boss says I can’t be good at my job because I have a kid, asking to switch desks, and more

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

1. My boss says people can’t be good at their jobs if they have kids or sick relatives

I just started working for a busy nonprofit. My manager, Aria, is overworked and stressed out, frequently working 10-12 hour days, and often working weekends. She seems to resent it when my colleagues and I are not working the same level. Three situations have come up that made me wonder if it was starting to cross a legal line.

#1 My colleague Famke asked for time off to tend to an ailing parent while they had a procedure. Aria replied, “I don’t know, we are really busy.” Later, Aria said that Famke frequently takes time off for this ailing parent, who had been ailing for a while, framing it as unreasonable because of its frequency and duration. She also said Famke takes a lot of sick time because her school-aged child gets sick and she has her own recurring health issues, framing this again as an imposition.

#2 Aria told me she was replacing a temporary employee, Jean, because they had a sick parent and couldn’t devote enough time to the role. Jean may have noted up-front that they couldn’t be available full-time because they had to take care of their parent, so it is possible it was Jean’s preference to only work part-time. However, Aria framed it as Jean wasn’t reliable because she had to take care of her sick parent and we needed to hire someone who wouldn’t need frequent time off for that.

#3 Aria said she didn’t know if I could be successful at my role because I have a small child. When I asked her what she meant, she said I’ve made it clear I prioritize my family when I am home and thus am not working the long hours needed to be successful in this role.

The “you need to be working long hours all the time” feels toxic but not illegal. However, is the “I don’t think you can be successful here because you have a kid/sick parent” thing crossing employment laws? How do handle this? I don’t want to quit — there is a lot about the role that I like, and I am prepared to work hard, but this constant negging whenever anyone isn’t working 60 hours a week is rough, and the implication that my family status will make it hard to be successful feels awful.

It’s going to hinge on whether or not you and your coworkers are covered by the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). You’re eligible to take up to 12 weeks of leave a year (all at once or intermittently) under FMLA if: (1) you’ve been employed with your company for 12 months, (2) you’ve worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of the leave, and (3) your employer employs 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius of your worksite. Penalizing you for taking FMLA violates the law; they can’t use your leave as a negative factor in any employment action, nor can they discourage you from using it. Your state could also have additional protections that kick in a lower employee threshold.

Also, I’m curious to know whether Aria thinks men with small kids can’t be successful there; if her comment to you is linked to your gender, she’s possibly running afoul of anti-discrimination laws as well. Additionally, a few jurisdictions in the U.S. (although not many) prohibit discrimination based on family status.

All that said, even if Aria was scrupulous about following the laws mentioned above … there’s still a lot of room for her to pressure people to work unreasonably long hours and penalize employees who don’t. It might be worth bringing her comments to the attention of someone above her if she’s not the head of the organization.

2. Interviewer said the salary range was less than the job posting said

I’m happy to see more companies posting salary ranges in their job listings as it becomes required.

Recently I applied for a job that listed the salary as between $60k and $103k. I was very interested in the position, and $100k would have been the low end of what I’d accept for salary. I was taken aback when the I had my phone screen and the recruiter said the budget for the position was $75k-$80k.

In a case like this, should you proceed with the interview and assume you can negotiate up to the listed $100k range? Or take the recruiter at their word and decline to interview further? Do companies generally lie in their posted ranges? For what it’s with, the job was in New York where companies now have to list salaries by law.

Don’t assume you can negotiate up later on. If you wouldn’t consider the job for the salary they cited in the interview, you should call out the discrepancy with the ad. For example: “The ad listed a range up to $103,000. Is that no longer the case? I’d be looking for at least $100,000.”

It’s possible that they didn’t misrepresent the range, but $75k-$80k is what they’d be willing to pay a candidate with your specific profile (whereas a candidate with a different profile could be eligible for the wider range) … or that they refined the range after looking at the candidate pool … or that the recruiter has outdated info. But it’s also possible that what they listed in the ad was simply BS. Regardless, it makes sense to clarify before you invest more time in their process.

3. Getting time off for religious holidays at a new job

I am starting my first job this summer at a notoriously abusive workplace which does not allow any salary negotiation, remote work, etc. Unfortunately I have several religious holidays during my first months of work. I was wondering if you could help me navigate the email to send my recruiter, as I don’t know anything about workplace norms and what is appropriate to request. (I don’t even have a manager yet, so HR is my only contact.)

I get 12 days off for the year and they accumulate slowly. This isn’t even enough to cover all of the religious holidays on which I’m forbidden from engaging in labor (I think there are 14, and that doesn’t even include fast days when I can technically go to work). By the time the first holiday comes, I won’t have accumulated any PTO yet. I am afraid that if I say too much before I’ve signed the contract, they’ll simply rescind the offer. Yes, I guess it would be good for me to know their true colors now in that case, but I at least want to try to receive their excellent training and salary!

Ideally I’d want my contract to say that I can swap Christian holidays for my holidays, so I’d work, for example, Christmas but take off for one of my holidays. I guess I’d also want more WFH flexibility related to preparing for holidays, but who wouldn’t? I don’t see why they would be willing to make an exception for me, even though it’s a question of religious freedom. To be clear, it’s not like it matters whether I work remotely or what particular hours I work because of the nature of the work! They just want to maintain their “workplace culture.”

If I sign the contract as currently written, I’ll have to use up all my PTO on holidays (when I’ll be fasting/praying/etc., forbidden from getting in a car or using the internet, etc., etc.), plus lie about being sick to cover the remaining holidays, I guess, and then I’ll have no days left for my family member’s wedding next summer or just a mental health day. Not to mention I do actually have a chronic health condition which I assume will take up some of my sick days.

It would be illegal to rescind the offer because you requested religious accommodation. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, but you should be aware that federal law requires them to accommodate you unless it would cause them undue hardship (the bar for which is very high and almost certainly won’t be in play here), and they’d be violating federal law if they refused or if they yanked your offer over it.

Email your HR contact and say this: “I’ll need to officially request religious accommodation since my religion doesn’t allow me to work on (dates). What’s the best way to allow for that in my contract without leaving me with no time off for other uses? Also, I’d be happy to trade Christmas for one of the days if that’s an option.” You could wait and send this after your contract is finalized if you’d like to be extra safe (but on the other hand, extra safe could mean having it written into your contract, or finding out early if it’s going to be a problem).

Make sure you have the full list of dates when you raise this — you want something more firm than “I think there are 14.” Also, assume you probably won’t be able to get additional time off to prepare for the holidays; employers aren’t required to offer that, only the religiously mandated time for observance itself.

4. When can I ask to switch desks?

My office set up is in six-cube blocks (i.e;. two rows with three cubes on each row) To get into our area, you walk down the middle of the rows. I’m relatively new here and so I’ve gotten the desk at the entrance to the block. I totally understand the reasoning. My issue is that it’s super distracting when people walk by the entrance, which is pretty much all day. Yesterday someone at the very back put in their notice so a desk will be opening up soon. What is a reasonable time frame to ask my manager about moving back further into the block of desks without seeming super entitled? I’m guessing the next senior-most person will move to that empty desk, but even moving back one seat would be helpful.

Ask now, since otherwise someone might ask before you do. This isn’t the kind of thing where decency requires you to wait a while (the way you might if a desk was being vacated due to death). It’s fine to just matter-of-factly say, “Since Jane is leaving, will we be doing any desk reshuffling? I’d love to move away from the entrance to our block if that’s possible, even if it’s just one seat back.”

5. If an executive dies in a murder mystery…

I read your answer to the question on firings in literature, and it got me thinking about a scenario in a murder mystery I’m watching. In the latest episode, we learned that the second-in-command was fired a few days prior. The executive gives him until Monday to turn in his resignation but that weekend the executive is … MURDERED!!

Is the second-in-command still fired? Assuming that other people in the organization know (but no one is higher up on the chain of command than the murdered executive or second-in-command), can/should they do anything? If the executive died before or after the day the second-in-command had to hand in his resignation, would that matter? Does the second-in-command become first-in-command upon the death of the executive and just get the ability to rescind his own firing? Does he have to hand in his resignation to himself?

Companies don’t usually have automatic lines of succession the way the government does; the second-in-command doesn’t automatically become first-in-command upon their boss’s death. Rather, the executive’s replacement would be chosen by the board of directors if there is one or by the company owner.

As for whether the executive’s death would cancel out the second-in-command’s firing … it depends. There’s nothing like that that would happen automatically, but it’s possible the board or owner could decide that they’d rather keep that person on for some continuity … and of course, if no one knew about the firing, then in theory the second-in-command could just not mention it and continue on in their job.

{ 561 comments… read them below }

      1. Miss Fisher*

        Are you talking about a Psych episode or season 2 of The Afterparty? I believe the 2nd because that is totally the plot.

        1. LTRFTLW (OP #5)*

          It is from the second season of the Afterparty… though if the 4th Psych movie happened to kick off with this plot, you won’t hear me complaining!

          1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

            I think the thing is that no one else knew that Sebastian had been fired, only Edgar, so Sebastian is just pretending it never happened.

    1. Alisaurus*

      I was also wondering this. lol Although Gus wasn’t really second-in-command, but still.

      Also that episode makes me cry with laughter every single time I watch it and I will probably go rewatch it over lunch today.

    2. TooTiredTooThink*

      All I know is that I absolutely love when Alison answers a question from fiction and I wish she could do it more often (if she also loves doing it).

  1. Gamer Girl*

    OP1, please don’t underestimate how demoralizing working for Aria will be. I could never work for someone who demeaned others’ family care needs and belittled employees for “only” working 40 hours a week! At my current job, this would put someone on the fast track to getting fired. Personally, I’d report this behavior up the chain, if possible, but also start job searching immediately.

    1. Yeah...*

      An opportunity to retell an interaction my single lady self with no children was told by my boss.

      “I’ve never known single person to be so close and involved with their family”… as though I had birthed myself?

      1. Allonge*

        WTF. What a thing, for a single person to be close to their family! What’s next, you would want to have friends too? /s

        1. Chirpy*

          Or, horror, have weekends and evenings off? Single people have lives?? /s

          (sometimes I wonder how people think single people are supposed to get the significant others/children they penalize us for not having…???)

      2. AngryOctopus*

        I quit my PhD program when I told my advisor that I was going up to see my bro and SIL over a holiday weekend because they just had a baby, and she told me “I would never tell you that you can’t see your family, but you’re going to have to start making choices about coming in here on weekends vs seeing them”. I came in Tuesday and quit. That was the last straw, but it was a very heavy straw.

        1. Baron*

          “I would never tell you that you can’t see your family, but listen, don’t see your family.” Ugh.

          1. I am Emily's failing memory*

            I would never tell you you can’t see them, just that your career will be derailed if you do!

        2. Observer*

          , and she told me “I would never tell you that you can’t see your family, but you’re going to have to start making choices about coming in here on weekends vs seeing them”.

          Do these people not understand the basics of communications? Or do they think that transparent pretenses gives them some “plausible deniability”?

          1. somehow*

            Not all faculty advisors are like that. In fact, based on my own experience, that would be a pretty rare response.

        3. Anon Again... Naturally*

          AngryOctopus, I took a terminal Master’s instead of the PhD I was aiming for, in no small part because my advisor was furious because I refused to stop attending a club. Attending club events required me to leave the lab at 5 pm one night a month. That was the extent of my social life at the time, and I decided it was a clear sign I was not cut out for academia.

        4. MansplainerHater*

          My husband was told that a candidate for an associate professor position was turned down because they had *only* published one paper during covid, so they “must be” prioritizing family over research. Academia is the. worst.

      3. House On The Rock*

        I once had a boss say that I “didn’t have a family” because I didn’t have kids (the implication being this was great because I, apparently, could work all the time). I told him this would come as a great surprise to both my parents, spouse, and assorted other relatives!

        1. Lizzie*

          I dealt with this a few times early in my career, and hated it. I don’t know why some people think that the ONLY family one can have is a spouse and/or kids. I happen to be very close to both my parents and my grandmother, and while I didn’t have siblings, so no niblings, it didn’t make us any less of a family. People who think that, IMO are just ignorant and clueless.

        2. blue rose*

          The part that kills me about this one is that by this dubious reasoning, a child is the family to the parent, but the parent isn’t family to the child.

      4. Kit Kendrick*

        I feel fortunate. I am a single lady with housemates and I have a few times taken time off from work to help with a medical emergency with a housemate. My manager was firm on the point that it was no different than someone taking time off for family and I should expect the same level of consideration. (The implication there was that of course it’s reasonable to prioritize family needs and that it’s none of the employer’s business what defines family for any given individual.)

        1. Pat*

          Thank you! I was just saying (in my head), my housemate, our dog, and I actually ARE a family.

        2. SpaceySteph*

          My employer recently changed the policy to include “an individual related by blood or affinity whose close association is the equivalent of a family relationship” and its a great step towards recognizing that family is not always the people you birthed/who birthed you, and that marriage isn’t for everyone.

          I’m married with kids now, but there was a time before that when I was single and 1000 miles from my nearest blood relative and a friend and I were each others’ emergency contacts. I picked her up after a medical procedure one time and got a lot of side eye about who I was to her.

          1. metadata minion*

            I am giving everyone in your last paragraph side-eye for their side-eye. >:-( The last time I had to be picked up from the hospital, a friend did it because he had a car and my household doesn’t.

        1. Observer*

          We spring fully formed from our parents’ foreheads!

          No, NOT from your *parents’ forehead*! That would still give them some role and relationship.

          Nope, single people grew on a bush and were picked when “ripe” (ie adult.)

          (For more on this, see Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz.)

          1. Proofin' Amy*

            Dorothy and the Wizard IN Oz (I’m such a pedant, also that book is on the shelf right next to my desk.). I love that other people have actually read the many, many sequels! One day, I’ll find someone else who’s also read QUEEN ZIXI OF IX.

                1. Reluctant Mezzo*

                  I bought a continuation of the series at ComicCon in 2008 and sweet-talked the illustrator (who was at the booth) into drawing Professor Wogglebug *with goggles* since it was a birthday present for my husband, the then chemistry teacher.

            1. Zardeenah*

              I have too!

              One of my fondest dreams is that someday, someone will make another Oz movie or series that goes back to the original books for inspiration and not the 1939 film. So many things I’d love to see on film!

      5. Observer*

        An opportunity to retell an interaction my single lady self with no children was told by my boss.

        “I’ve never known single person to be so close and involved with their family”… as though I had birthed myself?

        She must have been a pleasure to work for and with (not!) What other insane things and prejudices did she believe?

      6. Sparkles McFadden*

        A comment from the worst boss ever when I pushed back on being assigned to work every holiday: “You’d just be spending a holiday with your parents. It’s not like you have a real family.”

      7. The Hobbit*

        I came here to say exactly that. As a childfree single gal, I enjoy having a personal life and doing non-work things!

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      My favorite line from that toxic stew was that the LW “prioritized her family while she was at home.” Like, YES? That’s what I do? When I am home? WITH MY FAMILY?

      Aria reads like a caricature of one of those workaholic whipcracking bosses of the eighties in films like Wall Street and similar that came out in the Reaganomics churn of that decade. That she finds it at all deleterious to the LW’s personal work ethic that she doesn’t, I don’t know, hang her kids out the window with a rope while she answers ten thousand emails signals loud and clear that even actual death would not be enough for this woman’s level of commitment demand.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        Yep. If you aren’t hustling, you don’t care.

        Although I seriously wonder if Aria is always overworked because 1) she sucks at delegating since she thinks others don’t care as much as she and won’t do as well and 2) she doesn’t work efficiently.

        Even if Aria is the head of the organization, you can go to the board with your concerns.

      2. Lauren*

        I love how my recent review talked about my good family values, but how child care in-home was unacceptable and kids noise is a massive problem for my career and long-term development.

        1. Rainy*

          “Lauren has excellent written communication skills, but the sound of her keyboard clicking while she makes edits is a massive problem for her career and long-term development.”

          Thanks, boss. Really boosts my confidence in your critical thinking skills.

    3. Dennis Feinstein*

      I bet Ebeneezer Scroog- sorry Aria is just itching to replace all those pesky humans with ChatGPT…

    4. AlwhoisThatAl*

      Aria is the issue here, sadly she believes the old myth that 60+ hour weeks are normal and will help her career. Sadly she is already burning out by your description, so I would be tempted to wait it out.

      1. NumberBlocks*

        Regarding burnout, I wonder how much that’s factoring into how rude Aria is being. I imagine it’s an ouroboros of sorts: the more hours she works, the crankier she is, the more she snaps at her staff.

        1. OP 1*

          This is the crux of it – she is under tremendous pressure, and then snaps at her staff because of it. I’m starting to realize that the vast majority of times she is unreasonable, it is because the folks above her are putting unreasonable demands on her, and she is freaking out.

          1. Observer*

            In that case, you should really start looking for a new job. Normally I would say that it’s worth going over her head. But this sounds like an overall toxic culture that’s coming from the top.

            There is not much you can do to fix that.

          2. Lenora Rose*

            Which sounds like raising her behaviour with her higher ups is not likely to garner sympathy for you and your peers…

          3. Sunflower*

            That’s still not an acceptable reaction on her part, and she’s responsible for not perpetuating that cycle into you.

          4. Fives*

            I had a boss years ago who dealt with this. I left and moved elsewhere in the company. There were a number of reasons related to how she treated me, but the one I always remember first was the time she told me I was “immature” purely because I was single with no kids. That was about 15 years ago. Still single with no kids!

          5. Keymaster of Gozer*

            In that case, she’s not going to change until she literally breaks down. If the higher ups are the ones putting pressure on her then they won’t stop.

            Start looking for an exit.

          6. TeapotNinja*

            She shouldn’t be freaking out, but saying no to unreasonable demands.

            This is management 101 stuff.

    5. Ellis Bell*

      Whenever I have worked for someone like Aria, I begin by thinking I can handle the negging and pressure because my job output is awesome, and she’ll see that, and if she doesn’t, she doesn’t – but I’ll still have results to point to. My thinking is that it’ll only be partially bad, because she must have some sense in her position. What actually happens is that it’s 100 per cent bad; partly for demoralizing psychological reasons and partly for the bad practical outcomes you get when you follow a poor leader. So, I start off feeling quite stressed by the pressure, but somewhat sure that the good outcomes of my work will be noticed, and will relieve that pressure. So, I come up with a good result, but it’s totally ignored by Aria. The Arias of this world only see problems or strife, or reasons to exert pressure; so if I have the same result that she could get in a 12 hour day by better pacing during an 8 hour one, she’ll still conclude I can do better by working longer. If I do work longer, and I dare be tired and or less effective (even though she is too), then this will be seen as a lack of commitment. Aria’s lack of common sense will affect other areas too. She’ll set up a project that’s too ambitious, or too understaffed and she’ll just expect everyone to be robots in order to get it done, setting up the team and herself for failure. Even if you survive daily rounds of needlessly punishing Aria assault courses, why pour your positive energy into the negative well of “if you’re sleeping you’re not working”. You are never going to be able to impress or appease someone who can’t prioritize or understand being human.

      1. NumberBlocks*

        I’m a fed and partnered with a contracting team on a project. The contractors’ lead was an Aria. Several times I pointed out that burning out his staff would lead to a worse product with more mistakes, and that we needed to stop over-promising to the stakeholders. I could control what we promised to stakeholders, but I had no control over how many hours his staff worked.

        Overtime, he forced a few folks off the team, all for different reasons but burnout being on the list. Eventually, a valued member of the team threatened to quit if he didn’t get a vacation, and (not to get too lost in who belongs to which sub-contract) the Aria was forced to agree. The entire time the team member was gone, the Aria griped and complained about how inconvenient it was to take a vacation longer than a few days (even though he took week long vacations a few times a year).

        Even though I couldn’t control how many hours he and his team worked, I certainly wasn’t going to let him drive me crazy. I set firm boundaries for my own work and would frequently remind him of such. He may have grumbled behind my back, but at least he witnessed at least one person holding firm boundaries.

      2. Dona Florinda*

        Unfortunately I agree with this.
        Aria will only see the problems, never the progress, not matter how good you are at your job. (And in my experience, you have to let go of so much so your work will actually be considered good by their standards)

    6. Cat Tree*

      Years ago I had a potential future boss tell me how much she works, describing working long days and almost every weekend. She said this like she was proud of it and that I should follow her example. And even at the time I wondered – why? How does that benefit me in any way? It wasn’t even a particularly high-paying job/company within our industry, and it had taken her a long time to climb to middle management so she couldn’t claim that career progression made it worth it. She just worked all the time for no reason.

      She thought it was a great motivational speech. I thought it made company sound miserable. It was one of numerous issues there so I just quietly left for another job a few weeks later (I had already been looking and had interviews lined up).

      It’s such a weird flex to be proud of basically volunteering your time and effort to benefit a large corporation.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah. Sadly some people have no life except work, and such people are also horrible to work for. I’m committed to working to live rather than live to work, and I simply don’t understand people who identify so strongly with their jobs that it’s their whole life.

        1. JustaTech*

          I had a coworker (in academia) who worked every single weekend.
          He wasn’t any more productive than anyone else (he was arguably less productive), but he was in the lab all day Saturday and all day Sunday.
          Come to find out, that’s because his wife worked weekends and would only make him lunch if he was also working. This guy literally worked 7 days a week rather than figure out how to fix himself lunch two days a week.

          I had a friend who worked crazy hours for a while after breaking up with his girlfriend because he wasn’t ready to date again so he didn’t have anything else to do with his time so he worked. Ironically, he broke up with his girlfriend because she had too many hobbies and didn’t spend enough time at home.

      2. Alisaurus*

        When I was job-hunting earlier this year, I mentioned “work-life balance” in an interview and the hiring manager started griping about that being “a new buzzword with employees lately.”

        1. I Have RBF*

          Yeah, no. That would be an instant “Thank you for your time. This interview is over.”

          It’s not a buzzword, FFS. It’s a boundary.

          I’ve worked for “the actual minimum workweek is 60 hours” companies. It was toxic as hell.

      3. AnotherOne*

        my current boss works long hours. nights. weekends. doesn’t feel like he can take more vacations.

        and i’m sorta like- that’s awesome. glad that makes you happy.

        i’ve made it very clear that i don’t get paid enough for that.

        1. Mr. Shark*

          yes, I recently had a coworker indicate that they were busy with several other things while being asked to perform a certain task (after being directly asked by the manager why everyone wasn’t able to perform this certain task 5 times per day). Rather than take that as feedback, the manager said “well we (other managers) are up at 5 am every morning and taking meetings at night, so you should have time to do these tasks”. Like you, AnotherOne, I felt like just saying “we don’t get paid what you get paid.”

      4. Baron*

        I’ve worked in nonprofits where I really believed in the mission, and worked myself half to death. I’ve seen senior management roles where the expectation is 24/7 work. But those, for me, are the only exceptions. For a middle management-or-lower gig in the private sector? You get me for 35 hours a week, and at 4:30, I’m gone.

