my boss wants me to check in every day while I’m on vacation

A reader writes:

I (a 27-year-old woman) am on vacation for a week using PTO. My work phone has been off since Saturday and my boss has access to my work computer and email. He just called my personal phone at 4:58 pm to tell me I need to check my work phone at least once a day to forward all calls/texts/emails to him. To me, PTO is a chance to disconnect from work and relax and recharge. Having to check my work phone daily means I am not able to fully disconnect from work. Am I off-base with my thinking?

This is my first “real” job out of college due to graduating right before the pandemic so I’m just trying to make sure I have my norms calibrated correctly before making any decisions.

I’ve been with the company for two years and have been thinking about moving on due to inconsistent raises across the board (I found the budget spreadsheet with everyone’s salaries by accident), being expected to be available 24/7/365, and some new internal policies (can’t do next-day doctor appointments anymore and any appointments during business hours require a provider’s note, effectively making it very difficult to do job interviews) so combined with this information that I can’t take a true vacation, it has me wanting to really put my job search plans into high gear.

No, it’s not normal to be expected to check your work phone and/or email daily while you’re on vacation.

There are some situations where you might decide to do that. For example, if you’re in the middle of a high-profile project and the other key person working on it is in the hospital and the only way you can take this week off is if you check in periodically to handle anything urgent, you might decide that trade-off is worth it. But that shouldn’t be the default or the norm; that’s an unusual arrangement for unusual circumstances.

And your boss’s request is particularly bizarre since he just wants you to do it so you can forward everything to him. If that’s the goal, it’s very easy to set up automatic forwarding before you leave so that it happens on its own while you’re gone (or the more typical way of handling this, which is an out-of-office reply that tells people who to contact while you’re away).

Combined with the fact that you’re expected to be available 24/7 the rest of the time, this is a boss who simply doesn’t care about people’s ability to have real time away from work.

Other things that are very much not normal that are happening in your workplace: no next-day doctor’s appointments (why not?! sometimes things are urgent, or you need to take the only appointment you can get this month) and needing notes for any appointments during business hours. The latter is particularly weird — if you have time off, you shouldn’t need to “prove” you’re entitled to use it. That’s definitely not a standard practice, and it’s invasive and overstepping.

So yes, high gear on the job search. Your company is deeply out of sync with professional norms, as well as just basic humanity. (Also, until you find a new job, all your future vacations will just happen to be somewhere without reliable internet or cell service, what a shame.)

{ 261 comments… read them below }

  1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

    Your future vacations will have to be somewhere without reliable internet. What a shame.


    1. Antilles*

      Pretty sure a company which treats their employees like this would shrug and just tell you that if you can’t stay connected, you can’t take PTO.

    2. I'm just here for the cats*

      Actually, the internet went out at the location they are staying at. and it’s remote so they cannot get to a near by coffee shop to use theirs.

    3. Ashley*

      For the most recent trip I would have claimed my charger broke and didn’t bother to replace it so I never got your message. I also have traveled with people who legitimately leave their personal phone at home too, and really only one adult needs a phone.

      1. Thurley*

        When my spouse and I travel out of the country only one of us upgrades to the international service -and even then we try not to use it- and the other goes WiFi only.

        Also, OP, didn’t your internet go out that one storm? So technically your home internet also can’t be considered “reliable” while you’re on vacation.

      2. Selina Luna*

        I take my phone on vacation only in case of emergencies, like my parents needing to talk to me about something. And I generally check it about twice a day on vacation.

    4. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      This is why my family goes camping. In the mountains. Sometimes even when we are at a hotel by the beach.

    5. umami*

      I would say that if he wants messages forwarded from the phone, I would just … leave him the phone? I certainly wouldn’t take it on vacation with me!

      1. Bilateralrope*

        Yeah. It’s work property, so you don’t want to risk losing it when you’re on vacation. Nor anyone getting hold of confidential data on the phone.

        Best to leave it securely in the office.

    6. Letter Writern m*

      Jumping on the top comment to say, we don’t have to use PTO for doctor appointments during the day, so taking an hour or two for an appointment is considered odd

        1. Kay*

          I would love to tell my boss that when I asked for the explanation letter from the (insert professional here), they responded by instructing me to tell my boss that they could (go do things that I as a reasonable employee couldn’t dare repeat), and they took such pity on me that they provided their services for free! And thus I have no receipt as evidence of my (job interview, ahem, I mean appointment)! Furthermore they told me that should I provide any of their information to my boss, and said boss were to contact them, they would refuse to provide any identifying information but plenty of suggestions of a vulgar nature regarding their opinions of any requests.

          I, as a reasonable professional who has a special level of loathing for such boss types, offer my services (indignant vile hostility towards the offending boss) free of charge for anyone experiencing such nonsense.

    7. Kitty Cuddlet*

      Sadly, I know this all too well. We started taking cruises a couple of years ago because it was the only way neither my husband or I would be contacted by work.

      1. Doreen*

        I did the same thing – my job gave me a phone, and I was expected to answer it at all times ( it made sense for the job and I was paid enough and called infrequently enough to be worth it). And every vacation became a cruise, even if it wasn’t.

      2. Banana Tuxedo Junction*

        Fun fact – back in my assistant days, my workaholic boss once tried to take meetings from a cruise ship. (Spoiler alert: it didn’t work.)

    8. Hermione Danger*

      I once took an unpaid two-week break from my employer during a very busy period. Context: I’d tried to quit; the break was already scheduled for after my intended last day. They FREAKED out when I gave notice, and offered me all kinds of awesome things to get me to stay, and one of the things that made me say yes was that I still got to take that break.

      Once we were too far away from home for me to go back and get the phone I’d very carefully turned off and left on the kitchen counter, I turned to my travel companion and said, “Oops! I forgot my work phone. Guess I won’t be working on my unpaid two weeks off.”

      1. Candi*

        Did you keep hunting? Because all a counteroffer does is let them fire you on their terms. Especially when they’re already that bad.

        1. Hermione Granger*

          I didn’t need to. I was leaving to start my own business. So I stayed for a reasonable amount of time, continued working on my business to grow it, and then left a little later than I’d planned.

      2. Rose*

        Wait… so one of the amazing “perks” you were offered was two weeks unpaid vacation where you were expected to work? Unpaid working time was a perk they offered? Am I reading this wrong? I hope you’re out of there.

    9. Bear Expert*

      This is why I did cruises for most of a decade.

      They’ve started putting better internet on the ships, which is rough for that plan. But nothing says “I’m out of contact” like “here’s the emergency contact for the ship’s radio operator”

    10. WheresMyPen*

      Oh I’m so sorry, my luggage containing my work phone and laptop went missing and only turned up on the final day of my vacation.

    11. Birdie*

      I actually did this once, hiking through Canyonlands National Park for a week. I spent MONTHS preparing people for the fact that I would be completely out of touch. Constant reminders in the weeks leading up, the week before I left individually reminding everyone that I could not be contacted. My out of off message said this very clearly.

      I returned to find sixty bazillion emails, texts, and voice messages about how something was needed NOOOOOOOOOW and why wasn’t I responding and how I was the worst co-worker ever blah blah blah. My boss flipped out on me for not responding in the midst of an emergency–that I’m sure you all are shocked to discover was not actually an emergency. For the love of all that was holy, I worked in fundraising; nothing I did could ever be considered an emergency. There were some serious issues there, I only lasted a few more month.

  2. ina*

    Curious on why you wouldn’t leave the phone with him as well or set up some kind of call forwarding.

    But as Alison has highlighted, this place sounds controlling and micromanaging. The “job is your life” sort of jobs really distort your version of normal going forward. I’d try to find another job.

    1. Pat*

      And also, “…my boss has access to my work computer and email.” So the OP wouldn’t need to do anything for the boss to have access to any incoming emails.

