does being salaried just mean I work a ton of overtime for free, coworker won’t share a file, and more

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

1. Does being salaried just mean I work a ton of overtime with no extra pay?

My position became salaried a while back and, while I understand the general idea of it (no overtime compensation), I’m wondering how working overtime hours should or does function in the real world sense.

For example, I’m compensated based on a 40-hour work week. For a variety of reasons, my work week is routinely more than that and in the last few months has ballooned into approximately 48-55 with evenings and even a weekend day tossed in. It’s a workload and resources thing and, yes, my boss and I have discussed the non-sustainability of this schedule.

Now, I am afforded flexibility in my day. If I need to come in late due to a personal reason (doctor appointment, family health issues, etc.) or need to leave for a brief time during the day to deal with an aging parent issue and then come back, there’s no pushback. But my workweek is still over the 40 hours.

Does being salaried mean I just have to eat all this extra time and oh well? When I was hourly, obviously I got overtime pay or could take that equivalent time off. Now that I’m salaried, am I just … screwed? I work 50 hours a week, they get all that extra work, and if I ever want a day off I have to use a PTO day? So they get a lot of extra hours and days beyond a 40-hour, five-day work week and I get no extra compensation on my end? I love the flexibility when I have to use it but it’s not like I’m “stealing” that time and not making it up (and then some). So how is this supposed to work?

Yes, being salaried (or more to the point, exempt) is often a scam. It’s exactly what you wrote: you can end up working tons of hours with no additional compensation. In return, you get some flexibility. Depending on how that balances out, it’s very often not worth the trade-off. What’s more, we’ve somehow convinced people that being salaried is better and more prestigious! That’s the real scam.

That said, you can try setting some limits with your boss — saying that due to (fill in the blank — family commitments, exhaustion, health reasons, whatever you decide on), you won’t be available to continue working these same hours so you want to talk about how to prioritize. That doesn’t work every time, but it works more than you might think. (Big caveat: if you’re in a field where it’s widely understood that the whole industry’s norm is to work a ton of hours — typically although not always in exchange for high pay — think big law — this won’t work.)

Read more:
is being salaried a scam?

2. I got chastised for intervening with a friend’s hiring efforts

A colleague (Ben) just got promoted and will be hiring his own replacement. We work closely together, but I am not his direct report or in his department. Ben is one of the best colleagues I have ever worked with, and we are personal friends as well (we travel to see each other outside of work, we were at each other’s weddings, etc.).

I was nervous about finding someone who would do as good a job as Ben did and was eager to try to help, but I helped in the worst way possible. We had a detailed conversation about what the role would require, and afterwards I thought I knew some other folks at the company would be interested in applying. I told them about the opportunity and gave them advice about the role as I understood it. There wasn’t yet a formal posting for the role or a job description; however, the fact that Ben was being promoted was public knowledge, as was that there’d be a backfill.

This turned out to be a pretty big mistake. I felt instinctively “off” about it after I did it, and a couple days later I got pulled into a meeting with Ben and my manager. Ben told me that what I’d done was a major overstep and was a big issue for him; the conversations we’d had were expected to be private and I was giving advice I should not have been giving, which was not entirely correct, to people who shouldn’t have heard it yet. My manager also made it clear it was not acceptable and not something that could be repeated. I apologized immediately, told them all the details of the conversations I’d had, and after the conversation went over with my manager exactly what the problems were and reiterated my apology. I intend to apologize privately to Ben also, between friends.

In retrospect, I don’t know what I was thinking. I got way ahead of myself and made an error in judgment; I can see why they were upset. But I did not realize it was as serious a screw-up as it was, and I’m not sure where to go from here. I’ve rarely gotten feedback this negative in my career. I have no other discipline issues and have never had one this serious before. I’m good at my job and have never had a bad review. HR was not on the call, but they were on an email following the meeting where Abe summarized what I was to not do, and I responded by reiterating my apology and making it clear I understood.

I’m afraid I can’t recover reputationally. I want to keep my job, and more importantly, I worry I’ve jeopardized a friendship. How can I gauge how big a deal this is going forward? How can I work to repair the breach of trust with my colleagues? Finally, given that I made the mistake, what else should I have done — I think I should have told my manager sooner?

I think you will be fine! This stuff happens, it’s been addressed, and you immediately took responsibility for it, apologized, made it clear you understood, and said you won’t let it happen again. You weren’t doing anything nefarious; you were trying to help and just overstepped. It’s mortifying to get dressed down like that, but one incident like this against the backdrop of generally having good judgment and being conscientious is not going to follow you around forever. (And the intensity of your current mortification tells me that you are someone who’s generally conscientious; people who aren’t don’t respond like this.) It’s likely that two months from now, no one is going to be thinking about this much anymore, including you.

As for what you should have done, ideally you would have told Ben and your manager about it as soon as you started feeling off about those conversations, framed as, “I think I messed up. I thought it was okay to do X, but in retrospect I don’t think I should have because of Y, so I want to let you know what I said and to who, in case there’s any damage control we need to do.”

3. My coworker won’t share a file we both use

I work with, but am not the boss of, our department’s administrative assistant. We have worked together for two years, started around the same time.

The previous administrative assistant maintained a shared file of POs and invoices so we could all access them. I have asked the current assistant to maintain that shared file, but she just created a personal file that she maintains for herself. She has been off a little more regularly this year (vacations, sickness, surgery, bereavement, etc). When she isn’t in, I am her backup and people come to me with the questions they would normally ask her and without access to the file, it isn’t as simple to answer. This past Friday I asked her to share it before she went on a week-long vacation (early in the day, well before the time she was leaving) and her answer was no and that I should be keeping my own file on the same information. I said no, she keeps the file and if she didn’t share it with me then I wouldn’t be answering any questions while she is off all this week.

I have other responsibilities and keeping a separate file seems ridiculous to me, and it was shared previously. But am I wrong? Should I keep my own file? Or should I insist when she returns that she makes the file shared? I may have to get our boss involved. We are usually on friendly terms and while she can be a brat with others in the department, she is normally fine with me (there have been a few times that she has gone silent on me but I have brushed it off). Do I need to keep our relationship just professional and not be friends? We usually work well together and usually have someone I consider to be a friend where I work. Is there too much of a gulf between our roles to be friends as well as colleagues? I am at a loss of what I need to do in this situation and need some guidance.

You should absolutely tell her she needs to keep the file shared. You’re responsible for being her backup, which means you could need access to that file without much notice. It was shared in the past and it needs to be shared now. If she refuses, then yes, you need to take this to your boss. Your colleague is refusing an obvious and necessary workflow and making part of your job impossible.

Whether or not you need to move to a more strictly professional relationship with her is up to you. If you’re happy to stay friendly with someone who periodically goes silent and flatly refuses work requests, have it at! That sounds loaded, like obviously the answer is that you shouldn’t, but I mean that — it’s really just what you’re comfortable with. But don’t let a desire to be friends deter you from bringing your boss into this. Your boss would want to know.

4. When your mom is your only reference

My daughter is applying for full-time jobs. Right now her experience on her resume includes two part-time jobs that are vastly different skill sets. One is hands-on (think along the lines of camp counselor, birthday party leader) and the other is an office job, with admin duties.

The issue is that I am her reference for the job with the admin duties. She has been working here part-time through college and since she graduated. When she applied for the other job, (which is suited to young college-aged people and is not a career job), she listed me as her reference. We have different last names. There is no one else here who could be the reference for her. When they emailed me for a reference, I asked if they would call me. They did and I explained that I wanted to let them know I was her mother, because she didn’t want to mislead them and did not know how to get that across on her reference list. I gave them factual info about her duties, hours, and reliability. Now that she is looking for a more career oriented job, how do we handle this?

Yeah, you can’t really be a reference as her mom. You might be entirely willing to list off all her weaknesses as objectively as possible (my mom sure would; for all I know she’s doing it right now without being asked), but reference-checkers are going to assume that you’re biased and can’t speak in a reliable way to what she’s like an employee.

Which leaves her with the problem of what to do with a reference for her one and only office job! The best thing she can do is to be very up-front about it. She should only offer up references for non-you jobs and if someone asks for a reference for the office job, she should say (without any evasion or defensiveness), “My manager for that job was my mother, so I figured you probably don’t want to use her as a reference — although I’m happy to put you in touch with her if you do.”

Lots of people starting out don’t have office job references; people checking references for very entry-jobs will be used to that. (That said, if she has the opportunity to get more office-y references, even if it’s just volunteering or temping, she should do it.)

5. How to remind employees of policies when they break them

My organization provides therapy to children with disabilities. Our field requires extensive compliance and documentation to ensure fidelity with clinical and operational procedures. All employees sign off on the company employee handbook at the start of their employment. How can I best reiterate policies and procedures to employees without feeling like I am repeatedly throwing the handbook at them? For example, when an employee incorrectly requests time off, I usually snip the handbook policy and offer alternative pathways to ensure compliance from all parties. Is this overkill?

Interestingly, the subject line of your email to me was “if you sign the handbook, are you bound by it?” and that’s a different question than what your letter is asking — which I mention because I think that not recognizing that is muddying your thinking. Your employees are bound by the policies in your handbook whether or not they sign it — but that doesn’t mean that everyone will read it thoroughly or, especially, retain what they read there.

People are going to forget specific policies or just get things wrong. When that happens, sending them a copy of the policy is a pretty stiff/soulless way to handle it. Just talk to them! Remind them of the policy and, to the extent that you can, explain why that’s the policy. That’s more likely to help it stick in their head, and it’s better for people’s morale to feel like they’re interacting with a human who understands they may have been confused or not not have fully understood how the policy should have played out in their particular situation.

{ 485 comments… read them below }

  1. MissGirl*

    For OP 2, I realize it’s hard to say for sure from context, but I’m curious where the big misstep was. Was it because the job wasn’t posted yet? Are they worried he gave information to potential candidates that might give them unfair advantage? I’m someone who occasionally steps in things inadvertently and the OP has my sympathy.

    1. Alz*

      Not the LW but it could also be that they know the people recommended won’t be selected and don’t want the drop in moral caused by applying for an internal job and not getting it (which there are lots of letters about here)- it is one thing to see an ad and deciding to apply it is a very different feeling when you have been recommended and then don’t even get an interview. Or they might not want a direct replacement and LW has been talking about the requirement for a particular skill that won’t be needed and maybe turn off people who don’t have that skill/interest from applying.
      Not the LW so it may be something different (and I would be interested also) but those might be a couple of other reasons it might be

    2. lw2*

      LW2 here (Alison can verify it’s me based on my email). There’s some context I just didn’t have room for in the question that helps explain the issue, as I understand it.

      It’s a combination of an appearance of favoritism (I only spoke to people I personally wanted to see hired), giving the potential applicants bad information (there’s no job description written yet so I made representations that turned out to be wrong), and that because of his new role, there is both time and performance pressure on Ben and I stepped on his toes.

      I think that if I had said to those folks “hey, consider reaching out to Ben in a few weeks if you’re interested in role X!”, or if I had waited and spoken to them with Ben’s blessing, that would have been a different story. It was more like “here’s some advice on what we’re looking for in role X that nobody else knows yet” but I didn’t even get that part right. So it’s a combination of factors in how I went about it, I think. (Though to be clear, I didn’t promise anyone anything. It would have been worse if I had.)

      1. TheBunny*

        That’s pretty much what I guessed.

        You created a bit of a muddle for Ben and HR to clear up…but nothing too big honestly. That the role is changing in ways you weren’t aware of is an out for who you spoke to (allowing them to say you didn’t speak to Mike not because you don’t like him but because he’s not great at Teapot design) as well as the advice you gave. No favorites here, as the advice was wrong is easy to say that you weren’t speaking in any official capacity.

        Full honesty, and I’m in HR and in my company I’d definitely be on the line of people to help clean up this blunder; were this situation to happen at my work I’d be mildly annoyed at having to clean it up, but it definitely wouldn’t be something I held a grudge over, especially if launching yourself into situations without all the info is not your norm (and from your letter it seems like it’s definitely not).

        I promise, someone will do something MUCH worse…and likely soon… that will leave this as a blip no one remembers.

        1. lw2*

          Hey, I really appreciate your perspective on this – thank you!

          My apologies to any other annoyed HR professionals!

          1. TheBunny*

            LOL. No problem. As I was reading through the details, I literally thought “meh…annoying but enough was wrong that walking it back will be time consuming but not difficult.”

            You’ll be fine. :)

          2. M2*

            Someone did this to me once. I had mentioned to someone on my team we’d probably be hiring another FT position.

            They assumed it would be one that had never been replaced years prior before my arrival but they had been here. That person moved on, but I needed time to see what we actually needed as a team and what I needed (I work crazy hours and needed someone to do stuff I didn’t have time to do). This person ended up like LW2 telling people they wanted for the role about it and I got calls, emails, and someone showing up at my office. It really put me off and I had to have a conversation with the person. It’s fine now but one of the people they told is someone who helps us PT during 6-7 months of the year (still gets health insurance and PTO) and gets paid a crazy $ per hour for it that I implemented for them.

            This person has said numerous times they don’t want to work more than 7-8 months in a year (they spend 3 months in Europe with their kids and extended family). More importantly they didn’t have the skill set the team needed to do more high-level work. So I had to have a conversation with them stating we had not decided on the role but that I was looking for someone more with x and Y. I also reiterated I did not know when they job would be posted and they could of course apply but I was looking for someone with more experience in these aspects of the role.

            We talked and all was fine and it did take me another 6 months due to work load and getting input from the team to figure out what the job needed to be.

            I think it’s good you apologized but have you overstepped before? I would try not to overstep in the future and if you have a question ask your boss. I do longer talk to this person about any hiring decisions or things that will be coming up.