      5. Turquoisecow*

        Yeah I had a boss like that, sort of proud sort of martyr-like, “oh I was supposed to have anniversary dinner with the wife but I had 350 emails to answer, so we just got takeout.”

        I decided that while I was happy to pitch in and stay late or whatever if there was some actual urgent need (and I did), I wasn’t going to give up my personal life and sanity for this job that paid barely enough for me to live on and in which I was basically on the bottom rung of the later in terms of hierarchy. And I was a young single person at the time. I was not passionate about the job, it was fine but it was not in my dream industry or anything like that.

        (Now that I’m married and with a kid, I’m definitely not going to, but even at 29 I knew I needed to protect my own mental health.)

    7. Worldwalker*

      This. Aria is a person who thinks less of someone because they aren’t working during the time they are not at work. That is not a healthy situation.

    8. Hedgehog O'Brien*

      I worked for someone like Aria, whose work was basically his life. I could keep up before I had kids but after my oldest was born it just became so stressful. Even if I wanted to be constantly checking my email before and after work (I did not), I couldn’t, because now I had caregiving duties. He would continue sending me emails over the weekend expecting that I would read them by Monday. Called me multiple times in a row every time I was on vacation. I was on I remember one day when I got into work around 8am as usual only to be greeted curtly with “did you see my email?” The email he was referring to was sent at 6am that morning. I was like no sir, I did not. I woke up at 5:45, nursed my 5 month old baby, then pumped, then got him dressed, got myself dressed, handed him off to grandma, then drove here. At what point during all of that would I possibly be able to check my email.

      And sorry, but after working for multiple organizations that expected us to be plugged in after hours and over the weekend, I’m completely over it and I think anyone, regardless of their caretaking status, needs to be able to unplug when they get home. Maybe there are exceptions, but they should be just that – exceptions during an extremely busy time, not the rule. Nobody should be expected to live like this. /soapbox

      1. Turquoisecow*

        We didn’t have smartphones and I didn’t have a work laptop at the time but I had a boss who would be waiting at my desk when I came in because he had sent me an email like an hour and a half earlier (before working hours began, I was at most ten minutes late but he insisted on getting work like an hour early). He would explain the email to me while I turned on my computer and sat down, and act like he was having a panic attack over what was usually a very minor issue or task. I would calmly reassure him and get to work.

        Half the time it was something he probably could have done himself (he trained me and knew everything that i knew, though since I did it more often it was usually top of mind for me) and/or could easily have waited another few hours for me to do (like it was needed by end of day, not at 9 am) and didn’t even take that long to do.

    9. zuzu*

      Also, ask yourself if Aria is really overworked, or if she: 1) takes on too much and acts like a martyr because she has no boundaries about work and resents people who do; 2) works inefficiently and works long hours as a result and resents people who don’t dig themselves into holes; 3) is a workaholic and thinks everyone else should be, too; 4) is that special breed of nonprofit denizen who subsumes herself to the “mission” and thinks you can pay your rent with “mission” somehow; or 5) any or all of these.

    10. TG*

      I agree – I had a boss who was a charmer in the interview and then a micromanager. I had explained all through the interview process that I needed flexibility as I had a young child and was very open about it. Well he was a clock watcher and kept asking why my husband couldn’t do all the things I needed to do as a Mom. I gleefully quit after a year. And I should have left sooner . Please report it and then job search asap also in case.

  2. Tommy Girl*

    Oof, #3, that’s a lot of holidays – do some of them fall on the weekends hopefully? Too bad you don’t have one of my old jobs. ALL of our holidays were technically floating – so we basically got 10 or so extra days on top of our normal PTO. So you could work Christmas, Labor Day, 4th of July, etc if you wanted, though pretty much everyone took those days off. I wonder if you could propose something like that to your employers? It would mean working the secular holidays though (like Memorial Day, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, etc).

    1. Tommy Girl*

      All this holiday talk really got me thinking – I get 6 holidays now (MLK, Memorial, 4th July, Labor, Thanksgiving, Christmas) – that’s interesting that all but one are secular! Never really thought about that.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        In Ireland, our public holidays (where employers are supposed to basically either give a day off or double pay), are New Year’s day, 1st Monday in February (this is new since last year), St, Patrick’s day, Easter Monday, 1st Monday in May, 1st Monday in June, 1st Monday in August, last Monday in October, Christmas day and St. Stephen’s day (day after Christmas).

        And while Good Friday is not a public holiday, there is a sort of unspoken assumption that most employers will either give the day off or at least a half day, unless the job is essential or something like a supermarket, which usually only close for Christmas day, St. Stephen’s day, Easter Monday and New Year’s day.

        There is a lot of Catholic Christian influence. The 1st Monday in February was chosen because it is both St. Brigid’s day and it was the old Celtic holiday of Imbolc, marking the start of spring and while it was around for me too long to be sure, I assume the last Monday in October marks both Hallowe’en and All Saint’s. Now, when I say St. Brigid’s day was chosen, it was more a case of “we should have an extra public holiday, when will we put it? Well, we’ve nothing in February and that day has some meaning” rather than “it’s a saint’s day, it should be a holiday.” But it still does mean Christians, especially Catholics get a fair number of our holidays marked (actually some pagan holidays sort of are too, but that is because they are Celtic festivals) whereas people of other religions do not.

      2. Cj*

        your comment brings up the question I had when reading the original letter. is Thanksgiving a secular holiday, or a religious one? I mean, aren’t you thanking God? and if it is religious, is it specifically Christian, or not?

        or do most people just look at it as a day to be with family and be thankful in general, not necessarily to God?

        if it is generally viewed as a secular holiday was that the original intention, or a more recent interpretation?

        1. lunchtime caller*

          I don’t think you are thanking God, actually. That’s why it’s an American holiday and not say, a worldwide Christian one. The origin is the pilgrim and native peoples nonsense (essentially a fairy tale about the early days of the country, iirc) so you’re just thanking the general community for you not starving, I suppose.

          1. Beany*

            I agree that it’s not *really* a religious holiday, though I think most people involved in the events would definitely have been thanking (their version of a Christian) God.

            And while it’s definitely not a global celebration, I don’t think that’s an argument for it not being tied to a global religion. E.g. many (most) countries that had a Christian tradition have a national “saint’s day”, and some of these have become de facto national holidays for their countries (e.g. St Patrick for Ireland).

            1. Retired Accountant*

              I think of it as the U.S. version of a harvest festival, which probably in many cultures would involve giving thanks to some deity but also being all about tasty food.

              1. Worldwalker*

                That’s pretty much it. Consider your typical Thanksgiving iconography: turkeys, pumpkins, cornucopias, autumn leaves, the occasional Pilgrim. None of that is religious; it’s all harvest festival stuff.

                As far as giving thanks, you can thank the Christian god, or the Lady, or Ceres, or Mother Nature, or just the logos of the universe. What Lincoln said generations ago doesn’t constrain who anyone gives thanks for a fruitful harvest to — if anyone/anything at all. You can also just eat. Harvest festivals worldwide are good for that.

            2. metadata minion*

              The native people involved in whatever joint harvest festival actually happened, if any, would presumably not have been Christian.

        2. Hlao-roo*

          From a brief scan of the Wikipedia page on Thanksgiving (United States), it was originally a day to give thanks to God. Abraham Lincoln said it was a day for “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

          In the present day, most people just look at is as a day to be with family and to be thankful in general. I don’t know when (or how gradually) that shift occurred. Personally, I view Thanksgiving as a secular/civic holiday and not a religious one.

          1. Heather*

            that’s all accurate I think, but if i say on this site that i celebrate Christmas as a secular/family tradition holiday I’ll be ripped to shreds about how it’s still _really_ a religious holiday…

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Eh, I think that’s an inaccurate read of previous conversations about it. What’s come up here repeatedly is that people who celebrate Christmas should stop telling people of other faith traditions (or no faith tradition) that it’s secular and that they shouldn’t see it as a specifically Christian holiday.

        3. Yorick*

          Thanksgiving is definitely not a Christian holiday. You give thanks more generally, and express gratefulness to people in your life.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            It’s the day we are thankful for pie. The following day we are thankful for pajamas, and leftover pie.

              1. Falling Diphthong*

                While that was my initial phrasing to get at the grander meaning of the holiday, the local truth is that I hate stuffing.

        4. Kit Kendrick*

          Thanksgiving was originally Thanksgiving Mass and was religious. It’s moved into secular space since then, though, and I don’t know anyone who still observes the Christian version of the holiday.

          1. Silver Robin*

            I do want to note that in my experience/conversations with others, the religiosity around Thanksgiving tracks somewhat with how intensely Christian a family is (it does not track with other religions). Like, it definitely fits into the “America is a Christian Nation” narrative very neatly for the folks who subscribe to that.

            That said, for everyone else, Thanksgiving can be/is entirely secular and a national
            American holiday. Often one of the holidays immigrant families get really into as part of assimilation/adoption of US identity (like my parents). Or one might be Indigenous and have a very different feeling on who is doing the Thanksgiving and for what. Or it might just be that really nice excuse for a feast and time with family.

            1. Bee*

              Hah, I was thinking “of course it’s not a religious holiday, there’s no Thanksgiving Mass,” and then realized there are probably a lot of people who think it IS who also don’t think Catholics count as Christian.

            2. Filosofickle*

              That would help explain why I have never seen even the faintest religious overtones to Thanksgiving my life — while my parents were raised in nominally Christian homes, as a nuclear family we opted out. (But even visiting other families for Thanksgiving I never noticed this so I am pretty gobsmacked it had a religious origin. I’m agnostic/atheist and tend to pick up on overtones!)

            3. Mr. Shark*

              I don’t see that as true. My family is very Christian and my mother is very Catholic, and at no time has it really been considered a religious holiday.
              Obviously there’s prayer before the Thanksgiving dinner, but there’s prayer before every meal, so it definitely is a secular holiday.
              The only Christian holiday that is observed by my work is Christmas itself.

              1. Silver Robin*

                Note that I said it “somewhat” tracks with intensity of Christian identity/practice and specifically mentioned the perspective of America as a Christian Nation being a good predictor of that. I was in no way making a general claim about every Christian or even every particularly religious/observant Christian.

          2. Anna*

            Wait, really? I have never heard of such a thing- Mass is for Catholics and I’ve always heard of the original Thanksgiving as involving the Puritan colonists. Where did you learn this, can you share more info?

        5. Modesty poncho*

          I made this distinction once to my parents as a baby atheist. You can be thankful without giving thanks to anything specific.

          For me it’s a good reminder to essentially check my privilege. Gee, I really am lucky to have all the things I have and I shouldn’t take that for granted. No religion necessary

        6. Bee*

          I’d say Thanksgiving is part of the Christian hegemony in the United States, but isn’t in itself a religious holiday. (Much like saying “God Bless America” doesn’t make the Fourth of July a religious holiday.)

          1. NonnyJew*

            In my experience, many ultra-Orthodox Jews (not Modern Orthodox Jews, which I’m assuming LW3 is), do treat Thanksgiving as an at least Christian-associated holiday and do not celebrate it. So, the Jewish day schools where most students are going to go on to secular colleges have Thanksgiving off, but a lot of the yeshivas of the kind that try to get away with minimal secular education are going to be open.

        7. Anon Admin*

          It’s a secular holiday that the evangelicals are working overtime to reframe as Christian, same as they insist that our agnostic/atheist/some Christian/had their own private deal Founding Fathers accidentally enshrined “separation of Church and State” into law.

          1. Tom*

            And yet, multiple states had established churches at the time…

            “Separation of church and state” was a Jeffersonian formulation that shows up in one of his letters. That’s it. The idea that people’s religion wouldn’t influence their worldview, and therefore their politics, would have been utterly alien to most people at the time.

            1. TeaCoziesRUs*

              Exactly! The phrase comes from an 1802 letter – when Jefferson was president and a decade after the ratification of the Bill of Rights – to further explain what he thought of the establishment clause. He meant it as there should be no established “one for all” church, whose leadership would have positions of political power, where elected leaders had to pass some sort of religious test specifically built by a church, whose coffers would be filled by a church tax, etc. Most of the colonies had a state-sponsored church (Maryland for Catholics, Virginia had Anglicans, the New England colonies were some variation of puritan, etc.), but the US government did not want to endorse any one branch of Christianity as the NATIONAL church.

        8. Burger Bob*

          I am Christian, and my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, and no, I don’t think it’s a religious holiday as such. It was explicitly set up by the government and isn’t celebrated by Christians worldwide. So to me it’s secular, though of course religious people may choose to direct their thankfulness toward whatever deity they believe in.

          (And actually one of the reasons it’s my favorite holiday is specifically because it’s a secular holiday but doesn’t tend to get as weirdly nationalistic as most of the other secular American holidays.)

      3. Morning reader*

        Actually all those holidays are secular; more precisely, federal holidays in the US. Post offices, banks, etc are closed on December 25. Based historically on a religious observance, yes, although it could be argued that many of the others are based on religious observances as well. Whether or not Christmas is “secular” could be another long discussion perhaps best suited for a Friday or weekend thread. (To me, it is secular, mostly about lights and shiny decorations, gift giving and feasting. But I can sympathize with those raised in non-Christian religions who find it very in-your-face religious no matter how separated it is from its origins.)

        Anyway, for the purposes of this discussion, it might be helpful to view the standard holidays for this new workplace as “standard” or “federal” rather than religious. Depending on the workplace culture, many/most people won’t think of the assigned holidays as religious. If the place is open on federal holidays, it wouldn’t hurt to offer to work then in exchange for these extra days off. It could avoid having to take them with no pay.

        LW might also want to negotiate an early leave time on fridays. (maybe a 9-9-9-9-4?) Again depending on location. Wherever I’ve worked, on the east coast and in Chicago area, the sun goes down in winter before 5 pm. Even in my current late-sundown western Michigan, depending on your commute, you’d have to leave work before 5 to make it home by sundown.

        Good luck with your new, potentially difficult workplace LW! And happy new year, in advance.

        1. fueled by coffee*

          …The “Is Christmas secular” discussion has been held in this comment section many, many times. It’s never a productive conversation.

          1. Morning reader*

            True, sorry, didn’t mean to start that again. Point being it might not be productive to say, “you get your religious holidays off, I should get mine too,” when those are not “religious” holidays, they are federal holidays. Better to focus on your own needs and ask for the specific schedule flexing that will allow for your religious practice; comparison is not useful.

            1. metadata minion*

              The fact that the dates of major Christian holidays are federal holidays means that Christians do get their religious holidays off. You really can’t separate the two.

          2. Burger Bob*

            Oh I’ve found a lot of benefit in that conversation whenever it rolls around. I think it’s really good for those of us in the majority culture to get a periodic reminder that our holidays are catered to in a way other people’s aren’t, and even though we may not personally celebrate the religious aspects of a certain holiday, that doesn’t mean it suddenly stops being a religious holiday. It still can feel intrusive to people of other cultures/faiths when there’s social pressure to join in.

        2. Jack Russell Terrier*

          As long as you don’t have to accrue your Federal Holidays. A place I once worked, you did. A Jewish chap said he wanted to work Christmas as he shouldn’t have to use his accrued PTO for a Christain Holiday.

          They let him work christmas.

    2. Remote work, remote minds*

      LW3, let me first say I fully support your desire to take the High Holy Days off.

      That said, you write, “…I’d also want more WFH flexibility related to preparing for holidays…I don’t see why they would be willing to make an exception for me, even though it’s a question of religious freedom. To be clear, it’s not like it matters whether I work remotely or what particular hours I work.”

      Please stop conflating a desire to work from home with religious accommodations. The two have nothing to do with each other. All you are doing is undermining the notion that religious accommodations ought to be uncontroversial.

      Companies have many good reasons to want people to work from the office. We have debated this point many times on this site, so I would repeat the case against remote work here, but I would note that Zoom — Zoom! — is now requiring employees to return to the office, at least on a hybrid basis.

      1. EchoGirl*

        There may actually be legit preparation that’s easier to do when WFH, though. Whether that qualifies as a religious accommodation is admittedly a gray area, but it doesn’t sound like OP wants to falsely claim religious accommodations just to be allowed to work from home, but that WFH would genuinely make preparing for the holidays easier. (Which, I can see that — some holidays, at least when practiced in the Orthodox way, actually do require pre-holiday preparation that would probably be manageable from home, and with a small amount of flexibility could even be done without diminishing active working hours, but would be a much bigger pain if away from home.)

        1. Allonge*

          Still, flexibility on WFH may or may not be available in general.

          Which does not mean that OP should not ask! But there is a non-negligible chance that it’s just not there. And if that is the case, I imagine ‘it would make my life easier’ is a different category of argument to have it anyway than ‘it’s a religious obligation’.

          1. EchoGirl*

            Not arguing that. It just seemed like the top comment was insinuating that LW was basically abusing the religious accommodation to get WFH, so I was just saying the request seems legitimate. Whether it’s reasonable is another question entirely, but I don’t think there’s a reason to assume LW is being deceptive.

            1. Allonge*

              I see, thanks – then we agree, I just did not read it like that. And for the record, I really don’t think that asking to WFH on these preparation days is unreasonable! It’s definitely something that the company should consider if possible.

              Unfortunately what I think does not help OP.

            2. LW3*

              Exactly—thank you! And Allison has made it clear that prep isn’t a legal right, so I won’t ask.

              It didn’t feel great to be accused of “undermining” something, especially when they are projecting a WFH agenda that I don’t have. This is one of my biggest concerns in emailing HR at all. I don’t want to ask for too much or play any cards and therefore jeopardize other people’s needs.

              1. Allonge*

                I am not sure it will make sense in your case (if this was already discussed, it probably does not), but asking if there is any flexibility on remote work is an appropriate question in general!

                Maybe even with an example of how it would make religious obligations easier, to put it in context. In this sense it’s probably better that you are in touch with HR and not your future boss – if they say no, it’s more likely to stay there and not make it to your boss.

              2. Yikes on Bikes*

                I used to work with someone who observed the Sabbath. She ended up being granted permission to WFH on Fridays in the winter months simply because she was actually able to work more hours if she worked from home. If she worked in the office she had to leave by ~2-3pm but if she was at home she could work until ~3:30-4:30pm (depending on sunset time).

        2. bamcheeks*

          I was assuming it wasn’t just for high holy days but more frequent things like wanting to work from home on Fridays so you don’t have to leave early to get home before Shabbat starts. I had Jewish colleagues who finished early on Fridays back when working from home wasn’t common in our sector, in winter that could easily mean finishing at 2pm to get home before the sun sets. In the UK, accommodating that would be considered good practice from an EDI perspective, but companies wouldn’t be legally required to offer it. But it’s the kind of thing that working from home has dramatically smoothed out for people.

          1. Jackalope*

            Yea, this is what I was thinking too. It’s probably unlikely that the company would add WFH just for this reason, given the way the OP described them. But if they do have WFH as a hybrid option, for example, then it would make sense for the OP to have Friday as one of their WFH days to facilitate prep for Shabbat (assuming Jewishness; if they aren’t Jewish, substitute another day as needed). That way they are effectively finishing work right when they stop work rather than when they get home from their commute, which could add who knows how long onto the end of the day. Again, if the company does have WFH this wouldn’t be a huge shift for them and would be an easy way to accommodate this employee while still getting the same amount of work.

            1. Yikes on Bikes*

              Ha I posted similar above before scrolling down to see this has been discussed :) My former colleague who observed the Sabbath was allowed to WFH on Fridays simply because she could work more hours, rather than have to leave to get home by sunset.

        3. Ann*

          Yes. Sometimes just the being home helps. I assume these are Jewish holidays based on the timing. So these start at sunset the night before the holiday date. And for Yom Kippur, LW would fast from sunset to sunset on the next day, so if they’re home it’s much easier to eat a decent meal before the fast starts. If you’re in the office with a long commute, you’re likely getting home after the fast starts and running on fumes the next day.

          1. Silver Robin*

            I am deeply impressed with anyone who manages to work through a YK fast…I take fasting days off regardless of other observances because nobody at work needs to see my hungry brain.

          2. kendall^2*

            If they’re Orthodox Jewish, then the prohibition on work, using tools, etc, starts when the fast does, so by definition they’d need to be home before the fast starts….

            1. Ann*

              Yup. But it doesn’t say anywhere that they have to eat before the fast starts. If you get stuck on a train on the way home and miss dinner… tough luck, you’ve missed dinner.

              1. NonnyJew*

                But that would be a matter of poor preparation, not your employer not respecting a religious obligation.

                To be clear, if it is a job that includes WFH and flex options, there’s no reason not to avail yourself of WFH permission the day before and arrange your hours as you please, but if this is not the case, there are enough actual Jewish holidays that it isn’t reasonable to start asking for additional accommodation.

        4. M*

          >There may actually be legit preparation that’s easier to do when WFH, though. Whether that qualifies as a religious accommodation is admittedly a gray area,

          Wanting prep time for a holiday is not a religious accomodation, it’s not a gray area at all.

          > it doesn’t sound like OP wants to falsely claim religious accommodations just to be allowed to work from home, but that WFH would genuinely make preparing for the holidays easier.


          That’s not a meaningful difference. LW has clearly complained about the lack of remote work capabilities generally anyways. But yes, wanting to WFH to prep in advance for a real holiday, and calling it a ‘question of religious freedom’ is still muddling desire to work from home with real accomodations requested.

          1. EchoGirl*

            I meant that there may be genuine burdens related to the religious observance that would be mitigated by WFH (someone elsewhere in this thread gave the example of being able to eat before a fast without worrying about losing the opportunity in a commute — I would call that a legitimate concern related to a religious observance). If it’s just “ordinary” prep (like cooking for the holiday), then no, but if it’s a need tied to specific religious obligations, I would in fact consider that a gray area.

      2. bamcheeks*

        I don’t really get this comment? I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that in a country which has a working week based on the Christian week, the increased flexibility of working from home makes it easier for people with other religious traditions. Companies can want people to work in the office: that doesn’t mean that workers aren’t allowed to talk about the benefits of working from home.

        1. doreen*

          I think that’s because for the most part religious obligations that prevent people from working in the office would also prevent them from working at home. Additionally , working Sunday instead of Friday does not always go along with WFH – it’s possible to have a job where you can work on site Sunday- Thursday or a WFH job with a strict M-F 9-5 schedule.

          1. Bureaucratte*

            But if you have to be home by sunset on Friday, working from home on Friday makes this much more possible

            1. doreen*

              It does – but no more than letting you work Sunday instead of Friday or changing your schedule so you work an extra hour Mon – Thurs and leave at 1pm on Friday , or working 6-2 instead of 9-5 on Friday or letting you take vacation time starting at whatever time you need to leave Friday. Any of those will get you home by sundown – and people were making those adjustments to get home before sundown before remote work was a thing.

        2. Grith*

          The point is that there are about 17-bajillion reasons why WFH may or may not suit any one particular job or company. By wrapping the requirement for religious observance days in with a desire to work from home (even if it is just on preparation days), it means a companies reasons for not allowing WFH can also be easily conflated with a reason to deny the religious holidays off. Don’t give them that opportunity.