    2. OMG, Bees!*

      That manager sounds like the kind who tried to get me written up a few years ago when I was on helpdesk and wouldn’t/couldn’t reset an employee’s email password while she was on vacation. Pretty sure he wanted her to work during her vacation, but since I refused to reset the password (it had expired) and tell him, I informed him I would wait until she called in. Which happened to be the first day back.

  3. Delta Delta*

    File this to “oh, hell no.”

    And start looking for a different job. I know that’s kind of the knee-jerk reaction sometimes, but this company is showing its toxicity, and it’s likely not to get better.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      I worked in law firms, which don’t really do work/life balance, and I had the same reaction to this letter. These policies are draconian, and I’d polish and circulate my resume ASAP. All my best to OP for a quick and fruitful job search!

      1. Laser99*

        I have a question. I once considered going into law, and I have always wondered how the hours work. I know you are expected to work many hours, but what if you just don’t? If you put in eight hours a day and then leave, what happens?

        1. Armchair Analyst*

          when I was a paralegal at such a law firm, one lawyer was a nationally competitive athletic in running or track and field or something like that. so, she was able to train for that because she did work part-time at the firm. her part time was 35 hours/week = 7 hours/day. not really part time.

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          One of your performance metrics is the number of hours you bill. If you just don’t work the hours, you’re not going to hit your billables. Unfortunately, not all work shows up on a schedule to work a 9-5 schedule, and (practice-area dependent), you’re not going to meet deadlines, like when the client calls at 3 PM and needs 8 hours worth of work by 10 AM.

          If you significantly miss your billables (particularly if you are declining work that may push beyond an 8 hour day), your review will be poor the productivity metric and possibly bleed into others like teamwork, client relations, and workload management. The senior attorneys handing out the work may also not want you on your team if you tell them you’ve got a hard stop at 5 PM every day (unless it’s a hard stop to go get kids and then work from home later in the evening), which also hits hours.

          There are areas of law/organizations that are not like this, but they’re rarely the ones that pay the big bucks.

  4. sofar*

    Set up auto-forwarding and/or put his email address in your OOO message, tell our boss “I set everything up to forward to you, as I won’t have reliable internet/cell service, and I’ve set up my work voicemail to tell everyone to contact you.” Full stop. Don’t respond to anything else until you get back.

    1. SheLooksFamiliar*

      Heh. At my Fortune 50 company, it’s a standard practice to include our boss’s contact info in Out of Office alerts, via voicemail and/or email.

    2. Letter Writer*

      That’s part of what bugs me about this. I did have an OOO message set up and listed the office number to call if an urgent response was needed, and both my boss and his assistant had my computer password in case my laptop went to sleep or anything like that.

      1. Teagan*

        Just FYI this probably isn’t a good idea. You’re generally not supposed to share work passwords, including computer passwords, with anyone, even your boss. It’s usually a violation of IT policy, though your workplace seems so bonkers maybe it’s not or they don’t even have a policy. Still, to protect yourself you shouldn’t do this and should lock your device whenever you step away from it. An exception might be a team password to a shared device/mailbox, but it doesn’t sound like that’s the case here.

        1. Letter Writern m*

          Pretty much no one in our office locks their computer. Everything except our emails are on a shared server so everyone can access anything from their computer and we don’t have outside visitors at the office, so it’s never been something that’s been an issue. We also have no IT policy ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          1. Teagan*

            That’s no different than most other companies. One of the reasons you should never do this is that anyone could log in as you and do something in your name and you’d have zero proof it wasn’t you. It would be tied to your device’s IP address and/or your email if they sent something in your name. Locking your device is not about outside visitors, it’s about your coworkers and your boss.

            1. Rapunzel Ryder*

              If you are a reader, Neil Gaiman’s the Anasi Boys has a good story line of this.
              Spoiler Alert: Charlie’s boss wants rid of him for certain reasons so uses Charlie’s computer to do some shady things which require police involvement leaving all evidence pointing to Charlie.

            2. SleeplessKJ*

              And it still depends on the company your work for. I work for a law firm and every one of us has access to each others computers and all files and emails are backed up to a central server so it’s all accessible. Granted we are a small boutique firm, but should there be an emergency, or someone be out of town, everything case related is accessible.

              1. Teagan*

                There are other, better solutions rather than sharing passwords. You can back everything up to a central shared server and still have separate devices and passwords for every user.

                1. Zweisatz*

                  That’s all nice and well, but I assume LW isn’t IT at their job, if their boss tells them to share their password they presumably have to listen and also… this doesn’t really pertain to the question asked?

          2. Margaret Cavendish*

            IT/records person here, and you’re giving me actual hives with this information! There are so.many. things that could go wrong with this scenario. You can’t change this practice, but please take it as another data point as to how bonkers this place really is.

            As for the vacation itself, it sucks that you’re about to forget your phone at home and have to borrow someone else’s the entire time. Good luck with everything!

            1. ariel*

              Cosign this! It’s really bizarre and unsafe to not log out of your computer or power it down, not to mention bad for the equipment. In a time where everyone is being hacked…. employer red flag.

          3. Environmental Compliance*

            Don’t think of it as an IT policy issue as much of a CYA issue, at least for the passwords.

            The security side of this is making me a little twitchy, tbh.

          4. House On The Rock*

            Having shared documents on a shared space is one thing, giving someone access to your email (and, presumably the ability to send emails with your credentials) is another. As others have said, the simple fact that this is normalized, is yet another huge red flag. No functional organization would ever expect you to give someone else your password and would actively have policies against it. Best of luck in your job search!

            1. tangerineRose*

              Where I work, we have shared documents that are logged so we can find out who changed what and when. Makes life a lot easier, especially if you want to know if anything new has been learned.

          5. Quill*

            Hey OP do you work for my previous boss because he also had no IT and this is how I learned the hard way to remove viruses from computers.

            (Only mostly joking, we did not have work phones, but out of curiosity if your boss makes a big deal about how kind he is for mostly hiring new grads and buying pizza on days where you’re stuck working 10 hours? Also run.)

            1. Just Another Cog*

              ‘…. buying pizza on days where you’re stuck working 10 hours?’ This makes me laugh. When an old company was bought, the new company came in and told us managers how easy it is to get employees to work through lunch (ie: free) by bringing in pizzas. I quickly realized the new company’s tactics made them not a good fit for me.

              1. Pat*

                Yes, this! I had a job about 30 years ago where they brought in lunch every day. I thought that was so cool – and maybe they meant it to be a perk – but it really meant that we never left the office during the day. When I started job searching, I had to start “meeting friends for lunch” so no one would think it was weird that I left the building at lunch time.

          6. MF*

            In that case, it sounds like your boss is just lazy. He *could* check your computer and email while you’re gone, but he’d rather you forward stuff to him.

      2. Throwaway Account*

        That is weird! You are going to have to claim you were out of cell range, battery dead, out on the ocean, etc.

      3. LegoGirl*

        The biggest red flag for me for this company is it’s EXTREMELY bad practice for anyone to have your password! If they needed something, IT should be able to get in.

        1. Letter Writer*

          IT is external and does not have our passwords. That’s all kept internally. But I agree that it’s not a good practice, I just don’t have the standing to push back about it.

          1. Magpie*

            IT shouldn’t need your password to get into your machine. Usually IT has their own admin passwords that allow them to log into any machine and access everything.