        2. BikeWalkBarb*

          As not the hiring manager and a person not involved in the search process, would LW2 even be expected or required to talk to every possible candidate or to worry about perceptions of unfairness or favoritism? I can’t imagine someone saying “I wasn’t selected for an interview because LW2 didn’t talk to me early” even if she’d given completely accurate information. An internal candidate would know she’d worked with Ben and could seek her out for her insights if they chose to once it was posted.

          Thinking about a later step in a formal process, not this informal heads-up conversation–

          As a hiring manager I work to provide an equitable search process when we have openings, and also to recruit widely for people who will make good candidates. The same information is out there for everyone once it’s posted and I email it to people I think would be good candidates, not to everyone I know or everyone in our organization (which wouldn’t even make sense; it’s an agency of 7500+ people). I expect the people on my team to share the opening with good candidates, not all potential candidates since that’s impossible to define and unqualified candidates just make work for HR to screen them out.

          I’m trying to convey that there would always be some level of rational selectivity in promoting a job opening, which isn’t quite the scenario here but feels related.

        3. Aitch Arr*

          Agree with TheBunny and I also work in HR (as if my username wasn’t obvious).

      2. Awkwardness*

        Hi OP!
        As AAM wrote, you sound really mortified. I guess this might live longer in your head than in everyone else’s. Just pay attention to this. You do not want to repeat it, but you do not want it to dampen your enthusiasm and energy at work because you remind yourself of it all the time.
        I would also think of good replies to colleagues that should sound sincere and sorry, but not too self-chastitising in order to diffuse awkwardness: “I interact with this role so often that I got carried away in my effort to be helpful. I only focused on the aspect that I know to be important for this role and that’s why I came to talk to Jane and John. They have so much experience in this! But still, it was not my task.”
        (There will be other, better suggestions, I am sure!)

        1. Smithy*

          Absolutely that the mortification will live longer with you – and while it’s important to clearly know why it was wrong, it’s also important to try and move past the mortification.

          I think a big part of not letting this dampen enthusiasm/energy is not letting it dampen your other (normally well thought out) go getter efforts. In part because of how you’ll be perceived at work, but also because it does feel miserable if you find yourself in a place where you’re second guessing every instinct.

          The other part is that if at any time you start to feel like this job has stopped having the opportunities for growth or advancement, you don’t want to be in a place where you’re still beating yourself up for this. If three months from now, a conference you would normally attend you’re now taken off of. Maybe that’s an understandable consequence, but also maybe not. Or maybe a sign of other issues at the company that are worth being able to identify (i.e. money issues, political dynamics with another team, etc.). All to say, being stuck on being mortified for too long – as understandable as it is – can throw off your ability to take stock of other things happening around you. Which doesn’t help you.

        2. SheLooksFamiliar*

          I came here to say the same thing, Awkwardness, but you said it so well I don’t need to.

          OP, please don’t make yourself wear a hair shirt because of this. You’ve apologized, you’ll make amends when/if needed, and you’ll move on. Everyone’s memories will fade; don’t forget the lesson, but do what you can to help make the sting fade, too.

      3. MissGirl*

        Thanks for the clarification. I hope Allison’s advice helps and this is soon water under the bridge.

      4. Carmina*

        Ah I see! I was also wondering what was so egregious – giving head’s up about positions that are not yet posted would be thoroughly unremarkable in most contexts. I was confused that it had made its way back to Ben at all: usually people will keep the details of such conversations, and thus the advantage, to themselves. But if you weren’t clear that they should wait a few weeks and just think about it in the meantime, that explains it.

        So here the devil is in the execution and exact phrasing. But frankly, still doesn’t sound like a huge deal to me. The fact that you’re not the hiring manager makes it better IMO, because you’re not in a position to even give undue favoritism.

        I wonder if truly Ben & your manager phrased it as “major”, “big”, “not acceptable”, or if perhaps you blew it out of proportion a little bit because you were embarrassed? Even with those extra details, while I agree it warrants a talking-to, it would be a pretty casual conversation at my workplace.
        And even if they did use those words in the moment, I definitely agree with Alison that it will almost certainly blow over quickly once their feeling of annoyance passes, as long as you don’t do anything similar in the near future.

        1. Tio*

          You do also have to take the favoritism aspect into account. If you only talked to like 3 of the 10 team members, then the other 7 might feel discouraged if any of them were intending to apply. And who knows, maybe it was #4 that Ben was thinking would make a great fit – and now 4 won’t apply because they figure 1-3 already got the talking to, they’re not even on the radar, why bother? As a manager, even if you have someone you think would be great for the role, it’s good to keep an equal impression. Sometimes people will surprise you – someone’s been studying up for this role out of sight, or someone you thought would be a great fit doesn’t even apply. Keep it as impartial as possible.

      5. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        > It was more like “here’s some advice on what we’re looking for in role X that nobody else knows yet” but I didn’t even get that part right

        I understand that you turned out to be wrong about what’s needed for the role, because Ben / the company are taking the opportunity to reconfigure it. But the other thing that jumps out to me is that you’ve said “what WE are looking for” here. It’s not clear if you fully appreciate that the hiring process doesn’t include you – there’s no “we” that you are a part of. I also understand that it can be a worry, not knowing who will backfill Ben’s old role or what implications that has on your work (e.g. if they are more difficult to work with), but in fact you do not have any influence on this.

        If there was any chance of you having input (as part of the hiring committee or asked unofficially) since you would work closely with the person – I think you will be left out of that now. Sorry to say I wouldn’t seek your input after this.

      6. Mmm.*

        Honestly, I feel like they made a mountain out of a molehill. It’s pretty common for employees to tell former colleagues about upcoming job openings, even with some details. Most people don’t even ask before telling someone to look into it.

        Maybe you did overshare, maybe you did jump the gun, but they seem to think this is the worst thing someone could ever do–and unless you’re working for some top-secret agency, it isn’t. A simple “hey, don’t tell people about job openings until they’re live” and/or “we really prefer getting told about people you plan to recommend before you tell them about the position” should’ve sufficed.

      7. Grapes are my Jam*

        Buy Ben lunch – brought to him at the office, so it can be a thoughtful, but arm’s-length distance (if he still needs distance) apology.

      8. Velociraptor Attack*

        Is it well known that you and Ben are friends outside of work? I wonder if part of the concern is that because of your friendship, there’s an idea that it looks like Ben specifically sent you out to talk to those people.

        I’m a manager and if one of my colleagues that I am also friends with starting talking to others about something regarding my team, the idea would probably be that they had accurate information and I was aware of and had okayed the information they were sharing.

        1. greenland*

          I agree with this and think it’s a useful thing for OP to recognize — there are a couple different “favoritism” pieces at play here: both a close friendship with a colleague AND a clear ingroup-outgroup preference with other colleagues. Keep an eye out for the appearance of cliquiness at work. (But don’t over-sweat it — you’re clearly already taking this whole thing seriously!)

    3. learnedthehardway*

      I’m guessing that perhaps the promotion / job move hadn’t been announced yet, and/or that Bob was approached by multiple people who really aren’t people who would be right for the role. His (possibly new) manager may not have been ready to announce that Bob was the successful candidate – either because other internal candidates had not been informed or because the promotion just had not been announced yet. Normally, it is the manager’s place to inform people that a member of their team has been promoted, and a hiring manager’s place to let their team know that a new person will be joining, and in what role.

      This can be truly awkward, if someone else internal had been a candidate for the role and found out that they did not get the job in this way. I mean, it’s bad enough to not get the job, but to find out because Bob’s friend went and started suggesting people apply for Bob’s job because Bob is being promoted – that’s not a good thing.

      Also, while Bob is looking for his replacement, he’s not actually the hiring manager – HIS manager is. And his manager may have somewhat of a different perspective on the role than Bob has, meaning that the OP may have suggested people apply who aren’t right, for a variety of reasons.

      On the plus side, it seems that while the OP screwed up, they had a) good intentions, and b) this is being treated as a learning experience.

      In future, OP, you should make sure you understand what the person telling you wants you to do with the information. I would also apologize again to both Bob and your manager (separately) and point out what you learned from this situation. Then, be very careful about your judgment calls and where you take initiative, in the future. (Not to say don’t take initiative, but make sure when you do, that you know it is something that will be really wanted and that you have considered the potential pitfalls.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        > Also, while Bob is looking for his replacement, he’s not actually the hiring manager – HIS manager is.

        That varies by company – in plenty of places including mine, someone being promoted to a manager / supervisor role who is actually the line manager of their old role, would be the hiring manager for their replacement.

      2. lw2*

        One thing to clear up, in this case, Ben *is* the hiring manager because his replacement is going to report to him. I don’t know if that’s typical or not in these situations TBH.

        But I don’t think that really undermines your overall points, which are well taken.

        I appreciate your (and everyone else’s, but there’s no way I’ll be able to respond to everyone) thoughts a lot. There’s going to be a lot more thinking through in my future.

        1. Happy*

          That’s quite common – it’s a bit odd that learnedthehard way thought they knew the reporting structure for your employer better than you do.

    4. Awkwardness*

      For me, it was the aspect that LW from the “outside” thought they knew the job requirements better than the person doing the job. Maybe they thought of changing the job description and this was still in the works? The co-workers would have had wrong information.

    5. Allonge*

      So: in my current workplace this would be a huge overstep because a vacancy is not a vacancy until it’s published (internally or externally), and the decision to publish it is with HR, in agreement with the hiring manager.

      So a coworker of the future person to be hired cannot know ‘for sure’ what the vacancy will look like, and even if they are in the loop, they just need to wait until there is an official vacancy.

      Possibly worse: approaching specific people, especially pre-vacancy, would also be seen as taking over from / acting for the hiring manager, which in case of a newly promoted manager is even more sensitive if unauthorised. To me it sounds like OP feels more responsibility for this hiring than is realistic: of course it will be an important contact for them, but that does not mean you can take over from the actual manager.

      Frankly, I am also not sure what exactly OP was trying to achieve: once the vacancy is out there, it’s a whole different situation and people can apply / be encouraged to apply without taking a risk of sharing not-yet-public information.

      That said, there are much worse mistakes out there, and it sounds like there was no big damage done, I am sure OP can get over this.

      1. Awkwardness*

        Frankly, I am also not sure what exactly OP was trying to achieve

        I can totally imagine this not as a maliciously strategical thing to slight the hiring manager but over-eagerness going totally wrong.
        This was a lapse in judgement nonetheless – you cannot assume to know better than the hiring manager what is required for the role. But at least OP seems to understand this now.

        1. Allonge*

          Oh, I do not think OP was malicious!

          It’s just that inviting people to apply to / brief people on a vacancy that is not yet there has very little benefit to anyone. Maybe it helps to flag that it’s coming and might be interesting so people have a bit more time to think about it, but it sounds like OP went into a lot more detail than that, which, frankly, brings marginal benefits only (again, thinking of this based on my org at least).

          In any case, I agree that this was a lesson OP now learnt. But there are also some commenters asking what was wrong with this, so hopefully a lesson learnt for more than one person :)

          1. Also-ADHD*

            I think these kinds of heads up can help (though I’ve had them more externally than internally) because you can get your materials together and apply immediately when posted, practically a necessity for some (especially remote) jobs in the current market. When I was looking, I got tips like this on upcoming jobs inside and outside my prior company (and then went with one where I totally cold applied on a whim, so maybe I’m a bad example). I get why it would be a problem in some cases, but I would say it happens a lot in some fields that are networking heavy.

      2. el l*

        Maybe they’re strict about hiring process, in which case – what you said, and what LW said above. Appearance of a side door into hiring.

        Even if they’re not strict about process, like my employer, then there’s still a good reason to chide. Namely, to make the point that LW has to be careful about inserting themselves into situations that fundamentally aren’t their problem and aren’t up to them. Because “Nervous about finding someone who did as good of a job…” while emotionally resonant just doesn’t make much sense. Their only standing to be part of this hiring process is that they might (not will) work with the candidate a little someday. All kinds of people have interest in who gets hired, and LW’s interest is pretty low priority.

        Now, to the question “How big a deal is it?” Not big. I’ve wrongly inserted myself into situations and lived to tell the tale. Apologize to Ben personally. And in the future before intervening in something ask yourself (or the person whose plate it’s clearly on) if it’s really your problem or if it’s something they want/need assistance with.

    6. Andi*

      I’m so glad you asked, because read it through twice and also don’t see where OP did anything wrong or out of the ordinary. Everything mentioned seems like normal office chatter and not at all problematic to me. More to the point, this is something I would do at work for sure, and now I’m worried I am upsetting people without realizing it.

      1. Dandylions*

        Yeah chalk me up as another person who sees the only issue as having the discussion before the JD was up. OP works at a weirdly hierarchical company if the discussion itself is seen as a problematic or challenging vs just the timing of it.

        I’ve had these sorts of informal – I think you would be good for this job and let me tell you about our team – discussions many times. In fact the last two times I had this chat they were hired for the roll. I cannot imagine being told this is an overstep anywhere I’ve ever worked or having it interpreted as thinking I know better then the hiring manager like has been suggested in this thread.

        1. Awkwardness*

          I’ve had these sorts of informal – I think you would be good for this job and let me tell you about our team – discussions many times.

          These are different situations – you speak from within the team, OP does not even work in the department.
          And taking this in consideration and even assuming the posting was not official yet, so still unclear if there even would be a replacement, wouldn’t it be different to say
          “Oh, I would love to have somebody like you on our team. Skill ABC it’s always needed (here)” or
          “I really hope they (over there) find somebody with such strong skills in ABC, I rely on this to get my work done” or
          “They will need a replacement (over there). Would you be interested in applying? I need somebody work strong skills in ABC on that position to get my work done.”?

    7. spiriferida*

      I wonder if there’s also some aspect of breaking Ben’s confidence to it. The LW mentions their close personal friendship with Ben outside of work, so the fact that any information ‘leaked’ from the LW to the rest of the team may be giving it the appearance that the newly-promoted Ben is unfairly favoring the LW in work-related situations, and may have brought Ben’s competence into question with HR and the other higher-ups before it came out that LW was acting on their own.

