my boss convinced my hotel to open my room, my manager might have a second job, and more

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

1. My boss convinced my hotel to open my door so he could find out if I was there

I was sent out of town to train a new employee. My employer booked a room for me to stay in. The last day, my boss called twice at the beginning of my shift. I didn’t answer. Is it okay for him to call the hotel and create a false emergency situation and convince the hotel to go open the door to see if I’m in the room? He could have just called the store I was working at.

What?! No, absolutely not. If he genuinely feared some sort of harm had befallen you, that would be different — but if he deliberated fabricated a story just to find out if you were in your room (because what, he figured you were sleeping in? playing poker in there while blowing off work?), that’s a wild boundary violation and not the behavior of a reasonable or grounded person.

Of course, the bigger question is what to do now that you know this about him, especially if it doesn’t strike you as out-of-character.

2. How can I pull back on a friendship with a coworker?

I befriended my coworker in the last few months, and we began spending time together and communicating outside of work. I realized that while I enjoy being friendly with this person, they require a lot of emotional labor from me as a “friend.” This includes multiple calls and texts a day, asking to hang out outside of work, and venting about work or their personal life constantly. Often they share things that are very unprofessional — for example, detailing their efforts to blatantly disregard a company policy. When I don’t agree, they get defensive and I end up apologizing.

I am at a different stage in my life personally and professionally than this individual. They are not someone I would spend time with if I had not met them at work, and I do not like the person I am when I interact with them (gossipy and unprofessional), but I worry it is too late to walk back the level of access they feel entitled to without a big blow-up. What steps can I take to create some distance and set some boundaries? What should I say when they ask why I am not as available?

The easiest way to do it in a work context is to become much less available. Explain that your time outside of work has become so booked up that you don’t have much time left for anything but collapsing at the end of the day; you’re going to be less available for calls and texts as well. You can cite a specific reason for this change if you want to, or you can be vaguer and say something like “there’s a lot going on in my family right now.” Then follow through on that — don’t answer calls or texts outside of work (or if you do respond to a text, let a day or two go by and then send a short response: that alone will make you less satisfying to vent to). You can demonstrate what you want your new boundaries to by … just having those boundaries and sticking to them. But it’s kinder to do that when you first give a sort of blanket “I’ve got a lot going on right now and I’m not going to be around as much” so the person isn’t left wondering what’s going on or if they’ve done something to upset you.

More here:
my coworker has become needy and wants a closer friendship than I want

3. My manager might have a second job

I saw a LinkedIn post congratulating my manager and “their team” for their work building a startup. They weren’t directly tagged in the LinkedIn post, but somehow the algorithm decided to send it to my feed, which is how I found out about this venture.

I know people can have side hustles, but my manager hasn’t mentioned doing any kind of side work at all and I don’t think our company would be okay with it, which makes me think they’re trying to be somewhat covert about it (although maybe the LinkedIn post suggests otherwise?).

Now that I know this, should I say anything (to my manager or anyone else)? It’d be nice to know whether my manager is planning on leaving soon, but I don’t really want to confront them with something they might have been trying to keep secret. I also don’t want to cause drama by snitching on them, but it does feel like a big thing they’ve been keeping from the team.

Don’t say anything. If your manager wanted to talk about it, they’d tell you. And you’re not obligated to share it with your employer — and could blow things up for your manager if you do, when it might not affect your team’s work for years, if ever. Lots of side businesses never become the person’s full-time thing; for all we know, your boss plans to do this on the side with no disruption to their primary job. Whether or not that would be okay with your employer is a different question, but not one so pressing that you need to raise it on their behalf — assuming, of course, that there’s not some additional detail that changes that calculus.

All that said … if your boss put this on LinkedIn, they’re being public enough that if you did want to ask about it, you wouldn’t be totally out of line. But check their profile to confirm that they really did first, because it could also just be something LinkedIn got wrong.

4. Should I let applicants know we’re not hiring after all?

I recently circulated a job description for a new role working under me in my small organization. I sent the description to a few friends in the industry. As resumes came back, I realized I wasn’t finding quite what I was looking for, and looking at them helped me recalibrate what I wanted in the role. We decided to put a pin in hiring for the position for now. Do I need to respond to people’s resumes telling them we aren’t hiring for the role anymore or is it okay to just leave them? I’ve been told the latter is fine, but I feel guilty leaving people on read and I’ve even had some people follow up. What do you think?

Ideally you’d send everyone a short note saying the hiring is on hold (or the role has been cancelled, or whatever message seems right to you). Doing this can be super fast; you can have one form letter that you copy/paste if you don’t have an applicant tracking system that will do it for you.

You don’t have to do it — a lot of employers don’t bother — but it’s certainly more courteous, and most candidates will appreciate it. Plus, it’ll (mostly) stop people from following up with you.

5. Should I be paid for checking email outside of work?

I am a school aide — the lowest rung on the ladder of jobs in a public school, and paid as such. I am paid hourly; I clock in and out via timeclock daily. At no point during my day am I assigned to a desk, nor have I been issued a computer, cell phone, or other personal digital device. However, there is an expectation that I check email regularly.

I asked at a recent staff meeting when aides were expected to check email. Our supervisor was baffled. She stammered and had no clear answer but said, “Most staff check at home before coming to work.” I pushed back, “But I’m hourly, are you saying I should do work off the clock?” She said, “It’s not really doing work, it’s keeping informed about work.”

After the meeting, some of my coworkers told me they have downloaded the city’s email onto the personal cell phones and check their school email during the day that way.

Is this something I should push back on through my union? This seems wrong to me. If there is an expectation I am to read email, it seems to me I should be provided the time and a device to do so.

Your manager’s statement that “it’s not really doing work” is legally incorrect; the law is very clear that reading and/or responding to emails is a work activity, and you do need to be paid for it (assuming that you’re non-exempt, which you sound like you are — and also assuming the time is more than a minute or two or otherwise de minimus). However, in most states, your employer wouldn’t need to provide you with a device to do it on; they can say that having a way to check email is a condition of the job. But they do need to pay you for all non-de-minimus time you spend doing it.

You could certainly check with your union for advice. You might end up finding out that it’s not a battle they want to spend capital on (and the political reality might be that if you pursue it yourself, your contract doesn’t get renewed — that’s not fair or right, but you should be aware that’s how this stuff works sometimes), but there’s no harm and potentially some gain in talking to your union about it.

{ 329 comments… read them below }

  1. BaskingInMyWindowlessOffice*

    general rule. if fabricating an emergency situation is part of your management toolbox, you need to throw your toolbox away and start over.

      1. Jolene*

        I’d have a huge beef with the hotel as well as my Crazy AF boss. What if person calling and demanding to know if I was in room was an abusive partner? A stalker? An ex-spouse in a custody dispute? My partners ex who just wanted to cause drama and ruin our morning? ANYONE. Seriously, the hotel should not be checking on people rooms and reporting back to people over the phone.

        1. Emmie*

          Exactly! This warrants a call to the hotel. It’s so egregious, I’d likely side-step the hotel’s leadership and contact the hotel’s corporate office.

          The manager’s behavior is appalling too. It is awful enough that I would report it to their manager and HR.

        2. Tinkerbell*

          Generally hotels will only confirm that a guest is staying there if the caller can provide the full name AND the room number. If the hotel was booked through work, it’s entirely possible the boss had this. The hotel would also know that the room was booked through a work block, so a boss calling and saying “Jane Doe didn’t show up for work this morning, could you please do a welfare check in room 208 for her?” wouldn’t be that strange.

          1. Nebula*

            Yeah that’s my take on it, I don’t think the hotel necessarily did anything wrong.

            1. Tomato Soup*

              Me neither and I don’t think LW blames the hotel either. They mention the manager fabricated an emergency of some kind to get this done. everyone involved knew the manager shouldn’t be doing this but the manager decided to do it anyways.

              1. Cmdrshrd*

                But did the manager fabricate an emergency, or did they perceive it to potentially be a real emergency?
                Did manager say “Jane Doe is traveling for work and she has not checked in, answered the phone when I reached out to her at the start of her shift, can you check to make sure she is okay?”

                “Is it okay for him to call the hotel and create a false emergency situation and convince the hotel to go open the door to see if I’m in the room?”

                I do think usually wait time for an employee not responding is different when they are at a hotel on company travel versus being at home. At home I think there are a lot more plausible reasons for someone to be delayed in starting versus being at a hotel, when the primary reason for the travel is work. So not starting on time I think is a bit more of a big deal.

                1. Betty*

                  Plus, the OP said the manager could have called the store they were working at. Also, they were supposed to be training a new employee, so he could have called the new employee or their manager. So many possible steps before making up an emergency.

                2. Betty*

                  Also, OP wasn’t late. They were at the store working when this happened. They just didn’t answer the manager’s calls earlier.

                3. MassMatt*

                  I don’t think there’s really any difference between those two scenarios. Someone doesn’t answer their phone and the boss gets the staff to open her room? OMG that is a huge rush to catastrophic thinking. If the employee had been at home what would the boss have done, gone to their house and peered in the windows?

                  Your boss’s worry (or more likely, need for control) does not trump my right to have privacy, no matter who is paying for the room.

          2. Ally McBeal*

            I agree. Boss was out of line, but the hotel did nothing wrong.

            I was once staying at a hotel after a friend’s wedding, which involved much drinking late into the night. I’d made plans to visit a popular tourist spot* with a couple other wedding guests, but I’d been so exhausted from a huge project at work plus this wedding that I slept through all my alarms, texts and phone calls. I woke up to a pounding on the door from hotel staff who wanted to be sure I was ok – it’s nice to know that the wedding guests I’d only known for a couple days were looking out for me.

            *If you’re ever in St. Louis, MO, I cannot recommend City Museum highly enough. It’s not a museum, though – more like a giant arts-and-crafts indoor playground for people of all ages – so wear your workout gear!

        3. Hospitalityhag*

          As someone who manages a hotel- there’s a lot of questions I’d follow up with the letter writer before jumping to “hotel did something wrong”. Was boss paying for the room? If so- it would not be at all akin to the scenario you mentioned- because the boss probably set up the reservation, and ir may even be in his name.

          And the last thing a hotel wants is a dead guest. So if a manager calls and says “I’m worried about my employee, they were supposed to be at work and didn’t arrive” we have full right to enter your room to check. Also just an aside- we /technically/ have the right to enter your room at any point if we have valid reason to.

          1. Two Pop Tarts*

            Did the hotel allow the boss in the room (or even to wait outside), or did the hotel staff check without the boss’ physical involvement?

            There seems to be some missing info from the story.

            If the hotel is opening the door for the boss, even if the boss’ firm paid for the room, then there is a problem. Only the person actually assigned to the room should have physical access to the room.

            1. Lily Rowan*

              It seems pretty clear that the employee was out of town and the boss was not.

          2. Someone Else's Boss*

            That’s good to know (and terrifying and the reason I bring additional locks to hotels).

            1. Former Hotel Manager*

              Just FYI- there are tools to break any extra lock and you’d be accessed the cost of any damage or repair needed to access your room if you take specific steps not to open your door. You specifically agree to allow access to your room at any time by hotel staff.

              A wellness check doesn’t start with someone randomly opening the door. First there’s a phone call, then there’s a loud knock(s) at your door while we identify ourselves, then if you still aren’t opening we have to come in.

        4. Bi One Get One*

          My friend is the night auditor at a hotel and they are not allowed by hotel policy to even tell others you are in the building. He has stories of vindictive exes demanding to know the room number of their former partners, and when denied they sit in the parking lot leaning on their car horns and shouting for the person to come out. I’d complain loudly to the hotel manager and the chain that owns the hotel, they should know better than to compromise a guest’s safety and privacy!

          1. La Triviata*

            There was a case a while ago where a woman staying at a hotel was being harassed by a male guest;; he was drunk, she wasn’t interested and retreated to her room and went to sleep. He convinced the hotel clerk he was her husband, got the key and went up and let himself in. The woman was awakened by him trying to get into bed with her.

            There are reasons for policies.

        5. Momma Bear*

          Agreed. I don’t necessarily know who I’d talk to first, but I’d probably visit HR about it.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      Yeah, if that’s their top management strategy for handling something very routine like trying to get hold of someone, what on earth are they going to do in an actual emergency?

    2. CityMouse*

      It’s just baffling. if you want to figure out if someone’s at work, you fake an elaborate emergency to figure out if they are in their hotel room (which doesn’t tell you where they are anyway) instead of just calling the place you expect them to be?

      Something doesn’t make sense here. I think maybe boss was doing something else like maybe checking to see if LW had someone in the room with them. Is this boss overly interested in Lw’s dating life outside of this incident? Because I think the explanation offered here is a lie.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I was wondering why the boss didn’t just call the work location, too! There are many reasons that someone might not be able to answer their own phone while training.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Right? That would have been the first call I made, if I were the manager. “Hi, it’s Me, Jane is supposed to be there training Greg. I’m just checking to see if she arrived.” Not that hard.

      2. Ama*

        So just a couple months ago, my whole department was staying at a hotel to run a conference — on the second day, my direct report didn’t come down at the time we had agreed on and hadn’t sent a message (which isn’t like her). She was also not answering her cell phone. One of my coworkers was absolutely ready to have the hotel staff go knock on her door (she is a worst-case scenario person) but I had a feeling there was a simpler explanation so I told coworker to start by asking the front desk to call her room and if she didn’t answer, we’d pull our mutual boss in and decide what to do.

        Sure enough, she had accidentally set her alarm to pm not am and then put her cell phone on silent, but the room landline ringing woke her up.

        That said — we only went that far because we knew she had to be in the hotel *somewhere* and her not being downstairs with us made it most likely she was still in her room. I don’t understand why, given that boss knew OP *could* have been elsewhere, that he didn’t check there first.

      3. ferrina*

        Yeah, I’m suspicious about the boss’s motivations as well. I’m wondering what working with him on a daily basis is like- best case scenario, he takes the least logical path to solve problems. That’s a terrible trait in a boss.

      4. goddessoftransitory*

        There has to be some reason (deranged or otherwise) why this person’s boss, who sent her on a work trip to train an employee at a store, would not call the store before vaulting over reason and rationality to “fabricate an emergency, get the hotel tangled in a possible lawsuit, and have them enter a guest’s room on false pretenses.”

        If I was management at that hotel I don’t think I’d ever book with LW’s company again, or at least not have any dealings with that boss!

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      As we have seen from many, many, many comments here, some people’s first inclination is to lie about a situation. I have no idea why. Nature? Nurture? Who knows?

      Ultimately, the “why” doesn’t matter as lying is a generally a bad instinct regardless of its cause. Why lie when the truth is just as effective, if not more so?

    4. EandC*

      I actually disagree (probably just this one time) with the advice in #3. I work in the ethics and compliance department. If your company has a conflict of interest policy, it most likely states that all conflicts, real OR perceived are to be reported to the company. There are risks to both the company employee that a conflict can cause and the default should be to report to your company. Many companies have an anonymous hotline where this is a perfect example of something that should be reported. Now it’s very likely that the conflict is benign, but it’s better for the company to have awareness and to give the employee advice on how to handle the relationship/conflict so that it isn’t or doesn’t become an issue. It’s also very possible that if the company has these processes and policies in place that the employee already reported the conflict, and has already received guidance, at which point your hotline call becomes moot.

      1. ResuMAYDAY*

        OP #3, if your boss wasn’t dirctly tagged, then how do you know the post was actually about your boss? There are so few unique names on LI.
        And if it was your boss, perhaps they simply gave advice and guidance to a friend or family member, for nothing in return. You have nothing but assumptions. Think about how you would appreciate someone going to HR to report you for an ethics breach, based on an assumption! Please leave this one alone.

  2. Carl*

    #5 I’m curious how much time this requires. Is this just reading occasional notices, or having to respond to multiple per day?

    1. Link*

      The last time I had email be an integral part of the job, it was a full on 15 to 30 minutes of work daily to look through and respond to the emails that needed to be responded to. Sometimes it ended up as an hour of work.

      I would imagine as a school aide, I imagine there is general purpose emails that get passed around by the entire admin and teaching staff that need to get dealt with daily, possibly as well as parent/student emails if they get delegated as such. Looking at it this way, I imagine this could easily be an hour, maybe even two of email work that needs to be done daily or every other day.