      4. TCPA*

        Gah, that’s frustrating! I hope you’re able to find a new job soon, Letter Writer. In the meantime, for any future vacations at this company or others, I wanted to suggest a few prep items (if you’re not already doing them, which maybe you are and your boss is just still a jerk!) that work well for me when I’m going on a vacation during which I will not/do not want to be accessible:

        1) Mention the vacation early, such as in a team meeting. “Can we go over everyone’s schedule for the next few months? Just a reminder that I’m out the last week of September.”
        2) Discuss details of ongoing projects with your team (not just your boss, if applicable) – “Here’s what I’m planning to have done before I go. If anything is needed while I’m out, the documents are in X File and here is Y Person’s contact information. Is there anything else I need to complete before I’m out, or that would be helpful for you to know?”
        3) If you work with external clients who could be impacted by your absence, you can give them a heads up! Before I took a two-week solo trip this year (to unplug from work but also from life in general!), I included a short blurb in my email signature in the weeks leading up to the trip: “Please note that I will out of the office travelling internationally from X date to Y date. If you have a matter needing my attention before I depart, please contact me as soon as possible.”
        4) Before you leave: Send a summary email to your boss/team of any tasks/projects, the status, what you completed, and where to look for info if needed while you’re out. This way, they don’t have to ask you where the Llama Report is and if you finished drafting it or not.
        5) Also before you leave, set your out-of-office message like you’ve already done, including contact info for anyone who can help while you’re away.
        6) HAVE FUN! Work will be there when you get back, and is not the most important thing in the world. Unless something is truly an emergency, good bosses and colleagues will respect your time off and shouldn’t be contacting you about work, especially if you’ve been proactive leading up to it :) Enjoy the rest of your vacation!!

      5. IT is here to help*

        You may also be able to set up standard call forwarding – so if anyone call your phone, it automatically routes to another number. That’s still far beyond what most companies or bosses require, but it can be useful in certain circumstances.

      6. Audiophile*

        Um, when you said your boss had access to your email account, I assumed you meant that IT added it to his Outlook so he could access it that way. That would have at least been a somewhat normal practice, as it’s often done for EAs and AAs to have access to their boss’s emails/calendars.

        Whereas, what you’ve described is pretty concerning. For instance, if your boss or his assistant sent an email from your account, you’d have almost no way to prove it wasn’t you since they have direct access through your laptop.

        This is not normal, and combined with the other details in your letter, produces a lot of red flags. When you get back from vacation, refresh your resume and start looking.

  5. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    This is profoundly not normal. Phone forwarding, email out-of-office notifications (with CCs!!), etc. exist for a reason. If you don’t have those things, then your company is cheap and inefficient. If you do have those things – but your boss refuses to use them – then your company is deliberately obtuse and abusive.

  6. Ms VanSquigglebottoms*

    Early on where I work, my boss asked me to check email twice a day during vacation for any urgent matters. This was particularly bizarre because we were only required to check email three times a day on workdays! Fortunately, we’ve grown out of that startup mentality and now let people unplug (and I insist for my direct reports!).

  7. Magenta Sky*

    My thinking is, if the job requires me to check email every day, even weekends, then that’s work time, and must be paid. (I’m thinking that the labor board in California might even agree, and after the seventh consecutive day without a break in a given pay period, everything after that is at double time pay. Plus, of course, if I have to work while on vacation, it’s not vacation time, which means they’re denying the use of vacation entirely, and in California, accrued vacation is wages already earned, and wage theft is a pretty serious business here.)

    1. WonderEA*

      Yep, that was my thought as well. I have a go-getter new assistant (hourly) who wanted to know about getting work email access on her phone to “stay on top of things” – I explained that wasn’t something I expected of her, and more importantly, CA employment law would require her to be paid for her time. It was a good conversation for us to have about my (and her) expectations.

    2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Agreed. Pretty sure this freshly minted graduate is with the fancy office job is incorrectly (pronounced “il – EEE – gal – ee) as exempt.

      1. Magenta Sky*

        Even if they’re legally exempt, if you work at all in any given day, you get paid for it. (IIRC, the federal standard is that if you work at all during a given week, you get paid for the entire week. I think California is, as usual, weird.)

    3. Rose*

      This isn’t helpful though. OP likely has paid vacation time, and even if they don’t, they don’t need to work and be paid 52 weeks a year. They need to be able to take a vacation. Saying “if I have to check email daily this isn’t vacation and I’m not counting it as vacation time” doesn’t do anything to actually get OP any closer to that.

  8. Cinnamon Hair*

    I’m reading a new book right now (that I’ve been excited for!) that features an island without a lick of Internet, phone access, etc., thus making it a popular vacation spot for busy professionals who need to unplug. Maybe we should all collectively find one of those so we can take turns visiting LOL.

        1. A Simple Narwhal*

          Lol I hadn’t really thought of Ben Gunn as a busy professional looking to unplug, but I’m sure someone could BS their way through an essay claiming just that if they wanted to!

          1. Quill*

            There’s a joke to be made here about the relative professionalism of pirates, but some plucky cabin boy stole the map and I can’t find it.

        1. Reader2000*

          I *just* bought this book! I’m so excited – I love Kelley Armstrong.

          And an island with no internet sounds like paradise. I’m going on a 2 week cruise next year and just not paying for internet. Luckily, I work in a very international organization where a lot of people take several weeks off to go visit family in various countries so being out of touch is super common.

    1. Petty_Boop*

      That sounds good, except TBH I’d want a good murder to occur and NOBODY CAN ALL FOR HELP… but I’m a crime buff, so I read very little non-crime/detective procedural/legal thriller fiction.

      1. HE Admin*

        My immediate thought on this book description was “someone is definitely going to get murdered on the island.”

      2. A Simple Narwhal*

        Ha I’ve been reading a lot of fluffy novels lately so my mind went to “overworked woman relaxes for the first time in forever and falls in love” rather than murder, but you’re totally right that that location would be ripe for a murder mystery!

          1. Chirpy*

            “Overworked woman who hasn’t relaxed in forever and falls in love…with the handsome guy who helps her solve a murder” definitely exists in fiction somewhere.

            1. Lurker Cat*

              Its an entire subset of cozy mysteries. Usually involves inheriting a cute cottage from a long lost relative and taking a break from her high powered career in the big city. Once there she meets a cute but gruff barista/cop/handyman she initially doesn’t get along with. Over the course of the murder investigation she discovers his heart of gold and decides to stay in sleepy town leaving her high powered career behind.

              Yes, I do read too many mysteries. Why do you ask?

              1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                No such thing as too many cozy books of any sort…. see you in the weekend open forum LOL!

  9. Over It*

    I work in government and can confirm there are some jobs where you need to check your email daily or be generally accessible while on vacation. BUT those expectations tend to be only for people very high up in the hierarchy for essential functions/decision makers for emergency response. As a mid-level manager who does some emergency response, I need to arrange coverage of certain duties for leave of more than a day or so, but I can still take fully disconnected vacations. Your instinct to start job searching is a good one, especially with everything else you described.

    1. CL*

      This. I can reach my grand boss 24/7/365. I get occasional odd hours urgent issues but when I go on vacation, I prep the people covering for me and let them deal with it. Any email checking is my own choice so I can feel comfortable disconnecting.

    2. FruityTooty*

      I’m also in govt and is a peon level staff. I’m expected to work during vacations and medical appointments in addition to weekends and after work hours. My sup does this thing where he’ll assign projects on the Friday of my week off and then sending a passive aggressive panicking email about why it isn’t done on Tuesday right at 9AM when the project usually takes 3-4 days. Plausibly deniability. It depends highly on workplace culture and yes I’m trying to GTFO.

    3. Strategy consultant*

      Alison should have asked what industry OP works in, and what the nature of her job is. (In fairness, perhaps she did and edited the response out.) In some industries and roles, you’re expected to check in periodically while on vacation. This is particularly true at professional services firms (consultancies, banks, Biglaw firms, etc.). It also tends to be true in corporates at more senior levels, although at least we know OP doesn’t fall into that bucket.

      I get that many folks will disagree with this expectation, but that’s reality. Fortunately, compensation at those kinds of places tends to be very high.

      1. Letter Writer*

        This is not the norm across the industry, from what I have heard from other people in my field. None of my work is so super duper specialized that I’m the only one who can do it and anything important my boss is looped in on.

      2. Stormfly*

        Thank god I work in professional services outside of the US so that’s absolutely not an expectation. Especially if you’re working on a stressful and/or important project, you absolutely need to be able to disconnect completely or you’re headed on a train straight to burn out.