      It certainly seems to me that Ben might end up rethinking talking with the LW about work after this, which may be a part of the LW’s reaction to this – the work consequences may be minor, but their personal friend is now questioning their judgement, which is a hard thing to deal with.

  2. Lynda*

    For the salary question, some places do have protections. I’ve had a couple of bosses try to take advantage in California and there are stricter rules here, like you have to make twice what you’d make as a full time minimum wage worker, and be in a managerial position in my case. It’s worth looking to see if there are any specific rules where you live that provide guidance there. Employers will take advantage if you let them and often don’t know the rules themselves.

    1. LW1*

      Thanks, Lynda, I will. I’m betting there aren’t any in my state, but I will look into it.

    2. Freya*

      Australia has this too, in a lot of industries – it came in in September for people covered by the Professional Employees Award, which covers most people in IT plus science people not covered by another Award.

      The general rule of thumb I work on when calculating pay for my clients is that if the employee is earning less per hour than the minimum a casual (hourly) worker could legally earn in that job, then I need to check if they should be getting overtime. This is because there’s an Australia-wide loading for casuals of 25% on top of what permanents get, to compensate them for the lack of PTO and job security, and where there’s a rule about which permanents get overtime, the line is generally drawn at 125% of minimum under the relevant Award (those being the legislative rules about the minimum that people in various jobs are entitled to).

      1. LW1*

        Interesting! I know here in the USA it’s more duties based than title and it can sometimes lead to mid classification and entitle workers to getting back pay. But beyond that, I don’t know much. I just need to research more to understand all the ins and outs and talk to my boss.

        1. Nebula*

          Just to say as well, if it turns out there’s nothing you can do in this instance – not every salaried position works like this! These won’t be the expectations everywhere, so if it turns out your employer does just expect you to work long hours for no further benefit to you, then there is always the option to leave for somewhere with better work/life balance.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            Yeah, my workplace does not. Everyone who is full-time is 40 hours, period, and overtime even for salaried employees is very rare. But we’re appropriately staffed.

            1. MigraineMonth*

              My union got overtime written into our contract. So I’m salaried exempt (I don’t have to track hours) *and* they have to pay overtime if I work more than 80 hours in a 2-week pay period.

              Suddenly, the administration no longer needed 50-hour weeks from us (which was the entire purpose of the policy).

              1. LW1*

                Amazing how that works, isn’t it? And to be fair, my boss does constantly tell me to go home. But the work doesn’t do itself and a lot of tasks I have are very strongly deadline driven so they have to be done. But so does everything else, know what I mean? It’s a resources/workload problem. I just wanted to know if this was how it worked — no OT, not comp time, no “nothing” to offset the hours.

                1. Happy*

                  Sounds like you should take your boss at their word and go home when they tell you to…and then just enlist your boss’s help with prioritization and fallout from things not getting done.

              2. A Person*

                It’s similar in my workplace – I’m salaried and don’t usually have to track hours, but if I have to work outside normal business hours or I have to work more than the normal number of hours per week, they have to pay overtime (also a union-negotiated agreement).

          2. MassMatt*

            Came to say this. IME a good companies don’t treat salaried exempt employees this way or they wouldn’t have any for long.

            I worked as a salaried/exempt manager in retail and additional hours were not common: Generally you have to cover for absent workers but usually would get time off later to balance things out.

            There were competitors, however that expected salaried people to work 48 hours per week. And in a lot of retail lots of hours are expected around the holidays but slow down in the late winter or summer.

            I worked an office job hourly and got paid a lot of overtime, I was offered a promotion to salaried manager and was actually worried about losing the OT. Someone said “listen, they’re not going to pay the managers less than the workers” and that was true, I made more and again did not have to do much unpaid OT.

            Sadly there ARE places where salaried people make less (especially when adjusted to a per hour wage) but I hope they are a dysfunctional minority.

            1. boof*

              / I hope they are a dysfunctional minority /
              I think so, the “capitalistic” response is “well no one will take those jobs if they make less and they’ll have to pay more or make it hourly”. The real human answer is some will learn the hard way and it sucks to be on “Caveat emptor” end of capitalism or equivalent; I do think government should guarantee some minimum standards (including a min wage that is at least livable for a single person; ideally for a single person with 1 child since I think as a society we at least want to allow for stable population)

              1. boof*

                OK LAST COMMENT also “capitalism” doesn’t work at all when employers can distort the curves so part of that is having salary transparency; I would be a fan of all salary info (benefits + wages + work hours per pay period) being mandated publicly available for everyone. >:B

            2. JustaTech*

              I had a coworker who took a salary cut when she moved from an hourly position to a salaried one, but the salaried position was day shift, and usually a standard 8 hour day, 9-5 ish (except when we had super busy experiments, but then we all got a break afterwards).

              She was willing to accept the loss of the overtime and night-shift adjustment in exchange for a day time job with more security and the possibility of advancement.

          3. LW1*

            I would have difficulty leaving right now for a variety of reasons but establishing a firm work/life balance is something I am clearly going to have to do here. I had a good one until this year. Now it’s just… a lot.

        2. GythaOgden*

          The UK doesn’t have this kind of structure at all and it’s entirely down to the employer.

          Pretty scanty! But actually this suits me totally. I don’t want to be held to a rigid time when I have to down tools and finish up even if I’m in the middle of something, or wait until a precise time to log on. I don’t mess about — I’m supposed to be available until 5 so I am — but I want to get to my desk, get going, and wrap up when I feel comfortable wrapping up, not because a clock hand touches the number 5 and, like a modern version of Cinderella (you SHALL go to the leadership conference!), my laptop turns into a pumpkin. (Likewise at home, when I want to exercise I’ll set a reminder. But I won’t jump up from my knitting in the middle of row or a pattern repeat. If I’m done early I cancel the reminder and get it done and then go back to what I was otherwise doing. If the alarm goes I’ll finish the row and then get the Pilates stuff out. My Zoom therapist once let me finish a game of Fortnite in the first few minutes of our session because I was (((this close))) to winning (and I did!) for the first time in the season when you get a little umbrella parachute as a prize.)

          I would be categorised as non-exempt in the US but I don’t officially get overtime unless my boss says so. Even then, most of the time overages are ‘paid’ out in time off in lieu — there was once when I did need to come in half an hour early for days when I was already working full time due to coverage needs, and I asked for the money rather than the time off in lieu — since they needed me all day for the next few days and an hour off in total still meant very little other than hanging around a cafe or a break room for a bit longer since I was needed to close up and couldn’t leave early, and my commute was enough of a trek that I left home early to compensate. However, later on when things were more flexible in general, I appreciated the slower start.

          Now I work from home I’m generally able to keep within contracted hours, but if I go over one particular day (say I log on at 8.40 and log off at 5.10 because I can’t be bothered sitting around in the morning and then something comes in at 4.50 that takes twenty minutes to do and I really don’t want to forget about it first thing the next morning) it isn’t a problem with timesheets and my employer isn’t tapping their watch anxiously.

          But yeah, I’m in admin/pink collar stuff and it’s kind of the worst of both worlds — but I’m not exactly the world’s most overworked person. My bosses work later but I doubt they see it as a strict hour for hour trade — at their level, the job just is what it is and has to get done. My parents were also in that situation and have often advised me on how to move up by not being a clockwatcher and focusing on making myself indispensable/useful and taking on extracurriculars in the assumption that either your current employer sees your value or you can pivot and have stuff on your CV that show you’re a team player. My mother volunteered for house duties (yup, houses as in Harry Potter — they exist!) and was thus the natural choice when it came to taking on a new housemistress with paid responsibility for house activities. It was kind of natural for them to go above and beyond because they were in the careers that they were enthusiastic about, and while I kind of just fell on my feet into healthcare facilities, after ten years kicking my heels on reception and three and a half climbing the walls desperate to get out and do something more useful, I do care a lot about doing the best job possible because of the stakes involved in healthcare and the difference small stuff can make to the health, wellbeing and safety of patients, and taking on some extra responsibilities (particularly for DEI work which I’m enthusiastic about and would allow me to pay forward a lot of the practical support and assistance for neurodivergence in the workplace that other people have given me).

          While I’m never going to be senior management, I do actually have a commitment to what I do and that I generally feel gets rewarded that works a bit better with our less strict overtime systems than it would elsewhere.

          1. amoeba*

            I mean, I track my hours (in Europe, so also not the same system), but I’m still basically 100% flexible with my work time. I clock in when I start working, I clock out when I stop. Over the whole year, I need to work a certain amount of hours (basically 52*40 minus vacation days…). As long as the balance is (more or less) correct at the end of the year, it’s all good. When I’m in the plus, I can either work just work shorter days for a bit or take whole days off in the system with those extra hours. If I have an appointment in the middle of the day, I clock out and then in again.

            My boyfriend is “exempt” and my schedule is exactly every bit as flexible as his, the only difference is the button I click/time clock at the office entrance I scan a few times a day. And the fact that when I work more than 40 h, I have my “time account” I can use for extra time off – he doesn’t.

            1. GythaOgden*

              Oh yeah, definitely. It evens out — I have a pre-work Qigong Zoom class on Wednesdays and although it should finish by 9, it’s mostly retirees who go (my mother suggested I join) so the instructor is rather casual about finishing at 9. So at least then I’m logging on at 9.05 or so. No-one cares. And in my position we’re not talking more than a half hour; I do want to do more but I’m still building up to that. The DEI network stuff is the first thing I’ve really wanted to do outside the confines of my role, but it’s also nice that I’m thinking of ways that I can grow outwards as well as upwards because it means that I’ve mostly got to grips with my actual job in ways that are a first for me as a working individual with a very chequered career up to now.

              I currently just want to sit down and get stuff done, then log out and relax. Mostly those last ten minutes of the day feel like Zeno’s Paradox (aka Achilles and the Tortoise — where distance is infinitely divisible into smaller segments, so is time…it was actually only Bertrand Russell that mathematically disproved the paradox), but I’m aware that being conscientious is what got me the job in the first place and it’s up to me to make enough of an impression on people that I end up doing more of what I want to do. (I’m eyeing up the senior compliance manager who checks in to our meetings every week to keep an eye on our metrics, and wondering if I could get to her position by the time I potentially might have to retire in 20 years. Let’s roll…)

              The system in the US sounds way too rigorous for me (it seems to lead to a lot of fiddly business for both parties and we’ve seen how it bakes in inflexibility), but I’m guessing that’s the bit that employers had trouble adhering to in the past :-//// and thus needs to be more strictly policed.

        3. Mellie Bellie*

          Definitely make sure you aren’t being misclassified as exempt. To be properly exempt, you have to make a certain amount of salary and your duties have to fall within an exemption/exception to the overtime provisions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (which applies even if your state has no overtime protections).

          In my experience as an employment lawyer, employers mess this up all the time. Especially if you used to be hourly, non-exempt, and are not doing the exact same job as salaried “exempt.” It’s not always misclassification, but a good percentage of the time it is. May want to talk to a lawyer to at least know if you can use that info to push back.

          1. Miette*

            Came here to suggest just this–to consult with an employment lawyer–because companies try to do this all the time.

          2. LW1*

            Thank you! And such an appointment is definitely on my radar.i always like to know how the land lays.

  3. Special Specialist*

    Strongly suggest keeping the employee handbook in a shared drive and easily searchable format. Also be sure to have a great table of contents and index so people can easily find what they’re looking for. You might want to email a link of it out to everyone a couple times a year just to remind them where it is and what topics are covered in it.

    1. Spring*

      Another way to make it available easily to everyone: My company has our policies available through our intranet, and if you search “policy” from the home page, you’ll see everything policy-related in the search results (the intranet is a SharePoint hub).

    2. Antilles*

      Making the handbook and policies available, organized, and searchable is good practice.
      Unfortunately, in my experience, the issue is practically never about the handbook itself, but almost always about the employee (or me) not checking the handbook, usually because of something like “oh I know how to request PTO, no need to look it up”.

      1. 2 Cents*

        Or “this is how I did it last time and it was no problem!”

        I would suggest to OP5 responding with “when requesting time off, I need you to follow procedures x, y and z (outlined in our handbook) to ensure we have enough staffing for blah. This may be different than how you’ve done so in the past, but this is how it will work from now on (or per the staff meeting on 5/5/24).”

        And OP5, I understood what you were saying with the “fidelity with clinical and operational procedures,” but the wording would sound cold coming from my superior if I’m trying to take a long weekend and mishandled the request (purposely or not).

      2. Smithy*

        While I think you’re absolutely correct – I do think that at least having the handbook in the easiest way to search as possible online does help in managing corrections.

        So, if someone puts in a PTO request incorrectly, a supervisor is in a place to say “please resubmit, you can go to the handbook – easily found here – for instructions. Let me know if anything is confusing.”

        If that’s already the case for the OP, then I think it might help to reset expectations around managing for behavior change. Like people aren’t reading the handbook, signing it, and then doing things like submitting timesheets, PTO requests, or other administrative pieces incorrectly AT the OP. It’s not so much about letting those errors slide, but having a different relationship to behavior change management.

        I know that my department has always had issues with our expense submission process. And trust me, these are forms we want to complete correctly because we want to get our money back. The reality however, is that most of us do the forms infrequently and for different types of reasons. So, lots of errors accumulate. The response is that our team put in another level of support/review before forms go to finance. Basically one person to review our forms, tell us what we’ve done wrong, and then we have to fix them. Over time individuals do get better, but it acknowledges that overall this is an area whereas a department – we’re unlikely to have 100% compliance.

    3. Throwaway Account*

      I love the suggestions for keeping the policies accessible and a routine email reminder about them.

      If there are just a few key policies or a few that routinely cause issues, maybe include a refresher on those in (already scheduled) staff meetings.