          The OP benefits from keeping the two issues separate. A) I have religious days of observation that I require an accommodation for – which might include echanging those days for WFH on Christian-holiday days, but that’s a detail that can be hashed out as part of discussions. B) I would like the opportunity to work from home generally, but specifically on prep-days ahead of the holy days.

          The former is a legal requirement the employer is required to give, and so should be brought up ASAP. The latter is a non-legally-required desire, and so should be saved until the OP has settled in, has seen how much of an impact being in the office on prep-days has and has seen if there are actually legit reason for being in the office that they haven’t anticipated. Trying to negotiate a major change to the company culture and policies based on a want rather than a need at this early stage is a good way to get an offer pulled.

        3. mf*

          I think this poster was just offended there actually be any benefits of working from home. It’s clear they are mad about remote work and decided to make this debate about that topic even though it very much is not.

      3. Ellis Bell*

        My school’s term ends quite late this year, just a few days before Christmas. The last day of the term is often an all staff work day and this year we are going to have a work from home day, for the first time ever (not counting Covid). This is happening purely because it lands so close to Christmas and people will have less preparation time than usual.

      4. ghost_cat*

        I agree that this is conflating a desire to work from home with religious accommodations. Being prepared is not a religious accommodation. We all have needs that require preparation, e.g. child care, aged care, travel, study.

        1. Spencer Hastings*

          When she said that in the letter, I was thinking of things that have their own rituals before the holiday itself, like searching your house for chametz before Passover. Moreover, that specifically has to be done at sunset, so (depending on her location and when the sun actually sets) she’d probably want to either leave early or work from home to make sure she’s there in time. If that’s not eligible for religious accommodations, I find that kind of surprising.

          1. doreen*

            If it specifically has to be done on a certain day at a certain time, I would consider that a religious obligation in itself. I thought she was talking about more general preparations – shopping , cooking , cleaning that aren’t required to be done on a specific day and time.

          2. Smithy*

            I used to work in Jerusalem for a local nonprofit that balanced Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Druze holiday schedules among employees – and as you might imagine the end result was actually a fairly rigid set of guidelines of when we got time off and when we didn’t, and was in line with Israeli employment law.

            Holidays like Passover and Sukkot that last many days actually resulted in a week of 5 hour work days – where it was acknowledged that there were festivities. But unless it was a true “no work” holiday, we had those 5 hour days (4 hour days on the day before a holiday). If you wanted to take those days off to celebrate or prepare with family in a more dedicated way, you had to take vacation time.

            This isn’t so much to dictate what range of accommodations could be provided in the diaspora, particularly when the conversation is between HR, a hiring manager and a few employees. But just to give some context of what this looks like when there are larger numbers and how to distinguish the religious holiday ritual preparation of searching for chametz or buying a Christmas tree that might not be formally acknowledged as a holiday.

            I just think that when talking to HR about you want, it’s helpful to be clear about what are the holidays you need and what is the flexibility that helps you show up at work as your more authentic self. For some people it’s having their birthdays off, more early dismissal for Pride month happy hours, attending school events, prepping for religious festivities.

            1. NonnyJew*

              I live in Israel. What you described isn’t typical. Employers give off for actual “no work days,” as you call them, of which there are fewer in Israel for complicated religious reasons (seven as opposed to 13). Since holidays begin in the evening, you also usually get a half day the day before the holiday. But most people do not have shortened or off days on the middle days of Sukkot and Pesach (where work is permitted, unlike on the first and last days where it is not), unless you work in specific sectors like education (schools are off) or government (where government bodies may be off or work on shorter schedule).

              Even holidays like Purim and Tisha B’Av, which include religious obligations but in which work is permitted, are not normally vacation days. It is your obligation to get to a second Megillah reading and pass out mishloach manot before work begins, and your job to manage working while fasting.

              Israeli companies do tend to give more vacation days than the US (not nearly European level, but at least 15 days to start with, rather than ten).

              I don’t know how Muslim and Christian holidays are treated in the workplace (I’m in academia), but students can get excused absences for their own holidays, and we are not allowed to give exams on a list of Christian, Muslim and Druze holidays. Students are expected to come in during Ramadan, though in practice we usually cut students slack in evening classes so they can go home for Iftar (break fast), which is a big cultural thing.

        1. Allonge*

          Really? Acknowledging that some companies have a good reason to want employees to work at least hybrid is the same as expecting everyone to work 80 hours / week and discriminating based on family status?

          1. NumberBlocks*

            To me, it’s on the spectrum of prioritizing the employer before the employee. You’re right, it’s not of the same magnitude. With that said, my issue with the recent revocations of WFH is that I have yet to see a legitimate business need or benefit to the employee. The most I’ve seen some employers say is teams can “collaborate” better (were they not collaborating during the pandemic?).

            I’m always on the side of workers’ rights. For me, I’m at least going to question if I see someone prioritizing the employer over the employee.

            1. cabbagepants*

              I’d say it’s more just plain vanilla capitalism vibes. Companies prioritize their own needs; this is not new.

              1. Gyne*

                I’m not sure what you mean here – a “company” doesn’t have thoughts and feelings. It’s the people with decision making capacity within the company that are deciding policies and procedures. Prioritizing the needs of the business to help keep the lights on and revenue coming in to make payroll is reasonable.

            2. DJ Abbott*

              My office needs people physically there. We work with both paper and electronic documents. We have clients come into the office for help, and to drop off paperwork.
              Most of us are on hybrid schedules. Yesterday a manager who was working from home called me to rescan a document that had not been correctly scanned. This is just one small example of why we have to have people in the office, and it’s not just management BS.

            3. Magpie*

              It sounds like this is the LW’s first job in this field. I work in tech as well and almost all entry level tech jobs are in person or mostly so. This is because there’s a lot of learning that happens by watching other people do their jobs, hearing conversations between colleagues, etc., and it’s easier for senior level employees to see when the junior needs help with something and to offer training. It kinda rubbed me the wrong way when the LW said so confidently and their job doesn’t need to be in person because, while that’s often true for senior employees, those just starting out have a lot more need to be in person for the first couple years while they’re learning. It also makes me wonder about the holiday swapping. I’d be worried about a new tech employee with only a few months experience working completely alone on Christmas because everyone else is off. They’ll almost certainly need assistance with something and will be less able to do their job that day with no one else around to offer it.

              1. LW3*

                I wrote the letter in a stressed state, and it’s sloppier than it would have been had I remembered how nitpicky the internet is. There are obviously many arguments both for and against working from home, and it doesn’t feel relevant to rehash them here. However, it is a fact that there is nothing concrete requiring 100% in-person attendance at this job (such as access to physical resources). The reason it is an in-person job is cultural, exactly as you’re describing. While that may be valuable in general, nothing about that would preclude some flexibility around religious holidays, so it does not seem relevant.

                1. Hiring Mgr*

                  That makes sense, but if this is truly a “notoriously abusive workplace”, I wouldn’t hold your breath that they’ll look at it logically. Can you find a job somewhere else?

                2. Donkey Hotey*

                  Respectfully, are we “nitpicky” or are we trying to find meaning? We can’t get the vibe if we don’t know you, so your words are all we have to go on. It’s easy to forget that it’s the writer’s job to make clear.

                  I do empathize with your situation – I was fortunate that when I was more observant in my minority religion that I worked a 24/7/365 job and the Christians were always happy to trade working my holidays for me working theirs. But I’d advise against joining the Navy for their holiday benefits. :-)

              2. bamcheeks*

                I think this is completely fair, but I do think companies can make stuff like this much clearer to employees, especially recent graduates. There is lots of stuff in the media about employers wanting workers back in the office, which frequently comes down to “we want people where we can see them, also our rental revenues”. There are good, worker-friendly reasons for wanting junior staff to have easy, face-to-face access to senior staff, and for companies to not negotiate starting salaries: both of these things *could have* been communicated to LW rather than just presented as the status quo and not needing any justification.

                I don’t really hold it against LW for thinking they could do *some* work from home, though. I’m fairly well up on the recent research in the UK around WFH and mostly it is showing that there are advantages to being in the office for at least a proportion of the week, especially for new workers, but very little showing that being in the office *every* day and never having the opportunity to work from home benefits anyone, outside of areas that need on-site coverage.

                1. Allonge*

                  I totally agree that it’s not unreasonable to want to WFH at least on some days (as long as the specific job profile allows for it, as it does for OP).

                  I am just not sure that it’s something that can be achieved at a company that does not allow remote work. Even for a ‘superstar’ type of recruit, that might be impossible (and long term, even undesirable – remote work at a company not set up for this is not an easy thing to do!)

              3. JimmyJab*

                Every new hire at my job (primarily wfh, with some infrequent in-office days) starts just as remote as they want to be, maybe excepting the first day when they pick up their equipment. Just saying that needing new hires in office is not universal.

                1. Magpie*

                  It’s not about being a new hire. It’s about experience in the industry. In tech, there’s a steep learning curve when you’re first starting out and the first couple years is all about learning from other people. Once they’re more established in the field and are able to work more independently, working remotely is a lot easier. At my company, we hire senior level people from all over the country since they’re able to work fully remotely and do their jobs effectively. Many of them have never set foot in an office. Entry level positions are only hired from the area near our headquarters and are expected to be fully in office for at least the first year.

                2. Avery*

                  Agreed. I can’t speak to tech specifically, but my first job out of paralegal school, I had an hour or two in the office with my boss to arrange paperwork and things, then fully remote from there on out. It went swimmingly, and I’ve been remote ever since. Not all new hires, even ones without prior work experience in the field, need to be in the office, assuming those above them know what they’re doing regarding remote work. (Which I’m all too aware is a big assumption…)

            4. NotRealAnonForThis*

              “Collaboration” and “efficiency” are cited here. Its not department specific, its a blanket statement of why everyone must be in the office.

              And its all fecal matter of the bull, cow, and calf.

              This week I’ve had no in-person meetings, 6 call-in/internet meetings, my supervisor has been out of office for meetings, and I’ve talked to two co-workers. This is not an abnormal week, either, for anyone in my department. I’m not exactly sure where “collaboration” comes in.

              “Efficiency”? Well, if I had a hybrid schedule, I’d probably invest in the extra monitors so that I’d have them at home. Literally what makes me more efficient is not having to toggle things around on my laptop screen. Not spending 2 hours a day commuting would be arguably more efficient, but that’s apparently not what they’re talking about.

            5. Observer*

              The most I’ve seen some employers say is teams can “collaborate” better (were they not collaborating during the pandemic?).

              There is some evidence that physical presence does increase and improve some types of collaboration.

              Making full collaboration when people are remote, truly seamless takes a fairly large investment. And if you have any security concerns? It’s a lot of money and other resources.

              And using cloud based services doesn’t really help all that much.

              1. I Have RBF*

                Making full collaboration when people are remote, truly seamless takes a fairly large investment.


                Zoom and Slack, same as for hybrid, and a culture of using them even on an ad hoc basis. If the company has any remote or hybrid people they already have made the “fairly large investment.”

                This is a solved problem in the software field, it’s just that most old school managers are not able to deal with not being able to micromanage their employees, and chastise them at any time during the day, so they call it “collaboration” to force their subordinates to dance to their tune. Pathetic, really. Coming into an office to sit on Zoom calls with people in other places is just a ridiculous waste of resources (commute expenses, office expenses, etc.)

                Unless it requires physical access to non-portable hardware (labs, warehouse, etc.), face to face customer interaction (retail, hotel, government services, etc.), or high security data (SCIF, high clearance) there’s no rational reason to require that people work from an office. Video conferencing and chat are as real-time as you could want.

                1. ADidgeridooForYou*

                  This seems kinda aggressive. There are pros and cons to remote environments just like there are pros and cons to in-person ones. There’s no one answer for everyone. I work remotely, but I do admit there’s a positive difference in seeing my coworkers face-to-face vs. on video. Actually, I just read a study about how loneliness is at an all time high in the US, and a lot of it is due to people’s transition to an increasingly online environment and away from real life interactions.

                  Now, does that mean every office needs to be in-person and that there aren’t managers who are doing it to be micro-managey? No, of course not. But this take seems a bit uncharitable.

                2. Observer*

                  Zoom and Slack, same as for hybrid, and a culture of using them even on an ad hoc basis.


                  Even assuming that you’ve made sure that everyone has the right equipment and workspace, being able to have conversations is only a part of collaboration. Using Email / Zoom / Slack (or their analogues) as your primary way to share data, documents and information is a recipe for trouble.

                  there’s no rational reason to require that people work from an office.

                  There are a number of studies coming out that say otherwise. From what I can see, hybrid work seems to be the best for most situations where it’s possible.

                  I say this as a real proponent of the ability to work remotely, and as someone who HAS pushed my employer to make the investment. It’s paid off for us, but there is no doubt that making things truly seamless has cost us money, and that for many functions having people on a hybrid schedule is working better than the fully remote situation we had during the height of the pandemic.

          2. bamcheeks*

            I didn’t read it as an acknowledgment (which is fair enough!), but closing down any alternative argument. “Employers want X, that takes priority over what might be good for workers”, which I do think it Aria vibes!

            1. Allonge*

              I can see that – to me though it’s more like an intention not to reopen the legitimacy of companies deciding whether they allow WFH or not argument here, on this post. It’s not like this is the time we will convince each other!

          3. Observer*

            Acknowledging that some companies have a good reason to want employees to work at least hybrid

            Except that that is not what is at issue. The OP’s (potential) company does not allow *any* WFH, not even hybrid.

            1. Allonge*

              Sure, but that makes it less likely that they will go for an exception for OP, and they will have an excellent reason not to give it as a religious (or any) accommodation: they are not set up for it.

              Put another way: if someone needs WFH flexibility, they are best served by finding a job at a place that allows that, and negotiate from there.

      5. HannahS*

        I don’t know very many Christians in non-shift work jobs who are expected to work until 5pm on December 24th and return to work at 8:00 on Boxing Day, but Jews are expected to do the equivalent, for every single one of our major holidays.

        The OP is making an equity point; it’s an extension of religious accommodation to understand that making an employee work until 5pm on Yom Kippur means that they have to get home, eat and drink, shower and change (multiplied by the number of children if present) and make it to synagogue before sunset in September, and then they will not eat or drink for 25 hours, before returning to work at their usual start time the day after. It would make things a lot easier to work from home the day before and after.

        1. Baby Yoda*

          I don’t know very many Christians in non-shift work jobs who are expected to work until 5pm on December 24th and return to work at 8:00 on Boxing Day…

          In over 35 years in my field I’ve only worked one place that routinely closed early on 12/24, and we’ve always been back to work first thing on the 26th — unless you used your PTO.

          1. Ann*

            There are definitely accommodations. Some companies do let their employees go home early that day. Mine is unpredictable – some years they tack on a couple of hours as bonus time off, some years they don’t. In any case there’s an expectation that major meetings aren’t happening late that day, and things may be delayed in general by people in and outside the company taking the day off, traveling, etc.

            We usually do the same thing for Jewish High Holidays though – trying to not schedule late meetings and being aware some people might be out. Someone goofed one year and scheduled a department meeting the night before Yom Kippur, and it wasn’t caught till it was too late to reschedule. A bunch of people were out, including a few from senior management, because the fast starts at sunset and people are trying to squeeze in a normal dinner before that. The whole meeting was an hour of “we have to push x discussion to next month because the presenter isn’t here” and “let’s move that discussion too, until everyone can be here.”

          2. Lenora Rose*

            in over 25 years working general office work, I’ve rarely been in a place where you got Christmas Eve off as a given, but leaving early was not uncommon at all, even if you couldn’t plan around exactly when, and Boxing Day is always a full day off — to the point where if Christmas and Boxing Day fall on a weekend you get a weekday off in equivalence. (Canada).

            There is also no universal obligation to be in a specific place at a specific time on Christmas Eve; all church decisions about Christmas Eve are denomination specific, family decisions are personal, and none are tied to a sunset that will be around 4:30 PM at this latitude.

          3. Anon Admin*

            My company is open both days: the 24th and the 26th. The 24th we often get to close at 3pm. But the 26th the day starts at 9am as usual. I’m in the US and this has been standard throughout my (non-retail, non-shift work) career.

          4. So Tired*

            Sure, those days off may not be a given, but it’s very normalized that people may take off the day before and after, indeed many will even take off multiple days!, in order to travel, to prepare, spend time with family, etc. So really, a Jewish employee asking for the day before Passover starts to make sure their house is free of chamaetz, or requesting to work from home on Fridays so that they don’t have to worry about traveling after sunset before Shabbat, is an entirely reasonable thing to request. And I don’t think it’s out of line to make the comparison that for the main Christian holiday it’s completely normalized to take a week or two off to travel and see family/friends, but that for the major Jewish holidays a lot of employees are expected to celebrate around work in a way that their Christian colleagues may not be for their holidays.

            I realize that the OP isn’t talking about requesting more time off to travel for the High Holy Days (if I did in deed read the subtext correctly) so I won’t derail too much in that direction. But I wanted to point out that “preparing” for a holiday doesn’t necessarily mean going out to grocery shop or pick up the dry cleaning, and there are reasons that that the OP is considering requesting that those preparations be accommodated.

        2. Caroline*

          It would make it easier, and when the OP has been at the company a little while, they could definitely enquire whether WFH on those types of days would be a possibility. Given that there are apparently 14 holy observance days that they want, I think it is quite likely that they will get those times precisely and no other accommodations, because it is somewhat likely to be substantially more than any other employee gets, for anything other than urgent medical necessity or unavoidable emergency. The fact that some observances have things like fasting and prep is not something the company would be terribly concerned with, imo. It would be hard to make a case that it should be, particularly for someone brand-new, unless it is a widely-held thing amongst the employees, which would surely come out as time went on anyway. For those things, they could use some of their PTO, surely?

          I think it’s actually a great idea that they could put forward the notion of working the likely-unpopular Christmas and possibly Easter hours in exchange for PTO for those prep days / times. That might work very well, but again, as a brand-new employee, it might be tricky to swing, as distinct from the specific religious accommodation days. Worth asking though.

          1. Head sheep counter*

            14 days is a lot of time off at irregular times. So its basically vacation plus holidays (if the office closes for the given holidays vs allows folks to work). If one can get lots of time off up front… good for them. But I agree that the company isn’t going to have a lot of other flexibility or interesting flexibility beyond the negotiated time off. Why would they?

        3. Some Words*

          Worker in the U.S. here. I work in banking. With very few exceptions, when the Federal Reserve’s open, we’re open. December 24th isn’t treated as a holiday. Some years the big-wigs let us cut out a couple hours early, other years it’s a regular work day. And they won’t inform us ahead of time, so nobody can make plans. Anyone who wants more than that has to use PTO.

          1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

            Same with law. If the court is open, we are open. I have had hearings on December 24. No one was happy about it, but we did it. Then they open right back up on December 26.

            I think the bigger problem is LW wants to switch her holidays for Christian ones. Unfortunately, the way things are usually set up in the US, that might not be possible. Its highly likely the office will be closed on Christmas Day. EVERYONE gets the day off with no option of working.

            1. fhqwhgads*

              I find it really difficult to advise this particular LW in their specific circumstance, given they details they provided.
              They said it’s software, so logically, there is no rational reason why they couldn’t write code on Christmas Day even if literally no one else were doing so.
              But they opened with notoriously abusive employer – so why should we expect rational from said employer?
              What they’re looking for in an employer is reasonable and should findable in the field they’re in. But the employer they seem to be to work for is apparently not known for “reasonable” so the goals are at odds. Were they asking about whether to choose an offer from them vs someone else, I’d say go elsewhere, but they seem set on working this role for this employer, which is probably not the best fit for their needs. And wrong as it may be, forcing that type of employer’s hand by point out exactly what the law requires may or may not be fruitful. I just wouldn’t expect to be treated well there, and they’re asking for advice on how to be treated well there.

        4. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

          I’m going to assume that if you call it Boxing Day that you are not from the US (please correct me if I’m wrong). I’d say that working your eight (plus that “,5 for lunch break”) on Christmas Even and returning back to work at your normally scheduled time on the day after Christmas is very par for the course for the US. For the non-shift work group, which I am part, you will see a lot of us get into work at 0700 on Christmas Eve and leave at 1530. It’s funny that OP1’s letter was published as part of this collection, because that’s how I see a lot of US jobs operating (or maybe mine just stink LOL) that it is an inconvenience for anyone to be taking time off for any reason, even if it is a holiday. I have Aria type bosses that will still (luckily just email) try to contact me on holidays.

        5. Retired Accountant*

          Excluding education, I’d put the over/under of religious holiday days off for US workers at 1.5. Christmas Eve is a holiday for some companies, and not for some. Boxing Day is obviously not a thing here, and it’s uncommon for Good Friday to be a holiday. (Yes, I know the stock exchange is closed Good Friday.). For the most part, if people want the day after Christmas off, or time to prepare for Christmas, they take a vacation day. And of course, 6 years out of seven either Christmas, Christmas Eve or the day after Christmas is on a weekend.

          Of course the OP should expect equitable treatment in their own company, but in most cases the amount of religious holidays Christian workers in the US get is substantially less than the amount needed by observant Jewish employees.

        6. doreen*

          Every place I’ve worked with one exception expected me to either work my regularly scheduled day on Dec 24 and 26 or use my leave time if I wanted the day off or to leave early/come in late. That exception was a school which was closed for 12/24-1/2. If I wanted to leave early/come in late/take the day off for Good Friday or to attend Mass on Ascension Thursday , I had to use my own leave time. Which is an option open to every Jewish person I know.

          1. Bee*

            Ash Wednesday, too, which (when I was a practicing Catholic) was a day I actually had to go to Mass, unlike Good Friday. Christmas sure sucks up all the air in the room, but yeah, I get one day for it and use PTO for the rest.

            1. TBD*

              You also presumably get Easter off for free, since the entire US calendar system is built around the Christian idea of Sunday as a religious day.

                1. Silver Robin*

                  Yes, and the fact that we have Sunday off and not Friday (or Mon-Tues, or any other combination of days) is because the calendar is based off of Christian religious expectations.

                  An alternate example: Israel (the State) has Friday-Saturday off because they based their calendar on Jewish requirements. Islamic-majority countries may do something similar for similar reasons but I cannot recall off the top of my head.

            2. birder in the backyard*

              Just to clarify, I’m fairly certain neither Ash Wednesday nor Good Friday are Holy Days of Obligation for Roman Catholics and required to go to mass if possible. However, both are days of fasting and reverence.

              1. LW3*

                Exactly—and if you are required, presumably Allison’s advice applies to you as well and you are equally eligible to negotiate.

          2. LW3*

            The difference is that (as far as I know) Christianity doesn’t tell you it’s forbidden to go into the office on a holiday. It’s not a choice for me if I’m following my branch of my religion. I could of course choose to violate my religion but that’s a different question, and legally I shouldn’t have to. If that’s the choice they give me, I’ll quit the job of course! But I don’t think they’d break the law like that. If your religion also mandates that you attend Mass on Ascension Thursday and therefore you would have to go to work late, Allison’s advice would also presumably apply to you and you would be eligible to negotiate this.
            In terms of Dec 24, yes, I see that holiday prep is a different question.