        1. Strategy consultant*

          I am curious why you assume I must be in the US.

          At any rate, no matter. I have worked at PSFs in the US, UK, Eastern Europe, and Singapore. It is basically the same story everywhere. If anything, Eastern Europe had the most workaholic culture.

          I once called an accounting firm around 8pm to chase a deliverable due that day and was reproachfully told, “we work until 10pm, you know.” The corporates in the region worked as long as the PSFs, which was also true in Asia.

  10. cardigarden*

    LW, every future PTO with this job should be “so sorry I’m going to be out of communication range.”

      1. cardigarden*

        I once had the distinct pleasure of being able to say “actually, I’m going to be on a boat in the middle of the ocean so no I can’t do that.” It was great.

        1. Anon376*

          Me too and it is great! I’m increasingly worried about the implications of Starlink for just this reason.

        2. Bear Expert*

          Boats are great. Many, many cabins and campsites are basically dead zones. I stayed at one last year that technically had wifi, if you were directly in the house, via a satellite connection, but had zero cell signal for a half hour drive up a logging road to hit pavement.

          I had a staff member who was really into climbing mountains in the Yukon.

          International travel and not getting a SIM card works nicely too.

    1. LCH*

      haha, my boss called me once while HE was out on vacation. he was definitely on some remote beach, the connection sucked. so i was like, not sure what you are asking, everything is fine! see you when you get back!

      1. Justme, The OF*

        My boss emailed me when she and her family were in Dubai. I asked her why she was emailing on vacation. They were there for her grandson to race (he’s a mega distance runner) and she was bored.

    2. Bilateralrope*

      That’s going to get harder in my country in a few years. Two of the phone companies here are working on letting you have texts, then calls and data via satellite. With most smartphones.

  11. Rapunzel Ryder*

    O damn, I left my work phone at the office since I knew I would be out and for some reason it does not come up on my personal device that you do not pay the bill for…

      1. Petty_Boop*

        Yep and then “Must’ve been in a dead zone. Didn’t get your 42 voicemails until I got back to civilization.”

        1. Thurley*

          Oddly, my mom’s house located in a major Midwest suburb was a dead zone for my phone. I had to go outside to make any calls.

            1. Quill*

              Sometimes they’re working on the nearest cell phone tower. Especially after a storm. Or a wildfire prone summer. Or local flooding…

            2. JustaTech*

              Very frustratingly, most of my work building is becoming a dead zone for my phone carrier. Like, my phone works fine at my desk, but not in the labs or the lunch room, you know, places where I might want or need internet connection. We’re not allowed to connect our phones to the office WiFi (not that I would anyway).
              But the cell phone company says “we have 5 G in your city!”

          1. Pat*

            I had to go outside to get service all the time, and once when I had to call in sick, I felt like such crap, I went out into the backyard in the t-shirt and underwear I had slept in (and was going back to bed to sleep in right after I hung up the phone). You could see from one end of the block to other other via backyards. No one had a fence. I just didn’t care.

  12. e271828*

    LW, check your state’s laws. If your boss is requiring you to work on a day off, it may not actually be a day off and you may be entitled to be paid for the time or the entire day.

    1. Letter Writer*

      I looked into this before writing Alison, and from what I can tell from a quick google search, there’s nothing that would help me. And my go-to attorney for quick questions also works for the company sooooo not gonna ask him

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Could you do the a friend two towns over had this happen at their office, and I want to make sure we don’t get into trouble routine?

    2. Letter Writer*

      I did look into this briefly before writing Alison, and from what I could tell, there’s nothing in my state’s laws that would be helpful to me. My go-to attorney for quick questions also works for the company sooooo not gonna ask him

      1. e271828*

        Understood! Small towns, so lovable.

        For liability and insurance reasons, it’s probably extremely imprudent to remove the workplace-owned equipment from the workplace for extended periods. Perhaps it would be better to leave those items with a trusted colleague or your boss when you are on vacation, in the future? Although, the Adirondack cabin option may be even more appealing, depends on your tastes.

  13. MishenNikara*

    I feel like there is a missed opportunity for disconnected resorts to market HARD to office people who just wanna be left alone by their bosses for a week

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      That’s a great idea! Cinnamon Hair up above mentioned they’re reading a book that features an island that’s popular with busy professionals looking to unplug because it has zero internet or phone access.

    2. DameB*

      Oh there are TONS of them. They’re just hella spendy. The Maldives has several, as do the Seychelles. Alaska and Western Canada also have resorts without internet or phone. Oman’s Wahiba Sands has several desert camps that have no internet. There’s some in Jordan, too (on the Dana Nature Reserve IIRC).

      Or you could just rent a cabin in the mountains near you and lie.

      1. CL*

        The cabin I rent warns on their website about spotty cell phone and internet access. :) verifiable from a third party

      2. Mockingjay*

        I live in the mountains now. I can attest that there are plenty of dead zones for cell phones. My driveway has one. Internet is broadband – at least once a month it goes down, and even on good days it can be s.l.o.w.

      3. Magenta Sky*

        Or you could just claim to. Of course, some people can’t lie convincingly. On the other hand, some people can’t tell the truth convincingly, either.

      4. JustaTech*

        A few years ago I went to a Four Seasons in Costa Rica that would give you a really cute phone case if you let them lock your phone in the safe for a day so you could really disconnect. (It was hard because that was also my camera, but nice to really unwind.)

    3. Constance Lloyd*

      My manager has always been good about respecting boundaries when we’re not in the clock, but I had a pushy coworker who thought every routine question she had was a crisis only I could solve. It was never a crisis and there was always someone else who could help. Being blunt and direct did not change her behavior. I started telling her my vacations were in the boundary waters in northern Minnesota. It’s beautiful and reception is limited. This was the only way to get her to leave me alone.

        1. Constance Lloyd*

          My manager would have shut it down, but I tried the white lie before escalating. Since the white lie worked and she didn’t pull this with anybody else, I considered it a good enough solution. She and I no longer work together but she does still text me pictures of her dog every few months.

          1. allathian*

            Aww, the only messages from coworkers that I wouldn’t mind getting when I’m not working are pictures of their pets.

    4. SB*

      There are a few of those around here. Mostly glamping style farm stays & cabin style wilderness resorts & they are booked solid for MONTHS in advance. I actually got married at one of the local Wilderness Resorts & we stayed there for a few days after so no one could contact us. No phone service, no internet, no TV. Just a rustic but very comfortable cabin in the forest with a king sized bed, a combustion fire, & hot tub on the deck overlooking a valley of trees & birds (there was a modern bathroom & kitchen though). Most relaxed I have been in a really long time & probably since…this might be my sign to book myself in for a solo switch off in the new year!!!

  14. AthenaC*

    Just because you asked about reasonable professional expectations generally, couple of thoughts:

    1) How did you determine that you’re expected to be available 24/7? Did someone explicitly say that to you? Or did you infer it because you receive emails at all hours? If no one said you’re supposed to be available 24/7, don’t assume that, no matter what your email traffic looks like.
    2) Inconsistent raises aren’t necessarily a red flag; it’s very common for raises to be within a range, with the higher ranges (and possibly bonuses) based on good performance.
    3) No idea what your job is, but if you’re managing projects that don’t stop just because you’re on PTO, you may have to check in from time to time. If for no other reason than it will be less awful for you when you come back; that being said, if that applied to you, I’m assuming you would know and you wouldn’t have asked the question.

    Everything else sounds messed up. Good luck with your job search!

    1. Kella*

      I don’t think it’s helpful to cast doubt on #1 and #2. OP has far more information about how their company is handling these issues than we do. If OP says they are expected to be available 24/7, and we have direct evidence that they are expected to check their work phone once a day *while on vacation* then there’s no reason to believe that OP inferred this without basis.