      1. Tinkerbell*

        The time would be the crux of it, for me. I do think it’s reasonable to expect you to use your own phone, but only if you have downtime during the workday and can check it then. If you don’t, you may have better luck pushing for that than for getting paid to check the email “off the clock.”

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I don’t think it’s reasonable to use your own phone. There are multiple issues there (lowest paid person supplying own tech, etc.). But the biggest one is that if there is any sort of lawsuit or request for records (I assume this is a public school), the LW’s phone can be subpoenaed.

          1. Sparkle Llama*

            Yeah the applicability of open data laws are going to be important here. I work in a state with the most or almost the most open data protections (so lots of things not required to be disclosed elsewhere are in my state) and if I use my personal phone for email it opens up everything on my phone to being released as part of a records request and you can have your physical phone taken for weeks.

            Not sure how schools fit into that but something to consider and push back on.

          2. Hall or Billingham*

            Yes–I was coming here to post the same thing! Particularly important when we’re talking about employees who are mandated reporters as the chances they are incidental to an investigation are more likely and higher stakes.

          3. I am Emily's failing memory*

            Second biggest is that the corporate security management apps (that are usually required in order to connect to a work email server from a phone) typically give the employer the ability to remotely wipe your (entire) device. A cautious IT department could jump to doing it right away if they catch wind you left your phone on the subway that morning, where if work stuff wasn’t on your phone, you might still be holding out hope it’d make its way to a lost and found.

            A crappy one also could decide to do it if they fire you, so you’d come out of the meeting where you found out only to check your phone and see that all your personal photos, text history, and other files are missing.

            1. Jiminy cricket*

              This is true. My spouse’s employer required her to sign something saying that they could wipe her device without notice if she put the organization’s email on her phone. So she didn’t. Making her less available and efficient than would be best for the organization, but that is on them.

          4. Samwise*

            Agreed.

            There’s probably a computer in the library/media center OP might could use?

          5. Rainy*

            Yup. I will occasionally check my work email on my phone in a situation where I’m not near my work laptop and I’m worried that something may have changed, but I won’t install any work productivity software on my personal devices. I don’t use my personal phone, laptop, tablet, etc for work. If work wanted me to have all that stuff on a phone, work would need to supply me with that device and pay the phone plan for it.

          6. miss_chevious*

            THIS. Using your own phone to do work opens you up to a lot of potential personal risk, as many other commenters have detailed. I strongly recommend that people do not mingle work and personal matters on devices.

          7. Darn, heck, and other salty expressions*

            I am an itinerant employee at a school district. I have a laptop and Ipad issued to me. I don’t carry my laptop around because it is too big to do so comfortably. I choose to use my phone to check email both on and off duty because many of my emails are time sensitive and it is easier to check it on my phone when I’m away from my office. That being said I would not expect someone to use their personal device for work purposes if they didn’t want to do so. Most school districts will have a district log in for each employee that they can use to log in from any on or off network computer. I would make it a point to use a classroom or library computer to check email twice a day. If the school wants employees to check and respond to email immediately then they should provide a device to do so. Another option is to request a small monthly stipend to cover using a personal device for work purposes, but I wouldn’t count on that being approved, and if it were approved they could require you to activate email notifications and respond in a reasonable time whether you are on or off the clock.

        2. Peanut Hamper*

          It is not reasonable. If my organization wants me to use a cell phone, then they need to provide one. I am not going to finance my organization’s activities.

          1. Office Lobster DJ*

            I’d also add that the slope of “cell phone = constant immediate availability” is a slippery one indeed if you aren’t careful, which is especially tricky for an hourly employee. (I say this as someone who is also dedicated to keeping their personal cell phone as personal as I can.)

          2. NeutralJanet*

            I mean, your organization also wants you to show up to work wearing clothing, but they don’t pay for your wardrobe–it’s really not reasonable for your job to pay for every single thing that you need in order to work. Whether or not a cell phone falls into the “reasonable for you to pay yourself” is up for debate, I suppose, but it’s not an automatic no.

            1. kendall^2*

              I have a cell phone. But it isn’t a smart phone, so it would be impossible for me to check email on it. Can an employer mandate the (hourly) employee purchase of a device that is hundreds of dollars plus monthly costs?

            2. Charlotte Lucas*

              I need to wear clothes to leave the house, though. I don’t need a phone to do that. I consider a phone to be something a workplace provides me if it’s needed for my role. It is a standard piece of equipment for many workplaces.

            3. NaoNao*

              eh that seems like a bit of a straw man. Being clothed is not exclusively for work, and checking/answering work emails on a cell phone is. It’s my take that if the employer wants the employee *to perform job functions* not just “meet general standards any employee has”, they need to give the employee a way to do it that doesn’t penalize the employee or cost them money…or reach into their personal/private lives.

            4. Rainy*

              As far as I know, organizations that require a uniform are required to provide that uniform or a uniform allowance, so…yes, it’s reasonable for your job to pay for things that they REQUIRE you to have to perform your job.

              I have a lot of leeway in the clothing I wear to work, I get to exercise personal choice in most of it, and for the things I don’t (we have required work gear for special events etc), work provides that clothing.

            5. Hans Solo*

              The cell phone (for an hourly employee especially) is akin to a computer. You don’t show up at an office having to purchase equipment. If it is company email, then they need to pay for it. But this employee probably shouldn’t even have that as checking work email IS working.

            6. Nina*

              I had a job once where they did in fact provide (and replace it at their cost if you trashed it at work) clothing that was uniform across the company, but not a uniform, and there was no requirement to wear it if you didn’t want to. People in positions where there was more manual labor were issued more items (e.g. 10 tshirts instead of 5, 4 pants instead of 2). Shockingly, most people wore the provided clothes. I still have some of the pants and they’re still in respectable condition.

              They would have preferred I have a smartphone (mainly for 2FA and Teams) but when I said I don’t have one and I’m not paying for one, they a) paid for exactly one subscription to a SMS-based 2FA service that worked for my dumb phone b) told my manager that all ‘all team’ announcements sent by Teams out of hours had to be duplicated by SMS to me, and c) made sure the QR code sign-in/sign-out sheet at the gate also had a paper and pen version and a RFID tag-in version.

              It was a hellscape on several levels, but I really liked that job, and that was a huge part of it.

          3. ferrina*

            A lot of people at my organization (including me) have their email and/or IM on their personal phone. This is for my sanity rather than the organizational gain- I can take 30 minutes to run an errand in the middle of the day and still be responsive to messages. The other option is to be tied to your laptop for most of the day and any overtime that’s needed (a relatively common thing in my industry).

            So technically only a few people need a phone with email access, and my company will supply those to those people. But most of us have found that it is better for ourselves to have it on our personal device. You can definitely do without, but it means that you are less able to take advantage of the flexible hours.

            1. ferrina*

              adding to my comment- our employees are all exempt, so no issue with payment here. The biggest issue is definitely that the LW is being told to do a work activity off the clock- not legal.

        3. Emily*

          I am the LW. Time is the issue: before work I don’t generally turn on my home computer, and even I did, logging into the City system involves having a time sensitive code texted to my phone, etc – its not just click a button & walk away while it boots up and I make my coffee. Then I have to navigate to the email section of the site, then read… in all its probably 5-15 minutes. Which admittedly isn’t much, but even 5 minutes a day adds up. But more its just one more thing on my plate at home, and I’m busy enough. At my pay scale I think the least I can expect is to not have to take work home.

          As for my cell phone, I do not have the memory available to download the City’s app nor the budget to buy additional memory.

          1. AV*

            As a teacher and also former para (aide) I am intimately aware of the barriers in this situation. How I would approach is to talk to the building principal about having an extra 15-30 minutes built into your day for “ plan time” where you can check emails and prepare for any last minute scheduling changes or student needs. I suggest you bring this up at your classified employee union meeting so that it may be addressed in the next bargaining cycle. FYI: our paras are scheduled 1/2 hour before school and another 1/2 hour at the end of the day but we are very lucky!

          2. Andrew*

            That system sounds really frustrating, and even more reason you shouldn’t be required to do this on unpaid time.

            Last summer I was doing part-time/temporary work for two different institutions that both used Microsoft Outlook mail and expected all communication to be through the official email system. It was a lot of extra time to log out of one, get the access code for the other, etc. People who make these institutional decisions don’t think about how much extra effort this takes from employees.

          3. theletter*

            it seems to me that anything that they think an hourly work would need to know before work and ‘off the clock’ should be communicable via text message and only communicated in that way.

          4. ferrina*

            Your instincts are spot on. You are working, so you need to be paid for it. (especially at the lowest pay tier! Why are they begrudging you such a negligible amount of their staffing budget?)

            If you don’t have the tech you need, that’s on them to find a solution. The solution might be that you use your personal computer (if you have one), or that they adjust your hours so you can arrive and clock-in earlier so you can catch up on email.

          5. Lareesa*

            GOOD FOR YOU

            Thank you for standing up to this weird expectation. I feel like school staff in particular are expected to do a lot of unpaid labor, and wages already are not commensurate with the job responsibilities. It feels like there is a wave right now of school staff understanding their worth and expecting more, and I applaud you for being part of it. All the people who keep our schools running deserve the world!

          6. goddessoftransitory*

            It definitely adds up, and time theft starts like that–five minutes here, five minutes there, and suddenly a good portion of your duties just became volunteer.

            When I train new CSRs at work and we get to the end of the shift, I make sure they wipe down their desks, check messages, close windows and such BEFORE they clock out. All that is work. Do not work for free.

        4. not a hippo*

          Yeah no, I’m not using my personal device for work, point blank period. Work wants me to be doing something that requires me to be reachable after hours or other capabilities a phone has (taking photos etc), you’re going to provide me with a work issued device.

          Just as I wouldn’t use my work laptop for personal stuff, I’m not using my personal stuff for work.

      2. Decidedly Me*

        Sure, but the emails you check before work are only things that came in since you last checked (ideally before leaving work the prior day). I would imagine the bulk of that email time would be during actual work hours with very little during that off work time (if at all).

        1. BubbleTea*

          I think the point was that they have no way or opportunity to check email during work hours. No access to a computer, and almost certainly rules against using a personal phone during school.

          1. Snow Globe*

            Yes, it sounds like they are checking a whole day’s worth of email from home because they can’t do it at work. That could take a long time.

            1. On Fire*

              And that opens a whole other venue of problems: Freedom of Information. I’m a public employee, and in my state, if I do any work on a personal device, that makes the device subject to information transparency laws.

      3. Irish Teacher*

        This may be different in different schools or countries, but as a teacher, I have never spent hours on e-mail. Then again, my students and their parents do not have my e-mail, so it is only information from the school or colleagues or outside agencies.

        Just looked at my e-mail from a random day last term and I got four e-mails that day, an announcement that a school event was cancelled and those classes would instead be attending class as normal, an e-mail from a colleague about a collection for a colleague who was leaving, another announcement saying our principal was absent for the day and a reply to an e-mail I had sent about a computer problem, saying it had been sorted and I could now input my grades.

        My guess would be that, at least here, aides would have less to do with e-mail than teachers and it would be mostly checking for school announcements, etc.

        That’s not to say that I think the aide should be expected to check her e-mail at home, especially if teachers, who are better paid and salaried, are able to check them during the school day.

        1. doreen*

          I’m also not saying that the LW should be expected to check emails outside of work hours – but there was a position at my job that used email so little that they had to be told to read/send emails every X number of weeks so that they wouldn’t lose access. If they got one email a day, it was a lot – they didn’t get any regarding their actual work, just that June is XYZ month or that a holiday that fell on Sunday would be observed in Monday, that sort of thing.

          1. Zweisatz*

            Given that the LW is being told they need to keep up-to-date with their email, it’s presumably more than that.

          2. Emily*

            LW here: Last school year was 180 days, I received approximately 800 emails, of which about 300 were important/actionable/relevant to me.

        2. Teacher, Here*

          My brain is exploding at the idea of parents and students not having my email address. That’s 95% of the emails I get and 100% of the ones that take a lot of time to respond to. How do you communicate with parents and students about performance if not by email? It sounds amazing.

          1. amoeba*

            I’d assume you call them in urgent cases or write a note for the child to take home/speak to them at the next parent-teacher conference? I know there are cases where it’s more necessary, but in my school days, I’m pretty sure contact between my parents and the school was pretty minimal (like, maybe once a year if that much.) And generally via the child, not direct.

            1. Ghostess*

              I was thinking that Irish Teacher was communicating with her class and their caregivers via a classroom portal or school site of some sort.

          2. Myrin*

            Honestly, the idea of parents and/or students having teachers’ emails sounds absolutely horrid to me because that wasn’t even something on anyone’s radar when I was in school (and, like, I’m 32, not 80). I remember very clearly that one substitute teacher we had in 11th grade who wrote her email on the blackboard upon introducing herself and everyone thought that was hilarious and weird (in hindsight, I realised that was what she was used to from university – she was still partly a student (not in the US; different system) and contrary to regular schools, it has been the norm for teachers at university to be contacted via email for ages).

            Granted, I don’t know if that’s been changed in the last 15 years, especially with covid, but I’m intrigued by the “how do you communicate with parents and students about performance?” part because, well, in-person with students and through the phone with parents. There’s also regular parent-teacher-meetings but nobody is obligated to come to those and honestly, teachers here don’t reeeally communicate about performance with parents unless there’s something truly egregious going on.

            1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

              I would presume the teachers have a school provided email, not a personal one. Because a personal one would be a hard NO from me. All the ones I have seen (and I see a LOT of school emails as a family law attorney) have the school domain as the address. Just like any other work email.

              But if they expect OP to keep on top of her email, they need to either provide her a means AT WORK or pay her for checking it at home. Those are the only two legal options.

              We need to get past educators being expected to fund their classrooms out of their own pocket, which includes not being paid to check emails outside of school hours.

              1. Llama Llama Workplace Drama*

                My son is in middle school and all of my communication with his teachers is through their school email. It’s a pretty regular thing for me to contact one of them about assignments that show as missing in the portal and things like that. They also email all of the parents about big projects going on that require parent involvement.

              2. Clisby*

                I would expect a teacher to have a school email, too – agree that they shouldn’t have to provide a personal email. My kids are up in their 20s and I can’t remember any time the teachers and staff didn’t have school emails. misswormwood@tortureschool.com, for example. Just like college professors have college-provided emails.

            2. just a random teacher*

              I definitely use my school-provided email for any emails I’m sending to parents or students. The only work people who have my personal email are my union rep and a few teachers or parents that I also know socially. (For example, I used to teach the kid who lives in the house next door to me. I have multiple personal contact methods with that family, so for neighbor-business I’d use a personal email or text, but for school-business I’d use my school accounts.)

              Email has largely replaced a lot of the newsletters/handouts/etc. that I used to hope kids would remember to give their parents when they got home. We have a way to send an email to all parents (or all parents and students) in a given class, so that’s where a lot of that type of communication happens now.

              Students are also issued school email addresses where I teach, with a different pattern to them than teacher ones so it’s at least obvious to internal folks if you’re mailing a student versus a teacher. Students also all have school-issued Chromebooks and usually have at least one class with a virtual rather than print textbook, so it’s likely that they’ll have their computer out and have a chance to check school email during the school day as well. We’re also heavily encouraged to use online assignments through things like Google Classroom rather than printing out worksheets.

              Email is also my first choice for contacting individual parents if I have a concern about a student, because I can send them through that same system (which is also the one I take attendance using so it’s generally already up and running) and create an automatic documentation trail in a centralized place. (If they don’t get back to me and it’s something that I need a response about, I then escalate to texting through a different school-supplied system, and then eventually call them if I still need a response, but email is the one that’s the least hassle for me and the easiest to document so I start there. If I get no response through email, texting, and calling, then I escalate it to administration or the school counselor if it’s something important enough that I still need to be followed up with.)

              We also keep student grades in an online gradebook that students and parents can see, and it’s been that way at every place I’ve taught for about 10 years now. I actually hate it a lot because I think grades only make sense at specific checkpoints in the term based on when the larger assessments have been turned in and graded (which I in turn structure around the grading periods when we’ll be sending out report cards), and I really, really, REALLY hate that parents tell their kids things like “have a B by Friday or you’re grounded this weekend” when it’s already Wednesday and there are no more major assignments due that week that could possibly change their grade in time. The parents will then email me expecting me to drop everything and help their kid raise their grade so they can go fishing or something, and it’s all just not how learning actually works. (This is one reason why I won’t teach in some of the more “privileged” schools. Those parents are much more likely to do this, and I find it exhausting.)