            1. Jean (just Jean)*

              >…if I’m following my branch of my religion…
              LW3, this is slightly off topic, but thank you for wording this so graciously and inclusively.

              I write this as someone from a different (non-Orthodox/less “strict”) branch of the same religion. We “more liberally religious” types still identify ourselves as Jewish, even though many of us work on non-prime-time parts of the sabbath and/or holidays. (Example: I might attend temple services in the morning, then go to work or run some unavoidable errand in the afternoon). Some parts of the Orthodox community who think we’re practicing “Judaism Light” or some other watered-down version of the Real Religion. Thanks for not doing that.

            2. Chirpy*

              I guess one of the problems with Christian holidays is that there’s so many “flavors” that one person’s obligation is another’s thing they blow off completely. Dec 24 gets thrown around as “prep” for some people, and for others, it’s more important (religious service-wise) than actual Christmas Day. So sometimes it isn’t easy to get off, even as a “major” holiday.

              I hope you do get your holidays off though, it really sucks that we as a society limit observances for meaningful things in service of business and capitalism.

            3. RagingADHD*

              The OP of this particular sub-thread was asserting that Christians aren’t required to work immediately before or after major religious holidays. Which simply isn’t true.

              It’s a different point than you are bringing up about not working on the holiday itself.

        7. Yorick*

          Many jobs require you to take PTO to have additional days off beyond December 25, although they might let you leave a couple hours early on December 24.

        8. Kotow*

          I think it’s the reality of Christmas Eve being a major day for the general public for either secular or religious reasons and the workplace itself is extremely slow. For Orthodox Christmas Eve I’ve never gotten out early and there have been years I got to my service on Christmas Day and went to work right after. It’s the reality of working in a field where the public expects you available on those days.

        9. Chirpy*

          I have to use a vacation day to get Christmas Eve off (the day I do all the religious portions of Christmas) because I otherwise am expected to work until 5 and be back at 8 on the 26th. Even if it’s a weekend. I’ve only ever had one job that was fully closed (and it was a religious organization). Best I’ve gotten in a more typical office was close at noon.

        10. RussianInTexas*

          In the 23 years of my work life I have never had Christmas Eve nor Boxing Day off. I am a salaried office worker. The going early on Christmas Eve is always up to a manager, and usually it’s a no go. Large company or small.
          My partner, a highly paid software engineer, have neve had Christmas Eve off.
          And I do not believe most people in the US have Boxing Day off. You do in fact have to go back to work on time on December 26th unless it’s weekend.

        11. Aeryn Sun*

          I’ve only once had an employer allow leaving early on the 24th and I think that was only one year. Otherwise I’d need to take that day off (or the 26th) if I had particular prep work I needed to do (I’ve definitely run from work to a family Christmas eve celebration!). I think if an office has any sort of early log off policy for Christmas that should extend to all holidays, but in my experience that is rarely the case.

        12. RagingADHD*

          Hi! You don’t know me, but I have done it many times as both a salaried and hourly (non-shift) office worker, particularly as there’s no such thing as a Boxing Day holiday here. As well as sometimes being required to work all day Good Friday (while fasting) and 8am the day after Easter, which in my observance are equal to or more important than Christmas.

          Unless I wanted to use PTO. Some employers give a “floating” holiday, but not all.

          Religious holidays that are not national banking holidays are not generally given off in the US. Some employers will give a half day the day before, but it is not a general expectation.

        13. Gumby*

          Two of my three jobs have given us exactly 1 day off for Christmas. It is, however, common for people to use vacation days / PTO to expand that time off. In my current job the only multi-day holiday we have is Thanksgiving. Also we don’t do half days or early dismissal ever though there is flex time so you could make your own half day if you wanted as long as you made up the hours elsewhere.

          I am not complaining about the one day holiday thing. I recognize that it’s quite fortunate that most of my religious holidays fall on weekends already anyway. But, in my experience, having only Dec. 25 off as a company holiday is not rare.

        14. Head sheep counter*

          Scanning comments in this section… I’m thinking perhaps you have a perception of time off that doesn’t align with reality. For me, I had an organization that utilized the winter break for plant utilities and thus was entirely shut down from Dec 25-Jan 1. Sure sucked the first year I worked there and didn’t have vacation days saved up… as I had to take leave without pay. Many folk took advantage of this shutdown to extend on either side for a loooong winter break. That could perhaps from the outside look like religious accommodation but folks had to use their PTO.

          Regionally – there are holidays that are religious in nature. However, there’s been a big move away from those and a move towards flex-holidays.

          As for equity if the holidays the company provides are all religious vs federal then the argument to swap is on much more solid grounds. If they are federal holidays – the office may not be open and thus swapping becomes more problematic. Although, accommodation is still good to ask for… it just might not be paid.

        15. Sarah*

          This comment is very inaccurate. I don’t know a single workplace that doesn’t expect its employees to work on the 24th and the 26th as usual unless individuals request the days off or if the dates fall on the weekend.

          1. Same Old Tired Argument*

            Yep, this is true for the feds. You must take leave to get those days off.

        16. AntsOnMyTable*

          But they are talking about 14 holidays. Christians and/or Catholics don’t automatically get 14 holidays off as part of the typical workplace. They get 1, Christmas, off and would have to do the same thing of working until 5 pm and then returning the day after for every other holiday.

          1. LadyVet*

            Well, they do, though, because many of the Christian holidays are celebrated on Sundays, so people who work a normal Mon.-Fri. workweek don’t have to worry about using PTO for, say, Easter.

            (I’m sure there are more, but I stopped going to weekly mass years ago.)

      6. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

        I’m wondering if OP just isn’t explaining it well. I have worked in the same office space (different company) with a person who observed Shabbat, very similar to how OP describes, and they were allowed to leave early on Fridays during the winter months in order to ensure they got home before sundown. In the time period of WFH, for my collogue, it probably would have been better for everyone that they worked at home which would have allowed them to work later because they would not have to commute home in order to get home before sunset.
        But I agree, unless OP was trying to be ambiguous for this post; ‘to prepare’ is not likely going to explain why WFH is necessary (like for Christians, I’m assuming you’d have to have a pretty good reason for why you need to WFH on Christmas Eve, not just that you need to prepare for Christmas). And not having a strong explanation of why it is needed is going to come off exactly how you read it as OP is trying to find ways to get WFH and not really about their need for religious accommodations.

        Perhaps after working there for some time and getting an understanding of the culture, if getting WFH the day before is not essential, OP can broach this topic with their boss. Perhaps there is a team culture due to the type of work being done that allows this type of WFH approval on a lower level.

        1. LW3*

          That’s a good point, thanks. I’m not sure how to improve the way I’m describing it, and that’s making it harder. I think a large part of the reason I submitted this question was to find out if it’s more important to raise the issue now (when I haven’t signed anything, and they’re more likely to be able to amend the contract) or later (when I am more familiar with team culture, as you mention).

          1. bamcheeks*

            Is there anyone in your community you could ask? We have contracts in the UK, but this isn’t the kind of thing that would usually be stated in your contract, but negotiated between manager and employee. If you were going to work at a big employer in the UK — any public sector organisation or a large private company– I would recommend simply asking HR, “how do you usually handle [religion’s] holidays, especially since I won’t have any PTO accrued?”* and working on the assumption that they *will* have policy and established practice on this, and that they would let you know at that point whether it’s something you should discuss with your direct line manager or agree with HR before you sign. But whether or not that’s a reasonable expectation will depend on your country, area or jurisdiction, and people local to you might have the best insight into whether that’s a good approach.

            *In all honesty, I wouldn’t expect many British HR advisors to have an answer at their fingertips, but I would expect them to recognise it as something they OUGHT to be able to answer and be willing to go and check with someone.

              1. kendall^2*

                On the plus side, this year all the holidays are on weekends, except Yom Kippur, so it may be a lot easier this year when you’re new, and by next year, you’ll have the lay of the land figured out….

                1. Fran*

                  Passover is in the middle of the week for all 4 days off they’ll need and they’ll need to finish early/half days for RH and other holidays. (I’ve already been putting in my request for time off)

          2. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

            Yeah, I would definitely ask for the religious accommodations now to establish an understanding that you should get those off as holidays. Unless you have a very non mainstream religion, it should be fine to name your religion and give a high-level overview of things like ‘it begins at sundown the day before’ or things like that. It might not make a contract, but it should be a written agreement that both parties sign in order to ensure that there is an understanding of your ‘accommodations’.

          3. SpaceySteph*

            I’d definitely do it now, before you sign anything. Also if we’re talking about the Jewish holidays, they’re only a couples weeks into September, how much are you going to learn the culture in a few weeks?

            Honestly maybe the best thing to do in this case is push your start date past Sukkot if that’s an option for you.

          4. zuzu*

            LW3, if you work for a famously abusive employer, you are strictly observant, and you are in a place where religious accommodations are respected, don’t forget any sabbath days in your contract.

            Abusive employers love to chew up your weekends, after all.

      7. I Have RBF*

        The thing that Zoom is doing is stupid.

        Only LA has worse commutes that SF, plus SF real estate is expensive, so I would be looking hard at who benefits monetarily from forcing people back into a pricey SF office.

        1. Sacred Ground*

          My guess is that Zoom, like a lot of big companies after the pandemic, finds itself locked into long-term lease or mortgage payments on its campus in San Jose which turns out to have far, far more space than they actually needed when their people were remote.

          They can’t get out of paying for the space and executive leadership can’t justify the cost of it to shareholders without people physically working there.

          Just my guess. With the recent collapse in commercial real estate rents due to WFH (itself the reason Zoom is as successful as it is), many companies that built fancy office towers and campuses prior to the pandemic are now finding themselves holding properties worth a fraction of what they paid.

      8. Same Old Tired Argument*

        I think as much about my job as home as I ever did in the office. Remote work, remote minds in simply not true. People committed to their work are committed regardless of location. Folks are butt in seat in offices everywhere daydreaming and on Facebook and shopping and socializing. Do you work for the Biden administration? They are pressing for a return to the office for Feds.

        1. Moonstone*

          Exactly – I am just as or more productive working from home than I ever was in the office. At home I have the luxury of avoiding ridiculous conversations with chatty coworkers about nonsense and can focus solely on my work. I think the government is concerned about paying rent on empty offices and cities are concerned about losing tax revenue from empty buildings. Not to mention the related businesses that pop up to serve all those office workers. Obviously not all jobs can be done remotely, blah blah blah. But for those that can it’s absolutely insulting to hear CEOs prattle on endlessly about collaboration and cohesion and synergy and all those ridiculous corporate buzzwords. Especially when those CEOs are hopelessly out of touch with the real world.

          1. I Have RBF*

            They use the same lackluster baloney excuses that they gave us for cramming us together in noisy open plan offices. It’s all baloney.

            IMO, in both cases (open plan and RTO) it’s about money and power. Not just any money, but the C-suite’s commercial real estate portfolios. And the power is simply the power to force peons to perform “working” under their watchful, all powerful eyes.

            It’s kind of insulting that they spoon feed us this BS like we are ignorant little kids who will believe anything the “adults” in power tell them. Very few people I’ve ever worked with are that credulous.

    3. EchoGirl*

      If they’re the ones I think they are, most of the more imminent ones actually do fall out on weekends this year (although there may be a little bleed into Fridays depending on OP’s hours). However there’s one that falls out on a Monday (late September), which is what I suspect OP is referencing in saying “By the time the first holiday comes, I won’t have accumulated any PTO yet and I’ll still be in training”. (It would be a MUCH bigger hassle in a first year if they all fell out on weekdays as that could be as many as 7 days off over the course of a month — not that it shouldn’t get cleared regardless but just that missing that much that early can be hard on the employee themselves even if the job was fully accommodating.)

    4. Mitford*

      This is making me miss it when I worked in fundraising for B’nai Brith Women (later Jewish Women International) and got ALL the Jewish holidays off (I’m not Jewish), even the ones that many don’t observe by taking time off from work. I remember coming in after one holiday, my desk phone rang, and it was a member who was pissed that we’d been closed the day before. I had to scramble for the list of holidays on my desk and carefully explain Shemini Atzeret to her.

      1. Caroline*

        There’s some entitlement: having a tantrum about why a specifically Jewish organisation is closed on a specifically Jewish observance day! LOL.

        1. Jiminy Cricket*

          Exactly. Every year I google “What is Shemini Atzeret?” and every year I forget anew.

      2. Bunny Lake Is Found*

        My law school was closed from 2pm every Friday to 10 am every Sunday and we were closed….except for Purim. One year I think I had class an average of 1.5/2 days a week for like, 2 months. I’m agnostic–I basically was on a stay-cation for half a semester each year and could ALWAYS beat the weekend rush out of the city–it was fantastic!

    5. AnotherOne*

      depending on the job and the office, I wonder if OP could trade out some Sundays?

      I needed to travel for some religious holidays that none of my coworkers celebrated and I had a job that agreed I could trade out working holidays like MLK and random Sundays so I could take off time for religious holidays without cutting into my vacation/sick time.

      It was a law firm and I was an admin at the time, so it was a win win. I didn’t have to take unpaid time and there was always people in the office who needed an admin. (Plus it wasn’t a work day and I could show up in basically pajamas.)

    6. SpaceySteph*

      Jewish person here (which I suspect OP#3 is as well) and… WE KNOW ITS A LOT OF HOLIDAYS. Every job and professor and public school teacher we’ve ever had has told us its a lot of holidays.

      Rosh Hashana is on a weekend this year, but then not every job is a M-F kind of gig so that may not help OP (I used to work a 24/7 coverage position so I had to take every one of my holidays off, even if it fell on a weekend).

      1. Kaden Lee*

        Also, 14 probably isn’t even a ton if you compare apples to apples with other religions. Christianity has plenty of fast days, minor holidays, etc and a very observant person would take those off just like a very observant Jew would take off all the days and not just The Big Ones (High Holidays for Jews, Easter/Christmas for Christians). I’m really glad I’m towards the lower end of the scale so I just needed to take time for Yom Kippur this year, because I’m in the same boat as the poster and only get 10 days PTO per year with no floating holidays.

      2. Fran*

        Thank you for saying that! My friend’s now wife made a joke about it in their vows- lovingly of course- of celebrating all 300 holidays with him…because it feels like it! It’s a lot and we know it! But that doesn’t mean that by law we shouldn’t have it off

    7. We still use so much paper!*

      Is it possible that this company isn’t the right fit for her? I know it’s her first job but maybe there’s something else out there that could accomodate her needs.

      1. NonnyJew*

        Unless there’s a really good reason they can’t have LW take unpaid time off for any religious observances that go beyond the 10 PTO–as well as do things like leave earlier Friday in return for working later on other days–they legally have to accommodate her.

        It is true that a job with built-in flexibility could help for things that would be nice to have but aren’t hard requirements, but LW shouldn’t have to find another field because she needs to take a few unpaid days off and work an extra half-hour every other day to leave two hours earlier on Friday.

  3. Goldie*

    For #1- I would not give the boss reasons for time off.
    Say-I have to take a sick day today or I’m going to need to take PTO or vacation. Stop the info train.

    She sounds awful. Does her attitude align with the company? If so-brush up your resume.

    1. Kella*

      OP didn’t ask for advice on how to handle asking for time off, but how to handle the unethical and potentially illegal behavior from her boss. Even if OP never needs to take time off related to family, the attitude is still toxic and could effect OP’s career.

      1. NumberBlocks*

        Why is the attitude toxic? Why would an employee be required to tell their employer why they’ll be OOO (beyond which category of PTO is required, if there are categories)?

          1. Snarky McSnarkerson*

            Yes, Aria’s attitude is toxic. But I also agree that Aria does not need to know the reasons behind the requests for time off. I think that based on Aria’s toxic attitude, people are providing more information in the hopes that she will see how important the request is to the employee asking for time off, but it’s backfiring because Aria has a skewed idea of what should take priority in everyone’s life. Aria should not be judging the reasons people need time off and only approving those she feels are “good” enough. It’s sad really – maybe she does not have anyone in her life that is more important than work.

            1. zuzu*

              Sometimes she does need to know, if she needs to approve a particular type of leave. But for the most part, it should be based only on coverage.

        1. Worldwalker*

          Saying that it’s bad that someone focuses on their family when they’re home is toxic as an amanita mushroom growing on a Superfund site!

  4. Bat romance*

    LW1, if Aria’s life is what “success in your role” looks like…are you sure you want it? She’s constantly stressed and presumably working long hours for a non-profit (which usually don’t have a reputation for being highly paying jobs). Long hours for little pay…doesn’t sound like success to me.

    And don’t underestimate the effect these comments will eventually have on you – or may already have started to have. You seem to be dealing with them well right now, but if this continues…there may be a moment when you don’t deal well with them anymore.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I expect she would also like to be able to take time off for family etc, but feels trapped as “the boss” that she has to pick up anything that doesn’t get done by other people, hence the long hours etc. They are understaffed and her hours / workload are proportional to how much other people “get to” (in her mind) let slide because of other obligations.

      I expect I will get piled on, but I do feel for her having been in a similar situation myself. Of course she isn’t dealing with it the right way though (has she talked to her bosses about workload? Maybe she has though, and just been told “nothing can slip and there’s no budget for more people).

      1. Bat romance*

        My point kind of still stands though…is feeling trapped, overworked, and unable to talk to either your bosses or even your subordinates about it really success? And I don’t mean this in a “you have to manage your manager’s feelings” way, but in a “here’s some context about the company you may not know as a person lower in the org chart” way.

      2. Allonge*

        The thing is, what she is doing to herself is her business. It’s not good either way (who wants a stressed boss?), but she absolutely has to be able to separate what she is willing to do for the cause from what she can expect from others.

        1. Totally Minnie*

          Exactly this.

          If Aria is just kind of a jerk with a discriminatory attitude toward people who have caretaker roles in their families, that’s bad and I wouldn’t advise LW to keep working for her. But if she’s acting this way because she feels it’s the only way to appease the higher ups and their unreasonable expectations, that’s getting close to catastrophic and I’d advise LW to run for the hills.

          Either way, this situation is bad and even if Aria quit her job tomorrow, once an organization starts to fall into toxic patterns it takes a long time for them to come back around to a healthy place to work, if they ever even can. If it were me, I’d be looking around the organization to see if it looks like any of this is salvageable, and checking job listings in my area in case I decided to make an escape.

      3. Been there*

        You are not alone. I have been put in this situation also. No support from above however the work must get done. After awhile it is human nature to be resentful

      4. kiki*

        For sure, I can see how Aria could be a sympathetic figure and got into this mindset because of unrealistic expectations put on her.

        But at the same time, that still means the workplace expectations negatively impact LW. It’s worth thinking about whether LW wants to work in an environment like this long term.

      5. OP 1*

        You are correct that this is where it is coming from – she is working long hours not as a flex, but because she legitimately has way too much on her plate and senior leadership puts pressure on her. Pressure that shows no sign of easing anytime soon.

        1. Boof*

          Link her to all the AAM posts where you basically just… inform them it will not be happening. Say “I will get x and y done, A and B are postponed indefinitely unless you assign them to someone else”
          (I do not know if you should actually do that but if they aren’t crazy can respectfully advise “no, this is really not an ok thing for work to ask and if there’s too much work then pick what won’t happen”

        2. Happily Retired*

          When (not if*) you leave, I hope that if you want to give a reason why, you will express that senior leadership is refusing to acknowledge the need for more staff and instead chooses to exploit their employees with their demands for impossible work outputs in a normal 40 hour week. Which I find ironic, as so many non-profits have a human services mission. If they don’t have the funding to provide enough staff, they either need to get more funding – a lot more – or reduce their mission.

          *Not “if”, because this toxicity comes from the highest levels, and it is NOT going to change.Polish up your resume and GTHO. I wish you the best.

      6. MCMonkeyBean*

        I would not necessarily assume she would like to be able to take time off for family if she actively says she does not think that family should be a priority. There is a difference between stating that you think people should put in more hours and saying that people cannot be successful and have a family and that they should not make their family their priority.

        I think you are projecting your own situation onto her and giving her way more benefit of the doubt than is owed.

    2. Tiger Snake*

      I won’t deny that there are times – occasional I hope – where I fall into Aria’s mindset. Several of my coworkers took extended leave all at the same time due to health and the health of family members, and with three of the staff out for 4+ months you really feel the additional load whenever one of the other two has to take an unplanned day because their child is sick.

      And when I start to feel like that, it’s up to me to lean back, take a deep breath, and go get myself a coffee. Its inconvenient, and maybe a bit stressful, but sick leave exists to be used, we should have enough resourcing to handle when it happens, and none of that changes change the fact my coworkers are hard workers who do great effort when they are here. It can wait until they’re back.

      What I’m getting at is; yeah, sometimes our misfortune has a flow on impact. That’s life, so everyone around us needs to learn to be kind and deal with it so we all muddle through together. If one person being absent for a single day causes so much to fall over that we need to say things like this, then your Aria didn’t plan it properly in the first place.

      1. Allonge*

        I would argue that thinking – once in a while – that working with literal robots who can reliably recharge overnight and have no other obligations otherwise would be more convenient is very different from what Aria is doing.

        She is not just occasionally resenting the fact that humans are going to have human issues (and that has an impact on others)! As a manager that would already be bad enough, but she is explicitly expecting the superhuman. The fact that she expects it from herself too does not make it better!

      2. spiriferida*

        Honestly, whenever I start feeling like that at work, it’s usually a sign that I’m one of the ones who needs a vacation!

  5. Certaintroublemaker*

    LW2, the salary range in the job posting could be the band for that job title company wide, but in that particular department the level they are looking for / number of people you’d be supervising / their budget dictates starting at mid-band.

    Also, companies very rarely bring on people at the top of the band unless their pay scales are out of date and the market demands it or unless the candidate is an absolute rock star. It’s not a great place to start, anyway. If you started at $100k, you could get one 3% raise … ever. Or until they adjust the pay band, which who knows when that would be.

    1. Darla*

      This is a really good point. You don’t want your starting point to be the top of their salary range, because where would you go from there?

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        But surely starting at $100k rather than $80k, even if there is less headroom for increases, is better as you have the money now rather than in the future? And in the future those ranges might increase (e.g. do the same/equivalent jobs still have the same salary range that they had in 2003? I doubt it). Even if the range doesn’t change, it is much quicker to get “maxed out” if you start near the top.

        1. Bit o' Brit*

          I think their point was “don’t go after a job where your salary needs are at the top of the band”. Your point is more of a consideration on whether to negotiate when you’ve been offered a salary that meets your needs but still has a lot of headroom in the listed band. Inflation and cost of living keeps rising ahead of wages, so if your lifestyle needs 100k this year, 103k next year, and 106k the year after you’re gambling on pretty long odds that the company will sufficiently adjust their bands in time.