    4. Ama*

      I agree with all of these suggestions, and I’d further add that OP should add to any new employee orientation procedures a part where they explain (ideally in a face to face meeting and not just over email where it’s easy to gloss over) that the employee handbook is a great reference for all of the compliance policies and processes and they should go there first to look up how things are handled.

      I manage a couple of all staff reference resources at my job, and I mention them to every new employee I meet with, then follow up with an email linking to them, plus every year when we do our annual update of those resources I present a reminder of how to access those resources at the next all staff meeting. It’s definitely reduced the number of questions I get on information in those resources.

    5. JustaTech*

      Yes to all this, and also, if it seems like everyone is having a hard time following processes or remembering to check the handbook, it might make sense to add “review the handbook” to their yearly training.

    6. tree frog*

      If possible, it might be helpful to provide some additional training on the policies. My union offers workshops with roleplay activities based on our collective agreement. These kinds of documents are not always easy to read and passively absorb so it might be good to make sure everyone understands what the policies mean and how to implement them.

    7. Ace in the Hole*

      Some other things to consider, especially if there is a pattern of certain policies being missed a lot:

      1. Better onboarding training. Review key policies with new employees verbally. Don’t just give them the policy handbook and expect them to read/remember everything… highlight the sections that are most relevant to their job. Explain the reasoning for policies and consequences of non-compliance (both personally and for the org). Be very clear about how to look up or ask for policy info if they’re confused, your expectations, and the importance of following policies closely.

      2. If there are certain policies people often have trouble following, make resources to help them. For example, I have a step-by-step instruction guide for reporting injuries and worker’s comp claims next to each first aid kit and on the wall where the claim forms are stored. My department has calendar reminders set for our annual document retention review, with the relevant portion of the policy handbook attached. Checklists, flowcharts, instructional handouts, posters, etc. can all help.

      3. Routine reminders. I do annual refreshers on critical topics – that way it stays fresh, and since it’s a routine weekly/monthly team thing no one feels singled out. It can be as simple as a 2 minute office meeting or an email: “Hey everyone, here’s our annual refresher on Policy X (attached). Key points: blah blah blah. Please take a few minutes to read through the policy and let me know if you have any questions. Thanks!”

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        It will also help to have the handbook written in readable English, and not in legalese. Those who are not lawyers will gaze at some words and phrases and go ‘what?’.

    8. Annie*

      Yes, that would be nice. My employee handbook is no where to be found for the most part. One of my coworkers did find the handbook once, buried on a webpage, to look up PTO based on number of years of service. Not even my manager knew where it was.

  4. Brain the Brian*

    I wish LW1 all the best of luck setting a reasonable limit on the amount of work you can do in a conversation with your manager. I wound up hospitalized before mine would commit to it, and then when she did reduce my workload, she went so far in the opposite direction that I’m bored out of my skull most days and can drift along doing nothing for weeks at a time. I miss my strict hourly schedule from earlier in my career for that alone.

    1. LW1*

      Yeah, I refuse to wind up there. I already know the burn out feeling and have been in therapy for awhile over work stuff. My boss has been very supportive of my efforts to trim my hours but the workload itself really need at least two full time people to tackle it. Probably three. I just need to put a foot down, draw a line with it and leave on time. I don’t know why it’s so hard for me.

      1. bamcheeks*

        It’s genuinely hard, especially if you’re doing work you care about, or you work with people you respect and care about. This isn’t a “something wrong with you” problem, it’s a system set up to play on your better qualities and take advantage of them. Being able to care about and do your best at your job for 40 hours a week and walk out not minding that things are left undone at 5pm is a difficult mental contradiction that’s pretty har for most people (and it’s pretty normal to only be able to manage it consistently when you’ve got another set of responsibilities that have to start at 5pm, like another job or caring for someone.)

        There are different levels of support you can get from your manager, and I’d put your energy there. What are you hearing from your manager?

        1. I know this is too much work, I’m sorry, we’ll get this sorted eventually, sorry you have too much work.
        2. I know this is too much work, we have an active and ongoing plan to reduce the amount of work and it shouldn’t be as bad as this in 2/6/12 months.
        3. I know this is too much work, I don’t mind if some of it doesn’t get completed. As long as hoi make sure all of this stuff gets completed, and that, and those, and don’t forget this.
        4. I know this is too much work. Prioritise this. Finish on time, and I’ll cover your back when XYZ complain about this other stuff not being done.

        The type of support you get from your manager makes a huge difference here, and to be honest I’d say anything except the last one isn’t really any support. Don’t beat yourself up about being bad at setting boundaries when you’re under pressure and getting no support from your manager!

        1. LW1*

          I REALLY appreciate this. It feels very much like a “me” problem and sometimes it’s mirrored back to me as a “me” problem. I can’t set boundaries, I can’t say no, I can’t just get up and go home, etc.

          Sometimes when I talk to my boss, they will be very supportive but I still hear, “x will keep taking advantage if you let them. You have to say no and leave.”

          My boss’ responses cover all of #1-4 (ish) to varying degrees. 1-3 mostly with a bit of 4 mixed in recently because I asked when I knew I couldn’t get everything done at the end of the week. The promise for more staff has been going on for awhile. Post Covid I hear a lot of variations on “nobody wants to work anymore!”

          We’ll see how option 4 pans out because I didn’t finish some projects recently and left them as my boss directed. We’ll see how the managers respond to me and what my boss says.

          The sad and frustrating this is I do have other responsibilities at home. I have people I take care of and I need to take care of myself. Nobody can work like this (mental health wise) and be ok. I don’t enjoy sitting at my desk, upset, as everybody leaves and I’m left behind just dying inside because I’d like to go home too. Then I feel guilty I’m not home taking care of my family, neglecting myself. For what? A company? How messed up is that?

          But there my dumb butt is—at my desk — working. Telling myself I’ll catch up and this will get better, only to have to do it all over again the next day. It didn’t used to be this bad.

          1. Green great dragon*

            I tell my reports something very like your second para. And I see the ‘but’ in your sentence and it makes me worry it’s coming over as unhelpful, but I don’t really know what more to do. I will absolutely have their back and will say so, but ultimately it does have to be on them to say no. There will always be more requests than there is time to do, and they’re not high enough value to justify more staff.

            Think of it as web support. Internal customers will ask for all the bells and whistles on their part of the website without really understanding how difficult that is, and no-one is expecting the support team to work all hours to add as many frills as they can. We’re expecting them to add as many as they can in the time they have available for each request, in discussion with the customer. I manage all our IT support and I can’t get involved in negotiating every individual request.

          2. Mizzle*

            At some point, I stopped saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to work requests and replaced it with ‘you’ll have to check with my manager’. It is *their* duty, not yours, to decide how your time should be used.

            1. ecnaseener*

              I think this is a good idea, LW — have you tried asking your boss for something similar? “I know you’ve given me permission to say no to some XYZ requests, but [in the moment I just can’t seem to do it / I get so much pushback when I try that I end up giving in]. Can I start telling people to check with you first? I think they’ll take it better coming from you, at least for a little while, and then it’ll be easier for me to say no in the future.”

            2. Green great dragon*

              This depends very much on the level and role. My manager would be surprised and annoyed if I asked her to weigh in on every work request I get. I have discussions with her about where the team should be focusing their effort overall and I’d go to her if anyone was giving me a hard time when I said no, but I’m the SME in my space and I’m best placed to make day-to-day decisions.

              It might be a great suggestion for LW, but not applicable to everyone.

              1. bamcheeks*

                You can add it as a delaying tactic though. Instead of, “yes”, try “Sounds good— I’ll check with my manager and let you know whether I’m able to do it.” This can be a really good way to get out of the habit of “automatic yes”, and give you at least the space to think about saying no or going back with a more realistic counter-offer: “I can’t do the full report for you, but I could download the data and send it over to you un-analysed by Friday if that helps”. It might be that you need to formally run it by you manager, or it might just be giving *yourself* the space to do a realistic assessment of how this fits in and decide whether you have capacity.

                Sometimes people are actively pressuring you to do work, but sometimes they are just asking and *expecting* you to push back and re-prioritise. Until you try, you don’t know which is which, and sometimes it’s much more helpful to go back to your manager and say, “Giles seems to understand that I I don’t have time for this, but Wesley’s still pushing. Can I direct him to you if he keeps on?”

                1. I can read anything except the room*

                  Yes, the exact phrasing can be adapted to whatever is appropriate for the role and organization, while still preserving the same basic tactic:

                  In roles where it’s common for specific work to be assigned by a supervisor: You’ll have to check with my manager.

                  In roles where it’s common for supervisors to need to approve work outside of day to day tasks, but people typically work directly with peer level employees: I’ll have to check with my manager and get back to you.

                  In roles where you’re seen as having the authority to decide what you need and can work on, and coworkers know that your manager only steps in if s/he disagrees with your assessment: I’ll have to check my calendar and other deliverables and get back to you.

              2. Tio*

                Yeah, I’ve trained certain staff who have what I call “Volunteer Syndrome” to do this, with clear expectations on what they can accept from other people and what they can’t. Otherwise they would do it all, including the things that are not their jobs. But whether it is or isn’t their job, if I have told a staff to refuse a certain job/type of work and they sent it to me instead, I would be annoyed. Now that doesn’t include if someone is getting pushy about things after being told no, though.

              3. LW1*

                I try not to get my boss in the crossfire but I have been told I can tell people, “if boss says it’s ok, sure, so go ahead and ask them…..” because that will stop them in their tracks because they’ll never ask. But ultimately I still have to get that work done. It’s a fine balance.

                1. BestBet*

                  If it’s not important enough for them to ask your boss, it doesn’t need to get done. If they bring it up again “what did boss say?” and then “Oh, well I’d need permission from boss so you’ll need to start with them.”

                2. Lana Kane*

                  “But ultimately I still have to get that work done.”

                  If they don’t run it by your boss, why do you need to be the one to get the work done?

          3. Cyborg Llama Horde*

            Have you tried setting a time that you leave, and taking efforts to make sure that you DO leave at that time? An alarm on your phone, or an event on your calendar that says GO HOME NOW? And when it goes off, you leave your work where it is and go home.

            For a lot of us, I think deciding in advance what the boundary is, and then having some kind of reminder kick in when the boundary is reached, and following that, is easier than having to choose the boundary each time.

            I had a coworker who worked a VERY early schedule, and needed to leave at 3:45pm to catch his train, or he’d be stuck perhaps an hour until the next one — which at least sometimes caused problems with his childcare situation. “I need to go NOW or I can’t get home” is great motivation to leave, but you can set up a lesser version of the same, more artificially.

            1. bamcheeks*

              When I used to teach this, we also talked a lot about recognising the short-term benefits that came with saying yes— knowing the work wasn’t going to be waiting for you, knowing it would be done properly, avoiding the conflict of saying no etc. When you start pushing back on this stuff, you have to recognise that you’re going to lose this short-term benefits for the long-term one of not burning out, or missing time with your loved ones, or spending money on a gym membership you don’t use or whatever. You have to factor that in, and recognise all the things that drive you to say yes are still going to be there, and it’s going to be HARD. But it is worth it.

              1. LW1*

                It’s SO hard! And this is all very true and what I’m struggling with so much right now. Thank you!

            2. JustaTech*

              I put an event on my calendar every afternoon telling me to go pick up my kid because 1) I need to go pick him up and 2) so people wouldn’t try to schedule over that time. I have a VP who can be very unreasonable about wanting people to work late (for no reason), but for some reason The Calendar Rules All and if the calendar says that I am out, then I am out.

              1. Happy*

                Yes! This is very smart! My boss and a few coworkers put their commutes on their calendar so that people know they will be unavailable.

              2. LW1*

                Now this is an interesting idea for the calendar. This I have not tried. Though we have a few in the office who, I swear, don’t even look at it. Everything seems to come as a surprise. lol!

            3. LW1*

              lol! I have multiple alarms set for this exact motivation. It usually worked but this year has just been a struggle.

          4. Mim*

            So much love.

            I have a family member going through a hard time, which is causing strain on all of us, and it’s been harder than ever to concentrate at work or at home. I know how hard this all is, and am right there with you. Like, what is the point of all of this? Especially when things are also difficult at home, there are days or weeks when there is no down time or rest — it’s crises at work, crises at home, stay up too late stressing/attempting to steal back to personal time, and repeat. Even on the weekends.

            The family stuff just hit a point where I will need to reduce work hours, and I’m not sure if it will fall under FMLA or not. The thing I’ve learned, or at least been reminded of recently is that when things have hit untenable crisis point, the tension has to be released somewhere. And while it can be scary to voluntarily open a valve, it’s way better to do that in a controlled way than to wait for something to explode through a weak point. As someone who is used to being a people pleaser, avoiding conflict, and assuming that her ability to be high achieving will help with those things, it’s not easy. I’m trying to be better at telling instead of asking, at least when it comes to work. Because honestly, the alternative is that one day I just ghost them because I can’t take it anymore. I don’t think my employer will fire me for needing to take leave, or for being increasingly blunt about realities of workload. But if they do, at least maybe it will come with severance, which I wouldn’t get if I let things get to the point of quitting on the spot. They should be scared that any of their long time loyal employees feel this way. I am sure I’m not the only one. Ugh.

            1. LW1*

              So much this. I totally understand and find myself in the same shoes. I feel that same urge to tell instead of ask these days. It’s hard.

          5. Happy*

            I have a lot of sympathy for you. And I’m going to tell you what I what I told my spouse (repeatedly) when they were in a similar situation: You need to start letting things go unfinished. As long as you keep working yourself to the bone getting everything done, the company doesn’t have a problem. Once things start slipping, then the real reprioritization, shuffling of tasks, decreasing workload, etc. can start. Until then, things are fine for the company! It can even be helpful to your boss to start letting things slip, because then they have a stronger argument for hiring more people and making other changes to support you.