      1. Shrimp Emplaced*

        OP did say this is their first real job, and want to check their sense of norms, though — so checking whether this is an inference or a stated expectation is great advice. In fact, it’s
        something I’m going to do right now for the things I think I know for sure about my work situation, because I bet it will root out internalized office toxicities …

        1. AthenaC*

          Exactly. I can’t count the number of times I saw folks in the comments legit taking offense when they would receive emails late at night because they were assuming they were expected to be available and respond (as opposed to the other person just getting the work done when it worked for them). And these commenters are mid- to late-career, so they should know better!

          So I felt it was good to clarify.

    2. Letter Writer*

      1. Due to the nature of my job, there are times when I have to respond to police calls about a break in, or a fire alarm going off or other actual emergencies. (I spent part of Christmas Eve dealing with a busted water line), so that combined with my boss having stated “why did you answer your phone on Sunday?” or “you gotta be available all the time” as well as the rest of the office working on vacation/weekend/evenings, it’s unfortunately the norm for this company.
      2. Inconsistent meaning “no cost of living increases”, I should have clarified that in my letter.
      3. None of my projects had any hard deadlines or were emergencies, and my boss was updated about ALL of them before I left.

      The company is great in other ways (they pay the health insurance premium for all employees, provide breakfast/lunch/snacks on an almost weekly basis, in office happy hour every Friday) but it’s a small company and there’s also a lot of distinction that comes with that.

      1. AthenaC*

        Thanks for the additional detail! Yeah you’re right that’s completely off base. What I would expect is if you have a job where you legit have to be on-call 24/7, your compensation (and your raises) should reflect that, and it sounds like it doesn’t.

        1. Letter Writer*

          Lolololol, it comes out to like $5/hr for being on call 24/7/365, so definitely below minimum wage. I do mostly just ignore calls and emails that I get after business hours because most of them don’t need immediate responses, but the emergencies happen just often enough that I end up anxious when I ignore my work phone since I tend to be a rule follower.

      2. umami*

        If those emergency calls are still going to your work phone while you are out, I would suggest just leaving the phone with your boss when you are on vacation so he can field those calls. Your time off shouldn’t be interrupted so you can forward him calls and messages. Is it possible to have an automated message on the work phone that tells people to contact him directly until you return?

        1. Magenta Sky*

          Wanna bet they’re using their personal phone for the job, rather than having a separate work phone?

          1. Letter Writer*

            Not sure if you mean me or my boss. I have two separate phones, my boss has one phone he uses for both work and personal calls.

      3. Antilles*

        You should really re-examine the “great in other ways”. I’m not necessarily saying you’re wrong, but having been around the block, a lot of these benefits traps.
        -The health insurance premium could actually be a pretty sweet deal…assuming of course the health insurance is good and “we pay the premiums” isn’t just a cynical way to keep you from digging in and realizing the insurance sucks.
        -How much do you think the weekly breakfast costs on a per-person basis? $10? $10 per week x 52 weeks in a year = $520. You know what’s likely worth a lot more than $520 a year? The raises they aren’t giving you!
        -Is the lunch really a perk or is it just a way to keep you at your desk for an extra hour rather than losing you for whatever hour it takes to go to the local fast food place?
        -They give you a Happy Hour on Friday. Sounds cool, but wait, when does that Happy Hour happen? If your answer is anything later than “3 to 5 pm, then I leave at the usual close of business”, then effectively they’re buying X hours of your Friday night with a $10 six pack of beer.

        1. Letter Writer*

          Insurance is actually a good policy. I have multiple chronic conditions and every medicine and specialist I need are covered, including the very expensive ones.

          Food can range anywhere from pizza to the grand boss/owner cranking up the grill and grilling us all steaks for lunch on a Tuesday.

          Lunch is done family style with the whole office eating together, even though we all bring our own food. I don’t like it (I want that hour to recharge! Do my own thing! Read a book!) but it’s made clear at hiring That Is How It Is Done. Running errands at lunch isn’t disallowed, but doing it frequently is frowned upon.

          Happy hour typically starts around 3, and we leave at the normal end of day time. Leaving early on Friday is just Not Done at this company.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            Family style lunch daily is an introvert’s hell. I don’t mind a coworker luncheon monthly or every other week, but I need my me time in the middle of the day (and I like most of my coworkers very much!).

        2. Pastor Petty Labelle*


          Some of these so called perks are to get you to not notice how hard they are working you.
          Meals provided means we expect you to live there. Health insurance covered — but you have to use up PTO and be available anyway to use it. And you are discouraged from using it with the no next day appointment thing.

          1. Letter Writer*

            I really appreciate y’all pointing this out. I know it, but I also didn’t *know*/process it fully.

        3. Samwise*

          I’m a state employee, my insurance premiums are paid for (I can get an even better insurance package if I pay literally fifty dollars a month). My health insurance is free when I retire, at which point I can still continue to pay that extra $50/month for the primo insurance.

          My salary…meh.

        4. Generic Name*

          I just left a company that paid the employee health insurance premium and had snacks and weekly lunches and WFH whenever you want for another company that pays me $35,000 more, has better health insurance (it’s cheaper to cover me plus spouse AND the deductible is half), has free snacks and a subsidized cafeteria. This is your first job out of college. Don’t believe the wonderful things management tells you about your company. There are better places out there. I promise.

    3. Ashley*

      As someone that manages projects mentioned in 3, you need to be your company point person for this to apply to PTO check-in and in my experience you need to be pretty high up to needing to respond. Otherwise to me it is a culture issue. That said I will typically tell a person who to in my office who is filling in for me they can call about X when I know it is a mess and a 5 minute chat will save hours if something comes up but that is a courtesy to not making my co-workers life terrible.

    4. Stormfly*

      I disagree with number 3. My company handles multi-million euro projects and managers and directors are not expected to check in from time to time when they’re on leave. Sure, if a real emergency comes up, the directors would ideally have their phone on them. But it would be highly unusual for something to come up that can’t be handled by the person filling in for them.

      If you feel obliged to do so, that’s a cultural thing that benefits the employer, not something that’s actually essential.

  15. Lilo*

    This is what out of office messages are for. “I am out of the Office until [date]. I will respond to your message when I return. For matters requiring immediate attention, please contact my manager, John Doe at [email address]”

  16. Petty_Boop*

    DO set up a detailed OOO response w/ your boss’s contact information (or other project/emergency contact person). I can’t set up auto forward on my govt. laptop due to the possibility of sending something out that shouldn’t have been to a non-secure email, but if you can do it, by all means do it. But you really need to push back on the “requirement” to check daily, or AT ALL while ON VACAY! “I leave my work phone at home when I travel; I’d hate for it to get lost in the ocean. Sorry.” “We’ll be traveling to a foreign country and I’d be worried my phone could get stolen, hacked, or sensitive corporate data somehow leaked. I’m not comfortable with that.” Or the tried and true, “When I go on vacation, I want to forget about work. But my OOO is on so rest assured that anyone in need knows to contact you!”

  17. jenniferalys*

    That’s so invasive to require a provider’s note for appointments. It’s none of their business who you are seeing.

    1. Letter Writer*

      A part of me is very gleefully awaiting my next GYN appointment so I can tell my male boss it’s for a pap smear and watch him die inside

      1. Nea*

        I doubt he’s going to be that embarrassed, considering he’s already up in your business in every other way.

      2. Teagan*

        What do you think would happen if you just said matter of factly, “no, that’s invasive and inappropriate for an employer to ask so I’m not going to provide that.”And then didn’t? (I’m by no means advising you to do this, but it’s what I would do and I’m curious how you think it would play out).

        1. Letter Writer*

          I actually had an appointment last week and genuinely forgot to get a doctors note and wasn’t asked to provide one when I get back, so I think this has somewhat resolved itself as me just not doing it. Not sure if that will last or if they’ll start asking, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

      3. nm*

        I’d want my doc to collaborate with me to write every note to imply I have a highly contagious illness. “Hi I’m Dr. Lastname and I’m writing to confirm Nm’s appointment for super chickenpox”

        1. Quill*

          Eye contact dermatitis: If you make eye contact with OP you will break out in hives. Gotta treat that one at the source!