        2. MaliMoon*

          I agree and it always baffles me when people talk about leaving room for raises as a reason to start themselves or someone else on a lower salary. I’d rather have the money now and for all the other years before I get the raise to bring me up to that same level! I’m not less motivated bc I know there’s no wiggle room, I’m more motivated because people started out by paying me fairly. And yes maybe I have to leave to get a good raise but in most jobs you’ll get a lot more through job switching than sitting in post and waiting for raises so it’s not so different really

          1. Allonge*

            I think the practical advice here is not that OP should take a lower salary to enable them to get raises but to only take the job if they are ok with no raises ever.

            1. mreasy*

              This may not be the top of the salary band, though. I took a job at the very top of the salary range, and it was made clear to me that raises are still available. This is just the listed range for the role. OP could absolutely ask before going too far in the process, but I don’t think it makes sense to assume it’s the full band for the role.

              1. AngryOctopus*

                And it doesn’t make sense to assume that the top number is a hard stop that will preclude future raises!

            2. AngryOctopus*

              Just because they’d be near the top of the pay band doesn’t mean “no raises ever”. What if LW is more senior and can therefore get promoted into a new pay band? What if the company actually adjusts pay bands based on the market, so that top number will move? Seeing the top near your requirements is not a reason to not take a job (or interview). But as with any job you need to ask questions about how the pay and promotion structures work.

        3. M2*

          Most places and most organizations even say in their ad they only pay the low to mid if the range. This to me also is the issue with putting the entire scale people always think they’ll be at the top of the scale. That’s why I hope most organizations are more clear in the job description saying we usually pay mid of the range for this role or x range.

          Also, maybe ask HR or on your first or second call or interview ask for clarity on the salary. I am always VERY clear and make it a 5-10k range (after checking with HR who are sticklers where I work).

          Also, where I work we have scales and then bands within the scales and sometimes we will have say a Manager and then a Senior Manager in the same scale but different bands. So the scale will look the same but the senior manager is getting more $$. That’s why I am very clear in interviews. Although my department usually pays above market rate so people are usually happy.

          1. MassMatt*

            I don’t understand why an employer would say the salary range is say, 80-100k but we’re only going to pay 80-90k. List the job for 80-90k then.

            There could be all sorts of reasons this happened, and I also suspect it could be a bait-and-switch. This tactic doesn’t seem to make sense to me but employers do it nonetheless. Likewise describing salaries and benefits as “competitive “ when they are not.

        4. Hlao-roo*

          I am with you: I would rather have a larger salary up-front and smaller (or no) raises than a smaller salary up-front and larger raises. Rationally, it’s much better to be in this scenario:

          Year 1: $100,000 salary
          Year 2: 3% raise, $103,000 salary
          Year 3: 0% raise, $103,000 salary
          $306,000 total earned in 3 years

          than this one:

          Year 1: $80,000 salary
          Year 2: 12.5% raise, $90,000 salary
          Year 3: 11.1% raise, $100,000 salary
          $270,000 total earned in 3 years

          But: people aren’t rational! (Certainly not all the time.) Some people will be incredibly demoralized with a 3% or 0% raise. For them, the bigger raises and the feeling of being rewarded for good work with more money year-over-year are worth the money they could have had if they started at a higher salary.

          This is similar to the debt-snowball (paying off smallest $ value debt first) vs. debt-avalanche (paying off highest interest debt first) methods. Mathematically, debt-avalanche is the better method–you’ll pay down the debts with the least amount of money. But some people find debt-snowball works better for them because the psychological boost of paying off a small $ value debt keeps them paying off their debt, even though in the end they will pay more than they would have with debt-avalanche.

      2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I’d rather make $100M/y with no raises ($500M over 5 years) than $80M/y with $5M/y raises ($450M over 5 years).

          1. metadata minion*

            I’d take any job that wasn’t actively abusive for that much money! Take the job for a year or two and then retire.

            1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

              Not that it matters here. M could be 1 and the point would still stand.

    2. Salary Ambiguity*

      I worked for a company that published its pay range, but also no one ever made even mid level in their band. And I’m pretty sure that’s how they are posting jobs now that salaries are a requirement here in CA. So I see a posting from them that’s says $100k-200k (rounding for ease of telling the story) and I assume they will actually hire someone around $125k. That’s the full range they pay for the band. Not the range for hiring salary.

      Om the other hand, my current company posts the hiring salary. We just posted a job for $90-105k and that was the hiring salary, not the top range for the position in general

      The first place was a fortune 50 behemoth of government contracting and the second is a smallish large company with fewer constraints.

      But having the experience with both makes me realize there is still some ambiguity in hiring even posting ranges.

      1. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

        If more states are making it a requirement to post salary then, are they just posting arbitrary numbers rather than actual salary range? If they say it’s as wide as this example, but then it’s actually figures within the range, is is deliberately misleading? (I’m not in the US)

        1. doreen*

          Even if they might hire someone at the top of the range, that doesn’t mean they will. My son was recently in the application process for a job with a very wide salary range , something like $60K to $150K. The actual salary would depend on which building the person was assigned to ( the size of the building matters ), which certifications and license the applicant had and the applicant’s experience. In theory, someone could get hired at the top of the range – in actuality, they probably never ( or almost never) hire someone new for the highest paying buildings but rather , fill those spots with an internal transfer and leave the vacancy in a lower-paying building. ( He dropped out of the process because they couldn’t even give him a ballpark figure until they knew where he would be assigned)

        2. Sloanicota*

          Posting extremely wide salary bands is definitely what many companies are doing to skirt around the requirement. Last time I was job searching I saw a lot of roles (and IIRC, multiple different roles at the same company that should have different salaries) posted as “$30K-$100K,” a range so wide as to be generally unhelpful – although there’s still some utility if you’re someone already making $150K. I’m sure the hiring managers have more specific ranges in mind that they don’t want to share.

          1. pally*

            At a screening interview for a position that included a very wide salary range, the interviewer explained that their policy is to offer an amount exactly in the middle of the posted range.

            Every place is going to employ different tactics to try and veil their salaries. Some good and some not-so-great tactics.

          2. MassMatt*

            I worked for an employer that used wide salary bands even with no state or national disclosure requirement to evade, and even for internal candidates.

            The process was so opaque that when I first contacted HR to find out what “Grade 12” meant I was first told that they did not use salary grades, and then that the grade “depends on the context”, and finally a range between something like $20k and $150k. So, anywhere between less than half of what I’m making now or more than triple it? Thanks for clarifying. /s.

      2. Salary Ambiguity*

        It’s not that they are posting misleading or arbitrary information, just that they are posting the full salary range. I don’t think that there is meant to be anything wrong with it. It’s just the formal range of the salary one could get to. Most companies do not hire in at the top of the range for the job (in my experience with larger companies in the US). It is the formal published range for the job so theoretically one could get raises tor each that level over time. I just saw one advertised from $103k – $215k. I assume their hiring range is somewhere in the middle. So it kind of depends on whether they are posting the whole range for the job or the hiring range. As far as I’m aware, there isn’t really a standard for that here. I just am careful if I see that vast a range to understand they are probably posting the full salary range, which is not where they would hire.

        So I’m not saying isn’t necessarily misleading, but I have enough experience working for the sort of company who is very careful about how it comes across publicly and also posts the full range of the job rather than where they would hire. I have seen some postings (mostly in academia or government jobs) that do a clearer job of explaining it in the ad. Basically – this salary range is between (again, made up numbers for story purposes)) $7k and $10k a month but this position will be hired between $8-9k.

        Not sure if I’m exposing it well. When my sister moved back tor he US she kept asking me what jobs paid and I would tell her I didn’t know and had to go through all the discussions and stuff before we could even get there. She was confused. So I consider it a step forward that we even are starting to post salaries in job listings. So hopefully that will continue be refined!

        1. Salary Ambiguity*

          *explaining* rather than exposing. Though that also seems relevant. I swear I proofread and there is always something glaringly obvious I screwed up (outside the sort off standard typos, which I would prefer I not post, but at least they aren’t saying something different than I mean…)

          1. pally*

            Your post prompts me to ask:

            What does “Full salary range” mean?

            And how does that contrast with “hiring salary range” ?

            My mom, who worked in HR decades ago, insists there are two salary ranges for a position.
            Salary Range: the entire range of salary the position will be paid. Hence, everyone in this position will have a salary within this range.

            Hiring Salary Range: a salary range narrower than the Salary Range that new hires can expect to be offered.

            (I hope this isn’t putting you ‘on the spot’ for a response. Not my intent. Just trying to find clarification)

            1. Dead Can Dance*

              Exactly. The full salary range (likely what is posted) is usually saying you will never be paid less than the bottom or more than the top. The bottom hopefully aligning with the minimum of years and experience and the top being tons of years and experience. The hiring range is smaller, and usually the top is at max 75% of the full salary range max.

              As why they put the salary range vs the hiring range? You don’t know who you’re getting when a post a job, budgeted amounts can go over or under depending on who you get, HR won’t be more specific for what they are hiring at, etc. But yes, when you see a range, check if you’re okay with something up to the 50% mark (and only that high with lots of experience). That’s going to be true most of the time.

    3. Earlk*

      A bigger concern I’d have is if I were starting at the top of the pay band- is there any room for growth professionally in the role?

    4. Snarky McSnarkerson*

      Our company will post salary ranges if we click the correct button in the requisition, BUT – they will only post the bottom to the midpoint. Which means that people will assume the hiring range is somewhere in the middle, but it’s not. It’s very aggravating.

    5. MicroManagered*

      Yeah this is what my employer does, unfortunately. It makes hiring very difficult.

      They force us to post the company-wide pay band for the job, which is the minimum and absolute maximum they’ll pay anyone in the job. But that maximum figure is typically tens of thousands of dollars above budget or what anyone in the job makes.

    6. essjaydub*

      Wanted to also add that some job boards will include an “estimated” salary range if there is not one posted by the employer. I am a contract recruiter and occasionally a client will not want to post a salary range – I know Indeed frequently provides an estimated range, which is often based on …. I don’t know what. It’s hard to notice that the salary range is not provided by the employer unless you’re looking closely.

      That said, for the positions that don’t post salaries, I do have discussions about the anticipated hiring range before I even schedule an interview. Everybody’s time is too valuable to have a conversation if there’s not a possible match on the range!

    7. NotAnotherManager!*

      I think it really depends on if the published hiring salary range is the same thing as the internal pay band for the position overall. I hire regularly a particular position within a fairly tight *starting* pay band, but all of those folks are eligible for raises/market adjustment/bonuses annually as they complete training, take on increasingly complex work, and demonstrate skills mastery. The top of the hiring band is not our total maximum budget for the position year-over-year.

      I do work for a private company, though, and I’m sure there are larger conglomerates or governmental organizations that are more rigid. However, most companies (private or public) do budgeting annually (and salaries are budget line items), and companies that are budgeting zero pay increases year-over-year are probably not ones you want to work for.

    8. MCMonkeyBean*

      That was my assumption, that the bigger range was the general band for that level at the company and the smaller range was what they had determined as for this specific role. And I agree that even with the bigger range listed the chances of them offering at the top of that range would be extremely small, and then that would be limiting to the OP.

      If you really like the sounds of the job then there is no harm in asking, but I would go into this with the expectation that they are not likely to be a match for your salary needs.

  6. nnn*

    Tangential to #5: why do they tell him to hand in his resignation rather than just firing him? Is there an actual business-related reason, or is it just to set up the murder myster?

    1. Armchair Analyst*

      in real life it is done to allow a person to save face

      for awhile there it seemed like quite a political badge of honor to resign to spend more time with your family, coincidentally right after the elected person who hired or nominated the resigning person did something they disagreed with, and about 30 days before they joined a lobbying firm

    2. desdemona*

      If this is the same show I’m watching, it’s because the CEO is getting married that weekend & 2nd in command is the best man. CEO thinks he’s saving best man’s face by waiting til after the wedding.

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      Sometimes the difference between resignation and firing can mean “ever getting a job again.”

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        The Scarlet F is real, and 6 weeks of unemployment benefits isn’t the better scenario in the long run.

      2. AnotherOne*

        plus in some fields if you retire v. get fired, your pension/retirement benefits are protected (if you’ve been in the position long enough.)

    1. MEH Squared*

      I read a lot of mysteries, and this was my immediate suspicion. And that the second-in-command tried to frame someone else for the murder.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        My immediate suspicious was that he was going to come under suspicion, maybe be wrongly arrested, but the true murderer would turn out to be somebody who appeared to have no motive.

    2. desdemona*

      I’m pretty sure the show is The After Party, and the answer is that we don’t know yet!

      1. Who will be the baby of the year?*

        The awkwardness of the first ep this season killed me but the sister’s interview ep was perfect, 10/10, no notes.

        1. Sara*

          I had to fast forward a couple scenes in that first episode due to secondhand embarrassment.

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      It just occurred to me that this is an AAM question where commenter fanfic is fine and totally harmless!

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Well, if you remember the original comment they were the same person – but whatever floats your boat is fine!

        2. Office Gossip*

          Ooh are Wakeen and Joaquin dating now? No wonder I so often see them mentioned together. But I never actually see them together. They apparently have mastered that professional discretion.

  7. Azure Jane Lunatic*

    LW3, if your religion has its own calendar, you should mention that the dates are this year’s dates, and that you would be able to provide next year’s dates by such-and-such a time in advance. Because I could absolutely see an HR department or boss that is not thinking about say a lunar calendar dutifully writing down the dates, and not thinking about the idea that next year could be different.

    1. Kaden Lee*

      That is an EXCELLENT callout. There are resources out there that list the dates of holidays for the next 10ish years, but “I can provide the dates by June each year” is more than sufficient when the largest chunk will always occur in September/October.

  8. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP5 (murder mystery) – as it was presented here (I have no idea what show this is so nothing further to go on) the decision to fire him was made, not really by the executive personally, but by the person in the *role* of executive, acting in their capacity as part of the management structure of the company, so the action stands. It’s the same reason any decisions don’t automatically become null and void when the person who made the decision moves on to a different company etc. Try saying to a vendor “oh, we aren’t held to that contract any more because the person who signed it has since left”..

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      Or “Since the CEO died I guess the company doesn’t have to pay those pesky taxes,” or similar. Legal and financial obligations rarely vanish entirely with death.

    2. ecnaseener*

      Interesting, I think there’s a difference here in that nothing official has been done yet (I assume — you would hardly give someone time to resign if you had already documented their firing). Pushing someone out isn’t the same as signing a contract on behalf of a company, I don’t think there’s an obligation for the company to follow through.

      A closer analogy might be a hiring decision…if you’re hired (for at-will employment) but then a new manager comes in and wants to clean house, it’s crappy but they’re allowed to do that. So on the flip side, if you’re about to be fired but the paperwork hasn’t been officially filed yet, a new manager (or board or owner etc.) has no obligation to follow through with the firing.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      The specifics–so fun to have a literary question where I immediately recognized the source–are that it’s a family business, and the extent to which the owner and CEO is also sole owner is a bit murky to me. (The board, if one exists, is not yet suspected in the murder and so hasn’t appeared.) Also the part where the bereaved mother (possibly now owner? or would be if the will said what it used to?) and bereaved best man (who we just learned was fired, but in secret) have decided that they won’t report the murder so they can do “business stuff” is wildly suspicious for their motives even as it nicely allows our amateur sleuths room to operate. Possibly in the final episode a board will show up and say “nope, all these morning shenanigans with the contracts are void, and you two are doofuses.”

    4. INFJedi*

      I remember a Grey’s Anatomy episode where Dr. Baily is fired by Harper Avery (the big boss behind the Foundation that bought the hospital), the only witness was his former daughter-in-law: Catherine Avery (and it is assumed that she was at that time kinda second in command of the foundation?). Baily and Catherine left the room for a few minutes, to calm down and take a breath before entering again to discuss it but Harper Avery had died during those few minutes.

      Both Catherine and Baily kept their mouth shut about the firing and acted as if it hadn’t happened at all (though Baily did discus about it with her husband afterwards).

      So… as long there is no paper-trail or witnesses who want to attest to it, no problem??

    5. Littorally*

      Try saying to a vendor “oh, we aren’t held to that contract any more because the person who signed it has since left”..

      Worked for Finland during WWII :)

  9. Punk*

    Most of the Jewish high holy days that prohibit work are on weekends this year. Sukkot lasts a week but work is only prohibited on the first two days, which are Saturday and Sunday this year. We don’t have enough information about the LW’s schedule or the holidays she’s requesting off but based on context clues and the fact that she’s new to the workplace, if she’s Jewish, she’ll need to be careful not to use the language of legality for all of the days, because you can work on some of them.

    1. ShanShan*

      This varies pretty widely depending on your denomination. For example, you say work is prohibited on the first two days of Sukkot, but in some denominations, it’s also prohibited on the last two days, which is also true for Passover.

      1. Elsa*

        Yup, the September/October Jewish holidays are all on weekends this year, other than Yom Kippur. Given the specifics of this year, I’d recommend handling it differently than Allison suggested. LW3 could write to the recruiter “oh just btw I’ll need the following day off for Yom Kippur”. And that’s it. And then in March, talk to your boss about how you’re going to handle Passover.

      2. EchoGirl*

        In the case of Sukkot, though, the two days in question are the same days of the week, not offset a day like Passover. So the two-day stretch at the end (technically Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah) is also Saturday-Sunday this year.

        1. Elsa*

          Yup, this year all of the September/October Jewish holidays are on the weekends, other than Yom Kippur. Given that setup, LW3 also has the option of not telling the recruiter about all the holidays up front. She could just write to the recruiter “oh btw I’ll need one day off in September for Yom Kippur”, and then in March talk to her boss about needing days off on Passover.

          1. fueled by coffee*

            Yes, although presumably if they want to stay at this job for more than a year, they’ll want to establish some sort of policy for when the holidays roll around again on a less convenient schedule. I’d have a list of possible workable accommodations in mind to offer as suggestions (for example: would your workplace allow you to flex the time and work extra hours the weeks before/after a holiday to make up the hours? Would they let you take the days off, but unpaid?).

            I say this as a Jewish person who also resents that I spend a good chunk of my PTO on holidays and have to make elaborate coverage plans, all while listening to my colleagues bemoan having to work up through December 22nd (or whatever). Yes, a good employer should work out a plan to allow you to take the holidays off, but requesting 7.5 days off in your first month of work is also quite a bit of time in a workplace that only gives you 10 days.

            Ideally, in the future, you should negotiate this time off when you receive a job offer, and see how the employer is willing to accommodate you.

            1. Caroline*

              Agree. It’s a really tough one – I myself am an atheist, but do love me some Christmas holidays – simply due to the sheer number of potential days needed off so early in employment. Obviously the law protects at least some of these days, but maybe not all, so the OP would do well to figure out exactly what they will need in the first 6 months and then within a fair time of joining, have a more global chat about how it could be arranged on an ongoing basis – it may even be that the company would jump at reliable Christmas or Easter cover.

            2. LW3*

              Yes, thanks—this is a big part of what I’m trying to figure out, since this year I have the unusual privilege of being able to keep it to myself for a while (except for one day). I am trying to figure out if it’s worth getting something into my contract now, before it’s signed, for the sake of fall 2024. I would love to have a contract that says “work at least 40 hours over the course of a week, however you want to distribute it,” but that doesn’t seem likely! I see myself as currently in the category of “negotiate…when you receive a job offer” as I haven’t yet signed, but perhaps that’s not what this means.

              1. Bureaucratte*

                If you are worries for a year form now, you’ll have a lot more options including taking vacation days and a lot more cred. It might make sense to ask more narrowly now, for flex time in the winter for shabbat, for Yom Kippur and for flex time (or WFH) for travel for a fall holiday this year if you need and see how that goes and then worry about spring and fall 2024 later!

              2. MCMonkeyBean*

                You noted that this is a notoriously abusive workplace but that you are working there for the high salary. I wonder how long you are thinking you might stay there? If your plan is to just work there a couple of years, save up some money, and then get out you might not really need a super formal signed agreement.

          2. Elsa*

            So I actually got curious how many holiday days an observant Jew would need to take off per year and it’s less than the LW is making it out to be, since some will always fall on the weekends. For the upcoming Jewish year 5854, it would be 7 days (1 yom kippur, 4 passover, 2 Shavuot). For the following Jewish year 5855, it would be 9 days (2 rosh hashanah, 4 sukkot, 1 passover, 2 shavuot). This is all still within the tiny vacation day allotment, though of course it stinks to lose all your vacation on religious observances.
            The bigger issue that you probably would have to bring up right at the beginning is if you’re also going to have to leave early every Friday in the winter to get home before sundown.

            1. LW3*

              Oh, thank you! I hadn’t even gotten to the stage of doing the math yet. Do you know the lowest number that could possibly fall on a weekend in a given year? That is reassuring.
              You’re right, I am also trying to figure out when to bring up Fridays.

              1. Juror No. 7*

                In 2024, it will be 12 days that fall during the week. not including fast days.
                In 2025, it will also be 10 days that fall during the week, in addition to fast days.
                Check out hebcal dot com. you can plug in your area code or city name and get a calendar generated to give you a complete sense of when and how much you will be asking for. (Like when you will start needing to exit early on Fridays.)
                I’d definitely recommend asking if you can work an alternative schedule (either more hours certain days of the week, or working on weekends), in order to meet your 40 hrs / week or your deliverables.
                Find out if the company will let you use PTO before it has accrued. Also find out the company’s approach to unpaid time off.
                I don’t know whether to approach this with them before or after signing the contract.
                Good luck.

              2. Emby*

                i think it’s 12/13, depending on how you consider tisha b’av. we’ll have that in the 2025/2026 year. if erev rosh hashana is a monday (so tues/weds off), then kol nidre is a wednesday (thurs off), sukkot is tues/weds off, shmini artzeret/simchat torah are tues/weds off, first days pesach are thurs and friday, last days pesach are weds and thurs, and shavuot is a friday/saturday, so only one day needs to be taken off. and tisha b’av is a thursday.

              3. Calico Tabby*

                It’s possible to have a year in which every holiday except Yom Kippur falls on a weekday, so you’d need twelve weekdays off. But that’s unusual. In most cases, either the autumn RH/Sukkot/Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah set fall on the weekend, as is the case this year, or Pesach falls mostly on weekends. In general, then, there are 6-10 weekdays that you’d need to take off.

                My own experience, in a couple of different workplaces (but in a totally different field), is that employers are reasonably understanding about RH, YK, Pesach, and leaving early on winter Fridays. The conflict is likely to be about “minor” holidays such as Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret and possibly about Friday afternoons during crunch periods. Three general pieces of advice are: gather all of your information ahead of time and be very clear about exactly which days and times you need; don’t ask for extra accommodations to prepare for holidays until you’ve scoped out the internal politics of the workplace; and be mentally prepared for some teasing or rude comments. It’s sad that I have to say the last thing, but it does happen.

                1. The Very Jewy Sparrow*

                  The really annoying thing is that religiously speaking, Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret are not minor! They’re exactly as important as Pesach. They’re just less well-known.