            There is hope – my spouse is in a much better place now with the same company. But only because he finally, eventually (years later than he should have) gave up on getting everything done because “this has to get done and if I’m the only one who can do it.” At some point you have to make your excessive workload your employer’s problem instead of just yours.

            It’s a great sign that your boss sounds sympathetic. Good luck!

            1. LW1*

              I appreciate this so much in knowing there’s a spark of hope this could work out.

              When your spouse started drawing that line and letting things drop, did work know and understand it was a workload/resources issue or did they get pushback about needing to be more organized, “on it”, prioritize better, etc?

              1. Gumby*

                One thing about starting to set and maintain boundaries is that there is frequently pushback. The key is that the pushback doesn’t last forever as long as you stick to your boundaries. But if you give in – you have just taught the pushers how to get you to violate your boundaries. So being consistent is really, really important (and also really really difficult).

                Also, because it would be my worry if I needed to start pushing back where I hadn’t before, I don’t think you need to worry about losing your job over this. It sounds like your workplace knows your workload is too high. While there are no guarantees, obviously, they would be in much worse shape if you weren’t there at all.

              2. Happy*

                He had no problems at all (other than his own mental anguish over not getting everything done). His boss knew he was overworked – which sounds a lot like your boss right now!

                Since then, his boss was able to argue to hire more people on the team to spread the work around, and he’s been promoted and gotten substantial raises (with the explicit agreement that they wouldn’t mean more working hours for him). His company followed through on all of the promises they made him, and he is in SUCH a better place. More well-rested, less stressed, etc.

                That’s not to say it would go that way at every company, but it’s been 100% a positive thing for him to finally start letting those balls drop. And it sounds like your boss understands how hard you are working and wants you to be able to work fewer hours, so it sounds like you might be in a similar position!

                It was a huge mental hurdle for him to get there, though. That’s part of why it sounds like y’all have a lot in common.

          6. Pixelpaintr*

            I have been in the same position, so I very much feel for you. I eventually left a job where they chronically expected it all to get done and if that meant 55 hrs or more a week, well that’s “what you signed up for”.

            My advice to prevent that from happening to you – you set an alert or alarm on your phone/smartwatch – this is maybe 10-15 min before the end of your (ideal) day. This is your warning to wrap up the most urgent tasks you are on and put them in a state that you can pick up on the following day (with fresh eyes and more energy).

            When that alarm goes off you have to be honest with yourself – is what I’m working on needed to be completed immediately? Or is it habit to steal from your private time to try to get ahead? The answer might be yes sometimes – but just be sure it’s necessary and not an everyday occurrence.

            Good luck – I hope your boundaries and any warnings to management about your workload are listened to – I have found some companies take pride in overwork as if that makes you a better employee :-(.

        2. Mim*

          Your comment is so incredibly helpful — genuinely, THANK YOU.

          I am hourly/non-exempt, though I theoretically shouldn’t be. (Too much tl;dr ranting to get into here, but at my employer then expectation is generally not over 40 hours for exempt except when absolutely needed, and they accrue PTO at a significantly faster rate, meaning it would ordinarily be a positive thing to be classified as exempt/salaried here.) Also, my area is severely understaffed, to the point where I cannot grow or even succeed at my job, and promises of support have gone unfilled.

          What you said about the feelings that come with this sort of situation are so true. I have been working on allowing myself to care less, and sometimes succeed, but it’s really hard. Especially when I know that when things inevitably go wrong because of my inability to do the jobs of several people, I will be the obvious scapegoat. Even in less extreme terms, I know that this situation has likely tarnished my reputation and working relationship with many co-workers because of how the lack of support I have has lead to delays in deliverables, communications, etc, when I work with them. I don’t think they are unsympathetic, but at some point it’s human nature to hit one’s limit of understanding when one is also stressed and stretched thin. I have gone from feeling competent and respected to feeling incompetent, unhelpful, and unreliable, no matter what I do.

          But on the plus side, because my employer has never followed through with so many promises, I am still hourly, and strictly yoked to my 40 hours a week. So I truly am trying to let go, and make it as plain as possible to my supervisor that I was unable to do X, Y and Z this week because I ran out of hours. That conversation would be trickier if I were exempt/salaried. Also, it’s not like I’ve been able to use my PTO as needed anyway, so I guess it doesn’t matter that I’m not earning more of it by being reclassified as exempt. It would just be more to lose, I guess.

          1. LW1*

            I’m sorry. This sounds awful. And I relate to so much of it.

            “Also, my area is severely understaffed, to the point where I cannot grow or even succeed at my job, and promises of support have gone unfilled.”

            I’ve begun to feel this way. Too much to do, not enough time to feel like I’m doing the kind or quality of job I prefer to do. I want to do a good job but dang, I’m tired.

            1. LW1*

              There is so much related to my job I want to learn and study, training material I want to review, online classes I want to take to strengthen my skills that would really benefit me, I think, and client materials to review so I can grow and learn and challenge myself to do better, but I can’t do any of it because I’m. always. working. and there is just no time for any of it. It’s so frustrating and stagnating. I’m starting to feel like an organ grinder’s monkey. And when everyone else in the office leaves or goes home early and I’m still there with multiple more hours of work to do, it’s hitting me hard, emotionally and mentally at this point. Someone mentioned Cinderella in a comment and that’s how I’ve begun to feel — scrub the fireplace, Cinderella! We’re going to the ball! But don’t work too hard! Bye! ‍♀️

      2. Brain the Brian*

        It’s hard because you care — obviously — about the work you do. That doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you — just that you need to adjust things so you can keep doing this work about which you care so much.

        For what it’s worth, I also think there’s a pernicious systemic thing where we all want to prove to each other how busy we are, despite the negative physical and mental health effects it can have. In my case, the stress had caused me to stop eating regular meals, with predictable results.

        1. LW1*

          Yep. I feel like I keep trying to find ways to do more with less and it’s just at a point you can’t cram anymore into the work bucket. So adjusting things is something I’ll have to do. And getting up and going home and deprioritizing things in my life. Thank you!

          1. Brain the Brian*

            I will also add that if you are even half as on top of things at work as you have been at replying to people in this comment section, you definitely have some room to pull back at work and make those adjustments. You are being very, very generous with your time here, and workplace interactions (both electronic and in-person) can certainly be shorter and more efficient if you’re drowning and need to focus on getting things done instead of instantly acknowledging everything that comes into your inbox.

            1. LW1*

              lol! Organization of things and being on top of it is definitely part of the job description.

      3. M2*

        This is why I am not moving one person from hourly to salaries. They do Ot and will be doing OT in a salaried role for 4-5 months if the year (this is how our industry works I am
        Not a jerk) and makes a ton of money. I looked into making them salaried but essentially according to HR because of where they could be on the salary band they probably would take a pay cut or make the same amount as they do with OT but we discussed it and they said they wouldn’t want to work OT if they weren’t making OT $.

        This is also why when I post roles that do OT for a period of the year (again it’s normal in my industry and everyone knows and we make it clear) we pay higher than the fair market rate. I also give comp time during the non busy season and am more flexible with people who might need to leave early or come in late as long as their work gets done. But I’m very clear about it. I say normally for a role like this you are paid $100k and my company pays you $130k because we know what it entails for that 5 months of the year and want to compensate you for it. No one on my team works more than 50 hours a week (unless you count travel and one weekend where we have a huge event and everyone works that weekend) other than me. But when we aren’t busy people can take comp days as long as someone is in the office.

        But you need to set boundaries and try and space things out more. We have tight timelines so that doesn’t always work for certain people and that’s ok! We have certain things that must be done by a certain date and time because it gets sent on to someone else. I don’t care how you get it done but it must be done by x date and sent to Jane. People can work from home wokr at night, doesn’t matter. But if it’s not done on time it’s. A huge deal as it holds everything up. There are other things that can fall and not be done when this stuff needs to get done and I have had to train people on just leave that for after. It’s not the priority. I also will contact other heads of departments if anyone is asking for stuff from people on my team.

        I think it also helps saying Dear Jane, I have other time sensitive priorities I need to get done for Ben. I will come back to C when I am done with the above most likely the week of June 8th. If you don’t hear from me by June 10th please feel free to email me. Thanks again.

        Something so you circle back with a time you’ll look at it but that something else is more time sensitive and. A priority right now. People get it. But make sure you’re actually doing what needs to be prioritized.

        1. M2*

          Those $ are also not correct we pay more but that’s just an idea of the difference in salary we pay because we value the work!

      4. Annony*

        You can also try negotiating a raise based on the workload. You mention that the salary is based on working 40 hours. Where I work, it is understood that we don’t work 40 hours and that we often step in on evenings and weekends to complete things that have a quick turnaround. Our salaries reflect that fact. Being salaried doesn’t inherently mean being paid for 40 hours while working 50. If you are regularly working 50 hours a week, the salary should reflect that fact.

        1. LW1*

          Thank you for this. I did check in with my boss a bit ago about my hours worked to that point this year because while they know because they’re usually there themselves, I don’t always know that they KNOW, you know? Just because you’re used to seeing me ghosting around the hallowed halls of the company at night doesn’t mean I should be. That shouldn’t make it ok.

      5. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

        Something I’ve seen said before here: if your manager is trying to make a case for hiring another person, they may need to be able to point to work which isn’t being done. In that situation, you stepping back and letting some things clearly not be done (for now) is part of the future solution, even if in the moment of doing it, it doesn’t feel good.

  5. Certaintroublemaker*

    LW5’s workplace sounds like it has to meet a lot of regulatory requirements. A one-and-done signature is probably not sufficient. I’d recommend a short training and quiz to be taken annually that goes over the most important requirements: HIPAA/privacy, minimum staffing/leave requests, etc.

    1. Observer*

      I agree. Periodic trainings and reminders sent out are very useful. But not all at once. More like January, reminder about patient privacy, February a reminder about leave policies, March something about documentation. etc.

      1. JustaTech*

        Yes, and make sure that you make time in people’s schedule to do the training (ie, rather than asking them to do it off the clock). Otherwise that “read and sign” will turn into just signing because they haven’t got time to actually read it.

        And if it’s really important, you’re probably going to need to have a quiz too, even though that’s more work for you.

    2. Haze*

      I think the LW is conflating adhering to rules about clients with adhering to procedures to ask for time off. I think there is misplaced concern here. Staff may remember client-centred rules but time off is ‘just admin’. You can be very good at one and drop the ball on the other. I get that it’s annoying to have to get them to redo, but guess what – if their time off isn’t approved it’s on them. No need to go all parent mode about it, bc there are natural consequences. I worked in an area with lots of complex legislation including privacy that staff were conscientious about, but some needed reminders about timesheets. I’d rather they consistently remembered the privacy rules – actual law – than our company’s timesheet process.

      1. GythaOgden*

        I’d think the other way tbh. In coverage based roles, getting time off is usually a negotiation thing and they should be familiar with that. Things that come up once in a blue moon, however, like data breach protocols, are less likely to be retained as familiar procedures.

        Source — receptionist for ten years. My friends were aghast that I had to negotiate for time off with my colleagues and kept agitating for me to push back, but it makes a lot more sense in context than it does just hearing about such policies second-hand.

        1. Parakeet*

          I halfway agree with this. Complying with requirements with regard to clients in fields with strict confidentiality requirements can be pretty complicated and difficult for people to retain, but not necessarily because it’s once-in-a-blue-moon. When I did that kind of work, our implementation of those requirements affected where in our file systems I was allowed to save certain kinds of work, what I was allowed to say on Teams, what I was allowed to say to other organizations that might be providing services to the same person and under what circumstances. It was woven through all sorts of aspects of the work and individual situations could get tricky.

      2. M*

        The thing is, time off in a workplace that has strict, legally-enforced, coverage requirements *isn’t* just admin. If you’re running that kind of workplace well, you need policies about how scheduled leave is distributed (so that one person doesn’t block off all the public holidays for everyone else, for example), how much notice is needed for planned leave, and what information needs to be provided when someone need to take leave at short notice. I kinda get LW5 being a bit frustrated – particularly if someone’s notifying them of leave at short notice and outside policy, that’s potentially a flurry of work for LW5 to work out whether they’re actually going to show up when it’s rejected – though the “urgh, just remember it” attitude is obviously unhelpful.

      3. ferrina*

        This is exactly what I see in my own workplace. People are extremely diligent about policies that impact clients, but when it comes to things that are essential for the business, they are way more lax. This includes time-off requests, timesheet completion, and basically anything that makes HR pull their hair out.
        We’ve found more success when we personalize the “admin”. So instead of saying “time off policy is X”, we say “time off policy is X because otherwise Joaquim needs to chase people down to verify, and the system only lets Joaquim do manual updates and it takes him forever.” Then they follow policy because they see it as helping out Joaquim. (I also work in an organization where people are very invested in treating colleagues well)

      4. JustaTech*

        It’s also an issue of how often you do something.
        I only have to use our reimbursement system maybe twice a year, and each time it’s a mess because I don’t remember (and there is no handbook, ugh). It’s not that I don’t care or don’t understand that it needs to be right for finance, it’s that I only do it twice a year and there aren’t any instructions.
        But our far more complicated documentation system? I use that every day, so I know the system inside and out and so it’s easy to do it the right way.

    3. HollyTree*

      I used to work in this exact kind of place, and this is exactly what happened there. It’s not just regulations but so much specific details about medical conditions, medications, needs, health and safety, likes and dislikes which are different for every single client and every single room and activity in the place.

      We eventually moved to exactly what you describe, every month everyone had to come and review a policy all together. it was a mad amount of grumbling because we were all knackered and thought we had better to do, so don’t let that put you off. it was necessary – in our case, we actually found that our written policies differed from the verbally expressed best practices in several places, so it was a good job we went over them.

  6. nutella fitzgerald*

    LW 2 – is this something industry specific? I can see where there was a misstep but the formal disciplinary action seems a bit much from the letter.

