for her. If he had any concerns, that ADULT thing to do is ask to speak to her about how this would specifically affect him. Instead he basically threw a tantrum. Complaining that he wasn’t told when she was 6-8 weeks pregnant?! Quitting over that – or using it as an excuse to quit?! WAAAY over the top.

        1. Heather*

          It’s not a manager in the typical sense though, it’s a PI for a postdoc. OP is presumably a major player in her field and the guy uprooted his life to work under her guidance and to have her name on his credentials. I agree he’s being dramatic and demanding but I understand why he’s frustrated and I’m surprised OP doesn’t.

          1. Observer*

            No one is surprised that he is frustrated based on the original letter (although with the OP’s additions, it is a bit surprising.)

            What people are reacting to is his quitting over it and actually claiming that he was entitled to that information months prior. There are a lot of things that are reasonable to be frustrated about, but that frustration does not make ridiculous demands less ridiculous.

      2. Critical Rolls*

        I’m not sure how you came to the conclusion that such conversations didn’t take place, that’s not clear to me from the letter. Joffrey had a litany of complaints and a very unreasonable demand, which makes me skeptical that reasoned conversation could have fixed this once he made up his mind. Seven months is a long time to get settled with your job and your team. And while moving countries for work is certainly a big deal, the transition from the U.S. to Canada is not exactly the U.S. to Brazil or Korea.

        1. LW #2*

          I did actually have a brief conversation about what the supervision/research transition plan was going to look like — and I told all of the members of my team to come to me if they had any questions or concerns because we could add or change mentors more easily this far out of my planned leave.

          All members of my team (Joffrey included) have already been working closely with the secondary mentors, because that’s how I set up my lab (it gives the trainees a second perspective and access to a larger professional network)

      3. JSPA*

        1. there’s this thing called the internet; useful to consult before taking jobs in other countries.

        2. why should a Canadian employer have to know which laws in Canada differ from their counterparts in other countries? An academic lab can easily have grad students, post docs, techs and visitors from 10 different countries. It simply can’t be on the PI to gague what each of them might find strange, based on their home countries.

        Expecting otherwise is a bit like expecting people anywhere in the world to understand English if you speak slowly and loudly enough… Which Americans also famously do, come to think of it.

        As well as not being that person (please, don’t be that person!) we also need to stop excusing that person.

        Canada is not the 51st state. (And for that matter, it behooves someone changing states to check out local laws and regulations too, especially these days.)

        1. Observer*

          As well as not being that person (please, don’t be that person!) we also need to stop excusing that person.

          Yes! 1,000 x yes!

    12. Observer*

      My second was he is extremely entitled and you got lucky he left on his own

      That’s my first thought as well.

      OP, I know that finding a replacement is going to be a pain. But I think you are lucky that he noped out by himself. Because anyone who thinks they have a right to that information that early is almost certainly someone who has other inappropriate expectations, and if he hasn’t already crossed boundaries, it was only a matter of time.

      1. LW #2*

        Yes — I do actually think this will work out for the best. I’ve put feelers out, and have a couple of lucky hits that are from within the province this time around, so we’ll interview them and introduce them to the team (and the person who will be their mentor for the time I’m on leave) and we will see if its a match.

        1. Bad Unicorn*

          Why not just have that person be their mentor the whole time? It seems like you’re setting yourself up here for a repeat by hiring someone to be your mentee and then not being there to mentor them for a good portion of time.

    13. Totally Minnie*

      My second was he is extremely entitled and you got lucky he left on his own.

      This was my thought too. If you look at his other reasons for leaving (not liking his work station, spending the first month on learning tasks he found pointless), those are pretty standard things about starting a new job with a new organization.

      I’ve been at my job for three months. I got the work station people usually flee from as soon as another one opens up. My first three weeks were spent on a fake project so I could get practice doing the tasks we do on real projects. The next three weeks I did tiny portions of projects under close supervision. I don’t think I’ve ever started a job and been assigned a full load of interesting and meaningful work in under a month.

      It sounds like Joffrey had some expectations for how this job was going to go that were outside the norm for how things usually happen. And if he’s used to being the rock star, as somebody above suggested, he just might not be used to what normal working conditions look like.

    14. Quinalla*

      Yeah, you told him as soon as you told everyone else at a normal time to disclose pregnancy! If you had hired him and then been like BTW going on leave in 2 weeks, see ya later! – sure that would be cause for him to be upset, but his reaction here is weird and yes makes no sense with the timeline. Most people do not disclose a pregnancy that early (usually because early miscarriages are really common and you often wait until you are showing to face less discrimination) and often as others have said don’t even know they are pregnant that early. If you are trying and doing regular pregnancy tests, you have a better chance, but still not for sure. He may not understand the timelines, but he has PLENTY of notice. Maternity leave is usually great that way in that everyone does have plenty of notice :)

    15. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      I work at a research university not too far from a US border, and know of two grad students/post-docs who accepted roles with us, but hated Canada so much (one, in particular, took issue with the price of cheese) that they commuted 2hr+ each day so they could live in the US. Endless shrugs for them, and for Joffrey too (especially at his being upset about a ONE MONTH IRB hold hahahah)

    16. Prof. Murphy*

      As academic, I can assure you that Joffrey is an entitled asshat and you did nothing wrong. I’ve encountered Joffrey type individuals who somehow think they know more and could do it better than people with much more experience and expertise. He’s just clueless on behavior, respect, and professional workplace norms.

  4. Persephone*

    LW3 – if you’re comfortable doing so, you might be able to try having a frank conversation with your manager about it.

    Layout the fact that you’ve applied for seven promotions in five years, some of which you acquired additional certification/training for, and been denied all seven times. You’re receiving the same explanation now as you were five years ago—that you’re not ready. You want to advance in your career and they’re not allowing you to. At this point, you have reason to believe that they will never promote you. That means you’ll need to start looking for employment elsewhere.

    Having it spelled out that they could lose you over this might make them more willing to do something. Of course, telling your boss you’re thinking of leaving comes with its own risks, so you’re going to need to weigh that up.

    They’re definitely not giving you the consideration you deserve given how long you’ve been there and the abusive manager situation. Please remember that you don’t owe them loyalty.

      1. mlem*

        Pretty sure that the OP is called “not ready” because the company keeps piling the higher responsibilities on them without the title/pay bump. They’re never going to promote when they can get the extra work for free.

        1. EPLawyer*


          LW go elsewhere. If you really like the company you can apply for openings in a couple of years. It sounds like they like external candidates anyway.

        2. The Original K.*

          Yep. “You’re too valuable where you are!” OP is valuable where they are because they’re doing higher-level work for cheap.

      2. Lexie*

        It says that when OP asks for feedback they are told about minor issues that they are able to fix. It really sounds that for whatever reason someone has decided OP is not to be promoted.

      3. Lab Boss*

        That’s what I wondered too. OP does say they have asked for “feedback” and were given only minor issues, but it wasn’t clear from the letter if they’d asked for that feedback *specifically in the context of being passed over for promotions* instead of just in general asking for job feedback.

        For those in OP’s position, I was given some good advice when I missed out on a promotion: Don’t let the decision to go with someone else be the end of the process. Tell your manager that you’re interested in moving up, and ask about what your specific weaknesses were in this application. THEN, ask if you and your manager can make a plan for how you can get the experience/training/whatever you were missing, so that next time you’ll be a stronger candidate.

        I think a lot of managers have trouble recognizing how much employees develop- once they think of someone as “good at their job but not ready to move up” that’s just how they think of them. By drawing your manager into an active process of building you up for promotion, you also make sure they’re noticing how much you improve. It doesn’t *force* them to promote you, and if they want to screw you over they still can, but assuming some basic good faith from management it can help keep you from stagnating where you are.

    1. ferrina*

      The math is ignoring an important variable. They’ve been rejected seven times and accepted once. They say they were promoted to Assistant Manager in the last year. It sounds like this is their first management position.

      Now they’re frustrated that they can’t be promoted to Manager after less than a year in the Assistant Manager role. That’s…..a very normal requirement.

      I get that they are frustrated that it took 5 years to break into management. I’ve been there, it’s infuriating. Especially when you are dealing with a villainous boss in the meantime (yep, been there too). Maybe the company did OP wrong in the past. But this time, they are being normal.

      1. Sam I Am*

        But LW says they’re the only Assistant Manager in the company. It sounds like that role might have been created for them in order to move to a different branch.

        1. ferrina*

          Hmm, you’re right. If that’s the case, that muddies things. That could either be a compassionate move by a company intending to mentor OP, or it could be almost a pay off for “fine, here’s a pretty title, stop complaining”.

          I’ve seen roles created for people that are excelling and being nurtured, and roles intended to pigeon hole someone and push them out. I recommend LW make the most of this role, and use the accomplishments to get a job somewhere else

      2. Chutney Jitney*

        They weren’t promoted. They were moved to that other branch to separate them from their manager, a bully, whom everyone knew was a bully, but instead of dealing with the bully, they moved the victim out of their grasp. The OP is right not to view that as a promotion.

    2. Totally Minnie*

      I think you can do it without saying outright that you’ll be looking for other jobs. Something like:

      “Over the last five years, I’ve applied for 7 management positions and I’ve even obtained extra training and certification to prepare for those responsibilities. Each time I’ve been told the hiring panel doesn’t think I’m ready for the promotion. I’ve been steadily taking on more complex duties and responsibilities, and I would like to use the experience I’ve gained from that in a management role. What specifically would you need to see from me in order for that to happen?”

      And then see what they say and how they respond. But no matter what they say, I’d still start job searching. They might say all the right things to try and pacify you without really intending to follow through, so you have to look after yourself.

    3. JSPA*

      When they don’t see you as a manager it’s often more about perceptions (how they see you, their biases, them remembering you when you were new and wet behind the ears) than about what you know.

      Even if they are not intentionally screwing you over, getting them to see you as manager material can be a bit like trying to get older relatives to reliably see you and treat you as a full adult, rather than volunteering some “charming,” pseudo-relevant memory about when you were little and they changed your diapers.

      Go elsewhere, then come back when enough old faces are gone, and institutional memory of your early days has faded.

  5. J*

    LW1: In my job the no phones thing is about data security. My office is a call centre, so it would be very easy for someone with a phone to accidentally get customer account information in a photo or voice note.

    1. John Smith*

      I was going to post along the same lines. I’ve worked in call centres many moons ago where staff took pictures of client data using their mobile phone’s camera (a relatively new technology back then). I now work in a job with far more sensitive data handling and mobile phone use is no issue at all.

      I’d speculate that something has happened at OPs workplace involving the wrong use of a mobile phone and management have gone into meltdown to prevent it happening again.

    2. ceiswyn*

      Except that the rule isn’t about ‘no phones’. They’re allowed to have their phones with them, and even to use them; the phones just can’t be *visible*.

    3. JSPA*

      that’s what I was assuming, Though at this point both the camera function and the recording function could be done remotely with the phone in your pocket…

      It might make it less likely that someone will do an actual TikTok at work? Or give them plausible deniability if they want to bring a client / potential client / bank loan officer through the office, and not have that person be aware of the recording risk.

      But more likely they’re just “ideas people” who happen to be tech-ignorant, and don’t realize that if you have the technology to listen to the phone in your pocket, you can just as easily have the technology to feed information into that same phone.

    4. scandi*

      Honestly, it seems like simply control measures applied to workers without the power to push back. You note that it’s common in call centres, but as a counterpoint: I work with intellectual property and have zero restrictions on cell phone usage in my office (I am in, fact, required to have my phone accessible for every system that requires 2FA). Management simply rely on us to be responsible with our cell phone use, and irresponsible use is dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

      Call centres are kind of notorious for extremely controlling workplace rules. The only place I’ve interviewed with that banned cell phones banned every device with a radio transmitter due to potential interference with the research work that was carried out on site.

    5. Emmy Noether*

      I used to work somewhere where it was prohibited to take photos on premises (lots of cars still-under-development around), but we were still allowed phones, just not to take photos. At some point, either trust your employees with sensitive data or… don’t employ them, I guess?

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

      Had same issue with former call center jobs. However, the OP says that they can have phones with them, just not visible and they have the ability to have smartwatches (some of which have cameras). If there was any issues with data security they would not be able to have phones with them on the floor at all.

    7. new year, new name*

      Right, but that makes sense! My office is the total opposite – think lobbyist and lawyer types who are typing emails on the way back from the bathroom – it’s basically every phone, everywhere, all at once, but that also makes sense considering the kind of work we do. Whereas this letter seems to be 100% about appearances rather than actual business needs.

    8. MCR*

      I assumed this as well. My completely uninformed guess is that it wasn’t an issue about company confidential information (because otherwise why would you be able to access that info from home) but about someone photographing or filming a coworker without that person’s consent. An overreaction to highly abnormal, one-off behavior. But who knows (shrug).

  6. Unfettered scientist*

    Lw2: you didn’t do anything wrong but I do understand some of Joffreys disappointment. If I’m understanding correctly, he has a one year appointment and two months have been used for onboarding type stuff and you’re now leaving in 5 months and won’t be there for the end. For others, Academia is really different than most jobs in that you take a job primarily to work with a specific person as an advisor of your research. If that person has to go on extended leave for any reason it can be disappointing. Especially if they are gone for the end of the project when the most help and advice is typically needed. He’s still wrong because you definitely do not owe him that knowledge and it’s none of his business but I can certainly understand more disappointment than if this were a typical job.

    1. AnonForThis*

      Expecting the LW to tell him about her pregnancy immediately after the positive test is wildly unrealistic, but I do understand the frustration, particularly for an short term academic job. An international relocation for a one year guaranteed contract, a month before he’s even allowed to look at the data, and his immediate supervisor out of contact for another five months is not typical. (FWIW, postdocs in my field are typically 2+1, ie an initial contract for two years, plus a one year extension on satisfactory progress, and security clearance generally happens before you start work).

    2. amoeba*

      Yeah, going for a postdoc and then having the PI you’re working with go on leave for most of that time would be super frustrating. Not the LWs fault at all, obviously! But at least in my field, you don’t generally chose a postdoc position based on the institution but really, really based on the person. (I literally don’t say “I did a postdoc at XYZ” but “I did my postdoc *with” person A”). I’ve had one where my PI was absent a lot (just basically travelling and other parts of his job, not on leave) and it already sucked.
      Can also imagine not being able to start your actual work for a whole month (out of a 12 month contract) would add to that frustration. It might be completely different in LW’s field, though, the part where she mentions a team of multiple mentors certainly feels like it!

      1. ILoveCoffee*

        Agreed. LW you did nothing wrong. Honestly, I feel like this is part of the larger problem with how post docs / graduate student positions work, and puts extra pressure on women once again.

      2. Sloanicota*

        Plus, OP says she was hoping/planning to keep Joffrey on for two years, so she would have been back before he left presumably. (not that it couldn’t still have derailed his research or been particularly valuable to have her input at an earlier point).