                2. Allonge*

                  May I just echo “gather all of your information ahead of time and be very clear about exactly which days and times you need”?

                  I would go for a calendar / calculation for the next five years at least, and base my request on that. If it’s not necessary (meaning the company actually has someone competent in this), that’s a good sign.

              4. The Very Jewy Sparrow*

                It actually is possible, though rare, for all 13 yamim tovim (work-prohibited holidays) to fall on weekdays in the same year. Check out 5797: Rosh Hashana/Sukkot/Shemini Atzeret on Mon-Tue, Yom Kippur on Wed, Pesach Tue-Wed and Mon-Tue, Shavuot Wed-Thur.

                1. The Very Jewy Sparrow*

                  (That’s 2036-2037, in case you can’t or don’t feel like doing the Jewish calendar to Gregorian calendar conversion in your head. :) )

              5. Fran*

                Also, what time do you finish work- do you have time to go home before the holiday starts for example on the Fridays for RH (Sept 15) and Sukkot (Sept 29)? Not just Shabbat? Something to think about because this may be before it starts to get dark earlier- but you need to get home to eat and get to shul.

  10. Armchair Analyst*

    my husband is in financial services and it is very common there for job titles to include “vice president”.

    occasionally I tell him his job is sitting around and waiting for the president of the bank to die.

    I am half right

    1. Nora*

      I have learned from reading many many books* that the job of the Vice President is to have a phone in their room.

      * Baby-Sitters Club books

      1. THE PANCREAS*

        I mean, there were a lot of books; you’re not wrong.

        The Vice President might also have to provide snacks for meetings, but that rule probably only applies if the VP is a woman.

    2. 2e asteroid*

      The official title of my CEO is “President and Senior Vice President”, which always seems bizarre to me.

    3. Orange You Glad*

      My company was recently acquired by a bank and we all have some form of “Vice President” added to our titles. They are pretty much only used by HR for authority levels/job grades and my company as a subsidiary uses our own more accurate titles in practice (like Accounting Manager).

      It hasn’t stopped a few people from boasting about their elevation to a VP or arguing about what type of VP they are (Associate VP vs Administrative VP, etc).

  11. academicadmin*

    LW2 – I worked at an institution that has broad ranges (labeled A-Q), but specific titles within each letter category had a more defined range. They now publicly list a salary range on job listings… but generally use that broad letter range in the listing and not the defined position-specific range. I would get clarification before moving forward, because in my experience while an H category job maybe have a range of 60k-115k, no department would hire my specific role at higher than 95k to start, regardless of the background of the individual interviewing. It feels sneaky, but I expect it is more growing pains as companies figure out the best way to become more transparent with listing salaries.

    1. Malarkey01*

      Same- we have a range for say llama groomer of $75- $150k that is the official salary range. When I was getting paperwork together for a new position and budgeting for it I need an entry level basic groomer so I’m budgeting $75k-$90k for this specific hiring but last year when getting a senior position filled it was $130-140k.

      We don’t control how the range is listed in the announcement though so they use the full groomer range.

    2. jane's nemesis*

      Yes, I was going to suggest this could be a pay band issue – at the university’s I’ve worked in, positions are assigned to pay bands. The pay bands are what are posted in the job ads – and they are broad. But no one ever starts above the midpoint of a pay band – you’re supposed to work your way towards that. And often there’s a specific budget in mind for the specific position that is at or below the midpoint of the band.

      I was hiring for a position and had to tell ever single person I phone screened what the actual budgeted range was as compared to the pay band salary in the job ads, and a lot self-selected out at that point. I felt bad, but it was my only option, since I wasn’t allowed to post the real budgeted amount in the job ads.

      1. THE PANCREAS*

        I work at a university as well and tell anyone I know who applies (not just for my open positions, every open position) what the *real* negotiable salary band is.

  12. Filicophyta*

    OP5: Something similar happened in Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, but it was a firing. Beauchamp fired Maryann on Friday, then died on the weekend. She realized that no one else knew and simply continued working.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      There was the reverse of this in an episode of Friends where Rachel’s boss promised her a promotion and then died suddenly in an accident with no record having been left with HR etc and Rachel was mad that the promotion wouldn’t be honoured. It’s almost as if variants of this are a really common trope…

      1. anon24*

        In real life, my boss at the job I held as a teenager/young adult hired a new employee, didn’t tell anyone, and then ended up very suddenly hospitalized. I found myself acting manager; someone had to do it, so I decided it was going to be me until someone told me to stop. Thankfully my boss had written a note on the desk calendar that said “‘new person name’ training 3pm” so I put the pieces together, grabbed the new hire paperwork and some uniforms and improvised when the new hire showed up. Much later, after he ended up becoming one of our best employees (and I was promoted to manager for real!) I confessed to him that I’d had no idea we were even hiring and that he’d been lucky I saw the note on the calendar and didn’t just tell him to fuck off.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Your boss gets credit for keeping a current calendar….and YOU get credit for knowing to check it.

    2. Turquoisecow*

      It was an episode of ER also. One of the doctors was on drugs and the boss caught him, told him to go outside and wait for him and that he was going to start the paperwork to discipline or fire him. Then a helicopter crash killed the boss in the meantime, and no one knew he had fired or was planning to fire the drug user, so he just kept working.

  13. Tiger Snake*

    #5 – to you’re point Alison; “Companies don’t usually have automatic lines of succession the way the government does”… but they should.

    Succession doesn’t mean in charge forever after all, it means “this person will take charge in crisis” and crisis can happen for any reason.
    If your data centre goes down Christmas Eve and your main office doesn’t open until January 12th: you don’t want whoever’s taking care of the online store to be afraid to call the big boss just because you don’t want to disturb him. And if the big boss went to Tahiti and is uncontactable, you want everyone to know who to call instead.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      This is called a contingency plan and many companies do have them.

      And those companies without them…well, eventually they learn to develop one.

      1. Antilles*

        To me, the key difference between a government style “line of succession” and the corporate version is simply that in government, the designated successor completely *becomes* the role. Kennedy dies and LBJ becomes the President, with full authority of the role and all the powers of the Presidency, for the entire remainder of the elected term.

        In companies, the contingency plan usually doesn’t work like this; it’s more of a caretaker or ‘acting’ role, which doesn’t have quite the same authority and power as the permanent role (e.g., more limits on your ability to set long-term stuff like strategy or staffing plans). There’s also no guarantee that you’ll have the role for more than whatever time it takes for them to hire a permanent replacement.

        1. doreen*

          And even most government positions don’t have that sort of succession. The President does , and governors and other elected positions usually do but appointed positions will usually involve someone (often the second in command) being appointed as “acting” or “interim”. That person then may or may not be appointed permanently.

          1. EvilQueenRegina*

            That became quite a Googled topic over on my side of the pond back when Boris Johnson was in intensive care early on in the pandemic, because we don’t have that kind of succession formally in place here. Dominic Raab was asked to deputise as necessary at the time, but in that situation he wouldn’t have automatically become the permanent replacement (he may have ended up staying on as acting PM in the interim, but there would have had to be a leadership contest).

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        “Experience is what you have five minutes after it would have been useful.”

    2. Toolate12*

      If I’ve learned one thing watching “Succession,” it’s that Alison’s point that companies don’t always have automatic lines of succession is true and also simultaneously very entertaining.

      If I’ve learned two things from watching “Succession,” it’s a lot of creative new vocabulary.

  14. Honeyed*

    1: If people are simply taking their earned sick leave / PTO for illness and caretaking, then I don’t see how FMLA comes into play. So if they’re *using* FMLA, then it matters what Aria is doing with that. If they’re not using FMLA, then, well, she’s a terrible person who isn’t respecting the compensation package.

    1. SpaceySteph*

      FMLA is not for acute illness like catching the flu, but one could invoke intermittent FMLA for caretaking of an elderly/ill parent, or if the employee or their child has a chronic health condition.

      I think a lot of people don’t use it in this scenario that could because they work with their employer informally to get the flexibility they need. But in the environment Aria is creating, its certainly worth considering whether you want that legal protection.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Yes, this. I think it is especially applicable to the first two situations LW describes. I doubt anyone has enough PTO to cover all those contingencies.

      2. Critical Rolls*

        Yeah, I was thinking that these are not usually FMLA situations, but some of them would qualify, and if Aria is crummy enough that people go through FMLA out of an abundance of caution Aria will have put herself in a much less forgiving situation for her nonsense.

  15. Ink*

    #1- The stuff about Famke’s own health also seems like playing with fire. Maybe it’s just that she fell down a flight of stairs, got COVID a few weeks later, then the flu two weeks after that… but it could also mean something that counts as a disability for legal purposes. And even if not… Aria seems like there’s a non-zero chance that that would’ve put her off these expectations. It’s pretty soon to be looking to leave already (though as noted the list of issues is long enough all on its own even if Aria IS scrupulously within the bounds of the law) but it’s enough of an omen to me that I’d be nervous about planning on it being my job for 10, 15 years from now.

    …also I REALLY hope it’s a nonprofit dealing with animals, or trees, or at LEAST not-particularly-vulnerable people. Some people can split their “what’s reasonable for employees” and “what’s reasonable for people we care for” really well, I suppose…

    1. Ink*

      *WOULDN’T have. It’s always the split second after hitting post that you spot the typo…

  16. AlwhoisThatAl*

    Sorry for ignoring the question you are actually asking but “I am starting my first job in September at a notoriously abusive workplace which does not allow any salary negotiation, remote work, etc.”- Why are you doing that? Are you sure you want to suffer the effects of such a workplace?

    1. Katie Impact*

      OP3 does mention that the pay and training are excellent, so presumably that’s why; they’re hoping to be able to stick it out long enough to get some money and a step up in their career before moving on. Sounds like that might be easier said than done, though.

      1. NumberBlocks*

        I hope she has an exit strategy. I’ve seen too many AAM posts go very south with workplaces like that.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Right? I read that and was like “Well, that’s a terrible plan…”

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Especially as a first job. Why would you intentionally set yourself up for a bad start to your understanding of work norms.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          I’m guessing they need the money and it was the only job they applied for that hired them. I agree they should definitely be continuing to job search but not everybody can afford to wait until they get an ideal offer. There are all kinds of reasons why people might need a job immediately and just have to take what they can get, especially for a first job.

    3. Varthema*

      I had the same reaction, though the two examples that followed gave me pause – I’m not sure not allowing salary negotiation and WFH really qualify as abusive. You can certainly decide that they’re two conditions that don’t work for you, but they seem pretty legitimate conditions for a workplace to set. If anything, not negotiating salaries (IF it goes hand-in-hand with excellent pay transparency) often benefits equity for people who aren’t great at negotiating or whom historically don’t benefit from negotiation (e.g. women and POCs).

      I’m allowing though that there may be abusive practices that the OP isn’t listing.

      1. Kat*

        I assumed it was something like investment banking or big law, with high pay and excellent training but long hours and dubious culture in many (most?) firms. Most people will do it till they’ve got the experience and can jump off to something better. For new grad type positions pay is also fixed (which helps with salary equity)

        1. mlem*

          Whereas my brain went to Amazon warehousing and then, when training and tech were mentioned, Twitter, which might not be a terrible place to have in your *past* on your resume … assuming you can tough it out long enough to list it.

        2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

          It’s interesting how we all bring our own lenses to interpreting letters — tech was my guess. There are savings/resume/skill-building reasons people want to work at some companies even if they have unreasonable demands or rigid cultures.

      2. bamcheeks*

        Yeah, I agree those aren’t examples of abusive practices. I think they are indications of a certain amount of rigidity, though, and I can see how that would make LW cautious about mentioning time off for religious holidays.

      3. FashionablyEvil*

        Yeah, my company doesn’t negotiate salaries for entry level positions for precisely this reason.

      4. LW3*

        I wasn’t trying to list justifications for my use of the term “abusive,” but rather practices relevant to my letter which might be more flexible in a different workplace. It’s genuinely multiple-lawsuits-about-it, low-Glassdoor-rating etc. kinds of abusive, but it’s also great training that will be helpful to me.

        1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          HOW helpful will it be? If there are actual lawsuits involved, you might not be learning what you actually need. More likely the training won’t be as good as you think it is.

          Also, keep in mind, you will be learning work norms too. Which in an abusive, toxic place can skew your thinking badly. We have lots of commenters talking about how their exposure to a toxic workplace affected them YEARS after they left.

          You gotta do what you think best for you. But seriously consider if what you think you will get out of it is worth it.

          1. Sara without an H*

            +100. When I was very young, I once took a job that had so many red flags flying it looked like Red Square on May Day. I thought my energy and work ethic would carry me through. WRONG!

            And it marked me in ways that it took me years to get over.

            If you do decide to take it (can’t we talk you out of that?), have an exit plan in place and continue to job search.

        2. AngryOctopus*

          Please continue to look for other jobs, even if you start here. No training is so great that you should spend any more time than strictly necessary at a place with multiple lawsuits against it. And ideally that time should be zero time.

        3. DrSalty*

          Well I hope it all works out as you want, but I would recommend having an exit plan and keeping your resume fresh. Maybe continue to look at job openings. No training is so good it’s worth putting up with abuse.

        4. ?*

          Honest question: How great will it really look on your resume to work for a place with multiple lawsuits?

          Surely you can find less awful places to work. You’re setting yourself up here.

          1. Pescadero*

            “Honest question: How great will it really look on your resume to work for a place with multiple lawsuits?”

            If you’re in banking and that place is Goldman-Sachs, or Credit Suisse…

        5. Generic Name*

          Unless you are currently homeless, or about to become homeless with no other prospects, please reconsider taking this job.

        6. Sara without an H*

          I’d think very hard about that. Let’s just say you stick it out for two years, then start looking elsewhere. Will a place with multiple lawsuits (and attendant bad publicity) really look that good on your resume?

          Also, please read those Glassdoor reviews carefully, looking for recurring themes. You may find that the promised training doesn’t really live up to your hopes.

          Overall, I agree with Generic Name — unless the alternative is living in your car, see what else is out there.

    4. Cora*

      It’s probably big law or investment banking or something in that line, where people know its awful going in but there are other reasons to do it.

    5. NotAnotherManager!*

      As unfortunate as it is, there are a lot of workplaces (FAANG, finance/investment banking, Big 4 consulting, BigLaw) that offer really great experience and training and resume boosters, even though the work environment is known to suck. It’s short-term pain for long-term gain.

      I worked in BigLaw for years, and a substantial part of each associate class, who was generally getting paid in the high $100Ks/low $200Ks to start straight out of law school, knew what they were signing up for. The money is for the long hours and 24/7 availability – it’s certainly not because just-graduated first years write a compelling brief (much less actually get it filed). Most of them had an exit strategy once they paid of their loans/bought a house/whatever their goal was. I’d say maybe half are gunning for partner, probably less than half.

    6. Anonymous cat*

      I was startled at the “known abusive” line too but I’m guessing it’s worth it somehow?

      An acquaintance once told me about her roommates who were in something demanding (I think investment research? Or similar?) and it would take over all their time. Basically they were at work or asleep. BUT it paid incredibly well so a common practice was for 20-somethings to get a job there, basically give up their lives for two years, resign with a hefty bank account, and then go into a field they actually wanted but might not pay great.

      And everyone knew the deal going in. I don’t think I could have handled that much pressure but if you could, it might seem a good trade off. Especially at the beginning of your career.

  17. I should really pick a name*

    For #3, I assume there are other things about the company that are abusive, but there’s nothing inherently abusive about not allowing remote work or salary negotiation.

    Some jobs DO actually benefit from being in the office.

    Salary negotiation is how a lot of companies end up with wage gaps based on gender or ethnicity.

    1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      Yes, for salary negotiation, I think it’s better not to.
      And we’ve seen that for young people starting out, WFH denies them a lot of learning opportunities, because you don’t get to chat spontaneously with someone behind you in the queue at the cafeteria, or overhear your boss explaining stuff to your colleagues, and because people are so very often more forthcoming during in-person meetings than over Zoom.

    2. fhqwhgads*

      I didn’t take it as they are abusive because of the other things listed, but rather they’re known for being abusive AND separately they also don’t allow wfh or salary negotiation.

  18. Dog momma*

    I am adding, since it doesn’t seem to be mentioned, that asking to trade holidays is fine IF the company you work for is open for business on that day . eg, a hospital. However, having worked in several and done office work for health care, realize that many offices are closed Xmas day, some an entire week. There is no work to do, and no contacts you work with are available either. The phones are set to holiday mode for messages. So depending on what this future 1st job is, asking to trade holidays may not work

    1. umami*

      That was my thought as well. Businesses closed on certain holidays won’t likely allow for a trade-off, especially if they don’t offer WFH. It seems like a pretty big ask as a new worker to want both paid time off for religious holidays and WFH to prepare for holidays. I would recommend focusing on whether they can negotiate extra paid days off for their holidays on its own. A brand new worker likely doesn’t have standing as a non-proven entity to negotiate much beyond that and could seem out of touch and labeled problematic, which isn’t the best way to start your work life.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I’m assuming OP knows that company’s particular situation.

      In my field, OP would be able to work something out at most places as people are expected to WFH at least for emergencies and there are always projects to work on… Just log your time to the project you worked on (if your workplace does that) and you are good to go. Additionally, some places/some holidays have needed holiday coverage in the past for end-user support reasons.

      Hospitals were my first thought too of an example of a place where this could be easily done. But then I remembered the one time I applied for an IT job at a hospital, and their PTO bank included holidays – you had to take PTO for Thanksgiving, Christmas etc. But the offices were also closed on those days, so you had no choice but to take PTO for Thanksgiving, Christmas… The friend who’d talked me into applying told me a wild story of a teammate who started right before Thanksgiving, and was immediately on the hook for six PTO days that he hadn’t accrued yet (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year) but had to take anyway. His manager had to jump through a lot of hoops to get this new guy’s situation accommodated. I guess this example proves your point that at some places, trading holidays may not work, even if the nature of the job makes it sound like it will! Hope it does for OP.

  19. Tantallum99*

    For #3, the company is required to give them their holidays off but they are not required to pay them for those days right? So the legal answer may just be “of course we will give you the holidays off work, but we will not pay you for them”?
    In other words, are they required to give the LW more PTO days than other employees of a different religion or no religion?

    1. doreen*

      I don’t see how they legally could give more or less PTO to people based on their religion in the US – it wouldn’t be any different that giving different amounts of time off to people based on their race or gender .

      1. mf*

        Yeah, this is a good point and explains why so many big companies offer floating holidays. If the employer gives LW 14 paid time off for these holidays, they are essentially giving her more PTO based on her religion… which is discrimination. So that won’t work, legally speaking.

      2. AngryOctopus*

        Correct. And I believe a ‘reasonable accommodation’ would indeed be “you have to take these days off unpaid” (obviously you can use PTO, but as pointed out, if that tanks your PTO, you’re still stuck, and then also without any real vacation). I’m guessing the most likely scenario is “you use PTO to take these days when you have it, but otherwise it has to be unpaid” which is not great, but they don’t seem like a great or flexible workplace at all.

      3. SpaceySteph*

        In my wildest dreams during a Yom Kippur fast, I’ve imagined a holiday pool separate from PTO that you could use for holidays, and people who have more holidays could use it more. But I wonder if in practice that is still discriminatory since certain religions get more than others? And it puts the company in the position of policing what holidays qualify.

        In reality, I think the best solution is to have floating holidays where practical, enough PTO that people can reasonably take it when they need it and even a bunch of holidays like OP3 aren’t prohibitive, and a flexible work culture where people can take the time off they need when they need it.

        1. Chief Bottle Washer*

          I’m an atheist, so does that mean I get no days from the holiday PTO bank? I think the way to handle it is simply to give sufficient PTO time that folks can take their important holidays off. I am lucky enough to work at a US-based organization that has a decent PTO policy, and the thought of going back to 10 days off in the entire freaking year gives me hives. It’s just not enough!

        2. Head sheep counter*

          Oh the shivers down my non-religious spine about how unfair this policy would be. Adequate PTO is the way to go. That way parents can parent, religious folk can religious and us heathens without children can do what heathens do. The idea that someone’s time is more valuable because they are practicing religion or parenting than mine… makes me so dang stabby.

      1. Spencer Hastings*

        But they are required to accommodate sincerely held religious beliefs. Logically, that could create an implication about what’s required *if* a company offers PTO. I think that’s what the question was asking.

        But I think the answer is no (they could let you have the time off, but take it unpaid if you’re out of PTO, as OrdinaryJoe says).

        1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          They are allowed to reasonably accomodate. Which means yes they can offer them off unpaid.

          And as LW noted, if she takes the holidays PTO, that leaves her with no PTO for anything else, like vacation.

          1. umami*

            It seems like the net outcome would be the same, then. Take PTO for holidays and potentially end up being out without pay for other needs, or take holidays unpaid and save the PTO for other needs. The latter would probably work better, because the company wouldn’t have to approve vacation if the employee has no PTO. And since they have a chronic illness, they already anticipate needing to take time off for that. It’s probably not going to be a good fit, so I hope they find something better suited to their needs!

    2. OrdinaryJoe*

      That’s my impression of how it works, too. You’re allowed it off, we’re not ‘penalizing’ you for taking X days off, but you still only have Y number of PTO days … use those Y days as you see fit, the rest of the time off is unpaid.

      I don’t remember anyone doing holiday swapping at previous jobs but it’s possible they did. For most jobs, there’s always enough catch up or clean up or get started on projects to last 8 hours while ‘everyone’ else is celebrating … 4th of July or Labor Day or whatever.

    3. Twitterpated*

      I’m also not sure, but I think the company could also say “you must allocate your PTO to these days” as part of an accommodation. Like if I look at this from a worst case interpretation, a company could say “ok, as part of a religious accommodation we will not force you to work on any of these days, however you need to put in for all of them by X date each year and your PTO will first be allocated to those days and any additional holidays will go unpaid”

      I’m kind of thinking of it like FMLA. An employer can say that you have to use all your accrued PTO before you can take unpaid time.

  20. Dear liza dear liza*

    For LW 2, I’ve seen universities post the pay band, not what the position is budgeted for. No amount of negotiation is going to get someone the top amount because when administration approves the line, the salary is locked in. Personally, I think that leads to problems because it’s not until the first round of interviews that the applicant finds out the salary, but here we are. So you can add “because the bureaucracy wants to post pay bands” to the list of possible reasons why.

    1. umami*

      We do that, too, but we also build in a contingency fund for cases where the candidate’s credentials might require a higher amount. We can’t tell where people will land salary-wise until they accept and their resume goes to compensation. Luckily, our bands are pretty narrow, but it does mean candidates won’t know the exact salary until after accepting an initial offer. Those with more experience can expect to land somewhere nearer the top, but less experienced candidates will be at the lower end (and should go into the process expecting that, not being hopeful for a higher amount).

    1. thatoneoverthere*

      I wondered that too. OP I am not trying to be rude, but you have time. Please look for something different at a more normal company. I promise this will be one of many things that will be awful about this place.