    1. nutella fitzgerald*

      I should add that I have an ongoing struggle with shushing my inner narc, who would love for me to spend life constantly pointing at others and saying “that’s against the RULES!” We’re both unclear on what the infraction was.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I don’t think it’s specifically an industry thing – I could see it happening like this in all kinds of companies. The reason it’s pretty serious rather than just a “word in your ear” sort of infraction, is that OP has now compromised the internal hiring process for this role. It’s an overstep which is bad enough in itself, but OP has then approached potential candidates, given them a (incorrect as it turns out) run down of what kind of person is needed for that role, etc – in short they’ve assumed authority they don’t have, in a way that will be difficult to undo for this hiring round. What compounds this in my mind is they’ve done it based on self-interest (what would make the person better to work with from OPs perspective) rather than the company’s or the role’s team’s perspective. It would potentially have been mitigated if OP had gone to their manager as soon as they had that feeling that something wasn’t right.

      1. TheBunny*

        Luckily, the fact that they are making changes to the role mitigates a lot of this for OP. Yes OP goofed…but the info they gave was wrong, so it’s actually pretty easy to say “Oops…the info LW used to base who was approached was inaccurate. Once we have the details ironed out, we will publicize.”

        Changing roles when someone leaves or is promoted is common enough that I don’t think most people will really see that as all that odd.

        1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          Yes, to some degree it can be smoothed over like that – but still there are serious implications of this (what if the role wasn’t being changed? – I don’t think that is too much of a hypothetical) and even if OP did act based on wrong information- they shouldn’t have acted at all, which a message like “OP approached the wrong people, with the wrong info, as the details were changing but OP didn’t have that info yet” dilutes.

          1. Velociraptor Attack*

            I feel like the fact that so much of the information was wrong honestly makes this worse but it’s really interesting to see the split between people thinking this is no big deal and people thinking it’s an issue. I very much view it as an overstep and a stay in your lane situation.

      2. Over Analyst*

        I’m also wondering why this is such an overstep. I speculate about jobs that open in my area a lot, reach out to people I think would be good for them, etc. It sounds like OP doesn’t actually have authority for hiring this position, which to me makes it less a concern, like “oh that person who might kind of work with you thinks this job would be a match, awesome let’s look into it” as opposed to “the hiring manager said you should apply” which would show some favoritism. I also think OP not being as involved makes it easier to blow over. The one overstep I’d say would be sharing privileged information, but again if OP didn’t know it was privileged it’s bad but not horrible.

        1. Dandylions*

          Same. The only issue I see here is sharing before there was a JD.

          I don’t get all the doom spiraling about OP having compromised the job search.

          How exactly? Unless OP litetally said I know Ben will hire you go for it! I think the people hand wrong g about internal candidates feeling recruited and then their moral tanking if they don’t get the job as off base.

          Having employees informally recruit for roles is so common that every single place I’ve worked has a formalized referral process.

    3. abca*

      I thought the same. In my line of work this would be a “you should not have done that” thing, but I would be surprised about HR getting involved. I see several comments “explaining” why it is indeed bad and I still don’t see it. No need to explain it more, I think this is one of these things where it really varies. But I would not be happy in a place where something like this, from a good worker with good intentions, is such a huge deal. And Im hoping it is indeed larger in lw s head than anyone else’s. I’m looking for a new role in my current company and would love to get a heads up like that, even if it later turns out to be premature and the job is not applicable for me or not open anymore/after all. Presumably lw would also have informed these people that they liked after the job was officially posted. Would that then still be bad because one of the motivations is that they would like working with them? Also don’t most people know these situations where internal roles are posted but the hiring manager already has someone in mind and the internal posting is just to comply with internal rules? You see the official posting, get all excited about this opportunity that fits your skillset perfectly and it turns out there never was. I wish that kind of behavior would be reprimanded but it never is. I find it somewhat similar in that it wastes several people’s time, gets people’s hopes up for nothing, people acting on information that is not correct.

  7. Nia*

    I’m not clear on what LW2 did wrong. I’m especially not clear on what they did wrong enough to merit looping in HR. Letting people know about jobs that are about to open that you think they’d be good for sounds like bog standard networking to me.

    1. Nodramalama*

      I assume if it was because it was more than telling them about a job opening, it was giving them an insider scoop on the role that could be seen to give those people an unfair advantage

      1. Nia*

        That still just sounds like networking to me. If you know someone in the department you have an advantage. That’s the whole point of networking.

        1. Brain the Brian*

          It sounds to me like this is a large corporate or government organization — frankly, almost certainly a U.S. state or federal government agency. In those instances, regulations prohibit anything that could be even construed as remotely biased for or against a candidate.

          1. Cinnamon Stick*

            I agree with looping in the boss about the shared file. Being proactive about not being able to do your work is important here. It will show you’re not avoiding the tasks and you want to rectify the situation but you can’t.

            Someone above mentioned checking to see if there’s a policy or if your coworker was training to not share the file. It may be her understanding of the process.

            If it were me, I would back away from the friendship. I couldn’t be comfortable with someone who does this.

            1. Cinnamon Stick*

              Nesting fail, this was supposed to be its own comment…..I swear, I just clicked ADD ONE at the top

        2. Irish Teacher.*

          Networking can be problematic in some situations though. There can be a narrow line between networking in the sense of building up a network of people who can speak to your work and want to hire/recommend you because they know you are really good at what you do and networking in the sense of “it’s not what you know; it’s who you know,” “jobs for the boys.”

          The first is reasonable, the second is a form of bias and leads to unfair advantage and companies not getting the best person for the job.

          It does sound as if it’s more the first in this case, that he spoke of it to people he saw as likely to succeed in the role, but I guess for all HR knows, he might have just told his friends. And in that case, the whole issue of “if you know somebody in the department you have an advantage” is a problem and I guess the company is trying to prevent that. That’s one of those things that people say as a criticism/accusation of bias/unfair hiring practices. “Oh, I bet he knew somebody in the department. That place is all about who you know.” I doubt any company wants those whispers to go around about them.

          1. NotBatman*

            I can’t speak to LW2’s exact situation, but I have been the person who got a job because someone told me a few of the interview questions in advance. At the time it felt awesome to have a friend on the inside giving me that info, but with the benefit of distance I can see how it was distinctly unfair for me to know that while no other candidates did.

            1. Dandylions*

              Meanwhile my company has a managers developement tool on the intranet with a lots of questions and how to differentiate a bad, good, and great answer. As an enterprising internal candidate who found these training materials I have a huge advantage and so does any other internal candidate who found the info.

              I have no qualms sharing with external people I know from experience were great to work with that we use behavioral interview questions and STAR based answers will help their skills shine through.

        3. Also-ADHD*

          I can see how it’s a problem in some sectors, but yeah, realistically, I get why it’s an issue. It is precisely how networking frequently works though—I’ve gotten plenty of interviews (and a few offers, though weirdly never the one I wind up taking) from a friend thinking, “you’d be a good coworker or boss, apply for this job that’s coming up”). I have done it myself too, though always with the blessing of my boss/the hiring manager.

          I cynically think LW2 wouldn’t have been disciplined or addressed if they had selected people Ben/leadership/HR agreed were good fits, but I can see there was conflict there as well, since the role was adapting in ways LW didn’t realize.

        4. nutella fitzgerald*

          Right? I’ve gotten multiple jobs because someone in the department let me know there was an opening that aligned with my experience. I thought that was just how things worked.

        5. Daryush*

          I think it depends on the scale, tbh. You need to be judicious, and just pick the one person you think would be best.
          Giving a whole bunch of people the same insider information about the job makes things more difficult for the hiring manager. Rather than bringing their own unique perspectives to the interview, these people’s view of the job has all been influenced in the same exact way by what the LW believes the job to be.

    2. TheBunny*

      It depends on the details. A lot of times when someone leaves a role, HR and leadership take a look at the job and make some changes to the job duties, the pay, the requirements etc.

      OP potentially created an issue with current employees who now think they are qualified for an opening who might not be once the job analysis is complete. At least that’s how I read it.

    3. Observer*

      I think what the others said is correct. But also it sounds like the LW gave some potentially incorrect information.

    4. Alan*

      Almost all my work experience is government contracting so take this with a grain of salt, but this feels pretty problematic to me. I often had managers telling me things privately, typically because we had a really good professional (sometimes personal) relationship and they knew I wouldn’t pass it on. But they’re never telling you the whole story, they might misspeak, I might hear something wrong or communicate it wrong to someone else, the requirements might evolve, a hundred different things, and it’s really not good when the requirements for a job are coming from multiple places. Plus I can guarantee that if you pass on discreet information, you will rapidly, very rapidly, end up with people not telling you anything. Standard networking is I hear about a job and refer a friend or coworker to the person who can tell them more or to a place where they can apply. It doesn’t sound like that’s what happened here.

    5. Pretty as a Princess*

      I mean, if HR “owns” recruiting, then of course they’d be looped in? Because presumably the people LW told about the role could even be reaching out to the internal recruiters. You’d absolutely want them understanding what happened – not from a disciplinary standpoint even (which it sounds like they were NOT doing) but from a clear comms perspective.

      There also could be *HR situations that the LW is not privy to* that they accidentally bumped in to when telling their friends about this upcoming potential job opening.

  8. linger*

    For OP3 (wanting client files shared):
    If AdminAsst continues to push back, then this is something that probably does need to be discussed with your department head, neutrally, to first check that there is not some policy preventing the sharing of client files that AdminAsst’s predecessor was breaching. Probably not, if you’re supposed to be her backup, but that part of your role also may need official confirmation.
    Then, is AdminAsst keeping to the same file format as her predecessor, or has she made changes to the documentation? This might be some reason for her reluctance to re-share the documents, whether these are changes she believes are improvements that others might screw up, or changes she’s embarrassed about. Nevertheless, if it’s part of your duty to be her backup, you need access to the file, and documentation of any special format she has adopted.

    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      She’s not embarassed, she’s just protecting her turf. The thing that needs to be made clear to the admin, not by you but your boss, is that they are not her files, they are the company files. You need them to do the job the company pays you to do. Ask her once more. If she still refuses, your boss needs to know since this is definitely work related.

      1. ferrina*

        Agree. This kind of possessiveness isn’t good. Her boss should also have a vested interest in transparency- in my experience, the people who go out of their way to hide files are also the ones who hide how incompetent they are.

        If she’s worried about someone ‘messing up her file’, could you compromise on having read-only access? I can’t tell if that would be a viable solution here, but sometimes it’s a compromise that difficult personalities will accept.

      2. Alan*

        I wouldn’t even ask once more honestly. I’d just bump it up. Any time you have two different copies of the same information, one of those will be incorrect or out of date, at least for periods of time. The admin needs to make the file shareable immediately. It sounds like she’s problematic enough in general that maybe this isn’t the right job for her.

        1. Everything Bagel*

          Yes, I agree with this. You already asked her once to share and she told you no. What’s there to talk about? The prior admin shared the file. I’d go to the manager and say the new admin has told you she does not want to share the file that you need to access. I’m wondering how long a new admin has been there and how she’s working out overall considering she’s relatively new and already has conflicts with OP and other coworkers.

        2. I Have RBF*

          Any time you have two different copies of the same information, one of those will be incorrect or out of date, at least for periods of time.


          Any time the same data is maintained in two or more places, one will be at least partially wrong.

          Shared resources, like a list of POs, need to be shared on a shared drive.

          Go to your boss, tell them the problem, and why it’s a problem, and let them handle it. That admin sounds like a piece of work, and territorial in a bad way. People learn about sharing in kindergarten, FFS.

    2. Ama*

      I would also make sure there’s not some technical issue that she needs more training on involving using a shared file. I had a colleague who just could not get into her head that she didn’t need to download a copy of a shared file to her computer and then reupload it when she was finished with it (which she often did not do for days and which would cause a huge problem if she was out sick and one of us needed the most recent version of that file). In her case she really just didn’t understand how shared files worked and insisted it was more secure to download the file — the best we were able to do was get her to at least reupload the file at the end of each work day so if she was sick the next day we weren’t missing anything.

      (I was about ready to push for more intensive training on this point last summer, but she ended up leaving the job for other reasons.)

    3. EvilQueenRegina*

      We had something come up once where one coworker was responsible for the Sickness and Absence Recording (SARS), and she was saving all the documentation for that, including blank templates, on her own personal drive which no one else could get at. This became an issue when she had long term sickness leave following surgery – at the time of the initial conversation with our manager about this sick leave, she’d given an estimate of two weeks, so I don’t think our manager was that concerned in the moment. In the end, it ended up being close to four months that coworker was off, and no one else had access to the files.

      Manager still didn’t come across as very concerned when I spoke to her about it after about six weeks. She was more so when HR started chasing for the data shortly afterwards; if memory serves, I think she ended up handling it herself until my coworker came back.

      The matter wasn’t really resolved for months afterwards – a debate started on the merits of needing only one person having access to this confidential information versus what if this same situation happened again with that one person being off long term sick and no one else being able to access it. After a wider restructure, it was eventually decided that managers rather than the admin role should have responsibility for that task.

    4. Starbuck*

      To me all it sounds like is she feels only she should get to benefit from her work of maintaining the file, and anyone else wanting to also use it is “freeloading” and unfairly benefiting of work she did. It’s a bizarre misunderstanding of how office work goes… if one person has already done the work, why duplicate it unless it’s completely necessary? It’s a grade-school-level “no you can’t copy my homework” type attitude.

  9. Observer*

    #4 – Shared file.

    Absolutely insist that she share the file. This is not her information. And the suggestion that you should keep your own file is beyond ridiculous. It’s the most BASIC rule in data / information management. You do not maintain separate copies of the same information (other than actual backups). You always want *one* “source of truth” and you always want any given piece of information entered / manually handled as few times as possible, because otherwise you wind up with errors and inconsistencies.