            3. I am Emily's failing memory*

              Times change, and things change with the times. When I was in grade school we all had to have a dedicated folder for teachers to put notes, report cards, the school lunch calendar, and other papers that they need to get into the hands of parents. Using small children as couriers is not the most efficient or airtight system of communication, but it was better than the only alternative at the time – using slow and costly (when multiplied by the number of students and number of letters over the course of the year) postal mail.

              Once email became widely used and nearly free, it would have become increasingly foolish to continue using the Child Backpack Express.

            4. BadCultureFit*

              You clearly didn’t have children in school during lockdown. Everyyyyyything happened over email. And now communicating with teachers over their work emails is hear to stay.

              1. Myrin*

                You clearly didn’t have children in school during lockdown.

                Indeed I didn’t (I don’t have any children at all), which is why I said “I don’t know if that’s been changed in the last 15 years, especially with covid”.

          3. Pescadero*

            “How do you communicate with parents and students about performance if not by email?”

            If it’s like when I was growing up in the 80’s… you don’t.

            As long as you weren’t failing or skipping school – your parents communicated with the school/teachers by your report card coming in the mail, and whatever the student chose to communicate.

            As someone who just graduated a couple kids in the last few years – I wish it was still that way.

            1. Bob’s your uncle*

              Wow. I am a high school teacher, and I get quite a few emails from students regularly, and parent emails occasionally. I also use a texting app for schools (remind) that is optional, but almost every teacher in my school uses it. I get texts in the evening from kids asking for help on homework. I started allowing kids to text me during Covid. I have been using the app for years but always as a one-way communication. I almost turned it off this year because they were texting too much. It actually ended up being a good conversation. I told them I would answer questions for the first three or four weeks while they took some time to set up Snapchat groups or whatever with each other. It ended up teaching them how to use the technology appropriately; my evening texts were generally something like telling me I forgot to add a link in Google classroom.

              Sorry, I realize this is a bit off the subject. I just can’t believe there are schools where parents and students don’t have the teachers’ emails!!

            2. doreen*

              My kids graduated from high school around 2007 – I assume their schools/teachers had email but I don’t actually know because I was given email addresses. Parents communicated with teachers the same way it happened in my school days – notes , phone calls and conferences. Going by what I’ve seen mentioned (here and elsewhere) , I suspect there’s a lot more communication than there is now. Back then, there wasn’t a whole lot of individual communication – you’d get notified about issues that applied to the entire school or class by the kids carrying the notice home and everyone would be notified about parent-teacher conference days although the actual conferences were individual. But aside from that, there wouldn’t be any communication really, unless there was a problem. There was no portal I could look at to see that an assignment was missing and the teacher wouldn’t call for a single missing assignment. Multiple missing assignments yes, or missing a big project but not a single ordinary assignment.

            3. bamcheeks*

              I have two children in primary school in the UK and I don’t have email addresses for their classroom teachers. We have parents’ evening once a term, we can email the school office, the headteacher or the pastoral lead, and obviously with primary-aged kids we’re dropping them off and picking them up every morning and evening so if we really needed to speak to the teacher or they really needed to speak to us about something urgent we’d catch each other then. So yeah, no requirement for email.

            4. NotAnotherManager!*

              If school still operated this way, I’d have a kid who was being progressed through grades without learning anything and would have two children in need of IEP/504 modifications/accommodations without my knowledge. It has only been through helpful, timely communication from my kids’ teachers that we’ve been able to get them the support, both in and outside of school, that they need.

              The worst teacher my older one ever had let us get to Q3 without mentioning difficulties that could have been easily resolved with a checklist taped to their desk, which I offered to create for them myself Q1. School that don’t let you know until your child is failing aren’t doing anyone any favors.

              Lack of communication from the school until we have a major problem is one of my biggest pet peeves – I’ll invest my resources in helping the kid, but they’re unlikely to tell me that they need it until it’s very late in the game.

              1. not a hippo*

                School that don’t let you know until your child is failing aren’t doing anyone any favors.

                See: why no one discovered I had a learning disorder and wasn’t just stupid until my senior year of high school but by then it was “too late” to do anything.

            5. Samwise*

              My son has now graduated from college

              When he was in middle and high school, I used his teachers’ school email solely to communicate with them about health-related absences (he was very ill) and to request that they have the week’s homework assignments ready on such and so day so that he could work on them throughout the week as he was able.

              Very rarely, there was an error in recording whether he had completed an assignment, so I had him follow up with the teacher first, and if that got no traction, then I’d follow up via email

              That’s it. I did not need to be in constant contact with his teachers. I did not need to micromanage his schooling. And his teachers certainly had better things to do than back and forth with parents. For sure they are not paid enough to do so.

          4. I should really pick a name*

            As someone who is a few decades from elementary school, I’m curious how often you’re communicating with parents about performance? For me it was really just report cards and parents nights. (Also, I was a really easy student to deal with).

          5. Dona Florinda*

            My husband is a school teacher and he has a work email for direct communication with the parents, as well as with the school. (The school provides him with a computer, though) It’s interesting to see how other teachers in this thread find it absurd while that’s the norm for him.

        3. Emily*

          LW here. Correct in that its mostly staff announcements, etc. But also manatory training links, meeting dates, schedule changes and other information I need to do my job.

          This past school year was 180 days of school, I got over 800 emails. Probably 300 of them were important or necessary in some way (vs say just a mass email announcement from the City, which yes is important, but also information I can get elsewhere).

          1. fhqwhgads*

            So 4-5 emails per day? If you just have to read them and not do anything because of it, that might fall under de minimis. However, the stuff you said about needing to use their specific app, and two-factor authentication, and the time it takes just to log in might make it moot if that pushes the time significantly – rather than just being a notification on a device you already have on your person.

            Basically the threshold you’re probably looking at is “does it take less than 5 minutes per day?”

        4. Jiminy cricket*

          @ Irish Teacher

          This is definitely different in the U.S. Kids and parents email teachers all the time, and teachers regularly send out emails, as well. Honestly, it’s exhausting and overwhelming, thinking about the volume of emails that must be in an American teacher’s inbox. Whew. (I don’t know about aides, but I can only imagine it creeps in there, too.)

          1. Blue Moon*

            As the aide, it was my job to go through the classroom’s email inbox and determine what the teachers needed to deal with vs what I could quickly respond to or delete. Our classroom usually gets a dozen or so emails per day, including weekends. It’s a mix of things from the administration, simple things like “So-and-so is sick and will be absent today”, and paragraph-long tirades from parents who were upset that we were teaching ‘critical race theory’ (note: we were not) because we acknowledged Black History Month. I wish I were making up the last one but I’m not- that’s a real example from last school year and we usually get 3-5 of those sorts of emails every week.

        5. Richard*

          I have the same experience at school. Most full time teachers at my school don’t have a ton of email to deal with, and aides have very little. I’d imagine that this request is more like “check your email before you leave in the morning in case there’s something unusual going on today that you need to prepare for” and less “answer any and all emails within minutes of receiving them.”

          This also reminded me of people who were adamant about not checking their email outside of school who missed notifications about school closures that would occasionally only come through email. If you can set it up to check easily, it’s probably worth it, but I doubt it’s actually a must.

      4. Butterfly Counter*

        I’m going to have to disagree here on it being 2 hours of emailing a day.

        First, the OP mentions that the other teachers and aides just to use while at work when they have time. To me, that seems like minutes of emailing, not hours.

        Second, I teach university as the (pretty much) sole point of contact for 200 students a semester. Even when we were fully remote and everything was being done with messaging and emails, I wasn’t doing 2 hours of emailing a day, even with committee work and other professional obligations.

        To me, it sounds as though the OP might be a mismatch for the current work culture of primary education. When so many teachers are buying school supplies with their own money and working 50+ hours a week for a non-impressive salary (which I don’t agree with at all, but that’s the general reality), an aide trying to get the union to nickel and dime the district for a few dollars a week is not going to play out well.

        Downloading a public app to your phone is likely free and if you can use the school’s wifi to check it during your working hours, there’s not much extra wear and tear on your own device that costs you much. I think the OP is mostly out of touch with the realities of teaching these days to expect more.

    2. CowWhisperer*

      Current para here. The amount of time varies a lot depending on employing district and the students being supported.

      The current district for me uses email to disseminate scads of information while I support students whose parents contact the teacher with issues directly since I am embedded in one room. There might be much more parent email for a para supporting older kids who move between multiple gen Ed teachers or who have more complicated medical, behavioral or emotional needs.

      For me now, it’s 15 minutes per shift with a range of 0-30.

      The bit for me that is odd is that every school I’ve worked at lets paras use computers or
      personal phones at the beginning or end of their shift when the students are out of the classroom to check email. That’s how I would present the issue and solution to my union.

      1. Jackalope*

        In this case I would definitely push for computers and not cell phones for the reasons listed above. No need to make your cell phone an official work device.

        1. Office Lobster DJ*

          Yes, I think a shared computer for those who choose to use it and reasonable access to it is the best way forward.

    3. Samwise*

      I don’t think it matters. It’s a work task that takes a non-zero amount of time. Either it happens during work hours, or if it’s outside of scheduled hours, then it needs to be paid for additionally.

      OP, do not get suckered in by “it’s just a few minutes”. ANY minutes outside of your scheduled hours are YOUR minutes. And also, “just a few minutes” has a way of creeping up and suddenly you’re spending an hour reading and answering emails (and maybe not all at once, say two or three times an evening and suddenly you no longer have an uninterrupted evening off).

      I’d find a set time during the work day to dedicate to reading and responding to emails, and let your supervisor know what that time is. Ask your colleagues who are also aides how long it takes them to deal with email –don’t let them give you vague answers like “not too long” or “just a few minutes” — get a reasonable estimate (5 minutes? 20 minutes? an hour all together?) Then trial it out for a week or so to see if the time is accurate — if colleagues say “oh it’s nothing! just five minutes!” but really it’s 15 or 30, readjust your scheduled email reading time and let your supervisor know. If your supervisor says no to the during-work email reading, schedule a time in the evening and submit it for payment (however your office does that, maybe it’ weekly, maybe there’s an online form?)

      Do not let the school **steal your time**

  3. Gail*

    LW5 – I’m a former school aide, and I well remember my principal insisting it was mandatory for me to attend all staff meetings, but denying that I had to be paid for that time. I got the union to back me up; strangely enough, when she found I would have to be paid, it was no longer necessary that I be there. She seemed to expect all the hourly support staff should follow the same rules as the salaried teaching staff. I also had the same issue with the emails as you had, and pushed back on that as well. If they want you checking your email regularly, then you should be assigned a time and a computer to do so.

    1. Jolene*

      “It is absolutely essential that you be there, and I don’t care if that means you have to wake up early or lose time with family or sleep in the parking garage to make sure you make it on time it is CRITICAL that you attend…
      Oh, wait…it will cost me $15 bucks to have you attend?
      Never mind, we’re good.”

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Slightly off-topic, but I’m in a very in-demand support role and I really wish that other departments had to count my time in their budgets. Or just the time I spend in meetings. I think having a price tag (even a minimal one) would really cut down on the random meetings I’m told to attend for “context”.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I wish it were less common. More than once I’ve seen management of both hourly & salaried staff want to treat hourly staff like salaried & salaried staff like they’re hourly, based on what is most convenient for them (“them” being management).

    2. umami*

      Heh, my partner is PRN, and he gets messages often about ‘mandatory’ meetings and trainings that many times become optional once he reminds them that he would need to be paid for his time.

  4. MidwestManager*

    #2 – this won’t help you now, and I will admit right up front that many MANY people disagree with this approach, but—-I learned (very much the hard way) early in my career that the best thing for me was to, from day one, set a clear, bright line between personal and professional. In the last 30 yrs, I have not socialized with anyone I work with (other than an annual dept holiday event I was responsible for organizing and at which I had to be first-in-last-out). Ever. I think I did group farewell drinks for 2 coworkers who left for other jobs and both times they were part of my immediate team, I had 1-2 drinks, and then left. It seems draconian, but it made my life—especially once I became a supervisor—-SO much easier. Everyone knew I didn’t socialize (no baby showers, no product parties), but also, when there were conflicts or at annual review time, everyone knew I had ZERO friend-based bias. Not to say there weren’t people I liked a lot and more than others, but it just kept things so much cleaner. It isn’t for everyone but I’ll throw it out there, because it’s one end of the spectrum.

    1. Dina*

      I have no managerial duties, but this is where I’ve fallen as well. I’ve had a couple of really volatile work-based friendships go sour in the past and this is what I’ve decided to do to protect myself.

    2. niknik*

      It’s not for everyone, but it’s what i strife to do as well. Who knows what the future brings ? Current coworkers might become supervisors, be supervised by me, or they might change company and work for a client, vendor, for a competitor or as a contractor. Doesn’t mean you can be warm & friendly, just don’t let it become personal.

      1. Armchair Analyst*

        the likely typo that turned “strive” to “strife” here made me laugh and think
        thank you

    3. allathian*

      Coworkers can be work friends, or even friend-friends, but managers need to realize that they can’t be more than professionally friendly with their reports. This can make things tough when a peer gets promoted to manager, but it’s just a fact of professional life that promotions mean changes in relationships.

      When a former peer was promoted to manager a few years ago, her closest friend-friend at work (they were close enough to have attended each other’s weddings, something mere coworkers typically don’t do here) switched to another team to preserve the friendship.

    4. Leelee Spaghetti*

      LW2 sounds like exactly where I was six months ago!! When I started to disengage, things got weird and someone reached out to say the same thing had happened to them when they started working there. Turns out this person had done the same thing to a total of five people, and it was a Known Problem, which made me so very cross. This lovely, welcoming community org had themselves a Missing Stair that they’d just decided to skirt around. So very cross-making!

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I guess “It’s your turn to deal with Lamprey; can’t tell you how happy we are there’s finally a newbie to dump her on!” doesn’t exactly roll of the tongue.

        1. Leelee Spaghetti*

          Haha!
          Where does it end though? I notified management, so they know what’s happening, and this person was “coached in appropriate workplace behaviour”, but now there are more newbies…(!)

    5. Twix*

      This is where I fall too. I am on good terms with everyone I work with and like my immediate team a lot, but other than the occasional “team building”-type event I do not socialize with my coworkers outside of work. In my personal life I’m openly and heavily involved in several lifestyles/communities that, while both legal and ethical, some people object to morally and are frequent targets of discrimination. It’s not really a secret and I’m not particularly worried about my employer or coworkers finding out, but that’s what I do outside of work and I definitely don’t anyone I work with involved in that part of my life. It’s okay to draw a bright line between personal and professional.

    6. Emmy Noether*

      Counterpoint: I’ve found that being friendly and a little social with colleagues makes work easier and smoother.

      I’m not talking becoming BFFs outside of work, just a bit of coffeebreak small talk, the occasional drinks (every 2 months or so), showing up to farewells and the like.

      It just makes people more likely to want to help you, to respond quicker, to look out for your interests. Overall smoother communication, more goodwill about last minute or unclear requests, etc. I make a point of being nice to and interested in everyone, and people are nice to me in return. Now, it does become tricky when management structures change (I was also promoted to team lead of former peers). I’ve found that my strategy of trying to be evenly social with everyone doesn’t really lead to accusations of bias though. I do have to be careful internally about bias (because there are, indeed, people I like more or less based on what I know about them), but I don’t think it’s much more pronounced than the sympathy/antipathy one feels toward people one has interacted with at all anyway.

      1. Sara without an H*

        This is what I always tried to do — lunch hours and coffee breaks, that sort of thing, but nothing outside of work. It was enough to maintain the Social Contract, but not enough to encourage the kinds of boundary crossing that LW#2 cited in their letter.

      2. JustaTech*

        This is the approach my boss takes. He organizes within department afternoon snacks every couple of months, but unless we’re going out as a group, he never eats lunch with us (which was kind of a Thing when I first started and we all ate lunch together).