        1. BethDH*

          And he might not have felt that the second year was certain — or that OP being gone might totally derail his chance at the second year either because of how it might change his productivity or just because the person who advocated for him wouldn’t be there to push the second year. In the US I’ve seen a lot of those “renewal for a second year” things fall through due to internal politics.

          He still handled it terribly to hold it against OP and OP did nothing wrong here. Just saying that he’s in a precarious position and will be significantly affected by OP’s time away even if OP tries to minimize that.

          My guess is that he’s not thinking about OP’s pregnancy math when he says she should have told him earlier, he’s only thinking about “earlier” as before he turned down other positions for this.

          1. amoeba*

            Or he might not have wanted to do the second year (in full). In my industry, you can do two years or more, but it’s also pretty common to do less (like, 18 months) if a job opportunity comes up earlier (we commonly also do postdocs if we’re planning to move to industry afterwards, just usually shorter ones!)

      3. Office Lobster DJ*


        LW should not have done anything differently, and Joffrey’s reaction sounds out of line, AND this is important context for why the news would have been more significant or frustrating.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Totally. Someone, not necessarily OP, would serve Joffrey well by explaining how to handle professional disappointment or a disruptive change of plans, because frankly this reads to me a bit like a hissy fit. But the frustration itself is understandable.

    3. Isabelle*

      Joffrey was completely in the wrong to expect to be informed about LW2’s upcoming maternity leave.

      However, his other complaints were valid IMO:

      -He was unable to do the work he was hired to do for a month, could that ethics approval have been arranged before his arrival? Maybe, maybe not, but I understand his frustration.

      -He wasn’t enrolled in the extended medical plan for a month. That’s a serious issue and could have caused him some problems, or at least some anxiety.

      LW2 referring to these issues as ‘small-ish’ makes me think that Joffrey felt that his concerns were ignored or minimized and how the leave announcement may have felt like the final straw for him.

      1. Annony*

        Yeah. I think he was already frustrated with how it was going and given the slow pace was not at all sure things would be up and running smoothly by the time she went on leave. How would the administrative aspects work while she is out? Things like renewing his contract can’t be done by collaborators. I don’t think he was owed earlier notice, but he was not wrong to quit.

      2. Observer*

        LW2 referring to these issues as ‘small-ish’ makes me think that Joffrey felt that his concerns were ignored or minimized and how the leave announcement may have felt like the final straw for him.

        It makes me think that he has zero real world work experience and thinks that the rules don’t apply to him.

        In the US, most jobs don’t start you on insurance from day one. In fact, it’s extremely common for you not to be eligible for 3 months. So the fact that it took a month is anxiety inducing, because normal or not being without insurance can be scary, but it’s hard to consider it a major failing. Same for the data access issues.

        He also has less credibility to me because even just mentioning the OP’s pregnancy as an issue is way over the top. Citing it as his “big” complaint, though? Sorry, the guy is totally out to lunch.

        1. thirtydaysisnotlong*

          These align with my thoughts as well (also US based).

          We offer health coverage after 30 days of employment. Our last plan would start the first of the month following the first 30 days. So if you started on Sept 2, you wouldn’t start health coverage until Nov 1 (it sucked, but was clearly laid out in hiring and in the onboarding packet provided prior to day 1). We have worked with our carrier to reduce that to a straight 30 days now.

          Not being cleared by security/background checks for 30 days is also normal. And people don’t do background checks until someone has signed on the dotted line AND shown up for their first day. If being able to pass the security check was a provision of the contract, I would ask the hiring team why it wasn’t started earlier. You don’t want to offer a contract to someone who can’t do the work. All that time searching for a candidate and not getting one who could pass would be down the drain. Plus you’ve now had someone who couldn’t pass in your offices. Depending on how information is stored, that could open you up to liability issues. BUT having said all that, I understand not doing the check until he showed up for day 1.

          Not having specific work that Joffrey could contribute to without the security checks coming back seems like a waste of the money you’re paying him. Was it really “busy work” or did Joffrey not see the value in it since it wasn’t what he was hired to work on? I had an internship where my program said I would be doing X. X ended up being stuck in customs the WHOLE internship, so I did other things which were not as cool, but I was informed specifically as to how my work contributed as a whole to the rest of the office.

          Your pregnancy announcement happened on your timeline as it should. Joffrey is looking for everything that didn’t go his way immediately to complain about.

          1. LW #2*

            The “pointless” learning tasks included a range of things that did need to be done but wouldn’t have resulted in publishable units:

            One was all the disconnected online learning that was required by onboarding (and had to be completed before adding him to the ethics)

            One was a focused set of readings/activities (pulled from the internet) addressing a specific hole in his previous training as well as a small programming project) to familiarize him with the scripting language we would be using (but the project itself really was pointless and just for training), since he hadn’t used it before.

            One was ‘housekeeping’ task, which was in preparation of getting access to the hospital data, setting up secure data storage and harmonizing the labels and terminology between our industry partner and the hospital. This was pretty time consuming, but also probably really boring.

            I never assigned him anything totally useless, and I (or my Co-I) always explained how it fit into the bigger picture of the overall project, but I do understand that it wasn’t awesome.

      3. Office Lobster DJ*

        The fact that he added in a complaint about not liking where he was sitting and wasting time on menial tasks makes me think he’s inexperienced and arrogant, and that’s never a great look. However poor his attempt at handling it was, I do think there’s some perfectly reasonable arguments for leaving:

        He moved countries, with all the hassle, stress, and paperwork that entails, for a year long job with a specific person. As mentioned above, working with a certain PI may be the very/only reason you would pursue one of these jobs.

        Once he gets there, on-boarding has already eaten up two months and may still be an obstacle. It has not gone smoothly, leaving him temporarily without things like health coverage. Then the PI announces they will be going on leave for six months to a year starting in a few months. Not only will he not get much of a chance to work with the PI, the PI is the one who had discussed the possibility of renewal. What if he never sees the PI again? What if the PI doesn’t come back?

        It’s a lot of uncertainty for a year long contract.

        So, again, LW did nothing wrong and Joffrey sounds like a jerk, but it is possible that cutting bait after two months is truly the soundest decision for him.

      4. Nancy*

        Getting access to hospital data can take a long time and many won’t allow the process to start until the person is officially part of the organization. Joffrey is going to be in for a surprise if he thinks one month is too long. My researchers manage to find plenty to do while they wait though. I’ve never worked anywhere that didn’t have insurance start on day 1, so that part I can see causing anxiety.

        He simply wanted an out and used the maternity leave as his excuse, give him no more thought LW2.

      5. LW #2*

        I understand the frustration – however at no point did he come to me to talk about his concerns, the first time I heard about them was when he quit.

        To address your points.
        The ethics approval could not have been arranged earlier. The project is approved (that takes way longer than a month), but his approval on the project is contingent on him being employed and having done the appropriate training. I could not ask him to do extensive institution specific training prior to his hire date.

        There was no way to enroll him in the extended medical plan earlier – this was covered in the documentation sent to him prior to starting the position (yes, health coverage is important, which is why this information was highlighted. There were also some issues getting him onboarded because he didn’t submit his work visa documentation as directed, but waited until 2-3 days after his official start date, but at the time I chalked that up to there being a lot going on with his move so he missed an important detail)

        Joffrey was aware (and already working with) the person who would be taking over research mentorship (and admin responsibilities) – and had met them during the initial interview as well. I did go over coverage and supervision plans when I announced my leave plans — because yeah, I do understand that people can be unsettled.

        I’m also not that important in the field — really (although I realize that’s a matter of perspective so I’m not knocking that). I’m pretty good at what I do, I’ve gotten lucky with a couple of big grants (which my co-I is taking on administration of as needed while I’m on leave), and I have been lucky to work with great co-investigators and collaborators who really are experts.

    4. Observer*

      understand some of Joffreys disappointment

      There is a HUGE difference between being “disappointed” and actually complaining that someone didn’t share this information in the time frame he expected. It’s WILDLY unrealistic.

      Also, it took one month, not two, to get the on-boarding things taken care of – there is no reason to believe that the ethics clearance and the insurance stuff happened sequentially rather than simultaneously.

      1. Unfettered scientist*

        I mean if you read my comment I agree with you? I was pretty clear that lw didn’t do anything wrong and that Joffrey was being unreasonable. You’re right that I assumed sequential not simultaneous (my bad).

    5. JSPA*

      he has 1 year, renewable to 2, with verbal confirmation that he is wanted for 2.

      She’s taking 6-12 months out of what would normally be 1+1 = 2 years ( With the one year appointment making it easier for either side to cut and run if it’s looking very unproductive after a year).

  7. Punk*

    LW2: I think the issue is that this job was presented as a potentially two-year opportunity, and he just found out that his manager is going to be out for half of that time. It might be different if he lived in Canada and was planning to stay well past your pregnancy and leave. Given the context, the length of your leave isn’t a blip and it vastly changes his view of the experience. He might also be nervous about his visa – obviously anything could happen at any job, but the manager who signed off on the paperwork for a non-citizen employee just announced her intent to be away for a year. I’d be worried about that too, I’m sorry to say. Did he move to another country with the expectation of working under you? I don’t know how you could have resolved it but he’s justified in being annoyed at how the chips fell.

    But also, if the institution wasn’t great about his paperwork and approving benefits, that’s going to make a non-citizen reallllly nervous about how other approvals are handled. And then he finds out he’s basically never going to see his manager again…yeah, a lot of things added up to make the job not a great fit for an employee from another country on a one-to-two year contract.

    1. Earlk*

      I agree, LW2 can’t put their life on hold for an employee and had no reason to tell him, but it is actually a justifiable reason for him to be upset and leave.

    2. KHB*

      Yeah, I think the nature of Joffrey’s position matters a lot here. LW says it was a one year contract and that she hoped he would stay for at least two years. Is that “at least two years, but probably no more than three” (i.e., a pretty standard postdoc)? Then having your PI on leave for 6-12 months of that is a Really Big Deal. I understand why LW didn’t want to tell Joffrey about the pregnancy so early – but (as someone who moved countries for a postdoc position myself) I completely understand why Joffrey is annoyed.

      On the other hand, if the job deal was “at least two years, and potentially up to 20” (i.e., a permanent position as a junior researcher in the group), that’s a different thing – but that’s a less common arrangement in academia.

    3. ZSD*

      Yes, I found it surprising that the LW referred to Canada as a “foreign-ish” country for Joffrey. Sure, there are cultural similarities, but from a legal/visa standpoint, he has moved to a foreign country, period. No “ish.” He’s in a legally vulnerable position and just learned that someone from whom he could have expected support with legal challenges will be gone for a significant portion of his assignment. (And keep in mind that to Americans, the idea of being gone for a full year for parental leave is, well, foreign.)

    4. Annony*

      I agree. I probably wouldn’t hire a postdoc if I was planning to go out on any type of leave in the coming year. Hiring a lab tech or staff scientist, sure. But having a bad or non-productive postdoc year can really impact their entire career. Postdocs are trainees and vulnerable in ways that regular employees are not.

      1. Relentlessly Socratic*

        This, and it would be pretty unusual for my US academic lab to hire a staff scientist or lab tech from Canada without some documentation that they are more suited to the work than comparable scientists or techs from the US. It’s my understanding that the reverse (US to Canada) is the same sort of justification.

      2. tg33*

        There is no indication the LW2 was planning on taking a large amount of leave before announcing their plans.

      3. JSPA*

        The term “planned pregnancy” seems to have led a lot of people to assume that pregnancy is something you can just kinda schedule.

        Unless you’re asking women who are PI’s to put their hiring (and thus their professional life) on hold throughout large chunks of their childbearing years– or more correctly, unless you’re asking all PI’s who would be taking parental leave in case of having a child, to do so– You are basically asking people to choose profession or parenthood.

        Or you are secretly assuming that anyone who is a PI and hopes to procreate should conveniently have a S.A.H. spouse, and would give up their right to parental leave.

        You can be in a large high powered lab and only see the PI once every few weeks (between other demands and conferences and teaching courses and other travel). Even if Most of your feedback comes from other lab members you still have done work in the [name] lab, using [name] lab access, materials, data, procedures, and philosophies. If you expect to be 1 on 1 with the PI, you’re probably fantasizing, not making realistic plans.

    5. DomaneSL5*

      Yeah this is kind of where I land too. He probably felt the job was turning into death by a thousand cuts.

  8. Charlotte*

    Regarding L1 – my thought is the rule for no cell phones being out is for security. A lot of organizations working with PII, PHI or other data points that could be used for identity theft or other cybersecurity security risks have no camera policies and thus no cell phone rules. The way they’re communicating and enforcing this policy is ineffective and bizarre, but that might be the rationale behind it.

    1. WellRed*

      But don’t you think OP would know whether she works for a place where this is a concern? Because in many workplaces, it isn’t.

      1. Laney Boggs*

        it also doesn’t really make sense. if it was a security issue, why can they use smart watches? why can the phone be in their pocket streaming music?

        I’ve worked in financial call centers and the phone and smart watch had to be in lockers.

    2. AngryOctopus*

      But if that were the concern, then it would have been the rule BEFORE 2020 as well and everyone would have known about it. This seems to be coming out of the blue, and is more about phones being visible than being used. And if they have decided to make the rule for security, why wouldn’t that have been said in the first announcement? What’s happening just seems bizarre and an attempt to make everyone look like they’re more focused on work simply because their phone isn’t visible.

    3. Lexie*

      But these people have been working remotely for 3 years now. If they work with this information in the office they were working with it at home where there wasn’t a no phone policy and they could easily have stolen every piece of data they worked with.

    4. EPLawyer*

      Sometimes it just management being difficult. We don’t have to reach for a reason when it is presumed the LW knows their office best.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Yeah, our CEO hate headphones/ear buds with a burning passion, so they are banned in common areas of the office or in places clients visit. He thinks it’s a bad look and has received negative comments on it from clients, so they’re not allowed at all. Even if you’re just walking through the lobby to leave for the day or to get lunch.

  9. John Smith*

    LW3, I really do feel for you as I’m in a similar situation. A job has been advertised n my team which is basically my current role but at a higher salary grade. My manager already is talking about the new person we’ll take on and how I’ll train them up. When I asked how it would look if I was training myself, his face was a picture.

    “Oh, we’re looking for someone with more knowledge and experience than you, so you wont be acceptable” (I actually already have the knowledge and experience required).

    So I asked how a less knowledgeable and experienced employee is supposed to train someone with more knowledge and experience. Answer came there none.

    All of a sudden, the advert was pulled and readvertiaed with a couple of additional criteria that had to be met which did not apply to any other role in the department and no existing employee meets this criteria.

    Another factor is that my department rarely promotes internally, as they then have to advertise for the newly vacant post. A crappy (unofficial) policy which means many suitable candidates don’t get a look in.