    This is not “her PO file”, it’s the “Master PO file that she is the primary maintainer of” and she has no business keeping you from seeing / accessing it.

    If she refuses, go to your boss. If necessary go to IT (with your Boss’ knowledge and permission!) and have them make her save it in a shared location and access granted to you and whoever else is supposed to have the access.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Completely agree, it’s the company’s (or organisation’s) file, that she manages on their behalf, not ‘her’ file. I’m becoming more and more impatient with people (obviously referring to the admin, and people like this, not the comment I’m replying to) who don’t seem to make that distinction. It can be quite a difficult line in some cases, as it’s a good thing that people take accountability and ‘ownership’ of the things that are their responsibility, but there’s still that background of “on behalf of the company”.

      I would just clearly ask her one more time and if she waffles about it, escalate it. I’m not a fan of escalating things as I think most things can be resolved between individuals, but clearly this is an exception.

      I wonder what her motivation is – I assumed it was job protection until I read that she suggested OP keep their own copy. Now I’ve no idea.

      1. Zelda*

        It might be worth distinguishing between edit access and view access. One likely motivation for not “sharing” the file is a worry that the LW might mess something up, if the admin doesn’t realize that it’s possible to share with limited permissions. Or if LW does need to be able to make changes (my impression from the letter was that the need was just to be able to see the information), then showing the admin how to show changes or look at previous versions of the file (depending on what’s available in the platform in question) may help.

        1. GythaOgden*

          Ultimately that’s just a minor quibble. I was a bit hesitant to open a goals spreadsheet for my management team to general editing, but for them to be able to add their notes etc to it was more important than my formatting choices. In reality they could clearly see the way I’d arranged stuff and the colours I’d chosen to represent the traffic light system and they could just copy formatting over.

          I was also just using my PO record sheet to practice conditional formatting as well. It’s like being a kid with a bag of felt-tips all over again, except without the mess on my fingers where the nib doesn’t quite hit the cap at the right angle. (I save that for the pen marks all over my bedspread because I sit there to make tally marks when counting out thread for cross-stitch. Plus ça change, plus ça même chose.)

          1. Coffee Protein Drink*

            It is indeed a minor quibble. It’s easy to look at previous versions or to see changes.

            I love conditional formatting. Also data validation.

            1. GythaOgden*

              It’s a beautiful thing when your clumsy attempt at a formula works when you enter it.

        2. Dave*

          The access and being able to easily see who messed with a shared file is why I love having some files shared as google drive files. It also has they added bonus for when someone is working from there phone and needs a quick reference for something. The file lives in the cloud instead of a desktop and all parties that need it can easily reference it.

      2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        It could be something as silly as not knowing how to copy stuff to the shared server, or maybe it’s a bit clunky and takes five seconds more than just dragging and dropping onto her own hard drive.

        1. Observer*

          Eh. In a properly set up network that should not be an issue.

          In any case, it really doesn’t matter. Sure, IT should make sure that working to the network is transparent. But even if they leave that extra step in, she still does not get to decide that she’s the only one who can access “her” files that actually are not her files.

      3. DJ Abbott*

        Also OP4, stop trying to be friends with this woman, at least close friends. She is not being supportive of you doing your job and supporting others while she’s out. Just have a professional relationship as cordially as possible.
        IME it’s generally not a good idea to try to be close personal friends with coworkers, or to say too much about your personal activities. Before I learned this, I had a lot of bad experiences with people getting jealous when I mentioned doing an activity or having fun. Also, there are those who will try to use it against you. It’s best to be cautious about making close friendships at work. Make your friendships outside of work.

        1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

          I’m with Alison on this. I wouldn’t want this woman as a CLOSE friend, but if OP works with the admin frequently, being low-key friends may make her day-to-day experience a lot better.

          That said, if it were me and I figured friendship was worth it, I would keep some firm boundaries in my head about what kind of friend she was and how far I could trust her (I wouldn’t share anything really personal, wouldn’t hang out outside of work/work events, etc).

      4. RagingADHD*

        The fact that they are POs and invoices certainly carries the possibility that she has a very strong and not good motivation for keeping the file hidden.

        1. Alan*

          That was my first thought! She’s covering something up, which is all the more reason to escalate this ASAP.

          1. Slow Gin Lizz*

            I mean, this is a bit of AAM fanfic, but I do agree that there are probably other things going on with this admin apart from just that she won’t share a document that multiple people need to be able to use.

    2. Freya*

      You don’t even need to have write access, just read access would give you the ability to cover when your job requires without altering anything!

    3. Mockingjay*

      OP3: This should be stamped on every employee’s forehead: you do not own company information.

      We’ve all seen this: people hoard info that other people need to do their jobs. If info needs to be protected or restricted, fine; there are plenty of access controls and need to know policies to do that. But to keep info to be seen as indispensable, to hold a bit of power over someone else, or just because is wrong.

      Purchase Orders and Invoicing absolutely need to be accessible to at least one other person. “Sorry, vendor, we can’t pay you for the equipment you just delivered because The Highlander (there can be only One) is on vacation.” Bit of hyperbole there, but seriously, most roles need alternates so business functions continue smoothly and that alternate coverage includes access to centrally-managed info.

  10. TheBunny*

    LW#1 It honestly depends on your job, company culture, and your boss.

    In my previous job, I had a boss who would think nothing of assigning a 3 hour task at 4pm one day and asking it be completed by 9am the next. So either I was working until 7pm, starting at 6am the next day, or a split of the 2. I was salaried and regularly worked 10 hour days and didn’t feel like I could ever step away from Slack because it was always possible she would need an answer on the weekends and would expect me to get it to her.

    My current boss expects me to work my hours as scheduled and to be available outside of them if there is an emergency, which happens rarely. She’s even said that because of her schedule, and working around her partner’s who is in retail, she often works quirky hours to allow them to spend time together, but if I see an email come through late there’s no expectation to reply until my next time I’m scheduled at work.

    1. LW1*

      Thanks! My boss has been supportive of going home on time, tells me to go, but the workload is just A LOT. I’m trying to give myself permission to go in my own brain and just trying to accept work will backlog but worrying (and not unrealistically so, imo) how the managers will take it as they are often very last minute, dropping work at my desk a few minutes before (or after) 5pm and expecting me to do it immediately.

      1. TheBunny*

        Push back on that. They do that because they know you will get it done.

        If Fergus (I’ve always wanted to use Fergus) drops something on your desk at 4:58pm, acknowledge it and say “thanks. As it’s the end of the day, I’ll get to this first thing tomorrow.”

        Unless Fergus is a real you know what, the only thing he can say to that is “ok”. I mean he could try to say “oh but I need it now and expect you to stay to complete this task I got to you at the last minute” but people like that are not the norm.

        1. LW1*

          Thanks! I’ve tried pushing back where I can and usually hear, in those moments, “but I need it for my after-hours meeting with client tonight!” So unless I get up and tell them that’s their problem and leave, I feel stuck.

          1. Brain the Brian*

            To be frank, in those moments, it *is* their problem. They need to hear that, however kindly.

            “I’m sorry, but I would’ve needed this by noon to get it ready for you today. I have to leave now, but if you want to send the client a mock-up tomorrow, send me the specs and I’ll try to get to it in the morning.”

            Something like that.

            1. Your Former Password Resetter*

              Agreed. If the deadline is tonight, why are you only hearing about it today?
              They definitely didn’t plan crucial and time-sensitive client meetings half a day in advance, so they need to give you earlier notice so you can plan their assignment properly. (Also, what happens if someone else already assigned you work, or you’re busy on something high-priority, or you already left for the day?
              Either that prospect is bad enough that they need to coordinate with you, or it’s not so bad and they can reschedule or do without.)

              And with more lead time you can discuss with your manager what work needs to be deprioritized or delayed to get you back to ~40 hours that week.

              1. LW1*

                “Also, what happens if someone else already assigned you work, or you’re busy on something high-priority, or you already left for the day?”

                Thus the late nights. My deadline work plus whatever other projects I’m working on for other people mixed with the last minute requests, etc.

            2. SarahKay*

              Seconding Brain the Brian, and I think it’s a good script.
              It’s probably not something you can say to them, but do bear in mind that a failure to plan on *their* part (not giving you the work in a timely manner) does not constitute an emergency on *your* part.
              Right now you’re effectively teaching people that they don’t have to plan ahead when giving you work, and that’s a bad habit they’re likely to take elsewhere. If it helps, think of it as not just helping yourself but helping others who have to work with them.

              1. LW1*

                I’m so bad at this, mostly because my brain says, “they’re your bosses. You can’t say no.” Organization is and always has been a huge issue in the office. “They’re not going to change” is usually what I hear.

            3. ferrina*

              Exactly this! This is a great script!

              They aren’t tracking how much work they give you or how long it takes to finish. You need to start giving them deadlines and limitations. “Hey boss, my plate is full for the month of June. If anything else comes in, we’ll need to figure out what to remove so I have time to get any new assignments done.”

              Side note- think about whether the workload is still feasible for one person. If it’s not feasible for a single person, that’s on your boss to either get budget for a second person or adjust the workload or process. That’s not on you to figure out. Good luck!

              1. LW1*

                Thank you! And it is definitely not feasible for one person. We’ve talked about it many times. I think the plan was to shuffle things around and hire more staff but that has not materialized yet.

          2. BubbleTea*

            This would require a very careful tone, but could you ask “is there a reason you couldn’t get it to me earlier?” or possibly “in the future, please can you get stuff like this to me by X o’clock, to make sure I’m able to get it done on time?” Something that calls out the fact that it’s their own lack of organisation that is the problem.

            1. LW1*

              Lack of organization / time awareness is a big contributor, I think, and thank you for the additional script ideas.

              1. honeygrim*

                Oh yeah, this sounds like one of those “lack of preparedness on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part” situations. You should definitely feel empowered to push back when someone is asking you for extra work because they didn’t do their job correctly.

          3. Orange You Glad*

            It sounds to me like you and your boss need to reset expectations. If someone sends a request – is it reasonable to say you won’t respond right away but can hold yourself to a 24 hrs response time (or more)?
            I have a role with a lot of external deadlines, but also have a lot of internal demands for my time. Being able to be clear that email requests may take up to a day and a certain task could take up to a week helped me feel better about “falling behind”. Then I do that. I don’t drop everything for an email, but I stick to the timeframes I committed to. If things aren’t done at the end of the day, I log out and do them the next day.
            My boss and I also had to re-frame project requests that were getting and start saying no and that helped too. We’d have people drop something like “I need an analysis on Teapot sale rules by tonight” and we’d have to push back that type of request is actually very detailed and would require weeks of research (had they made this request to an external equivalent service provider, it would cost thousands). It always turned out that person just wanted a quick talking point to bring up a meeting and didn’t really need a full analysis.

            1. LW1*

              Very much this. We’re supposed to have one or two days to respond to most things but almost everything on my desk is a one to two day turnaround. I’ve started to feel like a chew toys caught in a tug of war between dogs — public customers, clients, my own workload, the execs/managers I support, and the rest of the staff. Many of them done know what my workload or other obligations are but keep adding more arbitrary deadlines to meet without asking me if they’re feasible while the managers just nod and say, “sure! We can do that!”

              Pushback is a skill I need to learn more and do better at. Thank you!

              1. Never Knew I Was a Dancer*

                LW1, if you’re still reading this, this part of your comment stood out to me:

                I’ve started to feel like a chew toys caught in a tug of war between dogs — public customers, clients, my own workload, the execs/managers I support, and the rest of the staff. Many of them done know what my workload or other obligations are but keep adding more arbitrary deadlines to meet without asking me if they’re feasible while the managers just nod and say, “sure! We can do that!”

                I haven’t read all 450+ comments for this post, so maybe this is repeating something else further down. But—

                This is 100% the kind of situation where you go back to your manager and make these conflicting priorities their problem. When we get so used to absorbing everything at our own expense, no one else sees the trouble that’s being caused because we’re hiding it from view.

                Share that pain with them (=pass it on to them) and the chance of your manager doing something constructive goes up. “Hey boss, I’m feeling like a chew toy being pulled in different directions by Fergus, Jane, Wakeen, and Fiona. I only have time to complete A and B, how do you want me to handle this? / I’m not sure what the best way forward is, what would you like me to do?”

                I have the same kinds of difficulties you do with setting boundaries on my work time, and some of it gets better only when I stop absorbing all the pain of the work overload and start sharing it and passing it to my manager.

                (Also, yes, being salaried is 100% a scam, and doesn’t suck only when you have a boss, department, and organization that is committed to voluntary policies that make it suck a little less.)

          4. AnonInCanada*

            Maybe that’s what they need to hear: “I’m sorry, but as it’s now 2 minutes to 5, I cannot complete this work today. I cannot stay late because I have unbreakable plans for this evening (which may consist only of lying down on the couch and binge-watching Netflix, but they don’t need to know that,) but I can work on it when I’m back in tomorrow morning.”

            Something about your lack of planning != my emergency. Or words to that effect.

            1. LW1*

              I’ve been trying to do this more, politely. I will try to be more blunt and firm about needing to leave. Thank you!

              1. Brain the Brian*

                One thing I’ve found is that adding words like “really” before “cannot” softens the tone of scripts like this juuuuuust enough to make it palatable for me to say but still keeps the message intact. It doesn’t always work, but it’s a helpful guideline.

          5. Kez*

            I think it’s worth reframing “get up and tell them that’s their problem and leave” in your own mind as you practice setting this boundary. You sound like a kind, conscientious person who feels sympathetic to your less-organized or pressed-for-time colleagues, so I think that if you can tap into that sympathy without taking on their problems as your own, you’re not going to come across as callous or cold.