        I always appreciated it when us peons wanted to whine about something unpleasant upper management was asking us to do, without having to try and filter for “boss”, even though we knew he agreed with us.

    7. Kelly*

      I’ve had to do the same thing after getting too friendly with people under me at a previous job (I wasn’t officially a supervisor and couldn’t take any actions, but they were my assistants) and man it went sideways. Once I realized these were not people I would want to see outside of work I had to pull back and that upset some of them. One went as far as trying to get me fired because she was insecure and upset that I corrected some unsafe behaviors. Another just turned out to be a conspiracy theory believing anti-vaxxer who randomly flips out in the office about things that aren’t true. Not inviting anyone from my work to my wedding was rough, but I’m glad I didn’t.

    8. DJ Abbott*

      There’s a certain type of person who seems friendly and supportive when you first know them but if you confide in them, or get close, they tend to get dramatic and might turn on you. I don’t think this is deliberate in most cases, it’s the way they are.
      After I had seen this happen a couple of times – to me or others – I also stopped trying to be close friends with coworkers. It’s not worth the risk, there are other friends.

      1. NotHannah*

        Yes! This! I left the workforce for a few years to attend grad school, and when I came back, I had forgotten how tricky workplace relationships can be. I also returned to work in the spring of 2020 so everything seemed different. A colleague who was on the same level as me seemed super cool and friendly. The only downside was that she made meetings run long because it was more of a social thing for her. Well, pandemic, ok. The next thing I knew she was confiding multiple health issues to me. Eventually I went out for a drink with her one-on-one, once, and as part of a larger group a few times. Then I noticed she was going for lunchtime walks with my direct report and not asking me to join, which made me feel kind of bad. Then we had a few professional issues where we disagreed. But we were friends, I thought, so no big deal! Except she accused me of a pattern of verbal abuse and brought it to HR. I had to sit in a room with her and HR and listen to her try to accuse me of wrongdoing. HR basically said, well, different personalities, be nice to each other, etc. I (re)learned my lesson and have avoided her scrupulously since, declining to join anyone for lunch, drinks, etc. and documenting/recording all our meetings. Luckily for me I have a ton of friends outside of work.

        1. DJ Abbott*

          Wow, I’m sorry you had to deal with that.
          I have a colleague who likes to socialize too, can easily spend 1/2 hour or more just chatting. She has also tried to make me do more work so she can do less. I keep my distance.
          It helps so much when you have friends outside of work!

          1. JustaTech*

            I had a coworker, Betty, who I really got along with, as a work friend, for most of the time we worked together. Yes, she could be a serious over-sharer (OMG the stories she told!), but she was good at her job and not a jerk or a weirdo and one of the few high-energy people in our department, so yay!
            Then COVID happened and Betty lost most of her social outlets and it was just me and a coworker, and then just me and good lord I could not do that at all. And Betty got really upset that I didn’t want to chat by text in the evening (you had all day to chat over IM!).

            At some point Betty was telling me a story about another former coworker of ours (Ed) and said something about we should go up to visit him and I said something like “I’m glad Ed’s doing well, but he’s not that kind of friend.”
            “What do you mean? You went to all his social things.”
            “Yes, because he and I were on the social committee together, and I like doing group social things with Ed, but he’s a work friend, not a friend-friend.” (Ed is basically the definition of someone I wouldn’t socialize with if they weren’t a coworker. No bad, just super not my jam.)
            “Really? Well I’ve never hard of work-friends, there are only friends!”

            Thanks for the warning, Betty!
            (Things got real awkward and frosty until she left, and I’m very slowly re-building a connection with her, because 1) she is an interesting and fun person and 2) she’s got industry connections out the wazoo that I could really use.)

    9. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Honestly, you do you, but I think you are throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I spend 40 hours a week with my coworkers, which is vastly more than I spend with anyone else except my cats. I want to spend that time with people who I like and who like me.

      Also, avoiding work friendships only solves the “weird, glomy friend” thing at work. You are just as likely to meet one at church or bowling night, and it requires the exact same skills to recognize and back out of the friendship. Technically you can just leave easier than work, but I’d personally rather get a new job than a new church.

      Anytime you deal with people, there is a chance they will turn out to be weird. The good friendships that you make are still worth it. IMHO at least.

      1. amoeba*

        Ha, yeah, good point. Would definitely be happier to change job than certain hobbies (where there’s less choice in my area than for jobs)!

      2. Smithy*

        This is where I am.

        I will also admit that my first significant jobs post undergrad that lasted for a combined amount of 5.5 years didn’t offer any opportunities to build genuine friendships other than being friendly with coworkers. As such, when I was younger, I got used to not having friends at work – so I have also been comfortable moving from being friendly to being more akin to actual friends slowly.

        How that’s worked for me is taking my time to move from job chat functions (i.e. Teams) to personal ones (i.e. texting) and having most initial social interactions happen either during work (getting lunch or coffee) or right after (happy hour, seeing a movie/show right after work). Ending or scaling back a potential friendship when we’re still just chatting on Teams and getting regular coffees or a happy hour or two a month is a lot easier.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        That seems workable if it’s not that difficult for you to change jobs. For me, and anyone else with a hidden or obvious disability or any other issue that makes job hunting difficult, it might be better to keep our distance.

      4. Bk*

        There are way fewer repurcussions to telling someone you met in a social situation ‘this friendship needs to cool off’ vs. if they are a coworker you need to work with every day.

        I also draw a line between professional and personal. That doesn’t mean I don’t like my coworkers and don’t enjoy working with them. It means I already spend 40 hours a week with them, the rest of my time is reserved for myself and for the other people in my life.

    10. Peanut Hamper*

      I would love to disagree with you, but if you are a manager, or looking to move into management, this really is a very sensible position to take.

    11. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Lying Around*

      This is me. When I’ve made exceptions, I have regretted it, every time.

    12. miss_chevious*

      I am not quite as bright line as you, but I do draw very firm boundaries and am very very slow to make work friends. I do not share my personal phone number or email with work colleagues (I maintain a separate work phone), I don’t interact with them at all on social media (except Linked In), I don’t socialize with them outside of work with rare exceptions, like work dinners. It keeps things cleaner, as you say, and makes work/life balance easier as well.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      Generally, this is a hard and fast rule for me too. I found that with most work friendships, the only thing you really have in common is work. Now this isn’t necessarily true ALL the time, but I’m nerdy/weird enough that it’s not usual for me to connect with work peeps outside the office.

      I try to keep a distance on social media as well. I did add some former coworkers as friends on Facebook, but only after we both left the job.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Hit post too soon — meant to add that dating coworkers is a massive boxcar on the Nope train. I cannot afford to lose a job no matter how much I like him or how hot he is.

        1. JustaTech*

          Oh yes. I had two coworkers (completely different reporting structures but worked in the same lab) who dated for like a month.
          Then it ended badly.
          Thankfully they didn’t actually have to interact, but Mr Dude sulked about it for like a week, even emailing me to say I should know who my friends are. (Not you, dude! You’ve never given me the time of day and you expect me to take *your* side? You peed on her apartment door!)

          After they’d both left I was able to use the story as a teaching moment to our undergrads about why you shouldn’t date at work.

      2. JustaTech*

        When I first started my current job there was a guy (not in my department) who really loved to chat. Like a lot. About nerdy things, which I also enjoy chatting about. But not while I’m in the middle of something really complicated.
        He was a nice enough guy but I was getting very strong “nerd from college” vibes from him and I just didn’t (and don’t) have the energy to deal with that anymore. So I ignored his FB friend request. Then he asked about it. “I have a policy to never friend a current coworker.”
        Was it a policy I made up on the spot that was easy because I was new and hadn’t gotten around to friending anyone yet? Sure. Has it stood me well all these years? Heck yes.

        There’s just something about the word “policy” that makes most people back down.

    14. Doing the right thing*

      This is actually what our HR team has instructed us in a formal training session. Even if we are outside of work, if we are with a colleague we are essentially ‘at work’. And that the highest ranking employee at the gathering is responsible for the behaviours of everyone at the gathering. It basically put us all off ‘after work drinks’. I mean you might think it’s crazy but it does make sense, and like Midwest manager said it makes it easy to be impartial at performance review time. What if you were out with the person on the Friday night having a great time then on Monday you have to give them a reprimand. Not a great situation for all.

  5. Mari*

    When I was hourly as a long-ish term substitute, I had two pay rates – the ‘in the class’ pay, and the ‘all the other stuff you have to do at the school’ pay – yard duty, staff meetings, prep, all that other stuff that is teaching-adjacent. I was told flat out that, yes, I was expected to check email at home – once at 8pm, and once at 7am, because stuff came up – and that I was to add 30 minutes to my daily ‘all the other stuff’ tally to account for that time.

    If they weren’t paying me, I wasn’t checking, and they knew it, so they preemptively paid me. Worked for me!

    1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!!*

      Sounds like the OP has a clock in-clock out system that they don’t have access to at home. So they probably have no way to add time. I think there should be a few computers available for staff use and that they should be able to have time either at the beginning or end of day to read any emails.

  6. Para Ed*

    LW5- I’ve been a para educator for 2 years now but worked in an office environment before that. When I first started I was adamant about only checking email after I clocked in just on principle. Most emails that apply to me don’t require a ton of my time and attention. Ie social activities, jeans day, staff absences etc. I could check it as soon as I clocked in, during recess duty, lunch duty. The emails I’m skimming don’t take more than a minute so the kids weren’t being neglected while I checked my phone and the whole staff understands that it’s ok for us to check our phones for this stuff and still monitor the kids. That said, after two years I’ve decided that I don’t mind taking that same minute to check email off the clock. I won’t be paid most of the summer but I still check the email a few times a week because things like internal job postings, paid training opportunities, and social events I might want to attend are relayed through email and I don’t want to miss those opportunities over a few minutes of unpaid labor. I know this might not hold true for everyone but it makes sense for me.

    1. Heather*

      I also work in a school at times (I’m a nurse who subs when the primary nurses are out) Number 3, it’s up to you, but I’m not sure I would spend capital on this, if it’s just a matter of principle. I have the email set to come to my phone, and I check it throughout the day (and for that matter, throughout the summer) because I like to stay informed.

      Most schools send out a few mass emails daily, about early release dates and field trips etc. It really isn’t something that takes up a lot of time. Legally I’m sure you have standing to push back, but unless it is truly a hardship for you to keep up with your email, I’d probably save my capital for something more significant. You risk being labeled as someone who makes a fuss about pretty minor things.

      If it is an *actual* hardship— like if your manager demands to know why you didn’t respond to an email, when you’ve been in the classroom all morning with your students— that’s different, and I’d make a fuss at that point.

    2. Emily*

      LW here. The issue with using my phone is I don’t have the available memory to download the City’s email app nor the budget to buy more memory.

      There is also a strict “no cell phone” rule. We can only look at our phones briefly inbetween periods… but this also my only chance to use the toilet, or fill my water bottle, or even sit for a moment and rest my brain (I get zero breaks during my shift).

      1. MigraineMonth*

        The zero breaks thing would be a bigger problem for me than the checking email at home thing. That sucks.

        1. Butterfly Counter*

          Agreed.

          But the “not having available memory” on the phone is different in my eyes. Having enough phone memory to download a particular app might be a job requirement similar to “must have a working vehicle” for employment. Uber drivers aren’t issued cars as part of their employment. It’s just an accepted requirement of working for Uber.

      2. Cherries Jubilee*

        If you’re hourly, be sure to check the break laws in your state! Use every break minute!

  7. ABBBK*

    I work in hospitals and the solution in that setting is to have generic computers/kiosks around the unit that anyone logs into when they need to do a bit of computer work (emailing, charting, etc). Do the spaces you’re in not have ANY computers? Could you establish a culture where support staff take a minute to use the lead teacher’s computer to check email and such?

    1. ABBBK*

      Edit: Use the lead teacher’s computer (or any computer that’s in the space you work in) but logged in as yourself, obviously.

      1. SwiftSunrise*

        Ehhhh … depending on the school system, you may not be allowed to use a teacher’s computer, OR have a log-in to do so.

        I was a substitute teacher for several years and it was hammered in hard at orientation that you Do. NOT. Use. the main teacher’s login credentials (even if they give it to you), and subs weren’t always given their own credentials (it varied from year to year).

        Obviously, it’s different for permanent employees, but data security at schools is srs bzns, and anyone other than the teacher who needs a computer during the school day in a classroom may very well be SOL.

        1. ABBBK*

          no, you definitely shouldn’t use other people’s credentials. But the lead teacher’s computer belongs to the district and should be available for district employees frequently in that room to use briefly (with their own credentials). I think anyone assigned an email address would also be assigned credentials and really should have a place to check those emails (if that’s an expectation). Computer sharing seems the most obvious solution to me.

          I didn’t have credentials or an email as a sub, but the OP is a regular employee with an email.

          1. Emmy Noether*

            Yeah, having an email account but no login credentials seems really weird to me. Also, login credentials are useful for other stuff an aide might need to do, such as printing out worksheets and the like.

          2. TeacherTeacher*

            As a classroom teacher (elementary), this plan would not work bc my computer is used to project slides for my teaching day.

            However, in my school and many schools now esp after Covid, there should be easy access to student chromebooks which could help solve the problem.

            We also used to have an office (so-to-speak) for paras with a couple computers for just this purpose. They could take their breaks in there, be social, and check email. It went away during covid bc every space was needed for students due to spacing…but it might be worth seeing if there’s a space that could work in your building?

        2. WellRed*

          Well then they don’t need it. School security doesn’t seem inherently more serious business than that of a health system etc.

        3. Green beans*

          my best friend is a teacher and I’ve worked in multiple hospitals. schools take data security seriously but hospitals are next level.

          For example, one large hospital I worked at had a single instance of a doctor leaving his laptop on a bus and because he wasn’t sure if he logged out, they updated the entire system to have auto-logouts after X minutes of inactivity. this was in 2012, so they also updated their auto-wipe capabilities. But can confirm, it is very common in hospitals to have open workstations that people can log into (and logging into someone else’s account is often presented as a near-firing level offense in orientation.)

      2. Emily*

        There are no computers in the area I work in. I primarily supervise the students while they are in the cafeteria and during recess. My job is to watch the kids, not at a desk, not near a computer, not in a room with a computer.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          Yep, this is where you push back. They have to build time and access into your workday, if this is an expectation of the job. This could look like having you clock in 15 minutes before you begin supervising the students, and checking email in the library. (Or computer lab, or main office, or anywhere that has an extra computer/Chrome cart.)

          Take this to your union rep, and make sure you mention your lack of breaks as well.

          1. Emily*

            My lack of breaks isn’t an issue. I get the time between class periods to use the restroom or fill my water bottle. I only work a 4 hour shift (at the school) per day, so I don’t need a break nor am I entitled to one.

  8. Not Jaded Yet*

    #5 While this may seem like a small ask to check email off the clock, I encourage a group of you to push back on this. The state/districts continue to put more qualification requirements on you, more job responsibilities, etc but never acknowledge these additions (by acknowledge I mean pay accordingly). If nothing else, it’s the principle of the matter. Checking work email is work, and it’s not going to stay just “a way to find out about work things” that will be manageable by only checking it once a day before heading in- trust me. The very least the district can do is provide a few computers and some time for their underpaid classified staff to check email!

    1. SofiaDeo*

      Exactly. If they want you to check email, you need to be able to have a device as well as a few minutes of time, during your work day, to do so.

      I don’t think it’s the same as the person trying to compare to Uber, or to “this is now a new job requirement that’s evolved.” This is more along the lines of “if you need to read email for work, work needs to provide it.” I may have a computer at home, but that doesn’t mean I am going to drag it into the office to use when given an office job. Nor will I do any computer related tasks on my home machine without pay, if my job requires me to be on a computer/use my home internet because employer won’t provide me one. For those of you saying “just download the app” you are missing the point.

  9. learnedthehardway*

    OP#3 – I would leave it alone. Bringing it up to your manager is not a good idea – they may not realize that their participation in this project is public.

    Also, it could easily be a personal project or a consulting side gig, or something like that. Lots of people have those while successfully holding down a full time job. It’s really between the employer and the employee as to whether the person is contractually obligated to refrain from outside employment.