    I’m looking for another employer. I’d respectfully suggest you do the same.

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

      You DON’T have enough knowledge and experience to do the higher level job, but you DO have enough knowledge and experience to train the outsider who supposedly does have enough knowledge and experience?

      I don’t blame you for looking elsewhere.

      1. Colette*

        It’s highly unlikely they’re fully training the outsider. They might be training them on the interal processes/tools, but that’s not everything the new employee brings to the table.

        1. Observer*

          If that’s the case, then the manager should have said so. The fact that they didn’t indicates, that it really is not about higher level experience, but not wanting to have to advertise to fill the lower position.

        2. John Smith*

          Nope. it was to train them in their actual job. internal processes etc are dealt with by a generic training team.

    2. Sloanicota*

      Ugh this is tough, a lot of employers get really stuck on seeing someone in their current role and can’t imagine them in any other role. As you say, the only thing to do is move on.

  10. KC*

    Ooh yeah, while I don’t think you needed to tell him you were pregnant earlier than you were comfortable, you seem fairly dismissive about his work experience.

    Moving internationally for a specific research opportunity and wasting a month at the get go is pretty bad.

    It’s also concerning you don’t seem to care his health care took so long to set up, and as an international employee that’s extra stressful (and who knows what someone’s private healthcare needs are).

    And then on top of that, it doesn’t sound like there was much thought in talking to him personally about how his professional growth and research experience would be maintained with your absence, and add in the pretty poor experience so far…

    1. Kella*

      OP doesn’t say she doesn’t care about the health care or onboarding issues. She just doesn’t dig into them because her new hire framed the maternity leave as the primary problem. And she does say that she announced her pregnancy while introducing the person who will be replacing her, meaning he wouldn’t just suddenly be on his own. If the other issues were the main problem and the maternity leave were the cherry on top, that would make perfect sense, but that’s apparently not how *he* framed it.

    2. I should really pick a name*

      Adding a Canadian perspective:
      I don’t know about academia, but in most companies it takes 3 months for health benefits to kick in, so 1 month sounds pretty quick.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I think this is important context, actually. Joffrey is American and here typically benefits kick in on day one, so a month seems concerning, but that’s very common in Canada where the job is. Perhaps the new system needed to be explained more so that he wouldn’t be surprised or upset (out of curiosity, what are people supposed to do with no insurance for three months?).

        1. Valancy Snaith*

          Pay out of pocket for healthcare access until insurance kicks in, unless they have private health insurance to bridge the gap.

          1. Agnes Montague*

            Depending on the plan, it may apply retroactively from your start date, but you just can’t submit any claims until the waiting period had passed. My current job has a wait period of 6 months, but if I e.g. needed to see a dentist during those 6 months, I could have submitted my receipts after the 6 months had passed and been reimbursed.

            That said, I’ve also had a job with a 12-month waiting period without retroactive coverage in the past as well…

        2. I should really pick a name*

          People still have provincial health coverage which covers doctors appointments and that sort of thing. I think the easiest way to describe it is that provincial health coverage takes care of things done directly by a doctor (physicals, surgery, specialists). I have no idea how people from out of the country are handled.

          Employer health plans cover things like drugs, dental, and that sort of thing. You just hope you don’t need anything during those 3 months, or if you’re lucky, you have a partner and their plan will cover it.

        3. AngryOctopus*

          When I was on contract, I had to wait 3 months before the contracting companies’ health insurance kicked in. It’s not wholly unusual for the wait to be a thing even in the States. Even some companies hiring permanent people have a benefits run in period (I think that’s bad policy, but it does exist).

          1. Relentlessly Socratic*

            This–I had a 3 month run-in at my State University, and I had to go on state-run healthcare (out of pocket) to be covered or else my state would have fined me for not having health care. Despite working for the state. With a 3-month run-in.

            Yeah, didn’t make a heck of a lot of sense to me, either.

        4. Colette*

          Health care benefits in Canada typically cover things like prescriptions, vision/dental care, physio, massage, travel insurance, etc. Basic health care (doctor’s visits, ER visits, etc.) are covered via our provincial health care system. Many companies have a 3 month waiting period; some cover you immediately.

          I’m not sure what kind of health care benefits Joffrey was getting – probably full benefits as he is likely not eligible for provincial health care benefits.

          1. Valancy Snaith*

            Workers on most work visas are eligible to access OHIP (and most other provincial health care) but there’s a waiting period, it varies but is usually in the 3-4 month period. I wonder if part of the issue was that there is literally nothing OP could do to advance that timeline.

        5. Matt*

          A 3 month waiting period on a one year contract (the expectation may have been two years, but it’s not guaranteed) really needs to be explained early “oh by the way, you’ll have to cover your own healthcare at for 1/4 of this [probably low paying] job”.

          I don’t think LW2 is necessarily wrong. They definitely don’t have to disclose the pregnancy to anyone. But hiring a short term postdoc while you’re trying for a baby (regardless of the gender of the PI) makes me feel a little iffy. These positions aren’t permanent and highly impact someone else’s life including international moves. There’s so many huge gender imbalances in academia etc that make it all complicated so there’s no great solution, but a postdoc really isn’t like hiring a junior team member who may want you to be a mentor in a company on an open-ended contract.

          1. Dr. Vibrissae*

            It seems extreme to suggest that (potential) parents in academia should not consider hiring post-docs during their childbearing phase. Even in a country where both parents can take leave, it feels like a heavier burden on women. Certainly, research and hiring decisions should take personal plans into consideration, but LW doesn’t sound like a single researcher in a siloed lab. She is part of a team, and it sounds like the work requires a someone in the position, but the letter suggests a lot more thought and planning went into how this would be covered, including solid plans announced 5 months in advance, that’s a pretty generous timeline.

            1. Annony*

              Taking on a postdoc means making a commitment to mentorship. It isn’t the same as hiring other employees. If you are not going to fulfill that commitment, it is a very big deal. I am a woman in academia. I would not hire a postdoc knowing I am going on leave in less than a year. Generally, you can hire someone who is not a postdoc to fill the role. A lab tech for low level work or a staff scientist for higher level work and they would not need the same amount of mentorship.

              1. Relentlessly Socratic*

                This. You wouldn’t start a new postdoc when you’re taking sabbatical either, or if you know you’re going to retire within the postdoc’s contract.

                It’s great that there’s a team and other PIs, but a lot of the time, there’s one PI with the expertise and interests that align with yours, so moving internationally to work with that person is a big deal.

                1. Anna*

                  But, when your 1-2 months pregnant (as LWwas when she hired Joffrey) you don’t know for sure that you’ll be going on parental leave. There’s a high chance of miscarriage or complications and you aren’t guaranteed a live birth. It’s different than taking a sabbatical or planning your retirement, which is much more in your control.

          2. Observer*

            ut hiring a short term postdoc while you’re trying for a baby (regardless of the gender of the PI) makes me feel a little iffy

            You are seriously suggesting that a PI must put their family plans on hold while working on research projects? Or that they put their career on hold while “trying for a baby”?

            That’s MORE that iffy!

            I hope that you have exactly ZERO input on any hiring or promotional decisions.

            1. Relentlessly Socratic*

              Academia and academic research is incredibly unfriendly to people who want babies. Many people try to have kids during grad school, and then there’s another surge once they get tenure. Because heavens forfend that you stop producing/teaching/publishing once the tenure clock starts.

              It’s incredibly unfair and inequitable. It was not that long ago that NIH amended their requirements for information on BioSketches to basically allow women to explain the gaps in productivity when they had kids.

            2. DomaneSL5*

              Maybe you should consider posting the whole post that Matt wrote instead of cherrypicking a sentence to take out of context.

              1. Insert Clever Name Here*

                What context, exactly, is Observer missing? Everything after that on Matt’s post was WHY he feels it’s “iffy.”

                1. Punk*

                  Matt wasn’t saying that the LW should postpone family planning or stop working on projects, as Observer disingenuously posited. Matt is suggesting that the LW stop making the specific commitment to postdocs and perhaps hire permanent lab techs instead.

                2. Insert Clever Name Here*

                  Re: Punk. Thanks for explaining. That Matt meant OP should consider other types of hiring wasn’t at all clear to me (I’m not in academia), it read just as “X is different than Y.” Would it be fair to say that a post doc and permanent lab tech are interchangeable insofar as capabilities, funding approval, etc are concerned? Just curious if “hire a permanent lab tech instead” is truly a fair alternative or if it has its own set of hurdles that might make a post doc the better call even if the IP were a woman in childbearing years who has sex (or, since OP explicitly states in comments that they were intentional at not using gendered language towards themself, a partner of a person physically capable of becoming pregnant who is in childbearing years).

                3. amoeba*

                  @Clever Name: Absolutely not, at least in my field. Apart from the fact that they generally come from different budgets, anyway, they have hugely different responsibilities.
                  A PhD student would actually be much closer to a postdoc (though of course much less experienced), but I guess that would be more problematic, if anything!

            3. Anecdata*

              Wait no, they explained this — they would recommend hiring someone to do the same work as a “regular employee” ie. a lab tech, a staff scientist, etc (who have different career and mentorship goals). Not that the PI just shutters their lab, just that they get the work done by means other than postdoc!

              1. amoeba*

                That’s… not how academia works, though. (Apart from the different levels of training and different responsibilities, permanent positions are incredibly rare. You might get one staff scientist and/or one or two lab techs in a group of 10 PhD students and postdocs each in my field. And that’s if you’re lucky, many groups have 0. Not for lack of interest, they just don’t get funding for that!)

          3. Siobahn*

            “A 3 month waiting period on a one year contract (the expectation may have been two years, but it’s not guaranteed) really needs to be explained early…”

            How do you know OP didn’t?

          4. Curmudgeon*

            You’re feeling iffy about a woman trying for a baby when she needs to make important work decisions that might affect others. You have to realize that trying for a baby is not just “do intercourse once and 9 months later a baby is born”. For me, it’s about 12-18 months of trying before achieving pregnancy. Then 3 months into it, I miscarry. I’ve now had 3 pregnancies, 3 miscarriages and I’ve been doing fertility treatments for 12 months with no success. So I’m 6 years into trying to have a baby. I should add that this is because my husband has a genetic disorder so he is subfertile and we have increased chance of miscarriage. By your logic, I should not have made any work decision that could be impacted by me going on maternity leave during the past 6 years, or any time going forward until after I’m done having kids. My dad is in your camp. He can’t believe that I would start important work projects or *gasp* search for a new job while trying to conceive. Old school, sexist thinking.

          5. Bobbins*

            I’m assuming that hiring post docs is part of LW doing a good job and excelling in her career. So, is she just supposed to stop doing this critical part of her job while she tries for a baby? Wouldn’t people notice that she’s suddenly stopped being ambitious at work? Wouldn’t this jeopardize her standing? What if it takes a while for her to get pregnant? Does she explain to her boss that she’s trying for a baby so she can’t hire a post doc, and accept the inevitable discrimination and lost opportunity that comes with disclosing that you might get pregnant soon?

        6. Need More Sunshine*

          I think this is very regional and dependent on industry in the US as well – many companies in my area do not offer health insurance for ~2 months or so. Legally in the US (federally), companies cannot exceed a 90 days waiting period for offering health insurance to eligible employees. I’ve very commonly seen health benefits start first of the month after 30 or 60 days, or to have different tiers of waiting periods depending on the class of employee (i.e. management versus non-management). I worked at an insurance broker specializing in employee benefits for few years and only moved roles within the last year (now in HR), so I’ve seen a lot of data points here too, not just where I personally work.

          1. Daisy-dog*

            Yes, and first of the month following 60 days can equal to 90 days for some people. So 3 months is not uncommon.

        7. Observer*

          think this is important context, actually. Joffrey is American and here typically benefits kick in on day one,

          Not in any company that I’ve worked in, my friends and family have worked in (and some of them have worked in pretty big places and / or government) or any job that I’ve looked at seriously. Actually I can think of ONE possible exception. So, I suspect that it’s actually not so typical.

          what are people supposed to do with no insurance for three months?).

          Good question. And one that has been asked many times (here and elsewhere) about companies that have 3 month probationary periods for eligibility for insurance. And in the US, it’s one of the arguments for decoupling insurance from work.

          1. Sloanicota*

            Really? Wow, I’ve been working 20 years in various small orgs that are not known for having great benefits and I’ve never had them delay my insurance after my start date. Well, I guess it’s something that varies by field.

            1. Relentlessly Socratic*

              And in 20 years working in various orgs I can count only one that had benefits that started on day one. The most common is to have benefits kick in on the first of the month following start date and one place I started on the first of the month and I got coverage starting on that day.

          2. Nope.*

            Hi. Now you know someone. And it wasn’t an exception, it’s standard for my entire multi-school university system.

          3. LB33*

            FWIW I’m in my fifties and have NEVER had a professional job where benefits (at least health insurance) didn’t kick in on day 1

            Could be field dependent I suppose, but AFAIK that’s pretty standard

          4. Beany*

            I’ve been a grad student and a postdoc (two different institutions) in the US, and I’ve never been uninsured, nor have I had to cover a gap in employer-based insurance when starting a new position. Perhaps there was arcane bureaucracy happening in the background to make this happen, but to me the new insurance kicked in as soon as I started.

        8. MCMonkeyBean*

          I think there are plenty of places in America where insurance doesn’t kick in right away as well. A couple years ago I briefly worked at a big well known company and your health benefits don’t kick in until the 1st day of the month after you have worked a full 30 days. So that’s a minimum of one month, but usually more depending on what date you started.

      2. Anon postdoc*

        Perhaps there are also issues around differing norms and expectations around postdoc life in US/Canada. In the US, at least 5 years ago in biology/life/medical sciences, people don’t really do multiple postdocs. They generally stick with just one advisor who will hopefully be their strongest advocate, and there’s a 5 year race to get high impact publications and grants and secure a PI position. Most people start looking for alternative jobs if they don’t think they can make it in the timeframe. If one doesn’t mesh well with one’s advisor, the advice is to switch labs as quickly as possible to minimize career impacts.

        I don’t know how it’s like in Canada, but I moved to the UK for a postdoc and learned that it’s really common for people in the UK to do multiple postdocs, or still be a postdoc in their 40s. Bit of a culture shock for me. Joffrey was being unrealistic about wanting to be informed earlier re:pregnancy and his outburst is uncalled for, but he’s probably imagining his academic dreams crumble with all the delays and perceived loss of (main) advisor support. At least that’s 100% what I would feel in his shoes.

        1. Relentlessly Socratic*

          I did two post-docs (in bio/life/med sciences) in the late 90’s/early aughties in the US. Neither one was a great experience and I did not get rock star publications despite being at rock star universities, because my postdoc advisors were well-known, but not great mentors (one was really coasting into retirement). I wish I had been less tied to my geographic area, but I made the choice to stay.