      1. umami*

        True. Since they don’t start for another month, I hope they are still looking and find something that can offer the flexibility they are looking for. Even if they begrudgingly offer some accommodation, they sound like the kind of place that will hold it against OP in other ways that will make their life difficult.

    2. HannahS*

      Some fields are like that though. If the OP wants to be a doctor, she has to survive residency, which is notoriously rigid and abusive in most places. Sometimes you sacrifice in one way to be able to put “worked at XYZ for 3 years” on your resume.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        Residency is much more likely to be flexible if you say “I can work Christmas/Christmas eve/day after in exchange for Days X&Y off”. And the “this is how it’s always been” culture around younger doctors is (slowly, but surely) beginning to change so that it’s not abusive. Rigid is different as it’s coverage and learning based, but if you can offer up other hours to make it work (as in, I have to be off by 2 on Friday, but I can always cover Sunday PM), they’re more likely to work with you.

      1. ?*

        Think I’d rather flip burgers if it meant I wasn’t going to be faced with working in a toxic environment.

        1. city deer*

          I’m sorry — you think food service *isn’t* a toxic working environment? That’s hysterical.

          Anyway, even if it didn’t involve things like getting denied bathroom breaks and being required to keep your cool while customers scream in your face all day, would standard wages for “flipping burgers” pay your rent and bills, or set you up for long-term stability? Sometimes people have to be pragmatic and “nice place to work” can end up lower on the list of priorities than anyone would ideally want.

        2. narrative plus*

          Tell me you’ve never had a food service job without telling me you’ve never had a food service job.

  21. Techland*

    When I entered the working world, my dad told me that whenever I started a new job I had to “set a precedence” with taking the high holidays off. Do it that first year so no one could say no the next. I’m not at the same level of observance as OP3, I’m consistent on Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur but don’t do sukkot/shmeni atzeret/simchat torah. I might take the first day of Passover off depending on where seder happens the night before. In my opinion you have to be unapologetic about it.

    Long term though if LW3’s level of observance is that high they might want to try to find employment at a Jewish org, it does make life a lot easier. There is a lot less stress in that regard when you don’t have to request major holidays (you might still need to use PTO for minor holidays) off and everyone “gets it”.

    1. fueled by coffee*

      Ask me why I’m grateful they’re mostly on weekends this year…

      This is a particularly annoying part of being observant, but yes – be matter-of-fact about it, provide a list of dates, and see what they are willing to do about it.

      I’ll echo Alison’s advice that getting extra days off around the holidays to prepare is highly unlikely. Yes, it sucks. Yes, no one would bat an eye at your Christian or culturally Christian colleagues taking December 24 off. But it’s not discrimination for your employer to say that you need to work (or work in office) on days that are not actually holidays if you don’t have the PTO to cover them.

    2. LW3*

      Thanks for your comment, but even though I know it would make certain things easier, I don’t want to be segregated! I don’t think I’m so unexpected that I couldn’t be reasonably accommodated.

      1. umami*

        If this is your first job, how are you sure what is a reasonable accommodation? I don’t mean that as a criticism, but just a dose of realism. You have a lot of (legitimate) questions about how to get what you want, but you might need to temper that with the reality of your workplace. Things that make sense to you aren’t always going to make sense to your employer, and as someone new to the workforce, you haven’t built any professional capital yet. You say this workplace is notoriously abusive, so there’s even less reason to expect they will accommodate your requests if they aren’t required to.

        1. Silver Robin*

          They can know what a reasonable accommodation is by talking to friends, family, and fellow classmates or other peers about their experiences.

          The point about this specific employer not necessarily being willing to be reasonable is entirely fair, and I hope LW3 knows what their absolute minimum requirements are for religious accommodation. (Those are allowed to change over time! But do not sell yourself short in the beginning.)

          1. umami*

            I would suggest that ‘reasonable’ is in the eye of the beholder in some sense. I can see the company doing what is legal (unpaid time off), but what they believe is reasonable might not be what the OP believes is reasonable (and in this case, it definitely seems like that is the case!). I think OP would be better off going somewhere that is more ‘flexible’ so that ‘reasonable’ is not as big a part of the equation. It’s probably not going to seem reasonable to give a new employee a bunch of extra paid time off that others don’t get and would create other equity issues.

            1. bamcheeks*

              I would hope that “reasonable” is in the eye of case-law and a judge, not just some random bod’s judgment. Your equality law is a bit crap if a business can just rock up and go, “yeah, we don’t think that’s reasonable” and everyone goes, “oh well then, never mind.”

          2. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

            Unfortunately, based on how it usually works, people learn what is reasonable by talking to reasonable people, but what they learn is often wrong in terms of how business usually operates. Unless someone actually has a business degree (did you know that you can now get a BA in business? I didn’t know that until recently), they are very unlikely in their first job to have practice thinking about “what the business needs”.

            1. Silver Robin*

              No, they likely will not learn to think from the perspective of the business. But they will know it is totally within the realm of normal to open up a discussion about religious accommodations and flexible work arrangements. Businesses might not respond ideally, but it is helpful to know that what one is asking for is totally fine so the business does not warp the notion of reasonable for the new worker.

              (I did, in fact know one could get an undergrad degree in business; mostly through jokes about how useless those degrees end up being in the hands of overeager recent grads, but that is another discussion entirely)

            2. carcinization*

              I’m so confused by the comment that a person can “now” get a degree in Business. My university had a whole business school when I went to undergrad, and I graduated from undergrad in 2003! Granted, I didn’t major in it (Business), I only went to that building because that’s where the Burger King was, but still!

          3. Pescadero*

            The problem is that the definition of “reasonable” also takes into account the needs of the business.

            Not having someone serve alcohol may be a reasonable accommodation in a restaurant, but may not be a reasonable accommodation in a bar staffed by a single person with no backup.

            1. Silver Robin*

              Right, but that just means it is reasonable for OP to ask about it! Just because nothing is guaranteed to be exactly the same does not mean that asking friends, family, and peers for their experiences is useless. OP is not out of line to ask for these accommodations and, from what we know of their field from other comments, this is a thing that can definitely happen for them. Also…friends family and peers might actually be able to tell them how business respond to accommodation requests, including telling OP that businesses have their own standards of reasonable, just like this comment section is doing.

              I do not understand this insistence that it is impossible for OP to have any reference points going in. Is that not the entire point of this blog?

        2. Ellis Bell*

          Equally though, sometimes they do make sense to your employer. One of the shittiest, most anti-work life balance companies I ever worked for, absolutely adored giving off the Islamic holidays to colleagues because they were the only people willing to cover Christmas and Easter. I’m not saying that’s always the case, but if OP is willing to negotiate to get what they need, why wouldn’t the employer?

      2. Silver Robin*

        In support of not having to segregate ourselves if we do not want to: I work at a place where I can WFH whenever I want and my team is very supportive of my observances (my manager has a mental note of when the the High Holidays/Pesach are happening for example). I WFH every Friday to prep for Shabbat, I take off the holidays that I want to take off (it actually helps that we have few summer holidays, because it means I “trade” time out with the rest of my team by taking most of mine in autumn). My hours are flexible enough that I could stop working at sunset if I wanted to. Then again, I work at a progressive non-profit so I cannot speak to your field specifically. But workplaces exist where we can thrive too!

        1. Silver Robin*

          Note: I mean stop when sunset happens before 5 pm. I am not working till 8pm during the summer, promise!

        2. umami*

          Thank you for posting this. I’ve been contemplating what this could look like in my workplace. We don’t have WFH, so I’m wondering what leeway I could have in accommodating this without causing undue hardship for an employee, especially in year 1 when they are first accruing leave and have little banked time. The only thing I have at my disposal that I am aware of would be flex time if the employee is willing to work after hours or on weekends to make up time they need to take off during the week. But there would have to be a workplace need for the work, i.e. an event or other activity needing coverage. I’m going to ask our DEI manager about this!

          1. Silver Robin*

            Glad to have provided some insight!

            And yeah, flex time of some kind has been mentioned in a few comments and is likely the easiest/most obvious way of handling needing to end earlier than 5pm on Fridays. An arrangement that lets employees distribute their 40 hours in a way that suits them is going to be helpful for everyone (child care, religion, regular medical appointments, etc.) Most often, I have seen one of the following:

            1) the employee presents a 40 hours distribution that they keep to consistently. So, M-Th is 9 hours and Fri is 4 or something like that.

            2) the manager presents core hours of the day/week when the employee must be available at work and allows all other hours to be flexed. An example there is 10-3 being core hours but the employee could start their day any time before and end any time after. Or do the core hours, take a break, and come back in the evening.

            3) shift work allows for structuring a week any which way. So when I was in retail, I just shifted my work week to be Su-Th. My manager was just glad I was willing to work Sundays.

            Your situation sounds like the office has set hours – does the space actually close at 5pm and employees cannot enter otherwise? Or is it, say, the place is closed to clients/customers/the public, but folks can stay late if they need to? Because I bet your staff have admin work or other aspects of their job they can do entirely alone and handle during the off hours in lieu of staying the full day on Friday or whenever.

            1. umami*

              Yes, we generally have set hours for nonexempt staff that are our hours of operation, so there really isn’t an opportunity to have a nonexempt employee stay behind to do work. I’ve heard rumors that we will be relooking at a WFH policy, which was abandoned after COVID, so that would be helpful.

              1. Silver Robin*

                Ah, exempt vs nonexempt is trickier. I am salaried exempt which makes flexibility a whole lot easier to handle. Fingers crossed that a new WFH policy pans out for you!

              1. Silver Robin*

                US employment contracts are rare, so this was something where the organization has policies about what is allowed and reasonably wide managerial discretion. For example, my team is almost entirely remote (the majority only come in once a month) while other teams in the org are required to be in-office three days a week. Both are valid and allowed under policy, it just depends on the needs of the team/attitude of the managers. Other organizations will have other policies about WFH or flextime etc.

                If you do have a contract, I suppose you could ask to have it included? If not, I would ask about the policies and see what they are willing to agree to up front. Take precautions to document that conversation since you are heading into a known toxic entity. And be ready to walk if they renege on the initial agreed upon accommodations.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I had a coworker that did the same. Negotiated 3 weeks PTO from the start when the company policy was “zero PTO and two personal days on your start date” and always took the big ones off, like Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah. But he did not take all 14 or however many.

      Want to add that some school districts have some of those holidays off (my kids’ school was closed at least for the two above, if not more) and so the workplace may already be used to people taking these days off to be with their kids.

    4. Rachel*

      Observant Jews really don’t have to work exclusively at Jewish organizations. It may make life easier, but the vast majority of observant Jews make it work at all kinds of workplaces, including very high intensity/high hours workplaces.

      For LW #3: my level of observance has shifted over the course of my career, but I’ve always handled things by bringing it up after accepting the job but before I start. In the US at least, it would be illegal for them to rescind the offer because of your need for religious accommodations. I run through what I need right then: here’s a list of Jewish holidays that I am prohibited from working on, here’s the dates they fall on for the next year, here’s how Shabbat and Yom Tov and sundown work. When I started my current job we were full time in-office and I left early on Fridays during Standard Time (as in, Nov-early March), about 90 minutes before sunset just in case my 30 minute commute got weird. Nowadays we have much more flexibility to WFH and I do so every Friday and before every Yom Tov, and I officially sign off on the half hour before sunset, but I also bake challah during work hours! If I were working somewhere with less flexibility, I would probably argue for Friday as a WFH day based on that additional hour of availability on winter Friday afternoons.

    5. Observer*

      Long term though if LW3’s level of observance is that high they might want to try to find employment at a Jewish org, it does make life a lot easier.

      That is not a reasonable or realistic suggestion, especially as it’s illegal for Jewish organizations to refuse to hire non-Jews / non-highly observant Jews to make room for highly observant Jews. (Same for other religions with similar needs.) And that’s before we even get to the fact that not all Jewish Organizations are that observant.

      There are a lot of really good things about working for a Jewish organization, but in many professions it’s not even possible to limit yourself to only an observant Jewish organization. And even where it may be possible, it’s generally not practical.

    6. Ali + Nino*

      “if LW3’s level of observance is that high they might want to try to find employment at a Jewish org,”

      I know this was well-intended but as an observant Jew who has worked at both Jewish and secular organizations…no.

      By segregating observant Jews professionally, so many people lose out. My field is not specific to Jews. My work is not specific to Jews. So why should I feel limited in that regard? Why should companies, clients, etc. be deprived of the talents and skills, etc. of observant Jews? A good employer – who is following the law – will be able to work out these very reasonable accommodations. OP, you got this! Hatzlacha!

  22. Cj*

    #1 is an extremely timely question because I can sneak in a question I was going to ask on Friday and still not be off topic.

    my employer meets the requirements to have to provide FMLA. however, I work fully remote, so the actual work location of my home is not within a 75 mile radius of 50 employees. does it go instead by the office I am assigned to work out of, even though I’m not physically there?

    I know there was a lot of discussion around this when covid started and remote work became more common, and I not sure there was ever a consensus answer.

    fortunately, I have no need for FMLA right now, and haven’t been there a year yet in any case. I’m just trying to plan ahead in case I ever need it.

    1. mlem*

      I thought the language meant the employer had to offer it IF they had that many employees in radius, not that they only had to offer it to employees who ARE IN that radius. But I’m no expert.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      “An employee’s personal residence is not a worksite in the case of employees, such as salespersons, who travel a sales territory and who generally leave to work and return from work to their personal residence, or employees who work at home, as under the concept of flexiplace or telecommuting. Rather, their worksite is the office to which they report and from which assignments are made.”

      Will link to the website I am quoting from in a follow-up comment.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        I’ve been trying to get clear answers to this for years and have yet to. My company has zero offices and interprets the “worksite” thing to mean “state you’re in” – which I always thought was wrong given I know one of the examples I’ve seen on I think a gov site was a remote employee who lived in one state but reported to a boss in an office in another. So it’s clearly not limited by state. But if my telecommuting residence isn’t a worksite, and my boss’s residence is also not a worksite, etc and you keep going up the list higher and higher in the co in terms of who is “assigning work”, then it seems like all employees should be in scope for FMLA. But that example doesn’t seem to be documented anywhere on the internet.
        So to Cj’s question: yes it’s the office you’re assigned out of even if you’re never physically there.
        But it’s apparently ambiguous what the law means in regard to radius when there are no offices at all.

    3. GERDQueen*

      Anecdote: I’m a remote employee, working through an FMLA request right now. My employer only has a few folks in my state, but HR didn’t bring up anything like that when we began the process.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m a remote manager with team members (including one out of state) on FMLA currently, and can confirm, the remote employee’s location is not relevant.

    5. Owlette*

      I was wondering the same thing. I live and work remotely in Florida. My employer has only one office, in Colorado. As far as I know, I’m the only employee that lives in Florida. I hadn’t even thought about FMLA issues until I read #1!

    6. One HR Opinion*

      This is based on the office to which the worker reports or from which assignments are made.

  23. Nancy*

    LW2: they posted the full salary range for the general position and the recruiter is telling you the actual salary for your specific position and experience. In my experience, with wide range bands, the actual salary ends up being somewhere from the low end to about midpoint. I’ve seen some jobs explicitly state this as well. So 60K-81.5K would have been my guess, with higher going to those with someone with more experience. If 100K is the lowest you will go, look for jobs with a smaller range or that have 100K closer to the low to midpoint range.

    1. Grith*

      Or when you can 100% legitimately claim that you tick basically every box in the job spec.

  24. Call me St. Vincent*

    #1 Several states and many municipalities protect employees in hiring and on the job from familial status or caregiver discrimination. Alaska, Maine, New York, Washington DC, Minnesota and Delaware all protect against on the job familial status/caregiver discrimination. Connecticut protects against familial status discrimination in hiring. The LW should look up whether her state or municipality has one of these protections and consider reporting to a state or city human rights agency if she does! This would go beyond the FMLA interference that Alison mentions in the letter (which is certainly also a possibility) or the sex discrimination under Federal law if the manager is only holding things against women who are caregivers. Your boss is terrible, LW. I am so sorry!

  25. Insert pun here*

    A question about the various paycheck transparency laws: if a company has salary bands (basically “the min and max you can expect to make in this position, over the entire time of your employment here”) AND and anticipated hiring range (“we’ve budgeted this amount for this position at this time”), does posting only the band satisfy the law’s requirements?

    1. Pink Candyfloss*

      In my state, it does! Posting the min and max of the band is legally permissible and has become quite common for positions where there is a wide range of possible experience that could fill the role.

    2. TX_trucker*

      I have the same question. Texas has no transparency laws. But my company always posts the full pay band and the anticipated hiring range, which will vary among positions and our budget. AND when we call candidates for interviews we reiterate the hiring range and that we will not negotiateabove it. But I still get a few candidates who try to negotiate above the hiring range.

  26. wtaf machine*

    #1-I’ve worked for a nonprofit for 11 years and this is SO common in this field. Especially because my nonprofit is one that is reliant on staff truly believing in the mission and serving others. However, we are in a strong Union and if a member of management pushed a staffer to work long hours, it would be a swift formal Union Grievance. Nonprofit work also is a very big lead through to burnout due to high levels of work combined with often very low pay and Aria is going to make this worse and worse and worse. Yikes. OP, start looking for more jobs.

  27. Pink Candyfloss*

    LW #1 Aria has straight up told you her expectations for what will make you “successful” in this role and that she does not think you are going to meet them. One of two things will happen: 1) you will emulate Aria’s example to the detriment of your work life balance, become slowly inured to this level of toxicity until you have gaslit yourself into thinking it’s normal when it’s NOT, and burn yourself out miserably, or, 2) you will continue to prioritize a healthy work life balance and Aria will continue to make derogatory comments about you to yourself and to others until you are equally miserable.

    I hope you are able to take a step back and see the toxicity for what it is, and make future career decisions for yourself in a healthy way.

      1. Boof*

        yes it’s definitely resume time! Even if there’s promises it will change, start looking now, then cancel if it does change while you are still there!

      2. thatoneoverthere*

        OP1 – I know alot of people some discourage this, but I typically bring up my family in my interviews. I typically ask about flex time, taking time off for school activities or doctor appointments. I have asked this in nearly every interview, and I still get offers. You can tell a lot about a company/boss by their reaction.

  28. frostipaws*

    Can an entire week devoted to career/management questions from plot lines in literature, movies, and TV be an annual thing?

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I think a week of this would be a bit much, because a lot of us will not have seen/read those a lot of those things.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        But we may want to after reading about it! I am always looking for show, film, and book recs.

    2. Maxine*

      I recently saw “The Lost King” and our protagonist just… walks off her job in the middle of the day and doesn’t return for two weeks and seems annoyed that her colleagues are worried about her?? I mean, her manager was unprofessional but still? I was so confused.

    3. Danmei kid*

      I attend a yearly fan convention where one of the regular panels is legal issues for the supernaturally inclined. There are lawyers on the panel who are also geeky type people and they pull out situations from popular movies, books, TV etc and discuss legal ramifications of various plot points with as much seriousness as possible. it is delightful.

  29. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    1. Aria has fallen into a morass where only the time spent on the job matters. This can often lead into thinking that people with children are incapable of doing the hours but also that people who don’t have children/caregiving responsibilities are obligated to do the extra hours because they don’t have anything else going on.

    It’s something seen in a lot of managers, especially those who are near burnout themselves. They put themselves through this hell so why won’t their staff do it?! Illogical of course.

    The problem is, unless she faces actual consequences (like a word from higher up, a staff revolt, her burning out or legal stuff) she probably won’t change her views. On the upside you now know her biased thoughts, on the downside you can’t effectively work for a boss who’s like that. Even if you do outstanding work she’ll just ignore it.

    Can’t speak to the legal side as I’m not in the US but morally I’d talk to the other staff and see if you can get some kind of team response. I dare say that you’d probably get people without kids on your side too if she’s this vocal about pushing work onto them!

  30. HonorBox*

    OP1 – Forgive me for jumping to comment before reading it all, so there may be some redundancy in my thoughts here.

    I’ve worked in non-profits for a good portion of my career, and this situation is either Aria is a workaholic who just can’t help herself and is creating things to do OR Aria isn’t seeing that the organization is woefully understaffed. Neither provides an easy solution, but because you’re in a non-profit, you do have some recourse which you might not otherwise have if this was a small for-profit business run by someone like Aria.

    Non-profits are structured to include a board of directors. Your recourse is to bring concerns to the board. This isn’t a perfect solution because there are boards that are hand-picked by a leader like Aria or have their heads in the sand or don’t have enough involvement to feel like they can weigh in. You’re going to know better than anyone how your board works. But a board has a responsibility to help steer the ship. They have a responsibility to ensure the organization doesn’t run afoul of the law. So you should definitely bring it to someone on the board whose influence can help move the organization’s direction. Aria may not be able to change how she’s working, but the undue pressure on employees to work themselves to exhaustion isn’t going to make things successful long-term. She can’t expect people to be available 24/7. The board should (hopefully) see the potential legal issues in the complaints about people using their leave, which is part of their compensation and not a favor being done for employees.

    Now, granted, this may stir up some more problems, so I’d be looking for something else if I were you. Even if things settle for awhile, it sounds like Aria is going to be difficult to work for long-term, so it might make life better for you if you found employment elsewhere.

    1. chocolate lover*

      I read “Hench” because it’s one of her book recommendations from earlier this year, but I’d love to see her evaluate it in more detail!

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        I would have suggested doing something like that to tie in with when the sequel comes out – except I thought it was this year, but just checked and it’s 2024.

  31. Iron Chef Boyardee*

    I’m curious to know why OP #3 is apparantly choosing to be employed at a workplace that is, in their own words, “notoriously abusive.”

      1. Picket*

        I’m really surprised by how many people seem confused by why the LW is doing this (unless the ones asking aren’t handling their own expenses, in which case it makes sense).

        1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

          I think because it is August and she isn’t starting until September. It’s not like she is currently AT this job and she can’t just quit. She has time to find some less abusive company before she starts. It’s her prerogative to decide the benefits of this job outweigh the negatives, but I think people are confused because one usually FINDS themselves working in an abusive workplace, not VOLUNTEERS for it with ostensibly time to find alternative employment.

          1. Picket*

            I think because it is August and she isn’t starting until September.

            That’s just over three weeks away. You think it’s easy to get a career-track job with no work experience in three weeks?

            she can’t just quit.

            Why not? It’s pretty undeniable that getting a job is far easier when you’re employed than when you’re unemployed, especially for someone with no work experience. That is a case where taking grabbing the orange, squeezing it for all the juice it’s worth as quickly as possible, and tossing it away is a better option than doing nothing and hoping something will turn up in the next three weeks.

            I think people are confused because one usually FINDS themselves working in an abusive workplace, not VOLUNTEERS for it

            It may not be right, but this is simply untrue. There are plenty of people who voluntarily go into law, medicine, accounting, finance, the performing arts, and other fields where entry-level life is widely known to be (not to put too fine a point on it) a nightmare. Do a lot of them regret it? Maybe! I can’t speak for them. But the LW specifically says that the salary is excellent and the training is useful, so it certainly makes a sort of sense why the LW would want to at least give it a shot.