      4. I Have RBF*

        Or a colonoscopy. Be sure to reserve time off for the prep, too, and tell him why…

        Because he’s a shitty excuse for a boss with this type of crap. You are an employee, he doesn’t own you, and he doesn’t deserve to get details about your life outside of work.

        1. tangerineRose*

          And go into detail about the prep you have to take and what it does to you. Or maybe don’t, but it might be funny to watch the boss’s reactions.

  18. Twitterpated*

    I worked for a place like this for several years. My advice is to get the hell out.

    It started out great, and then a flurry of people left so we were understaffed, and they asked us to “come together and pitch in” in the interim. I was naive enough to believe the reasons that people told me they were leaving, and I believed that it would be a temporary situation. Cut to two years later and they only replaced one of the people who left and the expectation was that the rest of us would be available all the time. Then the company slowly started to take benefits away with the messaging that it was to benefit us (Oh, we’re combining your PTO bank so that you don’t have to worry about if you go over on sick days! We’re also not including the 5 sick days you had in your new PTO bank, so your 2 weeks of vacation is now also all of your sick time!) by the time I was fed up and ready to leave it was hell to job hunt because everything they put in place made it 10x more difficult.

    Run. Run fast and run now.

    1. Letter Writer*

      We had three people leave our small company in the span of six months a year ago, and none of them have been replaced. Granted, one of them was doing nothing and making it seem like they did everything, but we really should have hired at least one person.

      1. Quill*

        I have worked for this exact type of place and you definitely want to get out before you 1) get sick 2) get fired for some weird made up reason 3) start to think this is normal.

  19. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

    Confirmed, this is bananapants. Surgeons manage to hand off their caseloads for vacation, and presumably nothing on your task list involves human lives.

  20. Rainy*

    That’ll be a no from me, dawg.

    My supervisor recently dropped a hint about a REALLY unreasonable demand that the brand-new head of our division is planning to make, and I laughed incredulously and then said “Absolutely not.” I’m hoping that enough early pushback will make its way back to the head in time for her to check with Legal about it and discover that she’s about to open a big ol’ fat can of worms if she tries to make us do this and that’s the last anyone will hear about it.

  21. FG*

    I want to push back on “not normal” and “bizarre.” From this blog alone it’s clear that the expectations for availability and personal appointments are not uncommon. They are unreasonable, sometimes illogical, and bad management, but they are not startlingly abnormal. Working somewhere where these are not the norm should absolutely be the goal ASAP because they are idiots & working for them is a misery. But this office/mgr is not the only rotten apple in the barrel.

    1. constant_craving*

      Eh, just because they occur with some frequency on this blog doesn’t mean they’re not uncommon. This is and advice blog, so it’s not a sampling of all work scenarios- it’s going to hugely overrepresent atypical, problematic work places.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Exactly. Just because a lot of companies do this doesn’t mean that every other company should.

        About the only thing I like about my job is that when I take a day off I am not expected to check in. I unplug my laptop and put it in a box in the living room.

  22. umami*

    Ooohhhh noooooo. That is not right. If your boss needs those calls/messages forwarded to him, he should have kept the phone. Is it possible to transfer calls from that number to his number instead so he can get the calls/messages without you serving as middle man, or put his number in the voicemail message so they can call him directly? Definitely discuss how to manage this next time you are out or on vacation, because it’s definitely NOT a normal expectation. Sounds more like an oversight on his part.

  23. EB*

    If you’re in California, file a complaint with the DOL – if the company promises you vacation time in California, they have to give it to you. Requiring you to work during vacation basically means that they are taking away part of your vacation.

    1. Magenta Sky*

      California’s not the only state, just the most notable. One should always ask legal questions of one’s own lawyer, though.

  24. Ellis Bell*

    I would definitely take up Alison’s advice to go “off grid” when taking time off, but be careful answering that personal phone when you do.

    1. Letter Writer*

      I did immediately add all my coworker’s work numbers into my personal phone specifically so I know not to answer those calls. I also have several of their personal numbers as well and saved those too.

  25. Jeff Vader*

    sure but no phone calls – only leave them voice mails.
    do this daily from the noisiest place possible – beside train tracks, with crying babies, someone playing instruments off-key, refuse trucks doing their collections and a construction site across the road.

    1. Quill*

      Can I recommend while the passenger in a car going down the highway with its windows slightly cracked open? And the radio on?

  26. Rick Tq*

    OP, you say you are expected to be available 24/7. Is that coming from the actual work, from management as an explicit statement, or implied by a coworker with no boundaries? I have coworkers who would respond to a customer request at any hour of any day, even when the request wasn’t something we could address on a Saturday night. I do a similar job and I am able to work a normal work week including shutting off my work laptop and ignoring my work phone on weekends and on vacations. If the people you work with know they will get a next-day response for a late call they will start calling the next working day after a while.

    I’ve never used my personal phone for business calls so I can actually take a true vacation. Your manager acts like you are irreplaceable but I strongly doubt they pay you that way.

    As far as needing a note to take sick time or for medical appointments… Wow, when did your employer revert to high school. That is NOT normal and a dumpster-fire warning you need to get out.

    1. Letter Writer*

      As I said in a comment above, it’s been verbally stated and is also the company culture. My work phone is a physical separate phone from my personal phone. When I started the office said I could get a work phone or they would cover my personal phone bill, and I decided to carry two phones instead of having them pay my personal bill for this very reason of not wanting my personal number associated with work things.

  27. IndyDem*

    My industry requires the report of certain interactions with patients/providers within one business day, including texts and emails. The clock starts when the interaction happens, not when it’s viewed. When we go on vacation, we hand our work cell phones to a colleague so they can monitor them. I’m assuming that’s not the case here. Honestly, it really helps to unplug from work! LW – can you not do the same? (also it makes it easy to remember to NOT use your work cell for any non-work purposes).

  28. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

    I feel that this is a direct violation of OT laws and if they want you to be on call outside of normal business hours then OT has to be paid. Ask how to submit for overtime for these requests that are being made.

    1. Michelle Smith*

      Many, many people are not protected by overtime laws so this isn’t something that can be asserted categorically. It matters whether she is exempt. I have almost always been exempt and therefore it is not a violation of law for me to work as many hours a week as it takes to get the job done. I get paid the same whether I work 35 hours, 75, or zero (PTO).

    1. Letter Writer*

      And those days I’ll get to come to the office to pick up my laptop and work remotely because sick days do not exist at this company. I was out with covid last year and worked the entire time I was sick. It sucked.

      I was hit in a head-on collision right before thanksgiving this past year, and after making sure I was ok, my boss asked if I was going to come in that day

      1. nm*

        Is that legal? I know there are some US states where it isn’t…but idk if you are in the US. Are you allowed to take unpaid sick time???

        1. Letter Writer*

          As far as I know I could have taken unpaid sick time, but that would have resulted in me being viewed as difficult and I was sick and just went the path of least resistance. My work was incredibly sub-par and bare bones the two weeks I was out. (I was still testing positive 13 days after my initial test and company policy suddenly changed that I could come in even though I was positive bc “it’s been long enough”)

          1. I Have RBF*

            Holy shit! That’s freaking horrible!

            Run, run, run!

            They do not care if you are healthy enough to work, they do not care if you have a life, they do not care if you burn out, they just don’t care. The glassbowl you work for thinks he owns you.

            Don’t count on a reference from him.

            You might want to quit without notice once you have a solid offer, because of the shit he’ll pull during your notice period.

      2. Paris Geller*

        . . . Talk about burying the lede!!!! The situation in your original letter was unreasonable & annoying. The things you’re talking about here (forced to work with covid, boss asking if you were going to come in after a head-on collision) crosses from unreasonable to bananas and CRUEL. This place is definitely warping your sense of work norms. Get out get out get out!!!!