        2. Jaybeetee*

          Canuck here, and I’m not in academia but know people who were/are. I feel like the postdoc thing has become a shifting norm. Academics used to take one, maybe two. But as tenure is harder to find and adjuncting pays peanuts, it’s getting more common to take continual postdocs until you get tenure somewhere.

    3. Siobahn*

      Waiting 30 days for insurance to kick in is entirely common. I really don’t get the “Poor, poor Joffrey” themes here or the knocks against the OP. Also, it’s not like the OP has any control over when insurance kicks in or the timeline of ethics checks. Joffrey will never make it in academia at this rate. What’s next? That he didn’t get tenure and promotion because…someone was on parental leave?

      1. Appletini*

        I think a lot of the sympathy for Joffrey is based in the perception that LW2 is doing something frivolous and female by having a baby. if LW2 were [male and] taking time off for cancer treatment I think many commenters would find Joffrey less reasonable.

      2. Relentlessly Socratic*

        I think Joffrey is acting like a complete brat. I can understand his perspective, but his actions are not great.

  11. Latche*

    #4 – I’m an individual contributor in a team lead position and I’ve definitely had managers discuss the issues performance of juniors with me. It almost always happens when we’re trying to coordinate our coaching around a relevant skill. To me it has never felt different from other kinds of confidences I need to keep on the job, such as those related to conducting interviews, or when I am informed about upcoming changes ahead of the wider team.

    1. ferrina*

      Me too. In some cases I was overseeing the employee so closely that it made sense for me to help monitor progress on certain aspects of the PIP. Even in more minor cases, a simple “fyi, Ferne has been working on her reports, but has a tendency to skip over details” helps me know how much I need to check in at different stages of the project.

    2. SereneScientist*

      LW4 here, thanks for sharing your experience! I can definitely understand the reasons in theory for it, but this is my first time experiencing it directly so I just wanted to sense-check things a bit. :)

      1. MigraineMonth*

        It sounded like part of the awkwardness is that the juniors don’t know you have this information about them. Would it feel better to let them know? If yes, I would make sure to explain why the manager felt you should have this information, so it doesn’t seem like she’s sharing the PIP information willy-nilly.

        1. SereneScientist*

          I don’t know that my discomfort matters as much in this situation that it warrants that disclosure; I’m ultimately not the person delivering the PIP, but my manager informed me because this junior’s work feeds directly into stuff I’m overseeing, so it’s good for me to know but I’m not looking to put more pressure on the junior either.

  12. Lirael*

    I find it a bit strange that when OP2 only talks about parental leave and doesn’t say anything about being pregnant everyone (including Alison) has jumped to call it maternity. Given the circumstances it seems most likely that OP is the one who’s pregnant, but it’s not certain. Could be that it’s their partner. Either way it seems like we should echo OP’s language.

    1. Jj*

      I noticed that too. The LW didn’t specify pronouns either yet a lot of commenters are using she/her.

    2. Jaybeetee*

      It’s an old policy on this site to assume female pronouns when the writer’s gender is unclear. Though yes, for the sake of clarity, it’s “parental leave” in Canada, and both parents are eligible for it.

  13. Irish Teacher.*

    LW2, I’m sharing a class with a teacher who is currently on maternity leave and she didn’t tell me until shortly before she started her maternity leave – I did notice before she told me. While it would have been nice to have some warning, it was her personal business and up to her when she told me. I certainly wasn’t annoyed at her.

    And don’t people usually tend to keep the information fairly quiet for the first three months? Maybe that’s just an Irish thing?

    1. UKDancer*

      They mostly do in England as well (and I’m assuming other parts of the UK but can only speak to England). In the companies I’ve worked in people usually let their colleagues know informally about the 3-4 month mark ahead of submitting the formal notification of intention to take parental leave.

      1. UKgreen*

        Most women choose not to announce their pregnancy until 3 months because, unfortunately, the risk of baby loss is much greater before that point. Furthermore, many women fear being treated differently by their employer once they know about the pregnancy. There are strong employment and equality laws in the UK, but pregnant women are still often treated negatively and unfairly.

        1. ferrina*

          This. Not announcing the first three months is not an Irish or UK thing, it’s a biology thing. It’s the highest likelihood for a miscarriage (and miscarriages are much more common than folks think).

          After that, it’s usually a matter of 1) how much they feel like talking about their pregnancy and 2) how likely they are to face discrimination. Once a woman is pregnant, some people only want to talk about the pregnancy and nothing else. It’s annoying af. And the discrimination repercussions are real- I had one boss who decided not to make me project lead on anything once I announced my pregnancy because “we can’t know when you’ll need to be out”.

    2. tg33*

      I’ve seen the three month mark mentioned often as a rule of thumb by US based contributers.

    3. thatoneoverthere*

      Most people in the US keep it quiet for the first 12 weeks. At least in a professional setting. We told our parents and siblings when we found out, but thats it.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I assume Joffrey is pretty young and pregnancy has been something that happens to people a decade older, not his cohort. And so the obvious-to-me “Most people say nothing until the second trimester” is not obvious-to-him.

      He’s not the first hapless employee to focus in on a completely unremarkable thing because it was the last straw.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Not sure that assumption is a good one — Joffrey seems to be a postdoc, and in the US you typically would be at least in your late 20s by the time you finish a PhD.

        1. Bess*

          A ton of men don’t really know anything about pregnancy until they have a partner who is pregnant.

          1. Solokid*

            Hell, a ton of cis women don’t know anything about pregnancy until they’re pregnant either.

          2. ecnaseener*

            I’m responding specifically to the point about him being young enough to not have had colleagues be pregnant before.

          3. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

            Apparently some (many?) men think that vagina is a direct analog to penis, so of course women pee out of our vaginas. Sorry guys! We have a vagina AND a urethra. Three holes to your two.

    5. Bess*

      4 months or more, honestly. Months 1-3 is the heightened miscarriage risk, but you don’t find out until roughly 4 months about some potentially pretty serious birth defects.

  14. Anonariffic*

    Just wanted to point out that LW2 talks about going on parental leave and when “the child is due” but never calls it maternity leave in the body of the letter or mentions themself as pregnant/giving birth- I believe it’s been said before that the titles are added for the blog, not usually part of the original letters?

    I know female pronouns are the default here but LW2 could be adopting, could be using a surrogate, or her partner could be the one carrying the child. Doesn’t change the advice at all, it still wasn’t Joffrey’s business to be demanding updates starting at the conception, but wanted to point it out since everyone seems to be assuming LW2 is going to be the birth mother.

    1. The answer is (probably) 42*

      I came here to see if anyone mentioned this. Even more: As far as I can tell LW2 never even mentioned their gender- they could be the father for all we know. I could be reading into it but to me it seems like LW2 is deliberately avoiding any language implying that they are carrying the baby, although it might be a coincidence. But social stigmas against fathers and other non-birthing parents taking parental leave could very well be coloring Joffrey’s attitude as well.

      I agree with Alison’s advice regardless, but it’s an important thing to note.

    2. Sloanicota*

      This is an interesting point and might even go towards explaining Joffrey’s reaction, if OP is not carrying a child – I would say family leave in the US unfortunately is a bit less common when the person involved is not delivering a child, and Joffrey may have the wrong-headed sense that it’s more “optional” or could have been planned or scheduled differently.

    3. Lizzy May*

      I was thinking the same thing. Living in Canada I’ve gotten very used to parents other than the person giving birth taking leave and I am surprised how many people have jumped to the maternity leave conclusion.

    4. ILoveCoffee*

      good point – I think one of the reasons I jumped to female was because men in academia are much less likely to use much (if any) family leave. Granted I am in the US not Canada.

    5. I'm Just Here for the Cats!!*

      Good catch! If the OP is not a woman or is not pregnant themselves I could see American Joffrey feeling like the 6 months- 1 year parental leave is too much and optional, being that there is no such equivalent leave in the US. He also may feel like this is more of a sabbatical and so he should have been told up front.

      Still doesn’t make it right and OP had no reason to tell him earlier. But it could possibly explain some of his complaints

    6. Anonymous 75*

      Yeah I noticed that as well and was wondering if the specific use of “parental leave” vs maternity was indicative that the LW was not the one pregnant or if it was just a Canadian thing.

    7. Punk*

      That actually casts the LW in a worse light because it means they would have had more knowledge of the leave timeline (they knew the adoption was underway) when interviewing Joffrey – this interview would have involved detailed conversations about the one/two year project plan – and made the hire knowing from the start that they wouldn’t be there to follow through on the advisory commitment. Adopting is a deliberate decision in ways the pregnancies aren’t always, and even building delays into the process, there’s no scenario where LW wasn’t being dishonest about what they were promising Joffrey, if we’re talking about adoption.

      1. DataSci*

        I am an adoptive parent. We had twenty-four hours notice that we were becoming parents – the birth parents made their placement decision at the hospital. This is not as uncommon as you might think. And the wait time before a match can be years long, so we’re back to expecting anyone trying to become a parent by whatever means to disclose this to people they barely know.

  15. anxiousGrad*

    A month to get ethics approval (letter 2) sounds pretty reasonable to me, honestly. Considering the amount of training you usually have to do to get access to human data (I’m assuming it’s human since it’s from a hospital), and then the amount of bureaucracy usually involved in getting access to these things. It sounds like Joffrey’s expectations were generally off.

    1. tg33*

      I have no idea about this, but I wonder if they need to streamline their process to onboard people if it’s taking too long for international candidates? The answer might be that they can’t do it faster, and the candidate needs to be advised that this is the case.

      None of this may have made a difference to Joffrey though.

        1. LW #2*

          We already had approval for the project. He had to do all of the ethics and onboarding training before we submitted his name for approval (It’s tedious and I don’t blame him for not liking it, it just had to be done).

          None of that could be done before he arrived.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Yeah, I definitely get a flavor of “There’s a system in place, and we’re all just little cogs and can’t affect it” and when you are a new person for whom that system isn’t working, that’s very frustrating. Particularly because you don’t know how to get it to work.

      2. Sloanicota*

        Yeah this is interesting. Maybe they just needed to be sure Joffrey was clear on the likely timeline before he accepted. It sounds like OP was not concerned by the schedule. He’s clearly acting inexperienced when he says he wanted to know about the leave, as it’s very common for people to play that close to the vest in professional settings. We recently hired someone who is about to go on mat leave, and while I know my boss is a bit put out, that’s just the way the cookie crumbles, and everybody understands why it wasn’t brought up sooner and knows to keep their disappointment to themselves.

    2. IRB analyst*

      In my experience (US not Canada) the ethics approval part alone should not take nearly that long if it was just adding one more name to the research team. He would have needed to fill out some forms and do some trainings first, but if he had nothing else to do all day those wouldn’t have taken very long. (And I’m guessing the ‘learning “pointless” tasks’ weren’t the ethics trainings?) Like, once we get a submission to add someone to a research team, if they’ve done the training, it’s usually approved that day.

      My guesses are bureaucratic issues like you said (IT issues with his institutional account, etc) or that adding him to the research team was included in a larger submission with more substantive changes.

      1. Science anon*

        Agreed, I think it’s funny that so many people are assuming Joffrey must be way off here. I imagine he’s getting added to an already approved protocol- I had to do about a full day of self-paced training and fill out some forms to get added to our existing IRB.

        1. anxiousGrad*

          I mean I’m speaking from my experience having done research at 5 different institutions (4 in the US, 1 abroad but not in Canada). Some of them absolutely took less time to take care of this stuff, but I’ve also had situations where it took months for me to get access to basic things.

        2. Relentlessly Socratic*

          IRB training and adding to existing protocols shouldn’t take too long, but if he’s putting in a new protocol, then factor in submitting @ 2 weeks before a monthly IRB meeting and you can see how the timeline expands.

          Should he know better? Probably?

          1. ecnaseener*

            Oh you’re absolutely right about a new study, I interpreted it as getting him permission to access already-approved data. If that’s a new study, a month could be totally normal (or short!) depending on the institution.

            1. Relentlessly Socratic*

              LW2 commented elsewhere that it was an existing protocol, so my hypothesis was proven false.

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      We have to get federal government background checks on new hires (US here) and it can take forever. Any time you have to get a background check or some sort of approval, it can take a long time. This is actually a good thing.

      It does sound like Joffrey’s expectations were off here, possibly because he was woefully underinformed/misinformed about the nature of this process. LW has nothing to worry about.

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          That’s exactly it. Even if we extend an employment offer, it’s contingent upon successful completion of a background check, and they can’t start until they’ve passed it. It’s really frustrating to some candidates (covid has made a long process even longer) and it’s really frustrating to our teams that are short-staffed, but it’s just a part of the cost of doing business in this field.

          The upside is that people basically know if they’re going to pass or not, so it’s just a matter of being patient. I suspect the same was true for Joffrey in that he knew there was nothing in his background that would cause an issue, but grew impatient at having to do busy work. Which is sometimes what you have to do when you’re in a holding pattern.

  16. Pocket Mouse*

    #3 – “I was then promoted to assistant manager at another branch…” Wait, so they did promote you!

    It does seem like there was something off about the seven jobs you applied to and did not get, but it’s not clear what those roles were. Were the management roles full manager titles? I don’t think it’s inherently unreasonable to ask that hires into a full manager position have some amount of experience with management, whether internal or external. If you were applying for full manager positions, and you don’t have prior managing experience (maybe your new role as assistant manager is the only route for this within the company?), it makes sense that some external hires would have more applicable experience than you did for full manager titles, and that the company would realize along the way that they were highly unlikely to hire anyone into a full manager role without at least two years of some kind of management experience.

    However, if you were applying to more entry-level management positions, yeah, something was up and they preferred to keep you where you were. And it sounds like you were more than ready to be a team lead. Now that you are an assistant manager though, two years before becoming a full manager seems reasonable to me as a preferred qualification. It’s up to you whether you trust that the benchmark won’t change in the interim. If there’s not a comparable minimim level of experience for external hires, that would lessen my confidence in the prospects. Either way, I’d suggest a conversation with your supervisor and/or the CEO about what ‘ready’ for the next level looks like to them. You don’t say you’ve actually had this conversation at any point, and it would be well worth clarifying (or finding out that they’re not clear on what they want to see from internal hires) so you can plan accordingly.

    1. ferrina*

      Yes! Something about LW3 isn’t adding up. They complain that they never get promoted, but they just got promoted less than a year ago to assistant manager. They complain that HR won’t promote them to manager, but HR is clear that internal candidates need 2 years of assistant management experience and OP has less than one year. So…..OP is complaining that they don’t meet the very reasonable qualifications?

      Something else is going on here.