    I mean, if you felt strongly that your manager was not doing their job and it was affecting your ability to do YOUR job, then you might bring it up to their manager as a concern. But I would only do this in a situation where you were absolutely certain your manager was cheating your employer, and where you were very concerned that their lack of performance was going to be blamed on you, or that it would seriously affect the company.

    1. Kendra*

      I would also wonder if maybe the person who made the post was simply referring to a different Jane Smith, particularly since the boss wasn’t tagged. There’s a lot of room for it to be a simple misunderstanding; I wouldn’t jump straight to anything nefarious without a lot more information.

      1. Unknown Tech*

        Came here to make this exact comment. Unless a person has a particularly unique name – or there was a photo in the post that showed the people involved – it’s entirely possible (even probable) that it’s some other “Jane Smith” who is involved in this side project.

        I have a LinkedIn connection who has invested his time in connecting to everyone else on LinkedIn with the same name as him… weird, but entertaining enough that I accepted the connection.

        If the curiosity is getting to you… I’d approach it as “Hey boss, look at this – LinkedIn found a post about another Jane Smith and put it in my feed… that’s not you, is it?”

        1. Zzzzzz*

          I’d nope right out of any of this. How does her manager possibly having a side gig impact her work in their shared job at all or their work product? If someone said anything like this to me, I wouldn’t trust them a whit after that. If it is impacting their ability to do their job, then you bring the work-related problem up: hey couldn’t reach you to do X and therefore Y got dropped. How can we fix moving forward? Beyond that, none of your beeswax.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            This, plus if the company has caveats around side gigs, they may have already cleared it with the big boss and OP was not privy to that conversation.

      2. MikeM_inMD*

        Absolutely. My name is a shade more common than I used to think, and I have received many e-mails intended for my “doppelnyms” (like doppelganger, but name instead of face) from across the US as well as NZ and Scotland. But I have also started receiving LinkedIn notifications for recruitment pitches for jobs that I have no qualifications for, and in each case, I found they clicked the wrong MikeM.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I thought recruitment pitches for jobs I have no qualifications for was the purpose of LinkedIn.

        2. Spencer Hastings*

          A grad school classmate of mine had an email address that was something like “emilyyyyyy[at]gmail[dot]com”. She was in occasional correspondence with the people who had similar emails (who were otherwise strangers to her), since sometimes the “Emily with 5 Y:s” would get an email meant for the “Emily with 6 Y:s” and sent around an email asking “was this for any of you?”

    2. kiki*

      I agree– I think LW doesn’t know enough to do anything with this information. And while I know some jobs have policies about second jobs, in my opinion it’s really no the company’s business what your manager is doing in their time away from their primary job (unless they’re working for a competitor, doing something illegal, etc.).

      I also think LW may need to think about this statement: “it does feel like a big thing they’ve been keeping from the team.” Why does LW feel like they need to know what their manager is doing outside of work? Would they feel similarly if their manager had started working as, like, an art instructor in their free time on weekends? Or if their manager had gotten really into tennis and was working towards becoming a pro?

      1. Salsa Verde*

        Yes, I am having trouble seeing how this is any of the LW’s business? I don’t see how having that knowledge would lead to anything actionable.

  10. Observer*

    #5 – Checking mail outside of work.

    You address 2 things. One is whether your employer needs to give a device to check mail. If you’re talking about what is *reasonable*, you are 100% correct. I’ve constantly pushed to make sure that our staff always has the equipment they need to do their job, and fortunately, my boss really is on my side on this. However, legally, they don’t have to do this. Your school / principal can tell you that you have to find your own equipment. (California is a bit of an exception, because if you are being required to use your own data, they do need to pay you something for that.)

    The other question is whether you can be required to check mail off the clock. And the answer is “absolutely not, unless the time is *truly* de minimis” (de minimis is generally considered <6 minutes. And it doesn't matter if it's "actively working" vs "keeping informed about work". If this is an activity that is being required by your employer, it is work. Beginning and end of story.

    1. misspiggy*

      ..6 minutes per day, or 6 minutes per task? The idea of de minimus is fascinating and I’d love to know more.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I found an article on JD Supra that seems to suggest 6 minutes per day (will link in a follow-up comment):

        Back in 1946, the U.S. Supreme Court endorsed the use of a “de minimis rule” when considering whether the amount of time worked was so small as to be “negligible,” and therefore not requiring payment. According to the Supreme Court, “[w]hen the matter in issue concerns only a few seconds or minutes of work beyond scheduled working hours, such trifles may be disregarded.”

        The U.S. Department of Labor has adopted a similar, but not identical, principle. One of its FLSA regulations provides that “insubstantial or insignificant periods of time beyond the scheduled working hours . . . may be disregarded.” See 29 C.F.R. § 785.47. However, the regulation contains at least three limits on application of this principle:

        1. There must be practical administrative difficulties in precisely recording the time for payroll purposes.

        2. The time worked must consist of “uncertain and indefinite periods of time involved of a few seconds or minutes duration.”

        3. An employer may “not arbitrarily fail to count as hours worked any part, however small, of the employee’s fixed or regular working time or practically ascertainable period of time he is regularly required to spend on duties assigned to him.”

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          This sounds like an employer requiring workers to call in to check if they’re needed? Like if a restaurant’s schedule wasn’t posted by the end of the work week, staff have to call in to see when their next shift is. Should only take a couple of minutes, but it would be hard to say whether someone took two minutes or three.

      2. Time for Tea*

        I used to work in legal costing in the UK. 6 minutes is a single billable unit of time for lawyers here (ie you get 10 units per hour), so my brain immediately jumped to that reasoning – it’s an amount of time less than a billable unit so really small and negligible.

    2. Two Pop Tarts*

      I have always refused to check company email on my phone because it has always come with one string attached: the company can brick my phone at will.

      I am not, under any circumstances, going to put software on my personal phone that allows my employer to control my personal phone.

      My current employer stipulated that I could only install pre-approved software on the phone should I install the company’s email software. Guess what? I didn’t install it and don’t check email on my phone.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I did a paper on BYOD policies years ago as part of a Social Media certificate program. It convinced me never to use my personal device for work purposes.

      2. Green beans*

        my old (hospital) employer had employees download a partition app onto their phone to access emails, etc… they could wipe the partitioned app and you could only download approved/available apps within that partition.

        I still didn’t use it, but it was a much better solution than anything else I’ve seen.

    3. NotAnotherManager!*

      My current employer decided they’re not interested in getting into a discussion about what is/is not de minimums, so anyone who’s hourly and required to carry/monitor mobile email is paid a set minimum amount of OT per day and, if anything comes up that requires action, they are required to charge OT for the entire time worked. It’s worth the small amount of money to pay them for monitoring, whether it’s legally required or not. We also provide an annual stipend to pay for phone service, a new device, etc. that the employee can use as they see fit.

      The mobile email expectation is also conveyed in job descriptions and explicitly stated in interviews, so it’s not a surprise to people after they’re hired.

  11. Bethany*

    LW3, it’s possible that this was a project your boss worked on years ago that has now gotten off the ground – I’ve been thanked on LinkedIn before for projects that have now concluded years after I worked on them.

    1. High Score!*

      Or it might be a different person entirely with the same name as your boss. The person who tagged your boss could’ve selected the wrong person.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      This. I hardly rely on any social media platform for accuracy and reliability because their job is not to be accurate, it’s to get as many views as possible so they can charge as much for ads as possible.

  12. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP3 (manager might have a side hustle) – I would sit on that information for now and see what else pops up on LinkedIn or whatever (assuming you are reasonably sure it’s the right person rather than someone else with the same name – due to details not mentioned in the question)

    It is an interesting question of fairness if the company frowns on side hustles etc. On some level, if OP (or someone else in the company) also thought it would be nice to gain some extra experience / money / ‘exposure’ via a side hustle – but hasn’t done so because the company restricts it – it does seem unfair that the manager gets to take advantage by disregarding that policy.

    I would argue (although not everyone will agree) that managers or other people in authority have more of an obligation to uphold policies etc in their own conduct than do ‘standard’ (individual contributor without authority) staff. In the same way that we hold certain public figures to higher standards of conduct.

    1. GythaOgden*

      No, I totally agree with what you’re saying.

      I have had a side job concurrent with my day job — selling advertising for a now defunct community magazine. I put it on my CV because it is where I’ve got the real experience that I want to do more with — I want to step back from reception and do more admin/clerical work and that job shows I can manage something crunchy around the very non-crunchy world of receptioning. I was insistent from the word go that it be done above board rather than as a pocket money job, because there are things I’ve been informally paid for that I don’t feel comfortable about putting on my CV for that reason. There was no conflict of interest and I didn’t have to declare it.

      It would also be harder, I think, to cover up a second job in the UK because of the PAYE tax system — basically, it’s the norm for the employer to pay our tax for us from our pay (and we get rebates in the same way if we’re at the threshold of the personal allowance, although since that’s been frozen at £12,500 and my salary now exceeds that, bye bye regular rebate…) and thus we have to declare whether we have another PAYE job when we sign the forms to set payroll up at a new job so we don’t double-dip on the personal allowance. I wonder how many people in the UK can actually take advantage of this covert second full time WFH job business without actually lying to HMRC as well as their employer? Because the temptation to lie on the sign-up forms to hide the job from your employer would be very great, but then you’re also lying to HMRC, who make the IRS look cute and cuddly in comparison.

      But yeah, management need to lead by example. Any leader needs to do that, which is why the papers were full of Partygate and exposed other politicians who cheated on lockdown laws (including Jeremy Corbyn of all people :(…). I caught my guide leader smoking once while on camp — small potatoes, NGL, and it was her own business at that point, and you could say later on as an adult looking back on the incident that she was actually warning us about the issues of smoking from firsthand experience — like, don’t make the same mistake I did. But for a literal minded and rather sheltered 12 year old…it was a big blow. And the shock was even worse a few years later when I found out that popstars weren’t clean-living and in bed by 10pm and that they smoked, drank, slept around and used hard drugs. Now I just laugh at 15 year old me because at 15 I should have been more worldly wise and it’s a miracle I wasn’t taken advantage of. And I know now that I’m neurodivergent and was essentially developmentally delayed and those shocks were necessary to let me know that the world has rough surfaces and pointy edges. But at 15 it took me hours to get my head round the fact that adults say one thing and do the other.

      So yeah. Being in a position of authority brings a lot of extra responsibility with it. OP may be looking at this from the outside and all the paperwork might well be in order with the people to whom this guy reports. But there are things that management should be modelling and above board with, otherwise it does come across baaaaadly.

    2. Observer*

      I would argue (although not everyone will agree) that managers or other people in authority have more of an obligation to uphold policies etc in their own conduct than do ‘standard’ (individual contributor without authority) staff.

      It’s a valid point. But I don’t see the relevance here. It is still not the OP’s place to do anything about it. If it were affecting their ability to do their job, there was something *inherently* problematic with the work (eg of questionable legality), or presented a genuine conflict of interest, it would be a different situation. But that’s not it.

      And the issue here is not that they should let it be because it’s a manager doing it. But because it really is not relevant to the OP and it’s not their job to manage.

      1. GythaOgden*

        I think the Captain acknowledges that! They’re just making a general comment on the issue and continuing on the conversation about the general view of managers who moonlight. (That sounds like an awesome TV show — a kind of anti-Undercover Boss, where the employees snoop on their managers rather than vice versa.)

        FWIW I think all three of us agree OP needs to keep this to herself. It does no one any good if the manager has squared this with their bosses, and if they haven’t, these things do have a way of coming out in the wash. I did my second job until the magazine folded in 2020 due to a lack of confidence in advertisers due to the pandemic and we had to scale it back to a pamphlet from a rather professionally designed glossy magazine. However, a year or two before that, it was becoming way more trouble than it was worth, alongside deepening personal issues, but the only way out would have been to train and shadow someone else, and that was even more of a faff. The people who conscientiously juggle two FT WFH jobs are on record (on YouTube) saying it’s hard to keep everything going even if management are aware of it, and those who do feel they can short-change employers and other staff are probably doing just that and will end up losing both jobs.

        All of this doesn’t mean we can’t talk around the rest of the issue and what it might look like to people below the management level. I’d also add that the FT WFH jobbers also look incredibly foolish when they say that double-dipping is sticking it to The Man. The people who are least well-off are generally those who work in person, as WFH is the preserve of those who don’t perform either manual labour or services or who work providing office support. We tend to get ignored by the PTB (and it’s also galling to see governments here try to get WFHers extra rights while ignoring those who have carried on for three years in person, or even setting targets for WFH numbers while not addressing the growing imbalances between WFHers and IPers). If I wanted a second job I’d need to fit it in around my day job in person, and get to and from jobs in between times, which is well nigh impossible without a car. The advertising sales wasn’t a huge earner; I was originally helping out some of my mum’s friends then made it into a reasonable job, but fitting stuff in like meetings took a lot of effort.

        So I think when people do try to double-dip, they need to be aware of how it looks from the outside. It’s more like if we were advising the manager here (although effectively we have done so in the past and everyone was cheering them on :-///) but I think despite the shifting landscape post-Covid, we do still have to take a broader perspective on whether people really ought to do things like this or beg for rights when not everyone can exercise those rights and where unscrupulous people will take liberties that increase their wealth at the expense of others.

        It’s something that AAM is actually well-placed to discuss. We have a vibrant comment section full of socially-aware people with a wide range of backgrounds and personal circumstances. I think Alison can handle that from time to time.

  13. Ellis Bell*

    OP1, some of the students in your school may require laptops as an accommodation? One of the members on my team is adamant about not downloading emails onto his personal phone (I think this is a fair enough stance, and I held out on it myself until I just felt it made my life easier to do it). Usually the student has to miss part of his registration time to go fetch a laptop for the day, so instead my colleague gets one for him, spends registration doing his daily email check and then logs out and leaves it with the student. As a wider matter of resources and pay for hourly staff though, this is probably a matter for your union and your local authority. I doubt individual teachers can do anything much to get you more pay or equipment.

    1. Humble Schoolmarm*

      Same here. I also tried to hold out against using my personal phone, especially since the classrooms in my school don’t have phones, which I consider a safety issue. My union has been fighting staff needing to use personal devises on and off for years to no avail, so I’ve mostly backed down (except for calling parents, I refuse to do that on my personal phone). Not providing you any time during the day to check is not okay, though, especially since a quick email check doesn’t require your full attention and should be do-able in a quieter moment.

      1. Bob’s your uncle*

        I am a teacher as well as the parent of high schoolers. I emailed my daughter’s teacher about something and he responded giving me his personal cell phone number! He was a first year teacher. I did not use it, of course. When we did talk, I told him, as a veteran teacher, I was giving him advice to never give parents his phone number. He thanked me months later at parent teacher conferences for that advice.

        1. just a random teacher*

          Back in the 90s when we rode dinosaurs to school, my 8th grade math teacher gave out his personal phone number to all students, and told us if we were stuck on homework we were to call him rather than just not complete it.

          I was not going to voluntarily have an extra phone call with an adult in the evening under any circumstances, so I never did so. I have no idea if other students did, but he’d been teaching there for over a decade at that point and presumably this was an on-going system with him. That school had a pretty specific school culture, though, so I imagine that’s part of why he got a non-overwhelming number of calls doing that.

          Nowadays, I give everyone (students, parents, etc.) my work email, but tell them that responses take 24-48 hours (and that I don’t check email on weekends or non-school days). I tell them that there are no high school [subject area] emergencies, so if they get stuck on something they should carefully write down where and in what specific way they’re stuck, and then get help from me the next school day. (I have specific help times in my schedule, kind of like college office hours.) I also don’t take off points for late work and let students revise old assignments, so there’s really never a reason why they need to get in touch with me RIGHT NOW on some random evening.

          The school gave me a Google Voice number during covid, but I don’t give that out by default and tell parents that email is the fastest way to get a response from me since I can sometimes read and response to emails while also working with students but need to wait until a time that I don’t have students to check voicemails or return phone calls.

          1. Ellis Bell*

            Giving out your personal number to have off grid contact with students would be a huge safeguarding breach today. Like, lucky to not get instantly fired, huge. So many groomings took place with this being the first move out of the gate that they really had to crack down on it. These days it’s specifically spelled out as unacceptable in people’s contracts. I had some training recently and the trainer, a former headteacher, said a volunteer with the Scouts had recently told his 11 year old daughter and all her friends that they should add him on Facebook if they want to learn more about Scouting events. He said he tried not to jump to conclusions, volunteers don’t get the same level of training; however it did not take a very thorough investigation to discover that this guy had a trail of attempted groomings and complaints behind him though.