            I think this is one of those things where the confused people are confused because they don’t have skin in the game. It’s easy for someone to suggest that someone else give up a job when it’s not their own paycheck and finances on the line.

    1. JustaTech*

      Because, sadly, there are a number of fields and professions where a period of intense work/hazing is still the norm.
      See, medicine, academia, Big Law, Big Finance, some tech (thought that seems to be more poor management at startups than entrenched into the entire field). And maybe also journalism and the performing arts. Anything where you have to “put in your dues”.

  32. desk platypus*

    #4 Definitely ask right away. In my department someone always moves when a cubicle vacates and you’ll want your boss’s blessing. In the next week I’m moving desks in light of department restructuring and my old cubicle is the best one for privacy. My coworker assumed her seniority guaranteed her the space but my boss told her no since it would put her next to the coworker she talks too much to.

    Allison mentioned decency in light of a death and I have experience on that front. At old job my cubicle neighborhood unfortunately and unexpectedly passed away. Before the week was out another coworker was asking about moving to her space. The funeral hadn’t even happened yet! (It was eventually granted and he was the worst desk neighbor.)

    1. JustaTech*

      Seconding to asking promptly! And also to mentioning the reason you want to move. “I’d like to be less distracted” is an excellent business reason.

      (Once my work was rearranging our seating and for some reason the person in charge of the layout put me half a floor away from the rest of my team, next to one other team mate who I could only just tolerate. If I’d had to sit next to him I would have lost any vestige of professionalism, so I *immediately* went to my boss and said “I’d rather sit with our group, but I can not sit next to Bob” and we got it fixed before anything was finalized.

  33. NoOneWillSeeThisComment*


    I’m confused why you would want to work for a “notoriously abusive workplace” regardless of your situation. Also, I am skeptical they will swap days like Christmas because everyone else isn’t working, and so you working that day may not make a lot of sense.

    Depending on the situation, you could get unpaid time off for the days you need. I know that’s not ideal, but I do take quite a few of those days a year as I travel frequently, and do have a health issue.

    But…not knowing more specifics…would it not be better to simply work somewhere more flexible? Somewhere where you can have WFH days, and that isn’t known to be abusive before you’ve even started?

    1. AngryOctopus*

      Yes, I truly do not think that a workplace known to be abusive, with low Glassdoor ratings and multiple lawsuits (per LW3), is going to actually be providing any training that will be useful in the future. LW3, they may have a great training reputation for the details of your career BUT it also seems that they’ll be trying to train you to get used to a toxic workplace, which if AAM has taught us anything, it’s that the reverberations from this can last years and into multiple other jobs (either ending up at another toxic place because you don’t recognize the signs, or being unable to settle into a non-toxic workplace because the toxic one has scarred you). Think about the myriads of people out there who have worked in your field but never for this place. Their training is good! They’re doing well! And they did not have to suffer in a toxic workplace.
      I understand if you feel you have to start here because it’s hard to find an entry job. But please keep looking for a better place and don’t be afraid to jump this ship. We’re rooting for you to do well AND work in a good place! And when you find a good place, your religious accommodations shouldn’t be a big deal at all!

    2. mf*

      I agree with you in principle, but we have to remember: LW is looking for her first job out of college. She may be desperate for income and not have a lot of options. Sometimes you can’t be choosy, especially when you have little to no work experience.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        But that doesn’t mean LW needs to stop looking just because they have this job. They need to keep looking, for a place that hopefully has zero lawsuits against it and good Glassdoor reviews. Maybe that means they only spend 3 months at this place, which is fine. They can certainly cite the Glassdoor/lawsuits as reasons that they’re quickly looking to move on.

      2. umami*

        Not being able to be choosy will likely mean not being able to negotiate for all your wants and needs, too, unfortunately. Their best bet for now would be seeing how to get the actual holidays accommodated and let go of the WFH for convenience piece.

  34. "Weakling"*

    #1 is literally my company’s new CEO except that he has had enough management training to not say those parts out loud. He just makes policies that are overly-burdensome for people with small children or those taking care of ailing/dying family members (or who are disabled themselves), but which are no big deal for young, single men & women with no family commitments, or men with stay at home spouses (or nannies/staff) who take care of all that “family stuff” for them.

    HR is carrying out his Plan of Cruelty for him, reading the ADA and anti-discrimination laws as narrowly as legally possible (and even crossing some lines), betting that the “weak” employees will quit instead of lawyering up.

    If you need an HVAC system for your home or business, maybe don’t buy the brand whose first letter rhymes with Hell.

    1. ScruffyInternHerder*

      Just saying they’re pretty wonky anyways and I cringe when they’re sole-sourced on me ::shrugs::

    2. Ellis Bell*

      Yeah it’s extra alarming that Aria is so comfortable with these prejudices and expectations she’s openly saying jaw dropping stuff. However it’s easier to plan around when people show their hand, I suppose?

  35. Spek*

    I am seeing lately that in order to comply with state laws, companies are just slapping a huge salary range on all job ads. Then they get a huge number of candidates, interview the best ones and tell them, based on their education and experience, they don’t qualify for the top of the advertised range.

  36. Fabulous*

    #2 – I encountered this exact thing in my last job search. A role was listed for $50-80k, I was looking for $70k. They offered me $60k and said that was the max they had budgeted for, and that there was no flexibility for negotiation higher.

    This is what was explained to me: The listed salary range is usually what the entire salary band of that or similar positions is eligible for; however, the target range is what is actually budgeted for that specific role in that specific department.

    It sucks, but there’s likely not room for negotiation above what they told you the budget is.

    1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      This is something I learned recently here at AAM. I had always assumed if they listed a range, it was a hiring range. I had no idea that some places are listing salary bands and that some portion of that range was entirely unavailable to a new hire. That should be more clear!

    1. Chickflick*

      unfortunately if LW3 is in the US, that’s not going to help. I’ve not had a single job that was good at acknowledging that some people celebrate holidays other than the Christian ones. I feel jaded and burned by the system and I bet they do too.

  37. Managing to get by*

    LW 2, our salary ranges are technically huge, like a $50k spread. Realistically, everyone is paid in the middle of the range, +/- 10% of the midpoint. We hire in at 90% of midpoint, unless the person has specific experience to justify higher. When people hit about 10% of midpoint they’re usually ready for promotion.

    So if we had to advertise our whole range for a mid-level position, the range could be 65K to 125k, but everyone in the position would be making between 85k for new to that level to 105k for experienced at that level.

    In general, we would not offer a new hire more than our more experienced people at that level.

  38. Bureaucratte*

    OP3: I think that you need to first think about what you really want and you might want to lay it all out up front with solutions already in place. The Jewish holidays (14, fast days, etc) are mainly on weekends in the fall, with the exception of Yom Kippur, but it’s reasonable to want to be with your family for some of them and to get home early enough for others (which might not be an issue this year depending on your commute). But the spring ones are during the week, and of course shabbat starts before the workday ends in the winter. I suggest putting it all in one message that _includes suggestions of solutions you are comfortable with_ says something like:

    I am writing to request religious accommodations for my holidays.

    Most pressing are the fall holidays which fall on these dates (list them out). On these holidays I cannot use electricity or transportation and cannot work, per the restrictions of Judaism as I observe it [to save you from “well I’m Jewish and I don’t celebrate Shmeni Aseret].
    While most are on weekends this year I would like to see if there are ways I can avoid going into the red on vacation days. I will need to travel so I can be with my family for Rosh Hashana (or whichever). I know that the company generally frowns on WFH, but would it be possible for me to work remotely on that Friday and Monday (I am unable to travel on the Saturday or Sunday because of the restrictions of the holiday). Yom Kippur falls on DATE. Would it be possible for me to work on Labor Day instead? The other fall holidays fall on DATE DATE, and I will be celebrating them from my home, so I should be able to work normal hours that week. In future years, I would be interested in figuring out how I can flex some time so that I can make up the hours I need to take for the holidays

    Also, in the winter , Sabbath starts as early as (whatever the earliest time is where you live). I generally have to be home about 30-60 minutes before sabbath, which has the same restrictions as the holidays above. I would like to flex my hours during those short weeks (which is only November through February) so that I either come in early on Friday or work late on Thursday [or whatever works for you]. Do you see any potential problems with that?

    In the Spring, the holidays are Passover on DATE, DATE, DATE, and DATE and Shavuot on DATE and DATE (up to you about Purim. I generally work on Purim). Would you prefer we discuss those closer to the date?

    Thank you for your cooperation and understanding. I am very excited about this job!

  39. One HR Opinion*

    OP #1 – If there is someone above Aria please, please, bring it up to the person above her. If there is not, then look for another job.

    OP #3 – Please keep in mind that under many accommodation scenarios (religious or disability) this does not guarantee you paid time off. So they can accommodate you by giving you unpaid time off when they would not do it for others who wanted to take more time than they had available PTO for. Even when I worked for a company with an Israel-parent company, the US Jewish population did not get paid for the same holidays as those in Israel.

  40. Critical Rolls*

    LW1, please take this above Aria’s head if you can. If you can’t, be prepared to hold your boundaries, and maybe talk to your colleagues so you’re all on the same page. Aria sounds like she’s in a loop where she needs to justify/normalize her own behavior, and the nonprofit sector can amplify “deriving identity and self-worth from work” tendencies in really unhealthy ways. Just come back and read these comments any time Aria starts to make you second guess yourself!

  41. Petty_Boop*

    LW4: I was you! I was the first cube on the main hallway to the breakroom and restroom and it was SOOO annoying. They put in new cubes where the top 6 inches of the walls were glass so it was even WORSE! I got a bunch of stickers of fish and put them on the glass and when someone asked why, I said, “Because I feel like I’m in a fishbown since everyone who walks by HAS to look in and see me!”

  42. Dust Bunny*

    #1 sounds like several problems being conflated into one.

    1) the idea that people who have family responsibilities can’t be good employees is BS.


    2) Some roles may need people who can devote full time to them, most of the time, and that may not work for people who have more responsibility than some of us do. But the solution to that is to address it through staffing and reevaluating the position, not by slamming [people in 1]: List the job with clear expectations of the time requirements; split it between two roles; decide if it really needs to be that much work or if it’s bogged down in a lot of accumulated busywork; whatever works.

  43. Risha*

    LW1, I’m sorry you’re in a job like this. I don’t have much advice beyond what Alison and the other commenters gave, but I do want to tell you to get out of there if you’re able to. I know it may not be possible at this time, but definitely prioritize looking for a new job right now. At the very least, try to bring this issue to someone above Aria.

    It’s normal to prioritize your family! My job is important of course, it’s what pays the bills. But my family comes before any job. I truly do not understand how some people get to be like Aria-they don’t care about family and penalize employees for needing to care for a family member. I could never treat employees that way. A little compassion for your staff, and understanding your staff are humans with lives outside of work will go a long way in ensuring you have employees that will go above and beyond for you. One of the biggest reasons why I always volunteer to do overtime, or to work when I’m not supposed to be on, is because my boss is understanding if you have to pick your kids up from the bus, or need to log off a few hours early for a school event. We’re not just robots waiting for our boss to give us orders.

  44. NonnyJew*

    LW3, I think that a good company should (and, in many circumstances, will be legally required to!) accommodate if at all possible, which much of it should be in most workplaces. My father was a public school teacher for most of his career, which is a less holidays-off friendly workplace than many, and he never had trouble. Neither did I as a public school student–religious observance days were considered excused absences.

    But… your comment about prep, and about fast days makes me think you may have to temper your expectations. It really, really sucks not to be able to travel to be with family before chag (holiday), or not to have time to prepare, but those things may just not be realistic. I think you have to be really, really clear in distinguishing between religious NEED and religious WANTs. You have to be home by Shabbat on Friday. You can’t work on chag itself. These are things that you can legitimately ask be accommodated. But other than Yom Kippur, you can work on Fast Days. And you can go to a Chabad, or to friends for Shabbat, or prep the night before and put on a plata (hot plate) to warm things up if you’re going to be getting home too late to cook before.

    These latter things are things that, even with a reasonable employer, you wouldn’t be able to ask for assuming the job isn’t so flexible that this kind of thing is common.

    Also, do your homework. You talk about 14 days–I think there are a max of 13, and this year, the one in which you have the least clout, there’s seven excluding weekends, which makes things a lot easier.

    1. Chickflick*

      I wonder if, by “prep” they meant that they need to leave early on the erev + have the day off.

  45. EngGirl*

    OP #3

    Know EXACTLY what you’re asking for. I worked for a company that was really bad with these things and I was in the position of being the one asked for accommodation. Originally my employee didn’t ask for what they needed and I had to reshuffle things multiple times to make things work for them. It didn’t meet a level of undue hardship, but it was a strain on the team which could have been avoided if the employee had just said from the jump “I need these 10 days off, and I need to arrange for my work schedule to be X during the winter months.” Also please be clear that this is a religious accommodation at all times!!! Same employee once had a holiday come up that I was unaware of and just kind of said “Hey, I need Friday off,” and I initially told him no because we already had people out that day. He then went to HR to complain and I had to explain that at no point had he mentioned it was a holiday. My team was very short staffed that day because I also didn’t feel right telling one of the others to cancel their PTO on such short notice.

    If the company is notoriously awful I would be prepared for a couple things (I say this as someone who worked for a notoriously awful company). They will likely not let you exchange holidays if they aren’t already open on those days. The perception will be that you won’t actually accomplish anything, and they will probably not give you the opportunity to prove them wrong, especially not if you’re new. They will probably also require you to use your PTO first before they grant you unpaid days for remaining holidays.

    1. umami*

      This is really helpful, especially about being very clear about which holidays and dates are needed upfront. That employee who out-of-the-blue needed a holiday day off can come across as being insincere about his religious fervor if he didn’t seem to know in advance about the holiday. Not saying that was the case, but there is a risk of coming across that way when the holidays are on a set schedule.

  46. El Camino*

    Blech. LW1, I feel for you. Aria sounds like a boss I had a few years ago at a very toxic organization. I felt the pressure and caved to 12+ hour days and weekends, until the stress was just too much and I left for health and sanity’s sake. And I still feel the effects – places like that really warp your sense of normalcy after a while, it’s so messed up!

    I saw your comment above that you think Aria is getting a lot of pressure from leadership to work these crazy hours without giving the staffing support or resources your team needs. That’s a huge red flag to me. If they’re not investing in your department but still expecting crazy high outputs, that’s a recipe for burnout and a sign to go. I hope you can continue preserving your work-life balance and find a new job soon!

  47. Mrs. Hawiggins*

    I’ll not forget the boss I had who teetered on approving my PTO for my mother’s major, and I mean MAJOR surgery.

    So I told her, “nothing to approve then,” and picked up my purse. Lots of stammering and, “now wait a minutes,” but I calmly thanked her for the FIVE YEARS of experience and drove away.

    I don’t know how it made it up the chain but the up the chains asked me to come back, and told me in no uncertain terms that Boss was completely out of line and handled my situation so badly. I really felt they were genuine, but told them my decision was final and payroll knew where to find me.

    She retired shortly there after. And I mean, shortly. Like weeks afterward. Didn’t sound like a sudden decision she made, if you see where I’m going.

    Bosses like this think they own your behind. This is like those stories of, “I need you to tell me when you are going to the bathroom how long you think you’ll be and when you return.” Then when they’re suddenly rehiring they just, “don’t understand why.” Please.

    1. Observer*

      Then when they’re suddenly rehiring they just, “don’t understand why.” Please.

      Oh, I do believe that they genuine do NOT understand. Because they have lost all sense of humanity while also not having too much sense *and* having an overblown sense of their own importance.

      That kind of thing REALLY messes up a person’s ability to understand how they got into the mess they made for themselves.

    2. Bunny Lake Is Found*

      And like, is it so hard to just say “Obviously I am approving this, but it is going to be a challenge to manage while you’re out, so please do what you can before those dates come”? No need to pretend you may not grant the PTO (If they have it and it is something they can use at any time, you really don’t have a choice) or try and make the other person feel like they have to BEG you. Just be honest about what your concern is with this sudden absence and then deal with it.

      I’d be livid too if I found out an employee (no need to even be a superstar, just a normal employee) just walked out the door due to some truly pointless power tripping from their manager.

  48. HearTwoFour*

    OP #3, it’s clear from your letter that you expect this employer to screw you over in some way. There’s always a crazy chance that you might actually enjoy working there.

  49. PlainJane*

    Sounds like there are some seriously wonky office dynamics in one. Obviously, it’s wrong to stop people from taking care of their families. But it sounds like Alia is also getting slammed as the one on the team who doesn’t have those issues and is therefore getting the brunt of things and is starting to get resentful, which is a normal and human response, if not a great one for a manager. Maybe upper management needs to make sure she has the support she needs to meet the organizations goals as well? Or maybe they need to tell her that NO ONE, including her, ought to be working insane hours if it doesn’t need to be done.

  50. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

    OP2: Maybe it is because I am in the government sector, and it’s different, but in our case, we DO budget for the whole range … we are just VERY rigid in how we apply it for equity purposes.

    So let’s say you apply for an Associate Teapot Maker, with a range from $60K to $80K, and the minimum qualifications are a bachelor’s degree and two years of teapot making (or adjacent) experience. If you apply and have a Bach + those 2 years, you’re going to be offered $60K. It would only be if your qualifications EXCEEDED that where we would go higher.

    For arguments’ sake, let’s say there were $5K steps – $60K, $65K, $70K, $75K, $80K. If you had, say, a Master’s degree and 3 years, I might count the Master’s as an additional credit and go up to $70K. But to get that $80K number, I am going to need to see many additional years of experience on top of the minimum qualifications, which I am going to look at through a much stricter lens than I will the initial MQs. So, for example, if you have a Bachelor’s and 5 years of teakettle repair experience, I might say that’s transferable and qualify you – but I am not necessarily counting that experience toward a higher salary.

    We do it this way so we can be completely transparent and equitable. There are even some sectors that allow for no negotiation at all – it’s hiring rate or nothing – but my office offers more flexibility on that front for [reasons redacted to maintain anonymity].

    I just wanted to offer an alternative way this could potentially be viewed!

  51. Purple Halo*

    LW1 – your workplace sounds like one where work life balance is not valued or considered available. I’d recommend looking elsewhere as that doesn’t sound like a work culture that suits you.

    But I do want to ask – is Aria right?

    There definitely are jobs where someone who prioritises family while at home will not be that successful. For some jobs – success does mean putting the job always first. Coming in at short notice, long days and long weeks. A lot of travel. No long holidays etc. I’m not interested in that lifestyle (I don’t have little ones – so it’s not that I can’t, I just don’t want to). But I recognise that I am limiting my advancement in my industry by taking that balance, and I am ruling myself out of other roles completely to do so. If you are in a toxic industry that prides itself on overwork and burnout – it is very hard to stand against that.

    Is the issue that you have kids – or that you have made it clear that you will limit work and have mentioned family responsibilities as the reason?

    In terms of your colleagues – on one hand compassion is preferable, and caring for ailing family is something we should view compassionately. On the other – your boss needs tasks to be completed, and lingering illnesses etc can mean the caring role can last years. It is simply impractical to have a staff member hired to work full time, who is only doing 60 (or 80 or whatever)% because of caring responsibilities. In many jobs there is no budget (or possibility) to bring in a temp while someone in on sick leave or carers leave. The outcome is colleagues doing extra – and at some point they arc up about that.

    Are your colleague’s frequent absences leading to your boss having even more work? Are they causing resentment from colleagues who are tired of picking up the slack?

    Now the company should budget for leave they offer. But we know many not for profits are understaffed. But sometimes managers/company extend extra generosity to staff in difficult times – but there has to be a limit.

    I think it is important to consider – is your boss just being unreasonable? Or is it that, given the roles people have, and the number of people in the team, that these absences are collectively excessive? Even a well staffed team will run into problems if everyone needs to use their sick/carers/cultural/etc leave in the same month.

    I once added up all the basic leave my workplace has – it came to around 80 days per year (not including pregnancy/new baby linked leave or long service). If anyone was actually using all of that (very unlikely) it would be chaotic on a small team. Especially if it wasn’ta block so you couldn’t get cover.

  52. Purple Halo*

    LW3 – I think you need to be clear on what you are asking for/expecting.

    Your initial email sounded like you expected to get 13 days paid leave for religious leave + standard PTO + standard public holidays in your country – 1 day at Christmas. And then maybe some extra leave for “preparation”.

    I just couldn’t see a company receiving this well. If it is a big company there will be a dedicated HR who will know how to discuss this with you. If the company doesn’t have specialist HR – you’ll be talking to your manager or similar and this is likely to make you seem entitled and out of touch.

    Rather than asking for leave, I recommend discussing how you can flex time or arrange your schedule etc to accommodate religious observance. You could ask about flexible holidays in the discussion. You can highlight that you would prefer to take more time around and would be happy to cover This sounds more like an expectation that you work all the standard hours, just arranged to meet your religious obligations. Rather than an expectation for all extra paid leave.

    If it is as much as 13 days per year, and your workplace has a 9-5 structure with limited practical flexibility, you will likely need to take some PTO especially for the longer blocks. If you’re in a tech environment where typical hours are anywhere between 5am and midnight it makes it a lot simpler.

    I think you will also need to be prepared to have a not perfect solution your first year (although I understand there’s fewer days that clash with your schedule this year) – possibly even needing to take unpaid leave. Once you are more established it is easier to ask for more flexibility.

    Can you also map out yourself a schedule that would make this work. Just so when you meet with them you can say – here’s some things that work for others but being open to hearing what they need.

    We probably aren’t in the same country – the laws are probably different – I don’t know the laws in your country.

  53. Chickflick*

    LW #3, arrrggh. This is a royal pain in the ass to my job too. I’m in a union and I tried to get it into the union contract to no avail, and ultimately had to fight my way into taking the days unpaid so I don’t eat in to my vacation time. I can’t even swap for Christmas because we’re closed that day.

    Plus, for me, Jewish holidays are complicated because I don’t just need the day off, I also need to leave early the day before, and since I’m paid hourly, it turns into a whole thing.

    I’m sorry this is so difficult, it should be so much easier.

    1. Chickflick*

      Sorry, wanted to add that some of my holidays ARE on weekends this year…but I work on weekends.

  54. blood orange*

    OP #2 Definitely get clarification. That would be totally normal in my mind if I were the recruiter or otherwise on the hiring team.

    For reference, we have a decently wide rage for our roles where I work. Similar to the posted one you referenced. This is to accommodate those with no experience up through those with lots of experience and qualifications. We have three tiers for each role, each with their own requirements and salary ranges. I screen and interview all applicants, and I typically estimate which tier they’d fall in based on their application. That’s the range I share in the first interview, and then of course once we’re ready to make an offer we base that on the actual interviews (which might include moving tiers; I might have pegged it wrong from paper).

    Just an example of an explanation for the kind of discrepancy you’re looking at!

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