    2. Chutney Jitney*

      No, they did not promote the LW on merit or for their hard work. They created a role for them at another branch to remove them from a bullying situation. Instead of dealing with the bully. And now are claiming that to apply for an actual management role, one would have to have 2 years in this role that didn’t exist prior to its creation. That wording is directly targeted at the LW.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        I mean, I’m just using the language the LW used! The LW doesn’t say that the assistant manager position was created for them, just that they’re currently the only one, and it’s possible the bully was fired (the LW doesn’t know whether this is the case). What we do know is that the company is very reluctant to promote people they don’t think are ready, and they did move the LW into a management-level role, so at that point they must have thought LW was ready for the move. It sounds like a pretty small company if the CEO is acting as a manager for one of the branches, so it’s not impossible that one branch needs/has an assistant manager and the other(s) don’t.

        …Unless you’re the LW? In which case, please give more details, including what specifically they say when they tell you you’re not ready for the positions you’ve applied to.

  17. Green great dragon*

    LW3 I think you need to ask them what you need to do to be ready. I could read your story as someone who is doing a great job at their current grade, went for promotion before you were ready (it’s possible to be great in your current role yet not be ready for promotion) but is gradually being given more stretching tasks and has now been promoted to assistant manager with the hope that in a couple of years you’ll be ready for the next step. But they should be able to explain where they see gaps. And I don’t know if that’s a plausible reading for your company – is it common for people to be promoted to full manager without assistant manager experience?

    But it might be they just don’t see you as ready for promotion due to their own shortcomings.

    Either way, no reason not to see what else is out there.

    1. BatManDan*

      The one and only time I’ve been employed as an adult (successful 35-year career as a self-employed person), when I asked what it would take to get promoted (position had been vacant for 8 months), I got fired. Literally, one week later. Confirmed through back channels that the acting region manager (RM was the position I wanted) was the one that orchestrated it. So, yeah, I’ll stay self-employed from here on out.

      1. ferrina*

        Counter point- I’ve regularly asked “what can I do to be ready for the next level?” Most of my bosses loved that question. Sometimes the answer was BS (“you can be ready by doing key parts of my job for me!”), but that also helped me know how likely the boss would be to advocate for me (and whether I’d need to leave to get promoted). With a good boss, it will help you be on the same page with them, and it will mean that when you are ready for a promotion, they’ll have more ammunition they can use to fight for you.

        1. Qwerty*

          I love this question both as manager and as an employee. The resulting conversation is super productive. Especially because humans are not as good at communicating as we think, so maybe some manager feedback wasn’t getting through to the employee or sometimes the employee wasn’t clear that they were persuing the promotion.

          Heck, I even had HR answer the question by basically telling me that the reason for not promoting me was BS and she fully expected me to find a better job. I hadn’t been planning on job hunting until she gave me a friendly nudge.

  18. matt r*

    the discussions of the right time to tell Joffrey that LW2 was pregnant are so odd to me. the answer, imho, is a simple “whenever LW2, wants, possibly never, because it’s none of his damn business.” i also suspect he would’ve brought it up as a problem if it was happening at the very end of his tenure.

    1. WhatAMaroon*

      As someone who has friends in academia who have been in these types of roles I have seen how who someone’s PI is and the decisions their PIs make about sabbatical, changing institutions, and going on parental leave can impact their research teams choices/trajectory. This can be things like having to restart on new topics under softener PIs, losing years on academia track, or having to move/restart at new institutions along with the PI. Differently from some corporate jobs a person’s PI can have an outsize impact on next job prospects, connections made, and success of next career steps (I’ve seen it go both ways) especially in a niche research space. While I don’t think the guidance is different to the LW about if they should have shared it earlier I do think is disingenuous for the LW to not be able to understand where Joffrey may be coming form given the norms of academia. From my reading Joffrey was sharing (maybe not well) that he may have made a different decision about going down this path with that knowledge because who your PI is informs many next opportunities and they may not have wanted to move to a different country and do all that entails to only collaborate with the co-PIs and not directly have their primary PI engaged/active. There may be other things here about expectations that are off for Joffrey (involvement of PI in healthcare lengha of time to get access to data) but that’s probably true from someone who’s maybe young with no/very little corporate/academia experience. So while maybe there was nothing that could be done in this particular situation I don’t think it’s weird that we’re discussing when the LW could have ideally shared this news with people they are hiring. The expectations for PIs are different from many corporate manager jobs and I’d like to hear from more academia commentariat about this issue. I also do think Joffrey while maybe not we’ll expressed likely did have valid questions/concerns. My guidance had they written in would have been to have the conversation about how the job would look with the PI gone before jumping to quitting right away but ultimately leaving may have still been the right choice for him and the PI being on parental leave may have still been the primary driver

      1. tg33*

        If the job is one or two years long, does that mean the PI should discuss when they are going to start trying for a family? I see the points you raise, but I can’t see a better way of resolving the situation.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          People who moved institutions to work with you for a short period are likely to be upset if you then bring in voluntary changes. That could be parental leave, moving to a new institution 1000 miles away, taking a sabbatical far away, etc. It doesn’t mean you have to get their permission for any of those. But it affects people.

          They will also have feelings if you are hit by a bus, or otherwise removed from your expected role by factors over which you had no control. If the reason was outside your control, most people hide those feelings better.

          1. ferrina*

            It also depends on when those changes will occur. I had a boss that went on parental leave less than a month after I started- that sucked and was awful (I only learned about the leave on my start day; it was never mentioned in the interviews or hiring process). But asking a PI to block off the next 1-2 years of their life isn’t reasonable, especially for something as unpredictable as pregnancy.

            Depending on the length of the hiring process, OP’s child may not have even been conceived when Joffery was offered the position. It’s unreasonable for OP to say “I am trying to conceive and have a child, and may or may not be successful in that during the duration of this contract.” (similar for adoption- it’s a hurry-up-and-wait, and the adoptive parents have to be ready for anything and have little or no control over the timing)

          2. Observer*

            People who moved institutions to work with you for a short period are likely to be upset if you then bring in voluntary changes.

            Sorry, that’s insanity. Sure, I get the frustration. But the idea that someone needs to put their attempts to grow their family on hold until they are at such point that they won’t be hiring anyone is absurd. So is the idea of never hiring anyone during the period when you are trying to grow your family – it’s something that is sooo unpredictable, even with no known problems, that you simply cannot expect that.

            Same for a lot of other things. People cannot be expected to put their lives on hold when they are in a hiring and they cannot stop hiring when trying to make major changes in their lives that can have unpredictable timelines. It’s not just family planning, either.

            So, feeling disappointed, sure. Throwing a hissy fit? Claiming that he was owed this information that early on? Not at all.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              Pretty sure no one has said that the hissy fit was justified. Several people have said that in this particular circumstance–moving to another country to spend a year working for a specific principal investigator as a step in your career–anything that derails that plan for the employee is going to be quite frustrating for them, and you probably can’t expect a sincere “Hey, people gonna live their lives, and they won’t ask my permission” when your actions just disrupted someone else’s career plans.

              It’s a case where there is no standard that is fair to everyone. and would produce no frustrated people deciding to quit.

        2. I'm Just Here for the Cats!!*

          What? I can’t tell if you are being serious or not. In no setting should someone discuss when they are going to start trying for a family with potential employees.
          For one thing, we don’t know if this was planned. Things happen. Are you saying that people should stay 100% abstinent so pregnancy doesn’t cause a situation with their employees?

          I can see if this was something like a sabbatical where it would be planned well in advance and you know exactly when you would leave. This is not that! It should be seen the same way if the person was unexpectedly having a medical issue and would be gone.

          1. Siobahn*

            “Are you saying that people should stay 100% abstinent so pregnancy doesn’t cause a situation with their employees?”


            Oh. Em. G. ^^^^^^THIS^^^^^^ That seems to be a theme here, and it’s…weird.

          2. WhatAMaroon*

            That is not what I’m saying. People will live their lives but I’m not saying that I thought there was anything different the LW2 could or should have done in this situation. But as Falling Dipthong pointed out even if I agree that this person handled their disappointment poorly and based on LW2s comments didn’t take any other reasonable approach to talking through concerns it’s not an invalid point that LW2’s life impacts this person in a way that’s different in academia settings from many traditional corporate jobs and their frustration is not also invalid. Poorly handled by Joffrey but not totally out of nowhere.

  19. English Rose*

    LW1 – it seems this is most likely about optics because of the strange contrariness of being able to use the phone – for music and SMS via watch – without it being visible. Still really odd to me though because unless someone has long hair, wearing earbuds is really obvious and just as distracting as having the phone out. Are you by chance in an area of the office which is visible to visitors?
    But put this together with the illogical decision to have everyone in the office unnecessarily four days a week and it is odd.

    1. Artemesia*

      earbuds listening to music is nowhere near as distracting as laying games or watching movies on phones.

      1. H3llifIknow*

        That was kinda my thought. I can listen to music and still hear someone talking to me, and if my Apple watch vibrates, I can quickly glance at it and see if it’s something I need to read/attend to or just a reminder, etc… But I see in so many offices people with their eyes glued to their phones, and it is oftentimes blatantly obvious it isn’t work related. My guess is that is what they’re trying to avoid; people who just cannot stop looking at their dang phones and focus on the monitor/work in front of them, although they do seem unnecessarily evangelical about it!

      2. I'm Just Here for the Cats!!*

        But it’s not the use of phones, its having the phones visible. Please tell me how having my phone on my charger on my desk is a problem?

        Also, If someone is playing a game or watching a movie with earbuds in how is that distracting? I could see maybe for a moment while you walk by their desk or something, but once at your own desk don’t you focus on your computer/ own work? Can you even see the other person or is it knowing that someone is doing something that is distracting?

        1. H3llifIknow*

          “But it’s not the use of phones, its having the phones visible. Please tell me how having my phone on my charger on my desk is a problem?”

          So, if you’re not going to be USING the phone while it’s on the desk, why is it such a big deal NOT to have it there versus in a drawer or your purse/coat pocket/wherever? If it’s there, in view, people WILL use them. So many simply cannot help themselves. Why do you (or anyone) NEED to SEE the physical phone … laying there charging or whatever… if you have no intention of picking it up every 5 minutes to see what’s on Facebook, or how your Candy Crush score is holding up or whatever?

          “Also, If someone is playing a game or watching a movie with earbuds in how is that distracting?”

          Ummm nobody should be playing a game or watching a movie on their phone, with OR without earbuds WHILE AT WORK, where they are being paid to … not do that. How is that distracting? How is that NOT distracting, if not to others, definitely to the ones playing on their phones… at WORK. If I ever got to the point where my phone cannot simply be out of my sight for a few hours, while still WITHIN REACH if needed, I would seek professional help for addiction.

    2. thatoneoverthere*

      Yeah I don’t see how listening to music or podcasts is distracting. Honestly I have to listen to something while I am working. The quiet and mundane environment of an office drives me crazy. I get more distracted when there is nothing to listen to.

      At home I put Nature Scenes on my TV, of birds and water. I need some kind of Brown or White noise.

      1. thatoneoverthere*

        To add to the above, I would seriously consider leaving a job if I couldn’t listen to anything.

      2. I have RBF*

        I WFH, and I have a nice rain/brook white noise generator on in the background. If I have something with spoken words on in the background it suddenly becomes my foreground – it’s a function of my ADHD. So I do music or white noise. YMMV.

      3. H3llifIknow*

        It sounds like listening to music/podcasts is fine thru earbuds, etc… but it’s the actual phones sitting out that is the problem. My phone works just fine to transmit to my apple watch and airpods while in a drawer, so it wouldn’t bother me if the boss said “put the phone out of sight.” It might make me wonder what’s up their nose about it, but it really is NOT a big deal to NOT have a phone ON THE DESK. I suspect the boss in this case thinks having them out and visible makes them too… tempting? A lot of people are sooooo addicted to their phones: checking them endlessly, playing games, checking Facebook or Reddit feeds all day, etc… But nowhere in the letter did it say anything about not being permitted to listen to music etc… and it EXPLICITLY said that earphones and smart watches ARE permitted.

  20. Skippy*

    LW3: If you are not getting specific, actionable feedback from the higher ups at your company as to why you’re not getting promoted, there is probably something political going on. As much as you love this company, if you want to move up you are going to have to leave.

    I was in a similar situation at an organization I loved: my boss left, and despite the fact that I was highly qualified for the position and had received 10 years worth of outstanding performance reviews that praised my skills as both a manager and leader, they put me through multiple interviews over six months and ultimately hired a significantly less experienced outside candidate. I ended up leaving a year later.

    I hate when companies pull this nonsense.

    1. Lab Boss*

      That’s definitely one thing that can be going on- but I think it’s also on the candidate to ask for that specific actionable feedback (and to make it clear they mean promotion-related feedback, not general job feedback). It’s easy for a boss to know someone’s not quite ready yet, but not really think about why- and then that’s just how they think of that employee, and it’s hard to break out of the pigeonhole.

      That’s not good management but it’s also not necessarily malicious or political, it’s just low-effort thinking. Talk to your boss about what you want to know and how you want to develop, and if they still can’t put words to it then it’s more likely they don’t have a real reason.

    2. Turingtested*

      at a former job any manager could veto anyone’s promotion to management with or without explanation. I wonder if LW is being blocked because someone hates his striped socks or another equally ridiculous reason.

  21. I should really pick a name*

    Unrelated to the question, I’m curious as to why LW1 is working 6 hours in the office then finishing the day at home. That just sounds like a hassle.

    1. Random Academic Cog*

      I used to do that 20 years ago. In my case there wasn’t yet a company culture of remote work, but it enabled me to be available for the in-person formal and informal consults and still get my kids on and off the bus. I completed my extra 2 hours after dinner or after they were in bed. I loved that schedule!

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I used to do that at an old job. I had tasks that would take automation 4-6 hours to complete. So if I didn’t get approval to start one until 3 or 4 pm, I would log back in between 7pm and 10pm at home to wrap it up because 3rd shift would be waiting to process my output at 1am.

      2. ferrina*

        This. I’d switch locations midday to avoid traffic (which could more than double my commute time) and also to be in a more comfortable location. If I was doing a mindless task, sometimes I’d watch TV in the background

    2. Happy meal with extra happy*

      I do something similar – I prefer working from home in general, I live alone, so I don’t have to worry about noise/distractions, and it lets me take care of my dog easier.

    3. Prefer my pets*

      I often do that so my dogs aren’t either outside (securely fenced rural yard, big covered patio, dog cots…they’re fine) all day or locked up without being able to pee all day. I also do it because it makes traffic better. And because I have a weekly meeting on Teams that is much easier to take from home than cubicle land. And because some days that’s all the humaning I can stand. And because about 2 hrs before the end of my day is when one of our field crews comes back in and the bullpen down the hall turns into a boys locker room. And so on.

  22. bamcheeks*

    This is not a criticism of LW, but I just cannot imagine spending 5 years at a company hoping for promotion and getting knocked back! The longest I’ve been in any job is 3 years, and my dissatisfaction period for “am I going to progress here? probably not! time to start looking!” is about 9-6 months. (I’m currently in this state after 18 months in my current role.)