    2. GythaOgden*

      Awkwardly, there were a few cancelled trains yesterday (on the one day in several months I needed to be in at 9 for coverage reasons) and I ended up having to email my supervisor from my phone in order to get word to her. She has deliberately become a lot harder to get hold of over the past couple of years. If I’m off sick it’s ok, because I can plug in my work phone and call/message her on Teams. But without her bothering to use anything other than Teams, even her actual mobile phone, email was the only way I could get hold of her. I think all 3 of us have basically checked out of working too hard because of rubbish management and so although we work hard for our immediate tenants — who we’ve worked for for years — we have become less and less concerned about keeping up with our corporate overlords and -ladies.

      Putting Teams on my personal phone was one idea. Actually using the decent smartphone we were given when new management took over is another thing entirely…

      I’ve always said in theory that carrying two phones doesn’t bother me and I’ve carried much more in the past, particularly during the pandemic when so long as we kept an eye on the door and an ear out for the phone we could bring in our personal tablets etc. But in practice…yeah, when you do nothing that can’t be done on your desktop PC, it’s really not worth even having a phone at all. If it weren’t that we had Teams on the smartphone to call off sick or tell my supervisor I’d be late, it wouldn’t be needed at all. And it usually spends long stretches of time in my bedside drawer but Sod’s Law dictates that the days I need it tend to be those I haven’t brought it, so I better start being a bit better at carrying it.

    1. LifeBeforeCorona*

      Absolutely, one co-worker was accused of having a second job because they were rarely available on weekends, they were coaching their kid’s hockey team.

    2. El l*

      It’d be one thing if the manager was clearly giving it only 50% when on the job, or was publicly saying lots of morale-sapping things like “Can’t wait to get out of this place.” (And OP knew for a fact that this side-gig thing was accurate and ongoing)

      But OP doesn’t say any of those things, just “it’s against the rules.”

      So, no.

      1. Jade*

        Some people are absolute sticklers for arbitrary rules and enforcing them on others even when there is no adverse effect on them. I get this feeling about this LW.

        1. GythaOgden*

          Sometimes those rules aren’t actually arbitrary. There are a lot of industries where it would be essential to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest, plus if you’re working a second job/business in your field you have to be concerned about not undercutting your actual bosses.

          And that’s before we get to the ethical implications of people who are already rich (and able to WFH, which is a privileged position) being able to directly double dip because their manager can’t see them do so, whereas we in-person workers, generally less well-paid and certainly shut out of the general debate cannot get a second job that interferes with our in-office duties.

          Even just a cursory look at why some jobs restrict second jobs might help you see what issues can arise from them. Part of working in a broader society sometimes means giving up opportunities because of how it works in practice or even just how it looks to others. For a forum which prides itself on social conscience, we do seem to try to turn a blind eye towards or even champion things that work for us but actually skew society away from being more economically and socially equal across the board.

  14. LifeBeforeCorona*

    I would also escalate the hotel room query to the highest level of the hotel chain. No one should be able to call a hotel to confirm the presence of another guest under any circumstances. The hotel should have taken a message and passed it along to you for a response. They took him at his word that he was a manager but in reality it could have been a stalker, vengeful ex or anyone with nefarious intent.

    1. Jinni*

      THIS^^^^ LW has/had 2 huge problems. The hotel just opened the door to check?!?!? (Although I know from personal experience, there’s little security at hotels), and your boss?

    2. TechWorker*

      Well.. we don’t know that. The boss may have made the booking for all we know.

      1. lalisa*

        that doesn’t matter. unless he pretended to be OP, the hotel knew he wasn’t the guest.

        1. Two Pop Tarts*

          But they knew he (or his company) was paying for the room.

          Turn the situation on its head. What if the OP was in their room seriously injured (heart attack). The manager requests a wellness check. The hotel records show their is a relationship between the two (same company paid for both rooms). The hotel refuses and the OP dies because they didn’t get medical treatment in time.

          The hotel would likely get sued. That’s the risk facing the hotel in this situation.

          I don’t have a problem with a wellness check. I would have a problem if the manager was physically involved. If he was allowed to enter the room or even if he was allowed to stand at the door and peer inside.

          1. Quoth the Raven*

            Still no. I constantly book rooms for guests to a convention under a single group of reservations. They know I made the reservations and they know I’m authorised to approve expenses, room changes, what have you.

            The hotel would never give me the keys to anyone’s room. I’ve had to call to make sure people didn’t oversleep or felt sick before, and the hotel will do that for me, but they wouldn’t let me in their rooms or open them for me at all.

            1. I should really pick a name*

              A wellness check would be done by the hotel staff, they wouldn’t be giving the key to someone.

              1. Clisby*

                I agree, but in this case the boss was in another town, so giving him the key would have been impossible.

            2. umami*

              It sounds like the hotel staff checked the room, not that they opened it for another person. I think OP is seeing it from their viewpoint where everything was OK, so fake emergency. But from the boss’ viewpoint, they were having trouble reaching OP on their phone and (presumably) on the hotel room phone, because I’m sure the hotel staff would have rung the room before just going over to check. It wouldn’t seem extreme if there were an emergency.

            3. fhqwhgads*

              The letter is talking about this happening: call to make sure people didn’t oversleep or felt sick before, and the hotel will do that for me

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            I could call up a hotel and claim that I am like so totally this person’s manager, not their disgruntled ex, and paid for the room. This wouldn’t make it true.

            Also, I could say they need to check in all of their rooms, because what if one of the hotel guests had had a heart attack and couldn’t make it to the phone?

            (In the specific case here, “OP isn’t answering their phone; I’ll call the site” is the normal human thing to do, and “ask police or hotel to do a wellness check” is waaaaaay down the list.)

            1. Jennifer Strange*

              I could call up a hotel and claim that I am like so totally this person’s manager, not their disgruntled ex, and paid for the room. This wouldn’t make it true.

              But in this case they can likely tell them exactly which room the LW is in and (if boss paid for the hotel) can verify the credit card used for it. The boss definitely was out of bounds here, but without further information let’s not jump to claiming the hotel did anything wrong.

            2. umami*

              I’m saying this based on nothing but my own instincts, but I could see a scenario where I call the OP’s phone, they don’t answer. I call the workplace, and OP isn’t there yet. So I try OP again on their phone, no answer. I call the hotel, no answer in the room. So I send someone to go check to see if they are in the room because they don’t seem to be anywhere else. Would I do all that? Probably not, but also, if I couldn’t be found and wasn’t responding to calls, I could understand it being done and wouldn’t feel harmed by it.

          3. Ben*

            I think this is probably right, assuming the manager actually gave the hotel reason to believe there was a reasonable likelihood the OP needed help. The fault here lies with the manager ginning up a fake emergency. (Assuming he didn’t just call the hotel and ask them to see if his employee was malingering.)

          4. yala*

            If the hotel did a wellness check, then theoretically whatever information they gleaned would stay between the hotel staff, the person in the room they checked on, and, assuming there was need, whatever medical service said person required.

            Also, I really don’t see a scenario where the hotel gets sued because they were gone long enough for someone to worry enough to justify a wellness check but also not long enough for a medical emergency to be tragic.

    3. I'm Just Here For The Cats!!*

      I wonder what the hotel said/did. Did they just go to the room and do a wellness check and report back that everything was fine and they would get a message to the OP? If so, I think that is ok, because they are confirming that the guest is not laying in a pool of blood, but they are also not confirming that they are at that location.

      However if the said that the room was clear and OP was not there then that is a bigger issue.

    4. Jade*

      The room could have easily been under the boss’s or company’s name. No need to go nuclear.

    5. JustaTech*

      Given that these days hotels are required to enter all rooms every few days (2 or 3 I think) to make sure that no guest is using the room as a sniper’s nest (yes, really), *the hotel* doing a wellness check is perfectly reasonable.

      Letting the boss in would be an “absolutely not”, but that doesn’t sound like that is what happened in this case.

      Now, was this response by the boss bizarre and over the top when the boss should have just called the store to see if LW was there? Yes, of course. Start with the logical (LW is not answering their phone because they’re already actively training) rather than the fantastical (LW is dead! LW is hung over and blowing off work!)

  15. Sun*

    LW1, My office travels to isolated regions to perform our core business and we have very strict travel protocols around checking in and checking out for the day.

    If we failed to check in at the allocated time and failed to pick up the follow up phone calls around this, we will get an immediate welfare check, either to the accommodation (if it is a manned location) or to the police.

    So I don’t think number 1 is automatically crazy, if it was around safety or just following their general travel protocols, (but generally the way it’s worked in my highly embarrassing experience is that the police knock on the door and pass on the message that your boss is freaking out, I’ve never had someone enter my room), but it is strange they seemingly hit the alarm without any attempt to contact you via the job site/store? Clarity needed around processes for sure.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      I would guess that your office’s procedures don’t include faking an emergency situation which is what happened in the LW’s case.

    2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      If OP’s employer had protocols like that, she presumably would have known. She was apparently in a town, which had a store in their chain and she was training. No safety concerns seemed to be apparent. Boss decided for SOME REASON that OP wasn’t really working, and rather than call the store to check, he went bananapants.

    3. Grammar Penguin*

      You’re describing a reasonable practice in emergency situations. This isn’t that. There’s no indication in the that the Boss was reasonably concerned for LW1’s safety. Boss was being weird about not being able to reach LW and *invented* a fake emergency to fool the hotel into opening the room and checking on her. This something the hotel wouldn’t have done otherwise which is WHY the boss *lied* to them.

      If the boss is lying to get something they want, it’s because they know they want something unreasonable. They lied to the hotel to fool them into violating a guest’s policy. That’s automatically crazy.

      1. NaoNao*

        I was a bit stuck on that too. Was the boss or the front desk calling the room landline? If she means that, it’s extra weird that she didn’t pick up. The room line ringing is such a rare case that when traveling for work I always answered it. Unless she was one foot out the door in a rush and assumed it was some sort of routine “will you be checking out today as planned” or some such, it’s a bit of a head-scratcher why she didn’t pick up “Yep, I made it, thanks for checking” (eyeroll) and then move on.

        But if he was calling her cell or work phone, I guess I can see how it got ignored–it’s in her bag, on silent, she saw the call and thought “oh, I’ll call him back later”, still on airplane mode and she didn’t realize, etc.

        I also suspect that the OP is slightly mis-speaking when she says fabricated an emergency. I think the boss likely said “OP didn’t answer multiple calls, and she’s alone traveling in X city. I’m concerned, can you check on the room and ensure she made it/she’s there/whatever”. Then in OP’s mind that’s a “fabricated emergency” because she very much is there, she did make it, the boss doesn’t need to be concerned.

        Something about this story has a whiff of the type of stories told by people who are very disorganized and chronically late and say things like “calm down! things will be fine!” and don’t use maps, etc. like “he totally made up an emergency, what a chode!” while leaving out big parts of the story.

        I think we’re missing a big puzzle piece here.

        1. umami*

          Yes, I also don’t know that the boss actually invented an emergency, even though that is the language OP used. Clearly it didn’t seem like an emergency to them, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t seem like an emergency to boss. He called the employee twice, OP knew he called and didn’t answer, and then didn’t think it appropriate that the boss had the hotel doublecheck that she wasn’t incapacitated. That’s … pretty naive on the OP’s part. And I’m not sure in what way OP was harmed? The hotel checked and she wasn’t in the room, so …? I can see thinking it was an overreaction, but not wildly so.

          1. yala*

            I mean, I would assume the first call would be to the store that the employee was scheduled to be at, not to the hotel to open up someone’s room.

        2. aebhel*

          It’s still really weird that he decided to have the hotel open her room instead of… calling the shop where she was supposed to be working to see if she was there.

          (Also, I’m not regularly checking my cell phone when I’m at work?? This is normal??)

          1. EvilQueenRegina*

            Only thing I can see that might possibly make sense of that one is something like he did call the shop first, but this was just before OP arrived so they missed the call and didn’t know he’d phoned, then he tried the mobile and that was on silent and also missed, so boss called the hotel as a last resort…..may be stretching it, but technically possible?

      2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        She was the store training the new person. Working as she was supposed to be. All the boss had to do was call the store where she was. Not the hotel room where she was not.

        1. umami*

          I wondered about that, maybe he had called there already, before she arrived. Because it makes little sense that he would be looking for her if she were at work. I’m not sure why OP ignored the calls, that would prevented the entire situation. If I couldn’t be reached, I wouldn’t be surprised at someone using other means to try to locate me at places they could reasonably find me, I’m not seeing where the violation is.

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            I think the boss called OP’s cell, right at the beginning of her shift. She didn’t answer for whatever reasons–phone was on silent, she was already on the floor and it was in her pocket or bag, spotty reception–anything. From her wording, I think he did not try the landline of her work site. That would have been the logical next step, but he didn’t do it. The boss created the ’emergency’.

            If OP hadn’t checked out of the room, I can see her being a little weirded out by someone going in there unnecessarily.

            1. umami*

              I like your wording of he ‘created’ an emergency rather than ‘faked’ one. That seems to make more sense. Because it might sound like overkill, but it doesn’t seem like his concern was fake!

      3. aebhel*

        It sounded to me like the boss was calling LW’s personal phone and possibly the hotel room landline, not the landline at the shop where she was actually working.

      4. EvilQueenRegina*

        Phone on silent to minimise interruptions while training new person, reception in the area not great, there could be any number of innocent reasons. I do feel there’s a lot missing from this story – when OP says “fake emergency”, what exactly did boss say? Why did he not try the actual work site to see if OP had arrived there?

  16. MAOM7*

    L2. when I was in my twenties, I made work friends regularly and found it to be such a distraction, as well as a danger. Since then, and I’m now in my ’60s, I don’t make work friends. I’m not unfriendly, I’m not unsocial, I just don’t like to mix work friends or work activities or work things with my personal life. There is too much room for people to take advantage of you once they know things about you that you would only share personally as a friend. Whether we realize it or not, work is always a competitive environment. And people will do what they have to to get up the ladder, and knowing personal things about you can be a problem. This is a learning moment for you. Don’t make work friends. Work acquaintances are fine, but keep work to work, and social to social.

    1. High Score!*

      To me, this feels a bit extreme. we spend so much of our lives in the office. I have work friends but I’m have excellent boundary setting skills. I have zero issues blocking someone on my phone if they get needy or saying “I need to work on project x now” if there’s too much office conversation.

    2. metadata minion*

      “Whether we realize it or not, work is always a competitive environment. And people will do what they have to to get up the ladder, and knowing personal things about you can be a problem.”

      This is far from universal.

  17. bamcheeks*

    LW2, in situations like this, you’ve got to accept that “a big blow-up” is a possibility, and just figure out how you’ll respond if that happens. “Avoiding a big blow-up” just isn’t within your control, unless you plan to spend the rest of your life awkwardly hanging out with this person even though you don’t want to.

    So change your goals: what you want is to set some boundaries and stop hanging out with them, and if they decide to make a big blow-up about it, figure out how to minimise the impact on your standing at work and other relationships. That might mean things like upping your game a little at work and be extra reliable, responsive and warm to other people for a few weeks. Have a few vague but friendly responses to questions like, “What’s up with Jane? Is she mad at you?” or “You and Jane are friends, right?” — “Yeah, we’ve hung out a few times. I’m a bit busy at the moment with other stuff so I’ve not had time for a while.” Keep on the side of, “this is a me thing, and it’s also really uninteresting and boring”. Don’t criticise her or confide in anyone that you actively chose to “stop being friends”, because that is the kind of story that spreads and means that you are seen as an active participant in A Dramatic Event. Just keep it very lowkey.

    And if something happens that you really CAN’T ignore– like she makes a big scene at work, or even something happens that makes you feel unsafe, figure out who you might need to speak to in an “official” capacity to say, “I’m really sorry about this, but I think you need to know that Jane and I were friends, but recently I’ve been too busy to meet up and she seems to be taking it REALLY badly.”