      3. Tessa Ryan*

        This! This! This is EXACTLY why you should run. This is not okay. None of this is okay!! This is toxic. Working remotely is not the same as taking a sick day. It’s not healthy or reasonable. And if you aren’t already burned out from this kind of environment, you will be. It’s only a matter of time. This is not sustainable or realistic. You are NOT a robot. You are a person. You deserve time off. I say this as someone who worked for a job that did this exact same thing for nearly a decade… before it finally got to be too much. It honestly nearly ruined my mental and physical health before I jumped ship. Please, just remember: If you take the day/week/ any time off because you are sick, need a break, take a vacation, or are in a car accident/ head-on collision and any other number of normal human things that happens to people…. Will the company burn to the ground the next day? It won’t. And if it does, that’s seriously on the company. And not you. Really though, RUN.

  29. And I'm the alchemist of the hinterlands*

    While my supervisors never explicitly said this, my previous job had absolutely no boundaries around work life balance and you were expected to be available at all times (and it was never a life or death situation). I was called and texted at 9:00 pm on Saturday nights and 9:00 am on Sunday mornings. A colleague went on vacation and his out of work email actually said “I will be at my son’s college graduation this week. I will be accessible by email and phone.” So my solution was exactly what Alison said- every vacation happened to be somewhere with no signal and no Wi-Fi. How strange…

  30. Michelle Smith*

    Yes, it’s time to move on from this workplace. Your instincts are correct. There are jobs in certain fields where working on vacation is the norm (my own field, law, comes to mind for people in certain sectors of private practice). If you think you might be in one of those fields, it might be good to seek out some people at other offices in other areas (use LinkedIn to find them), do some informational interviews (easy to schedule during lunch or off-hours), and find out whether your current field is one you want to stay in.

    As far as how to interview? Do what you have to do. If you can schedule interviews after hours, great, but if you can’t? Adjust accordingly. Take personal time and put in for it several days in advance. Adjust your lunch break so that you can take a virtual meeting from your car or your WFH office and do the interview during that time. Eat a granola bar at your desk on those days. If you must be off-site at short notice and can’t get the time off through approved channels, I have heard of some people going to urgent care for a doctor’s note for things like stomach problems. Do what you feel comfortable with ethically and get out of your situation any way you can.

  31. Anony*

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask people to check email daily in highly paid jobs (e.g., biglaw, certain tech jobs, certain physicians, C-suite, etc.). I work at a large law firm and, outside of very occasional special trips (e.g., wedding/honeymoon), there is an expectation that associates will review and respond to important emails, even if responses are delayed. Partners (who typically clear a few million a year) are even more responsive. But paralegals or other staff (who make less than the attorneys) are not expected to be available while away.

    If OP is, for example, a junior but highly paid software engineer, this type of expectation may just come with the territory (and the paycheck). Otherwise, vacation should be respected and protected as true time off.

    1. Lynn - Head of HR*

      Our top people have a point person to reach them if there is an urgent issue — and our OOO messages gives information for that point person.

      It is so nice to be uninterrupted …. or only interrupted for something that is truly needed. But the head of IT gets interrupted on every one of his vacations …. and he gets some extra perks to cover for this (and knows it comes with the territory).

    2. MPM*

      Agreed. There is very much an expectation that attorneys should monitor their email while on most vacations. And this expectation is not limited to the most highly paid law firms.

    3. No*

      If I am expected to respond to work related enquiries while on leave I will be billing for those hours. If the company can bill out my time, they can pay me.

  32. Charleston Girlie*

    Oof this is a big GET OUT from me! I had a boss like this previously, and it seriously skewed my perceptions of what expectations were okay. I mean, they expected me to be available to the point that I had to text my bosses any time I went in to see a movie at the theater outside of working hours so that I wouldn’t get berated the next day for not answering. It’s not normal for a manager to require you text them at 7 pm to let them know you can’t answer your phone until 9 pm that same night!!

    1. And thanks for the coffee*

      Oh dear, what if you engaged in some spontaneous intimate moments and did not answer phone calls for an hour or two. Or do you text: Hey boss, I’m going to be taking some time to $&@-:@ with my wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, one night stand. I’ll be sure to text when I’m available again.

      1. Charleston Girlie*

        Unfortunately, I never had one during this two-year long era LOL. I was one time shopping in a bookstore over the weekend, didn’t hear my phone, and then was alerted that they called my dad to ask where I was (I was 24).

      2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Or do you text: Hey boss, I’m going to be taking some time to $&@-:@ with my wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, one night stand. I’ll be sure to text when I’m available again.

        And get in response an instruction to “multitask”?

        1. Quill*

          I guess that work intruding into your personal life makes it less weird that your personal activities, Duck Club adjacent or not, would migrate to the office.

  33. Hashtag Destigmatize Therapy*

    Maybe I’m making too much of this, LW, but the fact that it was so easy to access the budget spreadsheet with every individual’s salary (and possibly other sensitive information!) that you accessed it *by accident* doesn’t give me confidence that this is a well-run organization in general. Especially taken together with what sounds like a very dumb and counterproductive culture around availability. I agree with everyone saying that you can probably do a lot better than this company.

    1. Letter Writer*

      I was definitely doing some digging trying to find a different spreadsheet, so it’s not super obviously available, but I was honestly horrified to find it because it seems like such a breach of privacy (even though I know talking about salary is legal, it’s still something that people should choose to disclose, not something I can just stumble upon.)

  34. Susie Occasionally(formerly No)-Fun*

    When I was in my previous (questionable boundaries) job, I took every vacation with my sister, on my BiL’s boat, which was “likely to be in the middle of Lake Huron at any time”. No phone or wifi, so sorry. He was (and is) terminally online, so we spent most of our time in the harbor drinking margaritas and sharing memes, but—most importantly—I did not get work calls or emails.

  35. Catwhisperer*

    RE: difficulty getting time off for interviewing due to needing a provider note for appointments, you may need to fake a stomach bug for the full day. I know it feels icky to lie like that, but a company that insists on that much oversight into your personal life doesn’t give you any other options.

  36. miss_chevious*

    And this is why my boss doesn’t have my personal phone number (I carry a separate phone for work.)

    1. CSRoadWarrior*

      Same here. In fact, I absolutely REFUSE to give anyone at work my personal number. The last thing I want is my phone to go off from someone at work on a Saturday.

  37. Anne Shirley*

    A Dickens novel called. It wants your boss back. OP, I wish you the best of luck in finding something else. Is temporary or contractual work elsewhere feasible? The “no next day appointments” is outrageous. I’m not in law or HR, but it feels like that must be in violation of something.

    1. Letter Writer*

      I still plan to schedule doctor appointments next day as needed and if my boss gets upset by it just say that my health is a priority and my doctor said my sickness/injury/issue needed to be addressed immediately

      1. Anne Shirley*

        Bravo, Letter Writer! I hope all your coworkers do the same. I had nightmarish thoughts of people with heart palpitations, vision problems, and other Scary Symptoms postponing appointments!

        1. Letter Writer*

          I have multiple chronic health issues, as well as being that person who always gets the “weird” medical things (seizures from medication 99% of the population can tolerate just fine, blood clot due to an IV, the list goes on lol), so I don’t mess around when it comes to my health and seeing doctors.

  38. Bookworm*

    Run. I was in a somewhat similar position earlier this year. No set core hours, boss would message at night/while people were on their approved PTO/etc. Saw it as a hilarious quirk to always “forget” to check the calendar rather than the inability to manage/flightiness on their part.

    If they have access to your work comms, you should be off enjoying your PTO. Run!

    1. FruityTooty*

      Ding ding ding. When you ask what your core hours are, and your manager is like shrug emoji, run. That and their conveniently short memory when it comes to preapproved leave.

    1. MigraineMonth*

      I think you’ll get more/better advice if you post on Friday’s “All work topics” thread or send a question to Alison directly.