    I think I am probably a little too jump-happy, and in my last job I did try really hard to force myself to stay for a year or so beyond my “sod this” point just to see whether things changed and to make sure I finished up and evaluated a couple of projects that would look good on my CV. But I find it really hard to imagine how someone could stay five years in a job, not getting promoted, and still ask the question whether it’s time to look elsewhere!

    LW, genuine question– what is keeping you at this employer? Are there really excellent benefits? Is the working atmosphere really great? Are you personally loyal to the brand? Fear of the unknown? It feels like you’re waiting for absolutely solid certainty that you wont’ get promoted before you look elsewhere, and I just want to promise you– you really don’t need that!

    1. Random Academic Cog*

      This can be industry-related as well. In my field, it’s usual to go 4-5 years between promotions. I just promoted a staff member with not quite 4 years in position (taking on duties after someone retired unexpectedly), but it was a big deal.

      1. ferrina*

        Exactly. And based on what kind of role you are trying to get in to. In my company, the most junior level staff are usually ready for a promotion at 2-4 years. But going from mid-level to senior can be 5-8 years.

        Especially since LW is trying to break into management. That can be really tough, since the learning curve can be really steep for managers. I ran in to a similar issue in a different industry- very few people want to bring in a brand new manager because that first year is going to be tough. But once you are a manager, it’s much easier to move around.

      2. bamcheeks*

        I’m not just thinking of pure promotions, but also opportunities to lead on bigger projects, move sideways into a related role and expand your knowledge base, that kind of thing. And to be fair, it sounds like LW has been able to do some of that. I guess what surprises me is that it’s been five years since they decided they’d outgrown their existing role and were ready to move up, including one year that they describe as abusive, deeply frustrated and wondering whether they are being punished for being a whistleblower, and they’re still only just starting to consider whether to look outside of this company for their progression. That’s a level of loyalty I just can’t imagine! I genuinely can’t imagine what would inspire that kind of loyalty.

          1. bamcheeks*

            Hence my question, “what is keeping you?” Because all LW says is that they love the organisation and what they do– obviously there may be other external factors that they haven’t mentioned, but on the face of it they just sound very loyal to a job that doesn’t love them back.

    2. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

      It’s also worth pointing out that if there’s some reason OP is so tied to the company, they can leave, work elsewhere for a few years, and possibly come back at a higher level. Clearly moving out is the only way to move up.

      1. doreen*

        That’s going to depend on exactly why the OP is tied to the company and how that will be affected by leaving for a few years and possibly returning. When my sister-in-law left her job at a college, her son lost his free tuition there. I assume her new job paid enough to be worth losing the free tuition but that isn’t always going to be the case.

  23. SMH*

    LW1: In my experience, this is related to poor management–specifically not measuring performance correctly. Either the company isn’t managing performance in a quantitative way or someone higher up “feels” like there is a performance issue that the data isn’t capturing. It’s easy for someone higher up to walk through an office, see a worker or two on their phone, and think, “This is why we aren’t meeting X goal.” It’s a visible, actionable target…that probably has nothing to do with anything.

  24. Baron*

    LW2: not trying to stir up a which-country’s-policies-are-best hornet’s nest here, but as a Canadian who is often surprised by how short American maternity leaves are, I wonder if he was taken aback by the length of your leave and thought something must be wrong. If I moved to a new country and 12:00 rolled around and my boss said, “Well, it’s lunchtime, I’ll be back in three weeks, that’s how long lunch is here,” I would think something was off about that workplace. Of course, your former employee is obviously a very educated guy who could easily research what a normal Canadian parental leave is.

    I’m not saying you did anything wrong here or owed him any reassurance about the length of your leave – that’s just where my mind went as a Canadian, that a year-long leave might have freaked this guy out.

    1. cardigarden*

      I still can’t get over the audacity of him expecting to be informed of a pregnancy within the window when people still may not know they’re pregnant and before they tell many people close to them in their personal lives. He might come from a place that only lets you take 8 weeks short term disability for paid maternal leave (and please stir up that hornet’s nest because I’m American and ~I hate it here~) and more generous programs are completely alien. That’s certainly one of the reasons I’m sticking it out at my current job instead of– here, I’m guaranteed 16 weeks of paid leave, but I’m in an industry where that’s not necessarily standard and I can’t afford to lose that benefit.

      People upthread have commented about how the nature of postdocs mean you’re doing your work with someone vs at somewhere, but you can’t expect someone else to put their entire life on hold for you to do your work.

      1. Alice*

        “you can’t expect someone else to put their entire life on hold for you to do your work”

        Does that also apply to PIs who routinely expect postdocs to move around the world for jobs with a 1-year contract and no guarantee of professional advancement?
        Look, OP2 did not make Jeffrey move to Canada. But the larger system in which OP2 and Jeffrey both work is one where PIs churn through low-paid postdocs, most of whom will never get R01 grants and most of whom will never get tenure-track positions, so that their lab can be more productive. Super stressful for everyone involved, but the benefits accrue largely to the PIs.
        And of course the PIs have probably moved around the country or the world to wherever they got their tenure-track position too. Everyone in this system is uprooting themselves for the chance at advancing their career and doing good science. Unsustainable and probably a reason why many brilliant scientists have found other careers with better working conditions.

        1. cardigarden*

          Sure, I admit that I don’t understand the sciences postdoc system other than make an observation based on this thread that it feels exploitive. I do come from archives where the bulk of entry level work is temporary with no or minimal benefits and I have very strong feelings about how wrong that is. Where I draw my line is OP2’s postdoc’s sense of entitlement to knowledge of OP2’s family expansion plans. Besides it being an entire topic of conversation you’re not allowed to bring up in interviews anyway, I just bristle at the idea of a stranger giving off the impression that they can dictate when (or if) I grow my family because that’s out of line.

          He’s fully within his rights to feel frustrated by a slow on-boarding process, but people get pregnant when they get pregnant. We can’t expect principal investigators (or anyone) to commit to being child-free just because they’re principal investigators (/ whatever position they occupy).

        2. Observer*

          Does that also apply to PIs who routinely expect postdocs to move around the world for jobs with a 1-year contract and no guarantee of professional advancement?

          Do PI’s routinely get into a huff when a postdoc refuses to move to their location?

          Look, it’s pretty obvious that there are a LOT of problems with the system as it stands. But it still makes no sense to say that someone needs to put their whole life on hold if they want to be allowed to hire anyone. That’s not going fix any problems, it’s just going to make things more toxic.

          Unsustainable and probably a reason why many brilliant scientists have found other careers with better working conditions.

          And all the more reason not to put more ridiculous constraints on people, and to start serious thinking about how the system can be changed to be more sustainable.

      2. Punk*

        You can’t expect your PI to put their life on hold, but a PI also can’t reasonably criticize a new hire in this specific context for also not putting his life on hold. He’s justified in leaving for a better opportunity elsewhere and it’s frankly weird that the LW is criticizing Joffrey instead of just recognizing that this was a bad confluence on circumstances that maybe truly was not tenable for Joffrey and his own plans.

        I had a thesis advisor take extended bereavement during my thesis process. Compassion for her loss didn’t negate that I lost a year of progress and was unable to enter the workforce I was anticipating. I lost a year of professional-level income because I lost that time completing my qualification. My life matters too.

        1. Colette*

          There’s no indication he left for a better opportunity – or any opportunity. And his complaints as he left were generally unreasonable. No, he wasn’t entitled to know about upcoming parental leave 8 months in advance. He complained htat he doesn’t like his workstation – welcome to the working world.

          If he’d resigned and said “I’m concerned about the impact of your leave on my career prospects, so I’ve found another role”, the OP probably wouldn’t have found it so offputting.

          1. Punk*

            I think you’re splitting hairs. The social/political delicacy of the leave situation doesn’t mean Joffrey can’t look at a changed situation and decide it’s not what he signed ip for, especially if the LW sincerely doesn’t understand why her life choices had an inadvertent impact on someone else’s life. Maybe he decided to cut his losses and go hone. She’s allowed to have a family, but Joffrey is allowed to be annoyed and to also make his own life plans. A PI who doesn’t understand this and also doesn’t seem to understand why the delayed paperwork is a big deal…maybe needs to think about this a little more?

            1. Colette*

              I disagree. Sure, he can leave if the role isn’t what he wants. But his expectations seem out of line.

              1. Punk*

                I mean, these programs are built around the assumption that the PI you move countries for will be around for the duration of your tenure. It’s literally the LW’s job. Joffrey was 100% justified in expecting the LW to see the project through in the absence of other information. Which he then received. But the idea that he couldn’t have expected it…no. The literal substance of Joffrey’s job offer and his acceptance of it were based on the completely reasonable assumption that the LW was signing off on the same two years he was.

              2. Cat Lover*

                Not in this context. A PI leaving for the majority of the postdocs tenure in the country is inappropriate. I under the frustration.

                1. bamcheeks*

                  “inappropriate” seems like an odd choice of words here? Are you saying it is inappropriate of LW to take parental leave, or inappropriate of them to have hired a postdoc?

                2. elle *sparkle emoji**

                  But according to the letter, LW would not have been absent for the majority of his tenure at her lab? The possible timelines discussed were one year, where 3 out of 12 months would have the LW on parental leave, and either 2 or 2.5 years where the LW would miss 12 months at max, possibly only 6 months. Even with her taking the max length of parental leave, it’s half of the time, not technically a majority.

        2. H3llifIknow*

          They didn’t just…. assign you a different one? I realize it means getting them up to speed, etc… but that seems so ODD to me!

          1. Punk*

            I chose that advisor specifically because she aligned with my specific sub-field of interest. I got a new advisor but had to get her up to speed on research that wasn’t her expertise, and I had to make some pivots so that my thesis better aligned with things she could actually advise me on. Should my first advisor have changed her plans for me? Probably not. Was I allowed to vent my frustrations into the void of the universe for having to deal with a situation that made my thesis less effective and had a net negative impact on an expensive educational journey? Absolutely. Doubly so when she pretended not to understand what I had to go through because of the death of someone I didn’t know. This is a case where the AAM mode of “my coworkers are entitled to zero information” and the general lack of experience with extended academia are causing the situation to not be analyzed properly. Joffrey probably would have reacted better if he hadn’t learned this news in a general team meeting and if the LW claimed to not understand the problem.

            1. bamcheeks*

              Was I allowed to vent my frustrations into the void of the universe for having to deal with a situation that made my thesis less effective and had a net negative impact on an expensive educational journey? Absolutely

              I would say that yes you are allowed to do that, but your manager is not the appropriate audience for that conversation.

              1. Punk*

                Why on earth not? People who get into that line of work and then feign ignorance regarding what they knowingly committed to are the ones in the wrong. There’s a huge problem of people in tenured/permanent academic positions being crappy to the underlings, and this is what this question is about. Again, I empathized with her situation, which she had no control over, but she had no empathy for the fact that my whole life, job trajectory, and financial planning were harmed by her life. I expressed sympathy for her loss. She did not express understanding of the fact that I had already paid for a semester that she did not complete with me.

                1. Maureen*

                  “I expressed sympathy for her loss. She did not express understanding of the fact that I had already paid for a semester that she did not complete with me.”

                  Likely because she was grieving. Do you hear yourself?

            2. nnn*

              “what I had to go through because of the death of someone I didn’t know”

              Wow. I don’t think you realize how you sound here.

          2. Cat Lover*

            No, Postdocs work with specific PIs for a reason. Many, including the one int he letter, moved countries.

    2. Observer*

      I wonder if he was taken aback by the length of your leave and thought something must be wrong. I

      So we’ve got a ostensibly well educated grown man who is sooo uneducated about the country he just moved to that he “freaks out” and assumes that something is very wrong, when he hears that one of his bosses is going on 6-12 months parental leave, and instead of taking a few minutes to actually research what normal / typical parental leave practices are, quits. And complains that he was entitled to that information at a ridiculously early stage.

      I don’t buy it.

      1. Punk*

        It’s okay to admit that you’re not familiar with academic norms. It might actually endear people to you.

        1. Observer*

          It’s also ok to admit that grown men can and should act like adults. And I honestly am not trying to “endear” myself to people who think that it’s “inappropriate” for a PI to take parental leave when they are having a child. Nor to people who think that it’s reasonable for grown men should be so ignorant of the country they move to and get so “freaked out” that they quit more or less on the spot over not having information (that they were not entitled to.)

          The guy had a right to quit if he decided the the other PIs and / or the covering PI were not going to be a match for what he wanted. That’s totally not the issue. It’s absolutely a choice that adults get to make.

          But claiming that he was “freaked out”, thought something was wrong, and couldn’t figure out that this is in fact normal in Canada? Sorry, I have no interest in furthering excuse making for adults, in or out of academia. If this kind of childishness *is* a norm in academia, it helps to explain why it’s such a toxic mess.

          1. Punk*

            I think a lot of people here have picked up on your tendency to pull one sentence out of a nuanced comment and then write a misguided and deliberately disingenuous misinterpretation of what is actually being said. It doesn’t enrich the discussion, and you’re just butting up against people who have actual experience with the issue being discussed.

            For example, no one is saying it’s inappropriate for a new parent to take their leave. They’re saying it’s inappropriate to look at a situation that will have predictable fallout and then pretend that it wasn’t, in fact, predictable. Step one in internet outrage is taking the time to identify the issues correctly.

            1. cardigarden*

              Per OP: “His big complaint, however, was that I should have given him the “professional courtesy” of telling him about my upcoming parental leave before he arrived – so approximately 7-8 months before the child is due.” Like so many people on here have said, it’s just not common to disclose pregnancies in the first trimester when the chance for miscarriage is so high. Would the postdoc have chosen a different place if he knew ahead of time? Maybe. But I’m assuming that family expansion questions in interviews are just as illegal in Canada as they are in the US.

              But it also sounds like there are other PIs on OP’s team and that they all work closely together. Sincere question: if OP gets things set up in a good way before going out on leave, what’s the problem? I just don’t think there’s enough information to automatically assume that this ultimately would have been the same challenging situation that you had to deal with (which I am sympathetic to).

              1. Punk*

                The answer is that the mentorship relationship really does matter, and if the LW thinks anyone else on the larger team can roll in as a substitute, that’s a fundamental difference in the thought process behind making these decisions, and it’s not the common assumption. It’s such a norm to base your higher-ed decisions on access to one advisor that a lot of people would be genuinely surprised to hear that the LW didn’t think it mattered. I wouldn’t say it’s out of touch but it’s not the common basis for these processes.

              2. Relentlessly Socratic*

                Punk and I understand the utter trauma (for lack of a better word) of when things go really bad in academia. Toxic advisors, MIA advisors, loss of advisors, loss of grant funding for a lab, having to find new positions when a lab closes (to name but a few). The knock-on effects to a career, ability to progress, become independent, etc are just different than the non-academic work world. Who knows, maybe Joffrey has already experienced some “lol, academia, AMIRITE?” already and that’s coloring how he views potential new setbacks.