    This isn’t to say that your colleague WILL create a big blow-up or drama– most likely she’ll be a bit sad, maybe text a few too many times with “if not this weekend, when?” or whatever, and nobody else at work will even notice. But it’s worth being prepared just because it stops you feeling like you *have* to avoid this at all costs, including the cost of your personal time and comfort.

  18. Blarg*

    LW5 — I’d be very wary of using a personal device to access government email accounts, which includes school districts.

    1. Humble Schoolmarm*

      That is certainly a good general rule, but unfortunately K-12 education is the field that is infamous for people in it spending hundreds of dollars out of pocket every year to fund their classrooms. Realistically, OP is going to get a lot further with the off the clock work argument than the personal device argument. That being said, there are probably some mildly inconvenient work-arounds like borrowing a student Chromebook or the teacher’s computer for a few minutes. Ideally, you could find an old computer that works just enough to check emails to put in a common space for the aides, but that may or may not be feasible given your school’s space, budget and tech policies.

  19. misquoted*

    LW #2: Allow yourself to stop apologizing when you haven’t done anything that requires an apology.

    1. Kate, short for Bob*

      Just coming on to say this. they get huffy when you disagree with them? Don’t apologise; shrug, smile, and restate your boundary. Don’t pretend to go along with anything for the sake of peace. Especially don’t compromise your ethics. Use your words – politely disagree – have them start to make their own distance from you.

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Eh, a mild apology is a very useful way to smooth things over and respect other people’s feelings. It’s not a admission of guilt and wrongdoing, it’s a social lubricant.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Yes, this, but it depends on how you word it.

        “I’m sorry if this upsets you” is very different than “I’m sorry to have to do this”. Because often times we’re not sorry to have to do this.

        So no, I would not apologize for doing something that you need to do to maintain your space/boundaries/sanity, but being cognizant of the other person’s feelings and how they may be affected by your decision is generally a very humane thing to do.

        1. Grammar Penguin*

          “I’m sorry if this upsets you” is different than “I’m sorry to have to do this” because it’s not actually an apology.

          Anytime I hear “I’m sorry IF you’re upset, but…” I know the person isn’t actually sorry at all. They are implying that I’m at fault for being upset.

          1. Jade*

            But at times “I’m sorry if you’re upset” can be reasonable if other person had bad behavior. Personally I would tell this work colleagues I need more downtime from anything or anyone work related and that I’m not going to be replying to texts outside business hours.

          2. Peanut Hamper*

            I disagree. If I have to deliver bad news to somebody and I know they’ll be upset, I genuinely feel for them.

            Anytime I hear “I’m sorry IF you’re upset, but…” I know the person isn’t actually sorry at all.

            This is so odd. I have never encountered this at all. Maybe it’s just the people you are with?

            When people apologize, I tend to find that it’s good to take them at face value unless I’ve had issues with them before.

              1. Twix*

                The problem with that article is that it’s only about apologies when you’ve actually done something wrong. In that context, yes, qualified or hedged apologies are bad. When you’re trying to express empathy with someone who is upset over actions that don’t warrant apology, most of the advice in that article is the exact opposite of what you should do. If someone gets upset because you have a different opinion than they do about something inconsequential, “I’m sorry it bothers you that we disagree, but that’s how I feel” is a totally reasonable response. Apologizing for disagreeing or accepting some of the fault for the conflict or committing to not doing it in the future is not.

          3. Twix*

            I disagree. “I’m sorry if this upsets you” is a particularly bad phrasing, in large part because of the “if” – I much prefer “I’m sorry you were hurt by this”. But there are two kinds of apologies – admitting fault and expressing empathy. “I’m sorry for what I did” is the former. “I’m not sorry for what I did, but I’m sorry for how it made you feel” is the latter. Both can be expressed sincerely, and both are valid in the proper context.

            When you actually did something wrong, the latter type of apology is insulting because it’s a transparent attempt to “apologize” without taking responsibility for your actions. When you didn’t do anything wrong, expressing empathy is a way to show that you care how your actions have affected the other person, but apologizing for your actions themselves teaches people that they can trample on your boundaries.

    3. I'm Just Here For The Cats!!*

      You can say that you are sorry they feel X. Like “I’m sorry that you feel that the llama security policy is overdramatic. But it has been put in place because llamas will escape. Since we don’t agree on this let us talk about the new alpaca client.

  20. Name*

    LW 5 – having worked in HR for 3 school districts and having connections at others, you aren’t alone in being asked to do this. The exempt always forget that hourly employees have to be paid for any and all work done (even checking emails), even if it’s outside normally scheduled hours. The group that gets it the worst are the secretaries. And not all states have unions so it’s up to them individually to speak up or get others to join them in speaking up. All it will take is one employee who does it regularly to report this to the labor board. Can you imagine how many districts would be fined for requiring hourly employees do work, even minimal, off the clock?

    1. Ellis Bell*

      I wonder if it works in the US, the same as here; in the UK, a lot of hourly employees have a “full time” pay figure advertised when they are recruited, or pay scales are published, with a footnote that this figure gets prorated to school hours, or even term time only. So a classroom TA, which is a very hands on role, would only be working when the students are in, which is roughly part time hours and for part of the year, so they get about two thirds of the published full time pay rate. Whereas teachers, who would be working throughout term breaks and into the evenings for planning and marking purposes, (I like to call it full time, plus all other available time) don’t have their advertised pay reduced at all. I’ve had many frustrating conversations with teachers about TAs who have to leave the second the school bell rings to collect their own kids (often this is the entire reason they do the job). I’ve heard: “But they get paid x amount, for not doing any marking etc, so half an hour is not too much to ask” (response: “No they don’t, and yes it is”) and I’ve also heard: “This isn’t a nine to five job” (No… that would pay more!). They aren’t managers, or involved in role creation or hiring; they literally have no idea about the average TA’s job contracts, or circumstances. When I’ve worked as a TA, I liked to phrase it as “Unfortunately that would trigger an overtime payment with my type of contract, so you’d need to approve it with the business manager as I don’t think it’s in the existing budget”. I’ve also used: “My salary is docked at 35 hours a week, so I’m going to arrange the meeting for during the school day. The other thing I could do is take the time in lieu to avoid breaking my contractual time limit. If it’s really important I’d need to approve the overtime with business manager.” Whoever does the budget/HR is the TA’s friend in these circumstances.

      1. Name*

        It depends on who’s in HR. Some districts use HR to promote principals that they need to get out of principal roles but can’t fire. Some use it as a here’s a way to grow within the district promotion. Either way, I’ve worked with directors and executive directors who have no experience and/or education for HR. That’s why I had to explain to a director that paras (or TAs) are not contracted employees and that what she wanted to do to their pay would violate FLSA. I’ve had to tell another that the ways he was trying to prove an employee’s wife gave birth violated HIPAA. I had to explain to another that any OT had to be compensated (through pay or comp time) even if it wasn’t preapproved or they’d violate FLSA.
        Public school HR departments can often be a hot mess.

    2. Ama*

      I’m not in education but I used to supervise one of two hourly employees at my current employer and it was a constant battle to remind everyone (including my boss and my direct report) what that meant — including that she could not check email at home without putting it on her time sheet, that if a lunch meeting was scheduled for our department we’d have to either pay her overtime or let her go home early, and that she didn’t get comp days for working evenings/weekend events because she got overtime. My report was constantly confused because our salaried coworkers would tell her to “just do X, that’s what I do” and X was something that wasn’t an option for hourly employees.

      Keeping us on the right side of our state labor laws was a constant effort for my role and that was at an employer that intended to follow the law and corrected course any time I or my report spoke up to say “this doesn’t work for hourly employees.”

  21. Enn Pee*

    LW3, I was exactly where you were a decade ago, except my boss was completely above board with her side job (which she had before she took a job at our institution). She worked her butt off, was always available (we had a job where we were frequently called off-hours), …
    …and yet somehow the gossips in our office always talked about how she wasn’t working hard enough (she was) or available enough (she was).
    (The real issue was that she was shaking things up, in a good way, and they wanted to do anything to minimize her asking why THEY weren’t meeting deadlines.)

    So I’d say unless you see something impacting your boss’s work, keep it to yourself.

  22. Flex*

    #5 Consider checking outside of work for a few weeks and total up the amount of time it actually takes you. Depending on how much time it totals you could then bring it up. I would say you should also consider if you want to apply for any opening in other areas in the school or district look at how big of an inconvenience it is and how big of a stink you want to make it. I was a part-time playground aid for awhile, the emails were very few for me, I suspect the same would be true for you. There were other openings that made my flexibility with the parameters of my job that I wasn’t thrilled about, worth it for the advancement opportunities it provided me.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      No. It does not matter how many emails you receive or have to deal with it. It’s the fact that you are expected to check in at all on unpaid time. This…is…not…legal.

      And really, this is generally because the exempt, salaried people in charge tend to forget that not everybody working there are also salaried and exempt.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        It’s legal if it’s less than 6 minutes per day. Hence the suggestion to keep track for a short period to confirm if it actually hits the threshold or not. It’s a reasonable suggestion. OP doesn’t need to take the suggestion if they don’t want to, but it’s a reasonable idea.

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          It may be legal, but the onus is not on the employee to figure out if it is less than six minutes per day.

          As the linked article points out, it is on the organization to create policies that don’t put such burdens on the employees and avoid any possibility of creating an illegal situation.

          Stockholm Syndrome is generally a bad reaction to shitty organizational policies.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            I’m not saying it’s a good policy, but the way you said “This…is…not…legal” was misleading.

    2. Emily*

      I am already a p/t recess aide! And I am getting hundreds of emails. Email is my supervisors’ primary way of communication; three vice principals (not to mention the rest of the staff) use email as their main communication vehicle. Which honestly, I understand… I just want 15 minutes of desk time allocated to my day to *read* the emails.

  23. SMH*

    LW#5: Worked in local government for many years. Two things stand out to me:

    1 – For non-exempt employees, checking email outside of work is definitely work time and should be paid. Our organization specifically forbid employees from accessing email outside of work (unless on call) because we had employees working off the clock, and the org. didn’t want to run afoul of wage-and-hour laws.

    2 – I would be concerned that employees are accessing school information on personal devices. There’s both security and privacy risks here.

  24. Michelle Smith*

    LW4: Follow up with everyone who applied. It doesn’t have to be time consuming, but my goodness, this is just basic human decency to do so.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Yes, please do respond to these people. It will keep you in their good graces (hopefully) and get them to stop bugging you. Unless you have hundreds of these, copying and pasting a general short response to all of them shouldn’t take you too long and it’s worth the capital to let them know you appreciated their applying but that you have decided on a different course (and thus it’s not anything they did wrong as to why they aren’t getting the job).

  25. MillennialHR*

    LW #2 – I made work friends with someone at work and they suddenly pulled away. They weren’t promoted, but they did get a significant raise and while I had been promoted, I hadn’t received a raise (I, obviously, no longer work there). It was really confusing for me and she actually stopped speaking to me completely, so I agree with Alison’s advice to give a blanket statement. I would’ve felt so much better if she had said something like that to me. I was young and the workplace was a very toxic “we party together” type of atmosphere. After 2.5 years I felt like I grew up, and I wasn’t much of a “party girl” to begin with. The workplace didn’t grow up, so I did leave to find a more professional environment. In my current job, I would say I have people I’m friendly with, but we’re not friends, per se and it is much better. It’s easier to keep my private and work lives separate.

    On the flip side, one of the friends I made at that toxic workplace remains my good friend to this day (it’s been almost 3 years since I left that workplace). We talk a few times a week, but not about work!

  26. CommanderBanana*

    ‘She said, “It’s not really doing work, it’s keeping informed about work.”’

    Yah-huh.

  27. Zarniwoop*

    “detailing their efforts to blatantly disregard a company policy. When I don’t agree, they get defensive and I end up apologizing.”
    They’re in the wrong and you wind up apologizing? This is not a “friendship” I’d enjoy. “Gray rock” time.

  28. Salad Daisy*

    Please don’t report your manager. One of my coworkers at a high tech company applied for a part time, weekend job as a pharmacy cashier to earn extra money for medical bills. When our employer found out they were looking for a second job they were fired on the spot. A lot of employers will absolutely fire you if they find out you have a second gig.

    1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!!*

      see I really don’t understand why employers do that. I can see if it can cause a conflict of interest or if the other business is in some way a competitor. And obviously if they are working at the same time they are supposed to be working the other job that is a big problem. But like if I want to deliver pizza in my evenings or write blog articles, or cashier at a pharmacy I should have every right to do that. I think some employers have this mindset that they own their employees.

    2. JustaTech*

      My husband’s employer is OK with second jobs as long as you 1) report them and 2) there isn’t a conflict of interest.

      His second job as IT guy for his parent’s very small distribution business was never a COI for his Big Tech jobs, but he reported it anyway to be totally above-board (because we’re both that kind of rule-following person).

      So I don’t know why LW assumes that their boss hasn’t told their company about the second job (unless it’s obviously a conflict).

  29. TX_Trucker*

    #1 – I don’t know what you meant by “create a false emergency situation.” If your boss fabricated a blatant lie, such as your brother was in the hospital and had to get in tough with you immediately, that is not acceptable. But if he told the hotel the “emergency” was that he called repeatedly and couldn’t get a hold of you, that’s different. It’s certainly an over reaction if you have only been missing a morning or less.

    But after the 2017 Mandala Bay shooting, most large hotel chains in the USA implemented welfare check procedures, though they don’t advertise it as such. For example, sometime a call/text from the hotel asking if your accommodations are satisfactory is good customer service. But sometimes, it’s really a veiled welfare check, because you declined house keeping, and no one has seen you in a few days.

    1. Jade*

      I also wonder what the “emergency” was and wonder why OP did not check in with boss after two missed calls. It takes 10 seconds to send a text.

      1. Spencer Hastings*

        If I’m reading the letter correctly, this happened while they were giving the training (at the other store), in which case not answering their phone would be the most likely thing to happen.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Yeah, that’s how I read it too. Sent them out of town to train people in a store. Boss calls while they’re in the middle of the training they were sent there to do. Boss for reasons unknown assumes the lack of answer means they’re not working, as opposed to the more obvious Not Stopping In The Middle Of Leading A Training To Answer A Call.

          Sure it takes 10 seconds to answer a text, but seriously, if you’re leading a training it’d be more weird (and rude to the people you’re there with) to be on your phone.

    2. yala*

      “It’s certainly an over reaction if you have only been missing a morning or less.”

      But they weren’t missing at all. They were exactly where they were supposed to be (at the store, training the employee).

  30. Keymaster of Gozer*

    OP2: My best friend in the world is someone I met at work many decades ago, whereas there’s the other end of the extreme my stalker who I worked with and is CONVINCED that because I was friendly at work that meant I wanted him.

    People at work can fall on that spectrum anywhere (insert proviso if on the same rank) and it’s often impossible to tell who is going to be a real friend or a clingy hanger on until months later.

    Alison’s suggestion of just being unavailable (to all requests and don’t give a reason) is good, but if you find that doesn’t work/the person doesn’t understand what you’re trying to say then you may have to get a little out of comfort depth and say something like ‘look mate, we’re colleagues at work and that’s all I want okay?’.

  31. BellyButton*

    LW3, you have no idea what the manager’s involvement is. They could be a financial backer, an advisor, they could be doing a side hustle but if it is a startup it may not require much time.

  32. Bookworm*

    #1: I would say that is also an issue with the hotel: did they try to contact you before opening the door? A few years ago there was a story of a man who convinced a hotel employee that he had a fight with his “girlfriend” (woman who had rejected him), who let the guy in and the guy sexually assaulted the woman for several hours. Agree with the others: this manager is a creep. I’m so sorry that happened.

    #4: It would be nice if you let applicants know, but it isn’t necessary. Also be sure you do actually change the job description, though. :P I once had this happen to me and I saw the job reposted a few days later. The only change was that we had to discuss our salary expectations, which was not in the original post and I had declined to state at the screening interview, which turned out to be my only one with them.

    1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!!*

      for #1 the boss was not physically at the hotel. He called from their main office because the OP did not answer her cell phone. So there was no chance of him going into her room.

      1. Jade*

        Yes. I think the entire thing could have been prevented with a simple text to boss after OP didn’t respond to or miss two calls. I’m not so enraged over this as the missed calls played a part and Boss could have been genuinely worried. OP also didn’t not specify what the “fake emergency” was.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          The boss didn’t call the landline of the place OP was working. That seems like it would have been the next logical step, if he was worried.