  39. CSRoadWarrior*

    Yikes. This reminds me of my dad’s last boss before my dad retired. This boss expected everyone to answer emails and respond to everything no matter what time of day or day the week it was. Didn’t matter if it was 3am when everyone was sleeping, on a Saturday afternoon, or if you were on vacation. If you didn’t answer within a few hours, you would be reprimanded and seen as not dedicated to your job.

    Which is utter nonsense. To reflect on OP’s question, this is NOT normal. As Alison said, please start looking for a new job and don’t delay. Most companies don’t do this, including mine. In fact, the CEO of my company told me face-to-face to try not to check your emails on a weekend. Nobody should be expected to work 24/7 unless the job requires it. If you work 9 to 5, this shouldn’t be expected. Otherwise, it will drain you, negatively affect your health, and lead to severe burnout. Yes, you want to do your job well, but you’re only human. You need a break from work. Nobody should be alive just to be tethered to their job 168 hours a week. It is NOT reasonable.

  40. Isabelle*

    I recently got chastised for not checking my email on my wedding day. The company knew I was getting married – they gave me a card and a cheque – and also knew the ceremony would be followed by a week of backcountry hiking. And yet! My boss was clearly annoyed and cold shouldered me until I grovelled. I’m done. Two interviews next week so fingers crossed!

    1. CSRoadWarrior*

      Totally ridiculous! You are supposed to be exchanging vows and celebrating on your special day with your new spouse who you will be spending the rest of your life with, not worrying about work. I can’t even imagine.

      I hope you get of of there ASAP. If this were to happen at my wedding, I would be very pissed. No joke.

  41. Maple Leaf*

    I would be leaving my work phone at work when I am out on VL (vacation leave) and would not be answering the phone seeing my boss on caller ID.

    Take this with a grain of salt as I am the office grouch who has been around forever and is known for having strong work/life boundaries.

  42. Quill*

    Hi OP!

    I (then 25) was once fired for a situation that can be summarized as “left my phone indoors like everyone should do when messing around in the yard / with water” on a weekend where I had zero reason to expect anyone would need to contact me for any reason, let alone my boss. It was also my first real job in my industry and looking back, my only regret is that my boss didn’t fire me sooner so his harebrained weekend schemes wouldn’t make me late for my brother’s graduation party.

    You will find a new job, and when they ask why you left you will say some variation on “seeking greater pay / responsibility / opportunity”

    1. CSRoadWarrior*

      What on earth? It seems like this was done without warning. I am glad you are out of there. This does not seem like a good company to work for if they did that to you.

      I hope you are somewhere much better right now.

      1. Quill*

        Yeah that place was a shitshow. Boss wanted instant information on something and some of us do things like go swimming or take showers or, gasp, start understanding that we had some legal rights as workers.

  43. Anne Shirley*

    I seriously doubt managers with serious/alarming symptoms would abide by the “no next-day appointments” rule. And if questioned, they’d probably back-pedal and say this didn’t apply to urgent problems.

  44. Kevin Sours*

    Yellowstone doesn’t have cell reception in most of the park and some of the vacation rentals in the local area don’t have reception either. Just saying.

    1. Quercus*

      Alternately, if you have the resources for this kind of vacation, you could go, and the first couple mornings check email first thing, and of course find something to immediately call your boss about. Then again in another hour after you’ve had your croissant and cafe au lait, say 9:00 am local time. The third day, after your boss explains time zones, you’ll ‘discover’ your phone charger doesn’t work with European plugs and can’t be in touch until you get back.

  45. Nightengale*

    I mean I am a doctor with no other doctors in my same field in my health system to cover for me and so I don’t ever get a complete and total vacation. And that is. . .not OK long term and I am trying to get a second provider but in the meantime it is what it is and I do it because my patients need care and there isn’t anyone else to refill prescriptions and respond to messages that are urgent but not go-to-the-ER-worthy. There are jobs like that. But very very few jobs are truly like that and it seems extremally unlikely your job is one of them.

    1. Boof*

      Hi, I feel you but I have to ask, I’m not understanding this “no one else to refill scripts and screen messages” thing you say. Usually it doesn’t take a specialist doc to do that, nurses/apps can do the initial message triage etc – You know you best but I think the medical system and us docs tend to see ourselves as a little more indespensible than we are and encouraging a culture of stepping away when able is best. If you’re part of a bigger health system I’m sure they’re happy to get as much out of you as you’ll give and not pay for a nurse or app to cover but… yeah, please insist that you get some kind of coverage so you can take a break.

  46. SB*

    This is so bizarre. My manager scolded me when I logged into my emails when on annual leave & I do the same to my team. I will however never be mad about receiving photos from their adventures!

  47. They tried in vain..*

    “any appointments during business hours require a provider’s note, effectively making it very difficult to do job interviews”

    Actually it could make it easier. Go to the inteview anyway and when they ask for a note, say you left it at home. Then forget to bring it in. Repeat as required. If they don’t get the hint and start offering you a raise then you’re already well ahead on your job search. Always remember when you start serious job hunting, effectively you no longer need to work for your company, you are leaving anyway. Put all your effort into job hunting, you’re going to be leaving in a few weeks anyway.

  48. MillennialHR*

    This is the reason I left my last job. After work hours, I went to an appointment (it was for a massage, but I was feeling stressed AND it was after hours) and didn’t answer my work cell phone while I was there. When I got home, my phone was continuing to ring and I was told that “because I made sooooo much money” (I made less than anyone else on the administrative team), I “needed to be available 24/7/365”.

    When I had surgery, I was also not able to take FMLA, even though I qualified for it, because they had no one to do my job (which is also illegal). I couldn’t carry my work cell phone while using crutches, so I left it on my desk on a Saturday and they called my parents home phone (I was staying with them) to get in contact with me.

    I don’t regret my decision to leave at all and neither should you, OP.

  49. Go camping*

    Tell your boss your LOVE camping in wilderness. Most of your time off is camping where there is no cell phone signal. (I used that when I was in a crazy corporate world with unreasonable workload and expectations. They learned quickly not to even try to contact me.)

  50. Chris*

    I have a bit of the opposite problem. My executive assistant wants to be kept informed while she is on vacation. I just don’t do it, because I’m the boss, right? But she’s not happy about it.

    As a compromise, I don’t send her anything but she’s free to check her emails if she wants to do so.

  51. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    I am super hung up on “no next-day Dr appointments”. I raised two kids and had a lot of *same* day Dr appointments with them, because emergencies happen. I had an out-of-the-blue same-day Dr appt myself that turned into an emergency surgery (called the Dr as I was having my morning coffee, about to head into work, with a “I’m having XYZ symptoms, should I make an appointment?” and she said “COME IN NOW”. I called in sick from her office as she was telling me to stop eating and drinking and to find a ride to a surgery facility. I had a detached retina and could’ve lost vision in that eye if I’d waited any longer.) Who is this guy to not allow his employees to have emergency health issues?!

  52. Cindy*

    I sent out memos to all of my tenants and head office telling them I was on vaca and would not be reponding to calls, voice mails, texts, messenger, emails, smoke signals, etc till I was back. I put my phone on airplane mode for my entire vaca. My kids could reach me by messenger if they needed me but that is all.

  53. Trip*


    Dear AAM, a new/inexperienced employee who reps to clients went on vacation without putting an out-of-office message on her phone. I had asked her to, or maybe I just expected her to. Maybe she couldn’t figure out how, or maybe in her inexperience she didn’t know how important it was for clients to whom she’s point-of-contact to not be left hanging while she was gone. After a couple of days, there was trouble. For some reason I can’t mess with her phone settings the way I can with her email. Phone tech says I’d have to junk her number completely, not a good option. So I called her personal number and asked her to forward messages to me once a day so all of her clients haven’t left in disgust when she gets back.

    I’m getting attitude back. She’s behaving as though I’m asking her to work on vacation. If she’d made normal preparations for her absence we wouldn’t be in this mess.

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