                I am firmly on team Joffrey is out of line with some expectations (most especially around his need to know about the looming new human at, approximately, conception). His entitlement is palpable. LW2 has commented elsewhere that the other PIs were more the main folks with whom he was supposed to work, and 5 months notice is more than generous here.

                Having said that, I know it’s not a popular thing for people outside of the field to hear or consider, people genuinely DO try to plan important life events (as much as plannable) to avoid being out when a big study is ramping up, the grant cycle is up, and, to a lesser degree, taking on new grad students or postdocs. Obviously, we plan as much as we can, and the universe laughs.

                1. Riot Grrrl*

                  As I think more about this, I don’t think planning major life events around big career milestones really is all that unusual, even outside of academia. People wait until they’ve gotten a specific promotion. Or they might hold off on a baby until a transfer to a new location has been completed, for example. Or conversely if they know they want to have a baby now, they’ll avoid starting major projects that they won’t finish.

              3. Reality Biting*

                I do think it’s out of line to have asked for a disclosure of pregnancy specifically. However, I don’t think it’s out of line to have been given a heads-up that there was a pretty good chance of a disruption coming, given that Joffrey also made huge, life-altering changes to be there. Something along the lines of: “Hey just be aware before you make a decision, that there’s a decent chance I’m not going to be going through the end of your contract. I’ll be out on some personal matters for several months at the end of your tenure.” This doesn’t seem like too much to ask given that OP appears to be the key person in a highly specific and non-transferable relationship.

                They both made a commitment to a specific relationship. He reacted childishly and badly to the rupture of that relationship. But OP also didn’t fulfill her commitment either and didn’t give Joffrey an indication that she knew ahead of time that she wouldn’t be able to do so.

                1. nnn*

                  That would have required her to tell him when she was 1-2 months pregnant. She might not have even known she was pregnant then! That’s not a reasonable expectation.

      2. Baron*

        Observer, to be clear, I don’t disagree with you that the guy is being unreasonable in the scenario I envisioned, or that the guy is unreasonable to have expected the information at such an early stage. I simply imagine based on my own experiences as a Canadian that there might be some culture shock for an American man on learning that Canadian parental leave is so generous, and that wasn’t a piece of the letter anyone had commented on, so I commented on it.

        1. Relentlessly Socratic*

          Agree. Also, in the US anyway, it’s really unusual for PIs to step away from the lab that long.

          It’s all part of the romance of the academic life, to be a scholar toiling away into the wee hours…worldly things matter less than the pursuit of knowledge. And for students who came up in that world, with academic advisors who push that narrative, they don’t understand how anyone would do otherwise.

        2. Observer*

          I imagine that there is some culture shock. But he’s old enough, and presumably well educated enough that he should have had some inkling before he started. After all, it simply makes sense to do SOME research on the country you plan to move to. And it’s not a deep dark secret that Canada’s systems are a fair bit different that the US, including things like parental leave. And, once being hit by this information, I would also expect someone at this age and stage to do some quick information gathering to figure out how out of the norm this is.

          1. Lucky Meas*

            I’m sorry but it is RIDICULOUS to expect that a worker moving to another country research random laws and HR differences that don’t apply to their situation, like how long parental leave is, on the off chance that it applies to their manager.

            People with actual experience in academia are saying that OP would have an outsized impact on Joffrey’s career, and it’s understandable that he would be frustrated that OP won’t be there for the whole postdoc. It doesn’t matter if OP is taking a normal-length parental leave, it’s that OP being on leave has a big impact on Joffrey, who moved countries for this.

            1. Maureen*

              …which is a risk no one forced him to take. Life happens sometimes, and it sounds like Joffrey’s reaction has little to no room for that fact.

              When you “move countries” for something, you risk the unknown. Hell, that’s life. Besides, he will be working with PI. Does anyone here really believe five fewer months that occur within a likely 2-year range will make a difference?

              Because anyone who does doesn’t know academia, despite their claims otherwise.

            2. Appletini*

              Life happens, though. If, God forbid, LW had died, would Joffrey be entitled to stand at her grave and yell at her “how dare you die on me?”

  25. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

    LW 5–I am now curious about severance packages. I have been laid off twice. Here are my stats:

    -first time: Location NYC, field financial services and training (I was in marketing), length of stay at job 2.5 years, time 2018. Package: 2 weeks pay, health insurance through the end of the month only. They also did not fulfil their end of a contract they’d signed and stuck me with a $3k bill for a training program they had put me through.

    -second time: Location NYC (job was based there but company was based in Maryland), field financial services and asset management (I was in marcomm), length of stay in job about 1 year (company was bought out), time 2020. Package: Nearly 1 full year of salary, several months of paid health insurance. All of my older colleagues seemed to think this was a very normal severance package, though I had certainly never experienced or even heard of anything like it before.

    If people are willing, I’d be very interested to see the differences in severance packages for layoffs/business buyouts in different industries and locations.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I have also been laid off twice. I live in the Chicago suburbs and work in marketing.

      March 2017: 2 weeks per year of service, plus “outplacement services” for three months which was Right Management giving me resume tips and “networking sessions”.

      November 2020: 2 weeks per year of service plus COBRA paid for 3 months.

      That said, at the first company they did around of voluntary retirement while I was there, and had some rules about who was eligible but the package was pretty generous – moreso than your standard severance.

    2. londonedit*

      In the UK companies don’t technically have to offer redundancy packages to employees with less than two years’ service, but the one time I was made redundant (only six months after starting the job) the boss gave me a month’s salary as redundancy pay. There’s a statutory amount of redundancy pay that you have to get if you’ve worked for the company for more than two years, and that’s based on your age when you were made redundant, how long you’ve worked for the company and your weekly pay. But in many situations here the actual redundancy packages offered by companies are a month’s salary for each year of employment. Usually the first step will be for a company to ask for people to take voluntary redundancy, so offering a month’s pay per year of service makes that quite attractive to people and can save the company from having to go through the full redundancy process. I have a couple of friends who have worked for many years for one company and then taken voluntary redundancy because they knew they’d end up with a year’s salary and could take some time out before they needed to look for a new job. It does depend on

    3. thatoneoverthere*

      I have been laid off twice and only received 2 weeks pay each time, benefits for 30 days and I think thats about it. I am in the Midwest.

    4. Parenthesis Guy*

      I worked for a company that was going to do layoffs, but left before they went into effect so I don’t know all the details. I do know they were offering two weeks severance for each year of service plus two weeks, outplacement services and some form of insurance. I feel like the big guns got more than this.

    5. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      Laid off once after 2.5 years in the job, and received 6 weeks of severance pay. I was on my then-spouse’s insurance at the time, so not sure how they would have handled that. I’m in the southeast US.

    6. Chutney Jitney*

      Laid off from a nonprofit in 2020 after just shy of 15 years. 2 weeks of severance per year of service, capped at 6 months. 6 mos paid Cobra for self and anyone else on employee’s insurance, including dental and vision. I was a senior analyst, but not management.

    7. An Australian in London*

      Made redundant in Australia in 2003. (Has a specific legal meaning; this is more than just being laid off.)

      IT company, I was there 8 years, I got 6 months’ redundancy pay plus all unused leave. Had to negotiate *hard* to get that.

    8. NonprofitDude*

      At our small-ish (50 employees) non-profit, people who were laid off in 2020 received 6 months of severance. Some community non-profits don’t have the ability to do that, but many larger and national ones actually have really good severance packages because they aren’t worried about maximizing profits.

    9. There's a G&T with my name on it*

      Not laid off, but been through several restructures where people were invited to take voluntary redundancy, offered 1 year’s salary. UK HE sector.

  26. ConstantlyComic*

    Managers get so weird about cellphones… My job had a time period where we were supposed to not have our phones on us for most of the day, but since our schedule changed frequently, we were supposed to check for schedule changes on our phones because management couldn’t be bothered to print off new copies anytime they changed something. When I brought that up in a meeting, we were told to “figure out how to navigate that on [our] own.”

  27. 2weeks*

    My company (weird tech/manufacturing hybrid for industry) does the 2 weeks/year of service, COBRA for 3 months (I think), and employment assistance through a 3rd party.

    1. Sally*

      I agree with Alison that 3 months is unusually long. Maybe the rare exception is when a large percentage of employees are being laid off at the same time. The 2 times I was laid off, LOTS of people in the company were being laid off, and I assume the company included 3 months severance pay in their planning. I know there are laws about notifying the state (MA) when large numbers of people are being laid off, but I don’t know if there’s also anything in those laws about severance pay.

  28. Glazed Donut*

    LW3: IMO They’re never going to promote you. You could hang the moon, and they’d find someone who made Pluto a planet again and go with that person.
    I was in a similar situation–CEO gave me things to do (get published, work with this team to cross-train, etc), and then every time an opening happened, there was a NEW small area for me to learn–even after I had a Phd in the area of the job, the person they picked had a master’s in a completely unrelated field. I left that place and in my new place have received 2 promotions in the past year. You should go where you are valued, if you want a change.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      You should go where you are valued, if you want a change.

      This really struck me. LW3 is valued by her organization, just not in the role she would like to be valued in. These two things have to be aligned, or you’ll go nowhere.

      Sorry to say, but yep, LW3 needs to move on.

  29. Spicy Tuna*

    #1 is odd. At my last job, the company did not issue cell phones. Everyone had their work email on their own personal phones. So people absolutely used their phones at work.

    1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      We get a cell phone reimbursement at mine because we need to have our phones. someone is always calling us

  30. anomnom*

    LW3, I’m sorry but Alison is spot on. You will need to leave in order to progress.

    I’ve been in a similar situation and I’m curious about how LW3 should frame their work history when applying for new roles outside the organization. For me, the role I had for 10+ years gave me the flexibility needed in my personal life at that time. Now that all of that is resolved, I’m excited to learn new skills, tech, etc. (the old role was so stuck in the past, I couldn’t even get people to learn how to co-edit Excel sheets). But how does one spin that in an advancement-obsessed world?

    1. I have RBF*

      “I am looking to move on because I am looking to develop new skills and advance my career.”

      The subtext is “I’ve plateaued where I am, I want the chance to move up.”

  31. H3llifIknow*

    Not getting promoted, I feel for you! I was in the EXACT same boat. (Did I write this letter in a fever dream and forget?) I worked for the largest govt. contractor in the US. I built a team from 1 person (me) to the 2nd largest in our region. I took on leadership of another person’s (higher than me in the ranks) team while he was put on “special projects.” He still got the annual leadership bonus. I stayed in my role for 3 years, each year being told, “there is no business case to promote you” while watching other people bringing in less business get promoted. I finally quit and it was the BEST DECISION ever! After a few months of “OMG what have I DONE?” I am much happier. I am appreciated AND I’m making $30K a year MORE than I’d have ever made there even WITH the promotion and bonuses. I had lunch with a former colleage who told me that “you were never going to get promoted. “Sr. VP” said multiple times he wouldn’t endorse your promotion.” No reason given. My (sad) assumption was that I am female and there was only one other female in that office in a leadership role and she’d been there 15 years. Leave if you have to. Sometimes it’s the only way to get clarity about a situtation and get what you deserve. (P.S. 7 years later, they periodically reach out to ask me to return. So you could potentially leave, and come back in a higher managerial role if you chose). Good Luck!!

    1. H3llifIknow*

      I should clarify that I was at the company for 9 years, promoted 3 x in the first 5 years and then I took on my colleague’s team for 3 before getting fed up because the next promotion was the biggie that would have put me “in the bonus pool.”

  32. Hiring Mgr*

    #3 is a bit confusing because they LW said they *did* get promoted just within the last year. The place does sound like a mess overall, but getting two promotions in less than a year isn’t that common, at least in most fields

  33. Parenthesis Guy*

    #3: They did promote you at one point, so clearly you have a shot. It probably means that you have a weakness somewhere that doesn’t disqualify you for your current role, but does make it less likely that they’re going to move you up.

    They’re not punishing you for being a whistleblower. They gave you a promotion to get you out of that situation. If they wanted to punish you, they would have demoted you to get you out in order to get you to leave.

    If you have a friend on the team, you really should ask why they think you’re weak. Based on that answer, it may be time to leave.

    1. H3llifIknow*

      I would have to disagree based on my own experience. I had stellar evaluations. Was promoted multiple times. Managed a large team, contracts, and built business opportunities. But, I couldn’t get “that” promotion. The biggie. And I was told I never would because SVP wouldn’t endorse me. Sometimes in a company, it seems you get labeled as soon as you start as “one of the golden” or “worker bee” or whatever, and unless you move to a different company or leadership has a big shift, you just get…. stuck.

      1. Parenthesis Guy*

        If the friend at a higher level tells them that they’re never getting that promotion because the SVP won’t endorse them, then that’s valuable information to know that will let them know it’s time to leave.

        But maybe that friend at a higher level will tell them something that’s actually actionable. Like, maybe they feel that this worker isn’t organized enough to lead a team. Or maybe they need help with customer service. Or maybe there’s an actual reason. In that case, it’s worth assessing whether that’s something worth working on or whether you need to pivot.

    2. MsM*

      I don’t think these are assumptions OP can make. A demotion would be obvious and potentially actionable retaliation. A promotion that OP was explicitly told was as at least as much to get them out of the way as anything else, followed by no advancement and no clear path for correcting that could very easily be deliberate sidelining. At the very least, I don’t see why it’s more obvious the fault must lie with OP than the company.

      1. starsaphire*

        Agreed. From what the LW said, they are the only A.M. in the company. How does a company full of managers only have one A.M.? It looks a lot like the position was created for them, as a way of shunting them aside while also covering their asses in the whistleblowing situation. “She can’t claim retaliation if we show that we gave her a promotion!”

        AAM is right. Polish up your resume, put those shiny certifications on it, and get out as soon as you can. If this job really loves you, they can reach out to you at your new job and offer to hire you back, in a senior title with salary and benefits to match.

  34. Nasturtium*

    LW5, if a nonprofit is reducing staff, it is very likely because they are in a budget deficit and need to cut costs. (Or they had to cancel a project due to loss of funding, and are overstaffed) Given that, asking for 6 months’ severance will seem wildly out of touch, yes. They should have been up front in communicating what they were offering when they asked for volunteers, but your best course would be to inquire what they plan to offer. If there aren’t other volunteers, you might be able to negotiate a little more than they planned to offer, but don’t expect a lot.

    1. Thistle*

      I’ve never seen employees (unless very senior) negotiating redundancy pay. for normal plebs it’s usually set in the company handbook and you get what you are given. very senior staff might get something extra, but…

    2. Sans Serif*

      I’ve never worked for non-profits, but it’s been a standard in the companies I’ve been with to give 2 weeks a year plus health care for the same amount of time. I was once laid off after 13 years and got 26 weeks of severance and health care coverage. And my state lets you collect unemployment at the same time you’re getting severance. So I did fine. But now that I’m about 3 years from retirement, it’s a dream of mine that in two years, they ask for volunteers for layoffs and I’d get another 26 weeks plus unemployment and just slide into retirement … dream on, I guess.