        2. yala*

          Don’t a lot of retail places have a “no phones on the work floor” policy? If OP’s phone was in the back in a locker or wherever, they wouldn’t even know their boss called until later.

          If the boss was genuinely worried, calling the place where OP was scheduled to be seems like the better option?

    2. EvilQueenRegina*

      OP might not know that – if they’d already left for the site at that point then a call to the room phone would have got no reply anyway, and the hotel might not have had their mobile number to contact them that way.

    3. umami*

      I can’t imagine them letting someone into a hotel room, that’s terrible! Many years ago (12?) I was at a large reception in the bar area of the hotel I was staying at. My purse was stolen, and I had my room key in it. I had the hardest time convincing them to give me another key because it was in the purse with my ID (and my credit cards, etc.) I had several people there who vouched for my identity, and ultimately they asked me to describe a unique piece of clothing in the room, and they would go up and check for it to confirm, and only after I called the police to file a police report so that they could then escort me to the room.

  33. BellyButton*

    LW1 – was it a false emergency? Or were they concerned that they couldn’t reach you and had the hotel do a welfare check? That is actually a decent thing to do. The hotel employee would have only entered you room if they knocked, announced themselves, and didn’t receive an answer.

    1. BellyButton*

      I should say the hotel employee SHOULD only enter the room after knocking and announcing themselves.

      1. umami*

        I’m confused as to just what the OP is upset about – she wasn’t there, so there would be no expectation of privacy anyway. In this case the reason hotel staff went was a welfare check, and everything was fine, not sure what is upsetting about the situation, frankly.

        1. JustaTech*

          Well, if my boss couldn’t get ahold of me at a time when he knew I was supposed to be conducting a training (and therefore would be unlikely to answer my cell), and jumped straight to the conclusion that I was still at my hotel, rather than attempting to contact anyone else at my work site I’d be upset too, because it shows a real lack of trust to assume that I was slacking rather than working.

          Now, is it *possible* that there was some history that would cause the LW’s boss to suspect an actual emergency? Sure, but then the LW probably would have mentioned it.

    2. Elsewise*

      It sounds like the LW wouldn’t have been there when the hotel staff checked, though- weren’t they at the store?

    3. Union rep buddy*

      #5 as a union rep in a state with a strong union, go to your union. If they know this is happening, it can be another data point to push back with the district. If they don’t know that hourly workers are being asked to check their emails outside of work, they need to know.

      Your union will also be able to advise you as to how to respond to your principal when she/he asks for this kind of nonsense.

  34. BellyButton*

    At a previous job we had a manufacturing floor with hourly employees. They did not need to use a computer to do their job, but we provided a bank of computers for them to use. They were given an extra 10 minutes added onto one break every day to access emails, the HRIS system in case the needed to update their contact info, the benefits page, etc.

    1. JustaTech*

      We have this for our manufacturing folks, though they get more time for the computers because they need to stay current on all their required training (so much required training), and that’s all done on the computer.

  35. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    Whereever I’ve worked, it was in the contract that we must obtain permission for a 2nd job. So everyone knows in advance they’d be in trouble. If it’s not in the contract, then it’s OK.

    However, this manager has her side startup on her LinkedIn, so sounds like she wants the news to get out, so presumably doesn’t expect trouble.

    Also, we don’t have medical debt, so that wouldn’t be the motivation in any country I’ve lived in (Europe).

    In a different case to this, where it was kept secret, then whether I’d report depends on any of these applying:

    1) If I’d get into trouble if it came out that I knew and didn’t tell – I wouldn’t take the slightest risk of losing my job or damaging my career to cover for a coworker breaking the agreed rules.

    2) The time spent on the 2nd job is negatively impacting my work – I refuse to suffer for someone else’s side hustle.

    3) If she’s working 2 high level jobs in parallel that were each 6 figure salaries. That’s greedy, hogging an extra job that would otherwise give someone a very good income.
    I wouldn’t report a lowpaid side hustle like retail, pubs etc unless I saw risk to myself.

    1. BellyButton*

      “f she’s working 2 high level jobs in parallel that were each 6 figure salaries. That’s greedy, hogging an extra job that would otherwise give someone a very good income.
      I wouldn’t report a lowpaid side hustle like retail, pubs etc unless I saw risk to myself.”

      How much they make at either job has absolutely nothing to do with the LW’s involvement.

    2. I'm Just Here For The Cats!!*

      this is most liekly in the US otherwise I think the OP would have said otherwise. We don’t have contracts for (most) jobs, but the rule may be in the employee handbook.
      1. If the OP doesn’t say anything to anyone, or comment on the LinkedIn post how is anyone going to know? HR can’t read minds.
      2. There is nothing in the letter that says the other job is affecting the boss. The OP wouldn’t even know if it wasn’t for the LinkedIn post, which sounds like someone tagged the boss in, not that they posted it themselves.
      3. we don’t know what the salaries for either jobs are. And even if the boss is getting 6 figures from both its not the OP’s problem. Unless she is in HR or has some other ethical obligation that is part of her duties to the company there is no reason to tell the employer. And even then, she should talk to the boss first because there could be a logical explanation like they tagged john smith junior instead of senior or a different john smith all together. Or it could be that the boss just gave the funding and is an investor in the business and is not directly working in any way.

    3. Observer*

      Whereever I’ve worked, it was in the contract that we must obtain permission for a 2nd job. So everyone knows in advance they’d be in trouble

      It’s still none of the OP’s business.

      Also, we don’t have medical debt, so that wouldn’t be the motivation in any country I’ve lived in

      What is the relevance to the conversation. It really doesn’t matter why the manager has a side gig (assuming the OP is correct). As for the possibility of debt, medical expenses are not the only way to accrue debt, even “virtuous” debt.

      If I’d get into trouble if it came out that I knew and didn’t tell – I wouldn’t take the slightest risk of losing my job or damaging my career to cover for a coworker breaking the agreed rules.

      All good and fine. But it’s pretty clear that this is not the issue here. The OP does not mention any risk or affect on the whatsoever, which they would have done if it existed. Same for #2.

      If she’s working 2 high level jobs in parallel that were each 6 figure salaries. That’s greedy, hogging an extra job that would otherwise give someone a very good income.

      The level of smug judgementalism in this comment is off the charts. It’s pretty ugly, and does not have the moral heft you seem to think it does. And that assumes that the only reason he’s willing to work this hard is because he’s just greed and wants “more, more, more.” Since you have absolutely no idea of other people’s circumstances, you have no way to ever know that. You also don’t know that the side gig, whatever it might be, would necessarily be paying a different person that kind of money, for a whole host of reasons.

      What the manager is earning is none of the OP’s business. They have no standing to decide how much it’s “ok” for them to earn.

      1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        Yes, I can judge and I would. We all judge.
        I have sympathy for someone struggling to add one lowpaid pt job to another and would not report them unless it seriously affected me.
        But some greedy sod hogging 2 high-paid jobs? Yup, I’d report them

        1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

          Not smug. It’s anger at greedy people hogging 2 high-paid jobs while others struggle to get one job.
          I’m always more likely to report someone wealthy/in a senior position breaking the rules.

        2. Observer*

          I didn’t say you can’t judge. I *did* say that you don’t have moral standing, you don’t have any basis on which to judge, and I disagree with your moral calculus.

          You can think whatever you like. But when you talk as though you are the moral arbiter of the world, people also can react with disagreement and lack of respect for the views that they think don’t deserve respect.

  36. Sunny-D*

    LW#5 – The problem with the “quick email check” is that it’s also taking up mental time/space as something you have to remember and take the time to do. You might only be reading the email for a couple minutes, but it’s all the activity around it that’s also adding to your workload. I don’t know that that’s a measurable data point, but it’s something we forget when we think a quick check-in outside of work isn’t a big deal. It adds to the sense of work always living rent-free in your head, 24/7.

    But mental space aside, even the active time spent is usually far more than you think. I recently started freelancing, and I’ve been turning on the clock every time I deal with a client email. I’ve been shocked at how quickly the time actually adds up. I’d think I was writing an email for 2 minutes, and it turns out to be 10. Email time blindness is a thing.

    For what it’s worth, when I used to work hourly, we would get paid in 15-minute increments at minimum, so if you stayed 10 minute late, you’d automatically get paid for 15 minutes. Something to consider/look into.

  37. ZK*

    OP #4, do yourself a favor and let them know. My daughter keeps having to deal with someone constantly following up on an application (because the manager didn’t bother to tell the person no thank you, it’s a part time job and your request for 60 hours a week isn’t realistic!) and being quite rude about it. A few minutes of your time to send out a form letter to all your candidates could save you a lot of aggravation later.

  38. umami*

    OP1, I’m not sure I understand what is upsetting you. Your boss called you, twice, and didn’t reach you, then tried to reach you at the hotel and then asked that they check the room. What exactly was boss violating in having hotel staff check your room? You don’t mention what the ‘fake emergency’ was, so I could see how he could have been concerned about your wellbeing when you didn’t answer and couldn’t be found at the hotel. Is it possible he tried calling the store before you arrived?

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Perhaps you missed the last line:

      He could have just called the store I was working at.

      I certainly understand what is upsetting OP. Not only did the boss not think logically, he then created a falsehood and roped the hotel staff into it. This shows incredibly bad judgement on the part of the boss. I’d be upset too.

      1. umami*

        What falsehood did he create? She wasn’t answering his calls. I also wonder if he had called before she arrived to the store, does she know that he didn’t? I think there is more bad judgment on the side of the person who didn’t answer repeated phone calls from their boss than the one who could have legitimately been concerned about someone’s welfare. I can see it as an overreaction, but not something that should be upsetting or seen as wildly inappropriate under the circumstances.

        1. Rainy*

          I think we’re reading two different letters, because it seems like you’re assuming that LW saw boss’s calls on their mobile and then sent them to voicemail without picking up, and I don’t see anything in the letter that makes that the most likely of the possible scenarios.

          1. umami*

            I’m just going by OP’s wording. All she says is ‘my boss called twice … I didn’t answer.’ The wording sounds more like she chose to not answer, vs. ‘my boss called twice, and I missed the calls because …’. A little more clarity would be helpful, because if you leave blanks, the reader has to fill them in.

            1. Peanut Hamper*

              No, we do not have fill in the blanks. We are asked to take letter writers at their words and not to create a bunch of fan fiction.

              LW asked a question (“Is it okay for him to call the hotel and create a false emergency situation and convince the hotel to go open the door to see if I’m in the room?”) as a statement of what happened; we don’t need to be so pedantic about how they phrased their issue. The LW’s meaning is clear; such nit-picking is not in the least bit helpful.

              There is also an expectation that we read the entire letter before responding.

  39. Daisy Jones*

    OP2, I had a similar situation in my previous job. I got to know one coworker who was the same age and had similar interests and hobbies to me. We got along well and started to hang out every now and again outside of work. It all seemed fine at first. I have other work friends and enjoy getting along with my colleagues so this seemed like another nice friendship. Things started to go south when she began to use me as her go to person to vent about some pretty serious health issues (including an ED and self harm). Some of the stories she’d tell me were quite distressing. I am in no way trained to safely hear or respond to something like that from a coworker. Any time I’d try and pull back from the friendship she would buy me an expensive gift to win me back over. It felt so transactional. As soon as I built up the courage to speak up about it, I had to set that boundary. I just explained as kindly as I could that due to some stressors in my life I wouldn’t have the bandwidth to talk about mental health stuff for the foreseeable. She was not happy with me and I felt so guilty. We haven’t really spoken since but she ended up going through the exact same pattern with another coworker. And possibly again with a third coworker. I work elsewhere now and I’m always sure to take care to get to know people slowly at work, setting clear standards and expectations along the way for what a work friendship looks like for me.

  40. SofiaDeo*

    #1 and some of the commentariat, I answer the phone during work hours when my boss calls. This is a one on one training, not a group class, people have seemed to missed this point. If I miss a call, I call back as soon as I see I have missed one. My bosses have pretty much expected me to answer the phone during work hours, and call back as soon as I see a missed message. Any chance your boss is the same?

    My boss doesn’t call unless they need to speak to me, and if it was something non urgent I get left a message. If I got a second call in a short period of time, I would pick it up….Boss is trying to reach me! If one is out of town, not answering the phone during work hours, not calling back after several calls were placed during work hours….I think it’s reasonable to think “call the hotel first, make sure everything is OK”. I don’t see how this is a “boundary violation”. And if I were Alison, I would first verify what the circumstances of the statement “made a false emergency situation….” because this does not sound right. I know we are supposed to take OP at their word, but…this is a strangely worded statement. If the boss had indeed concocted some wild story instead of a “I can’t reach her and she is supposed to be at work, can you please check the room” (like, did OP oversleep or what) then yes, it’s potentially boundary crossing. It could be a bit of muddle haded panic/unease at *not being able to reach an employee out of town* and first thought was “call the hotel, is OP alright.” But simply calling to hotel to check since OP is not responding during work hours… is not “creating an emergency” and is reasonable. I am not sure why the boss’ response should have been to “call the store” instead of “first I am going to make sure OP is OK since she isn’t answering her phone during work time, and I’ve called twice and she hasn’t yet called me back/picked up on the second call.” OP, do you usually pick up your phone and this time you didn’t?

    1. yala*

      I feel like there’s an assumption that OP had their cell phone on them and just chose to ignore the boss calling them. If they’re working retail, a more likely situation is that their phone was in the back in a locker, and the best way to reach a *working* employee would be by calling the STORE, not the hotel.

  41. Berkeleyfarm*

    LW 5 – if you have a union talk to them. Checking email is 100% work and should be paid.

    My company disables the accounts of people who are on Leave of Absence (many of whom are hourly) so they can’t check their email.

  42. former martian*

    re: #5 – I used to work in the corporate office for a very large retailer. During our onboarding training as part of being in “management”, the trainers spent like an hour talking making sure everyone was super clear about the company policy on “working off the clock”. The company previously lost a very expensive lawsuit filed against them regarding managers in the retail stores asking employees to work off the clock. Even though I was salary and working in the corporate office, we did have some hourly employee working there. We were told in no uncertain terms not to talk work stuff (even briefly) to hourly employee when they were off clock on breaks and lunch. If we did bring up work, they got to start their break over so they would get their full break and not work off the clock ever, even for just a minute.

    I know this is an extreme example because they were reacting to a lawsuit but it still help make apparent the issue with asking people to check email or ask them to think about work when they are not getting paid.

  43. Michael G*

    LW3 – I’d leave it alone. I was once thought to have a second job and was nearly discharged. Truth was, a friend was taking me to lunch & dinner a couple times a month for nearly a year to seek counseling about a startup he was involved with. I wasn’t otherwise a part of it and didn’t receive any compensation but word got around.

  44. Michael G*

    LW4 – I would absolutely advise the people know. How many times have we seen letters from applicants who were concerned they never heard back from companies and felt they were left hanging?

  45. annon*

    what era is this from that the manager didn’t call the employee on their mobile phone? unless he/she was to sequestered in the hotel room, they could have been many places….

  46. Anon Poster*

    LW #5, I’m curious what would happen if you just . . . continued to not check your school email at home? Are you missing out on a lot of important information and having your work impacted, or is this something that’s only an issue because your admin knows you aren’t checking at home and has decided to make this A Thing? I’m a teacher who loves their job but was broken by COVID, so I stopped doing a lot of the unpaid extras for the sake of my own sanity. I didn’t make any big announcements or have any conversations about it, I just stopped. I’m a rule-follower and a people-pleaser who was scared of pushback on at least some of it, and I was surprised to find that I really haven’t gotten any. Maybe people are talking about me or rolling their eyes at me behind my back, but none of that has made its way back to me and I’m a happier person for it. Every district, every campus, every principal is different, so this is not a valid solution for a lot of people. I’m lucky to be on a campus with admin who don’t micromanage, and at a district that is so desperate to fill vacancies that they literally can’t afford to chase people out over the small stuff, which would create even more difficult-to-fill vacancies. No one is going to fire me for not checking emails after I leave the building. They might be annoyed with me (so far I have seen no evidence of that), but I can live with that.

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