  35. Delta Delta*

    #1 – If the boss doesn’t care about what you do in your downtime, I say go full analog. Coloring books, paper crossword puzzles, pencils, legos, you name it. It’s not your phone. Continue responding to texts, etc, as usual through your smartwatch.

    #3 – You know this already, but GTFO. You’re not getting promoted because the company sees no need to pay you more for work you’re already doing for them for free. If you want advancement, you’ve got to do it somewhere else.

  36. Roberta*

    that is also extremely common for Canadian companies too. usually 3 months before you are on the health benefits package, but it can be as little as a month

  37. Bess*

    LW2, Joffrey seems kind of entitled from your description. Academia is a bit different from other jobs but life happens and Joffrey is completely out of touch to expect a “professional courtesy” of a medical status update with inherent significant uncertainty before you’ve even necessarily told close family members.

    The simple truth is that pregnancy is not subject to anyone’s direct control–when you conceive (whether intentional or accidental), when you realize you’re pregnant, when you feel sure the pregnancy is viable, whether you will develop significant complications during the duration, whether the fetus will show defects or will remain healthy until birth, or after the birth, for that matter, and quite frankly, whether the mother and the baby will survive the birth.

    The stakes are incredibly high and those huge stakes are accompanied by significant uncertainty and low ability to control for outcomes.

    Yes, this disrupts business continuity and impacts others’ professional lives. This is something I feel like culturally we haven’t accepted. Wouldn’t it be nice if women could just find someone else to financially support them and remove themselves from the equation anytime she is pregnant? Again, we don’t even know if any given woman has chosen to get pregnant.

    If we accepted as a culture that pregnancy and birth are disruptive but valuable, and if we acknowledged that women pretty much bear significant burden for this biological service to humanity, and recognized the weight of that, we would prioritize pregnancy and its impacts over business need.

    In the States it’s still seen as a woman’s personal responsibility to accommodate a pregnancy, rather than a social responsibility. And we put business and economic needs over the individual’s need, so if pregnancy is an individual’s personal choice and responsibility, other people get to be mad when pregnancy happens and disrupts their lives in any given way. Joffrey being from the States, it’s hard not to see his complaint as entitled and out-of-touch with the realities of childbearing.

  38. Yoyoyo*

    #2, I do see some comments about how this could be different due to academia, but I just want to echo that you were not unreasonable by waiting to announce your upcoming leave and sometimes people are very weird about these things. I had an employee who accepted a position knowing I was pregnant and would be going on leave about 4 months after he started. He ended up being a terrible employee and I had to fire him a couple months after I returned from leave, but one of the excuses he gave for his poor performance and lack of work ethic was that he felt “abandoned” by me when I went on leave. I was gobsmacked; if I hadn’t been wearing a mask he would have seen my mouth hanging open. He had access to a go-to covering manager AND a mentor “buddy” throughout my leave. That comment was just the latest in a pattern of him not taking any responsibility.

  39. Flowers*

    Re #2 – oh look yet another entitled man who thinks he’s entitled to be weird with his female boss. (ofc, replace weird with any other descriptor as I’m suffering from writers block and can’t properly articulate exactly how much of an asshat he is)

  40. Annony*

    LW2: I think the problem is that you are thinking of this as an employment issue. He has some level of job security and there are people who will fill in for parts of your job while you are out so you don’t see the problem.

    He is likely seeing this as a training issue. I am assuming he is a postdoc. He likely has about five years to establish himself as an attractive candidate for a highly competitive tenure track position. He can’t afford to waste a year. Even if there are people filling in for parts of your role, those people did not commit to mentoring him. His project has already been slow to start and now he does not know whether the quality of his training will suffer during your leave. Your replacement will not be as invested in his career as you presumably would be because he is not officially their trainee. He is not wrong to cut his losses. If he was further along he would have assembled a mentorship team and your leave would likely have less of an effect. He is two months in and struggling. He finds out you won’t even be there in a few months. The situation probably does not look good to him right now. If he quits, he stops that five year clock and can find somewhere that he will hopefully do better. That was almost certainly the right choice for him to make.

    Think of this as a bad fit that was luckily recognized very early. You did not owe him information on your family planning but he was not wrong to leave when he found out he would not get the mentorship he expected from you.

    1. LW #2*

      And if he’d framed it like that — I’d still think he was wrong, because he’d met and been working with the entire mentorship team both during his interview and over the past 2 months. That said — I would agree that it was his call to make, and I wouldn’t have written in.

      It’s the fact that he thought I had a “professional responsibility” (his words, not mine) to let him know about my family planning choices was — the thing I was writing in about.

  41. SereneScientist*

    LW4 here, thank you Allison and commentariat for your responses! My situation doesn’t feel unreasonable, but it’s the first time it’s happened to me (and twice in a few months) so I wanted to sense-check things to make sure it’s not out of wack with working norms. As Latche mentions above, this is like other confidential work things which I’ll certainly be keeping to myself outside of relevant discussions with my boss etc.

  42. Rosewolf*

    They told you they FORGOT you had applied! The only way that would happen is if someone made a deliberate decision that you will never be considered, no matter howmany times you apply, how much tenure you have, or how “ready” you are. (If it was really a case of “not qualified” they would have tutted over you application privately: “Poor old Lewis, he applies for everything” and would at least treated you with the courtesy of rejecting your application. And been sensitiveenough not to ask you to “sit in” How galling!) You are Not Valued by this organization; why doesn’t really matter. You are entitled to feel Hurt&Angry. Leave. Take your revenge by helping a competitor succeed, preferably at their expense (Ethically, of course! By gracing your next employer with the benefit of your extensive expertise gained at current company and your overdeveloped sense of corporate loyalty, rather than by giving them trade secrets.)

  43. JustMe*

    LW 2 – I work in the higher ed sector in the US and often with people from other countries. In the US it would definitely NOT be an expectation that someone disclose their maternity leave so far in advance, either to their American employees or to visiting faculty or researchers from other countries. If someone is supervising a foreign researcher where the expectation is that they are working together very closely (ex. if it’s part of their doctorate) and they’re also planning to start a family–then sure, maybe it would behoove the supervising faculty to consider whether it’s the ideal time to have a visiting researcher/fellow/post-doc/whatever. But what you’re describing is weird and definitely not normal in the US context.

  44. Keymaster of Gozer*

    OP2: He’s just got no grasp of reality.

    One cannot demand of anyone, manager or coworker, that their life never change for the duration of their employment. Nor can they demand to be informed of any potential changes.

    Pregnancy is one of those things that is *sometimes* planned but sometimes not. Did he honestly expect his boss to just shut down the whole uterine system or be kept informed of every late period? Ridiculous.

    Let it go would be my advice. One day he’ll wake up and realise that the world doesn’t revolve around him.

  45. Media Mouse*

    LW #5 – I am exactly in this conundrum right now. Though instead of angling for big promotion, I’m dissatisfied with my job and duties (not what I signed up for when my company underwent a re-org during the height of the pandemic) and am looking to get out.

    Thank you Allison for answering this question! Though I wonder, if there is no ask for volunteers, can I volunteer myself in a chat to HR just to feel it out?

  46. Hedgehog*

    lw#2- you describe this as a job, and yourself as the manager, but given that you’re a PI in an academic setting, is it possible that Joffrey didn’t see this as only a job, but as a chance to work with you specifically? and maybe the position was far less interesting when he learned you might be gone for most of his time there?

    his stated expectations are ridiculous, but if I picture this more like a post-doc, I could understand someone being disappointed to learn after being there two months that the PI was going on a year-long leave.

  47. MCMonkeyBean*

    Oof, LW3 it’s time to get out for sure. I know you should never assume that you’ll get the job, but jeez louise–you’re the only person in the company that meets the requirements they listed in the posting and they won’t even give you an interview!? I can’t imagine how disappointing it must have been to be asked to sit in on that process, what a way to add insult to injury.

  48. Robin*

    OP2: You’re allowed to plan and have a family and live your life to the fullest etc., and Joffrey’s focus on not knowing the pregnancy immediately is weird and gross. You’re right about that!

    But like. You’re a scientist. You’ve spent presumably time in academia. You know how PIs are supposed to work with post docs. Are you shocked that someone who chose to move countries to work WITH YOU is upset that you’re not going to be there for a large part of his work? That he decided to leave and hopefully work with someone who would actually be around? That was a one year renewable contract with no guarantee of extra years, I would have left too and I would have been kind of upset at watching my career take a pivot through no fault of my own.

    His focus on your pregnancy is bad, but to me it’s very clearly a symptom of “I came here to another country in order to work with you and you’re ditching me, and this post doc has been stressful and kind of unhelpful so far and it feels like my academic career is falling down around me and you, the person who is supposed to be my mentor, do not seem to care.” It’s displacement, and you absolutely don’t have to feel guilty (and shouldn’t), but I would suggest trying to at least understand what’s behind his comment.

    (Also you work in an academic setting, yes? Your department admins should have been more on top of getting his paperwork in order so he was approved for his healthcare and his ethics approval, and you should have been, as his PI and mentor, pushing for it. The comment about the work station is eh and the baby one is YIKES, but the other stuff? Those are things you need to explain, and apologize for when they take too long, and otherwise advocate for your post docs.)

    1. Jennifer Strange*

      Are you shocked that someone who chose to move countries to work WITH YOU is upset that you’re not going to be there for a large part of his work?

      Where does it say he specifically chose to move countries to work with the LW specifically?

      Your department admins should have been more on top of getting his paperwork in order so he was approved for his healthcare and his ethics approval, and you should have been, as his PI and mentor, pushing for it.

      A bunch of folks have commented that in Canada the wait time he experienced is the norm.

      1. Observer*

        And also the OP added some information that’s very relevant.

        For one thing, one of the reasons for the delay with his insurance was that he did not submit the paperwork he was supposed to, when he was supposed to! For another thing, there were some things that had to happen before he could be put on the project and they were things that could only happen after he started work (like some trainings required by regulating body.)

        In or out of academia, a month to get all the paperwork squared away is simply not that long.

      2. Riot Grrrl*

        Where does it say he specifically chose to move countries to work with the LW specifically?

        This is typically how scientific research works at the postdoc level. You go somewhere to do research with a specific person, often because domains of research expertise are so incredibly narrow that there may literally be only a handful of people in the world working in your field.

  49. Appletini*

    I think a lot of the sympathy for Joffrey is based in the perception that LW2 is doing something frivolous and female by having a baby. if LW2 were [male and] taking time off for cancer treatment I think many commenters would find Joffrey less reasonable.

    1. Robin*

      tbh i’m seeing most of the more sympathetic commenters saying “yeah that man was bonkers for saying that shit but like, i too would be mad if my direct mentor left for the majority of my contract and i’m surprised LW2 was surprised, also healthcare isn’t a small concern?” and then everyone else being like “wow so you are directly contributing to the sexism towards women in STEM then”

  50. Jo-El (Kryptonian Name)*

    LW3, sorry my friend but I’ve seen it happen to WAY too many people where they were SO good at what they did the company just couldn’t bring themselves to promote them out of that position. It’s time to set sail and find a better harbor. Good luck.

  51. Bill S. Preston, Esq.*

    I dealt with the can’t get promoted BS until I said to hell with this and left. Broken promises after I turned down another job, weak excuses (“we have an interim HR director,” “we’d have to bump your salary for a title increase – all I wanted – and we’re on a budget freeze), DEI tokenism after our office got attacked and vandalized in 2020 (“you know how it is these days, it’s about optics and we need to do something after this and unfortunately, it can’t be you”), finding any small reason to demean my performance. In reality, they didn’t think I’d leave as they knew I was extremely well respected by my coworkers and loved what I did and for another job I’d have to move and I had just bought a condo. It’s probably the same for the author here – they’re taking them for granted, thinking they won’t leave. My bosses thought they could treat me poorly and I’d just take it.

  52. Jaybeetee*

    LW3: A rule of thumb I picked up early on is if an org doesn’t give you a shot after about three tries (for a job or promotion), it probably isn’t going to happen barring a major management turnover or other big change. If I keep applying after that, I’m beating my head against the wall.

    Maybe you’re so good where you are they don’t want to move you. Maybe they’re taking advantage of your ambition to load you up with work beyond your pay grade. Maybe your first week there you accidentally stepped on the CEO’s toe in the elevator and now there’s a permanent black mark against you. Maybe they rarely or never promote from within (you would likely have noticed by now if this was the case, but at any rate someone should have clued you in when it became apparent you were trying to move up). Whatever the reason, after this many attempts, I think it’s okay to get down to brass tacks with your current manager and indicate that if there’s no path for you to move up in the company, it’s time for you to look elsewhere.

    When you work somewhere really good, your management will actually be on your side for such a conversation. I’m actually in a situation right now where I’ve been screened out of a potential promotion for the second time. My manager (who is not involved in this process) has straight-up said that I’m qualified, and she’s trying to look into what booted me out of the running. Moreover, she *told* me to start applying for similar positions elsewhere – either to get an offer in-hand and force the promotion here, or to move onto greener pastures.

    Loyalty is great, but if you leave, they’ll fill in your position tomorrow. You gotta look out for you.

  53. His Grace*

    OP 3: If after a decade, the higher ups won’t promote you, it’s time to move on. Find your resume, dust off the cobwebs, put your accomplishments at your current job on there, and start your search.

    All the best to you.

  54. Marzipan Shepherdess*

    LW3: I’m ever so sorry, but no, you are not going to be promoted. You sound as if you’ve taken the initiative to learn more, to become better qualified and to do everything possible to be better at your job. Your company now has a very highly qualified person doing your job (you!) AND one who’s willing, ready and eager to take on more in order to prove that they can indeed handle a more responsible position.

    All of which has resulted in your company being delighted to keep you where you are until you retire. They’re getting more and better work out of you while paying you the same – what’s NOT to like, as far as they’re concerned? Remember that old saying “Why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free?” Well, your company is getting the milk, cream, cheese, yogurt, butter and ice cream for free (or for a whole lot less than they’d otherwise have to pay someone to do what you’re doing!) Time to move on if you want to move up, because your company’s theme song is “You ain’t goin’ nowhere!”

  55. should decide on a name*

    #1 – why don’t these useless managers have actual jobs to do?

    #4 – be very, very careful that your feedback is not misconstrued (accidentally or on purpose) by a manager. Make sure that they understand exactly what it is that you are saying about the person’s work, especially if they are a generalist, not a specialist, or are not a specialist in the relevant discipline.

  56. Vector_1985*

    #1 At least it make sense why we not allowed too in my factory’s job since some of us are working with machines.

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