            “I wish I could help, but I need to get home on time tonight for some family obligations. Could you try [doing a facsimile/draft yourself, telling them it’ll be ready by a certain date, whatever you’d do if I weren’t in the office today]? Next time, if you’re able to get it to me by [reasonable deadline given your busy schedule] I can be sure it’s ready with all the bells and whistles by the time the follow-up meeting occurs. I have to [get back to this project I need to finish by EOD/get to my car before traffic gets crazy] but I hope it goes well with the client!”

            That script is honestly a little more help than I would usually recommend, but since you’re currently dropping everything for folks, it might feel more authentic to your own style to be offering the kind of “help” that actually lets you get on with your day rather than taking on someone else’s work problems.

            You mention these folks are “managers” and I just want to say that, hierarchy does not give them the right to trample all over your boundaries. Your boss, who actually understands your work and is in charge of managing any sour manager-feelings, wants you to practice saying no. They can get used to that, and it’ll be a gift you’re giving them to learn that other people don’t operate on their timeline just because they have some title authority.

            As an anecdote, one of my favorite coworkers is a no-nonsense long-time administrator who is scrupulous about operating within our policies and refusing to let social pressure maneuver her away from doing her job correctly. I can remember a time a (very senior) employee walked into our office several days past the deadline to submit a certain change for committee approval and started to explain her situation over and over again, restating the importance and how “it’s just a little change so maybe we could squeeze it in” no matter how many times my colleague repeated that the deadline had passed and she would need to wait a month for the committee to meet again. Eventually my coworker said, “I’m confused – what is it that you want me to do? I’ve explained that it’s not in my power to make this change for you, so is there something you specifically want me to do that I’m not understanding?” This was essentially asking this senior person, straight-out, to either say, “Break the rules for me because I’m higher up on the ladder” or admit defeat. Knowing that our boss (equally high up the ladder as this lady) would back my colleague in following procedure, she backed off and agreed to submit the item for next month’s agenda. It was so iconic and refreshing to hear a fellow admin-level person respond to the wheedling and pressure without bending, and I hope to one day have the gumption to try that myself.

            1. LW1*

              Thank you for all of this. I do admire people who can stand that line diplomatically. It’s such a strong skill. I guess the concern in the back of my head is whether or not my boss will actually back me up or fold to the managers./execs.

          6. nopetopus*

            Not that this is a script you can say to them, but it’s an attitude that you can internalize: “Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.”

            The only way to train people to not drop things on you last minute is to let said things drop a few times. In your meeting example, the other person could choose to cancel the meeting, go ahead without the report, etc. By doing work for them last minute, you’re insulating them from the consequences of their actions and taking accountability over their work. If it helps to look at it that way, you are actually transferring responsibility for their work tasks to you, which is not part of what you’re getting paid for.

            1. LW1*

              Ouch. And so true. You raise all really good points. I am thinking specifically of one thing from the other week. I gave multiple reminders to one exec of a very simple but necessary task they needed to do. Deadline came and went. I assumed they did it since I literally reminded them the day it was due. Then a client came to me days later asking where it was. So I covered and I did it but I shouldn’t have to. We’re human and we all forget stuff but I don’t think I can literally remind people any more that I do and it still boomerangs back to my desk.

          7. InsufficentlySubordinate*

            Your answer can be, “I’m so sorry, I do have something scheduled after work and won’t be able to work on that tonight.” The important part is that it doesn’t matter what you have scheduled even if it’s “just”, ya know, going home. Their failure to plan ahead is not your circus, and not your monkeys. They’ll figure it out.

            1. LW1*

              A part too that may be influencing me is that if I don’t do something, it will often land on my boss’ desk to do if I’m not there and warp their time because they’re the only person left in the office who knows how to do certain things and then they’re pulled away from their work and unhappy.

              1. Bird names*

                Well, currently *you* are not happy. It’s more than fair to spread that around a bit.
                Is your boss working remotely similar hours to yours and/or similarly stressed? Even if yes, that means *both of you* need more support and potentially additional staff or cross-training.

                1. Bird names*

                  I should maybe clarify – people other than you/your boss need to know how to do this. You already said it yourself: this is untenable.

                2. LW1*

                  “Is your boss working remotely similar hours to yours and/or similarly stressed? Even if yes, that means *both of you* need more support and potentially additional staff or cross-training.”

                  Yes and yes and absolutely yes. The refrain I keep hearing from everyone is: nobody wants to work.

      2. learnedthehardway*

        You may need to speak with your manager to inform them of everything that you’re tasked with and with timelines / the amount of effort it will take to do it all. You should write up a chart of everything you do, estimate the amount of time to do it, put it all in a spreadsheet and then have a discussion with your manager.

        Your manager may feel that this is just a ramp up phase and that, as you get used to the role, that you will take less time to do things. Your manager may also push back some to say that it really only takes 1 hour to do something you’ve budgeted 3 hours to do. That And that may be true. But you have to get to a point where you are fully competent in the role. You may need to ask your manager for suggestions or look for ways to make what you are doing more efficient.

        However, if you go over your role with your manager and all the tasks, and it is still going to take a fully up-to-speed person more than 40 hours in a week to get the work done, then you’re in a position to ask your manager to prioritize things, remove something, get you tools that will let you be more efficient, or get additional resources (if more people are needed on the team).

        1. LW1*

          Good suggestions and I actually did just that a few months ago. I submitted it so we could figure out who to give what to and what I would keep. The conversation never got any further. :(

          1. Bird names*

            You might need to follow up on this yourself. It seems none of this has been resolved and you need to communicate that asap. Maybe check if your submission is still up to date compared to your current tasks and suggest a meeting to discuss concrete next steps. Best of luck!

            1. LW1*

              I definitely will update as I’ve gained additional tasks since then. Though I’ve followed up on the follow ups of the follow ups at this point. lol!!!!

              1. Bird names*

                Ah, that paints a slightly different picture. It might be time to start letting some well-communicated balls drop, actions speaking louder than words and all.
                I really hope you find a way to take back your time!

      3. Gatomon*

        The way I frame it for myself is this: management has decided not to have enough employee hours available for the amount of work available. I’m sure it comes down to the budget, but in the end, that’s a problem for management to address. Usually they can at least look at making some sort of hybrid position with additional excess work from some related position, or hiring an admin to offload some of those tasks, improving processes to reduce workload, or even just crosstraining someone to help when things back up too much when there isn’t money available. (Spread the pain!) But if none of that is happening, that’s on management. Not you.

        The consequences are that projects take longer to complete. I have ones I’ve been sitting on the hardware we purchased for years because they just haven’t reached a high-enough priority to be touched. If management wants that to change, they need to hire more employees. (They gave my team a third person over a year ago on paper, but never relieved that person of their previous tasks, so they haven’t been able to do anything for us. Out of my hands.)

        If urgent tasks are popping up at 5 pm, either something is wrong with processes, because that stuff should’ve gotten to you sooner, or there’s an actual business need there and you’ll need to be aggressive balancing things for yourself, knowing that it’s going to happen every so often. If you’re stuck working until 7 pm, take a long lunch the next day to do the grocery shopping you missed, or leave early Friday to see a friend, or come in late one morning just to catch up on sleep. Work is always going to expand to fill the time you allow it to take.

        1. Bird names*

          All of this and especially your last sentence @Gatomon.
          LW1, I bet if you were somehow able to start working 12-hour days, you’d still find yourself with more work than you could finish in that time.
          It might feel counterintuitive, but for work to slow down, you need to slow down. Otherwise you’ll just end up trying to catch up on an ever faster escalator.
          If your boss ends up giving you grieve for stepping back, Gatomon picked that apart nicely as well.

          1. Brain the Brian*

            The oft-cited “adding more lanes just attracts more traffic” line from highway planners comes to mind.

            1. Bird names*

              Yes, an apt comparison. As we’ve seen you’d need to completely rethink on how you approach traffic and getting people from point A to B (buses & trains, cheaper or free public transport, WFH when possible). The same is true here. Trying more of the same hasn’t worked so far and will continue to not work until a different strategy is used and until those piling on more work actually start to feel the pain of their poor planning.

              1. LW1*

                “ Trying more of the same hasn’t worked so far and will continue to not work until a different strategy is used and until those piling on more work actually start to feel the pain of their poor planning.”

                Sadly, I think that’s where this is all going. I dislike it. It should’ve have to take that.

                1. Orange You Glad*

                  If you’ve always been able to respond quickly to late requests, then you haven’t given anyone a reason not to send you those requests late. If they start having to wait a day, they will be more likely to manage their own time better.

        2. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

          LW1, if you divide your salary by the number of hours you work, you will probably be surprised by how little you are being paid per hour. And that doesn’t take into account the impact of hours lost from your personal life – the friends not seen, the books unread, the lack of rest and recuperation. Don’t wreck your own health. We only get one life!
          When you leave this job for a better one, I have no doubt they will have to hire two people to replace you.
          Best wishes to you for a beneficial change ahead.

        3. LW1*

          This is all so true, thank you. I think some of my issue, too, is I only know hourly mindset. I’ve never been salaried before so I don’t know how it really works in my office and what is ok for me to do and not do. And you’re totally right. The work will always expand to fill the hours!

      4. The*

        LW1, it may help to give yourself a regular commitment in the early evening. Maybe it’s deciding you’re going to work out 3 days a week at 5:30, or there’s a concert series or event at the library going on every Tuesday and Thursday night, or even just “I’m going to watch anime with a friend every Monday”.

        This gives your brain a reason to defend leaving work, and gives you practice establishing boundaries. Even having a commitment once or twice a week will get you in the habit of going home at 5 unless it’s a genuine, rare, emergency.

        1. Bird names*

          A somewhat serious suggestion for a potential library visit:
          Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman might prove helpful in reframing this for yourself, LW1 and other interested readers.
          I first saw it recommended on AaM and find it a uniquely useful look at the limits of modern time management advice. The author explains how to get comfortable with a neverending to-do list (by letting things drop in a planned manner) and adds a bunch of interesting history to the issue. Can be easily read in smaller chunks.

          1. LW1*

            Thank you for the recommendation! Adding it to my queue. I’m currently reading “Small Acts of Leadership” by G. Shawn Hunter, “The Effective Executive” by Peter F. drunker and have his “The Practice of Management” on deck next. A very tiny, skinny little “Managing Oneself” rounds out that stack. Definitely adding yours to the list!

        2. LW1*

          I have a standing appointment once a week and signed up for a class this summer for this reason (and some fun time for myself). Hopefully it’s helps me practice for drawing better boundaries on the other days when I just want to go home and take a nap!

      5. Meg*

        Oof, yeah, I’ve been there! Except I was a mobile veterinarian and my boss would always guilt trip us with “the animal is going to suffer if you don’t cancel your plans and work an extra 6 hours on top of your normal 10 today!” We had scheduled on call days, but some of the other vets would schedule themselves to be several hours away on those days (I’m not sure if it was malicious or not, but they NEVER covered my on call). After years I realized it was getting worse and not better and I was having panic attacks coming into work. My boss just threatened me with more work if I pushed back so I got out.

        I ended up leaving that particular industry and now work in another sector with no overtime or on call. I can have strict boundaries around my time. It’s like night and day. Still salaried, but making twice as much for half the work. If this doesn’t change soon (a few months) I would start peeking around for what else is out there. My boss wouldn’t help me so now he has me zero hours a week along with another vet who quit at the same time for the same reasons. That person who used to dump her on call was complaining about having to actually do it as I heard through the grapevine.

        1. LW1*

          Good for you for getting out! My resume is always in the back of my mind and I know I’d things keep going this way I will have to leave just so I don’t go down that road. I feel stuck with the caregiver portion of my life. I doubt any new employer would give me the flexibility I have at my current job (appointments, leaving early, coming in late as needed etc). So I know I’m here for a while. The frustrating this is I really like my job. I love all the variety and how every day is different. I’d just like to feel like I can breathe during my day, have more time to pay closer attention, not work so hard, so fast all the time so my end result is more quality, and not feel like the job/company is trying to actively kill me. ;)

          1. Gumby*

            I doubt any new employer would give me the flexibility I have at my current job (appointments, leaving early, coming in late as needed etc).

            That *may* be true for your role and industry. But it also might not be true. It’s worth testing the belief at some point. (Speaking as someone who wandered into the office today at 11:15 because I had insomnia last night.)

      6. Texas Teacher*

        This is a structural problem in teaching. Teachers just can’t get everything done during duty hours because one is teaching children 7 hours a day. The planning time slotted is simply not enough. But if you don’t work a couple hours extra each day you won’t have the next day planned sufficiently. We are exempt but there is no scheduled flexibility.

        1. LW1*

          I do not know how teachers do it. I had a parent who was a teacher and for our years ago for that reason, and the politics.

      7. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        LW1 – the boss can’t advocate for another person (at least one more) if you do the work anyway. The problem can’t be solved if it isn’t a problem.

        Your boss is literally telling you to go home on time. Take her at her word. She might need things to not be done to convince the higher ups.

        1. LW1*

          True. I need to go and do what they tell me. The buck stops with them, though. They are The Boss. CEO/President/Owner.

      8. I Have RBF*

        IMO, you need to take the last minute, 4 pm paperwork and pointedly stack it in your inbox. You also need to tell them that you will not be staying late to finish their last minute paperwork.

        You see, the reason they do it is because they know you will be an obedient trooper and sacrifice your own time to keep them happy. You need to disabuse them of that notion.

        I would suggest a sign: “Work requests submitted after 4 pm will not be processed until the next business day. Work requests submitted after 5 pm will go to the bottom of the stack.” Then get your manager to sign it. Yes, it’s snarky, but you have to get them to stop thinking that a lack of planning on their part is an emergency on your part.

        1. LW1*

          My boss and I actually talked about a script similar to that some time ago. I tried various other corrective measures that worked to varying degrees and then circled back to the boss and told them that was the type of message I wanted to drop in our internal messaging system to the execs/managers. The boss’ response was “well, hold on. There are going to be emergencies and exceptions where you can’t leave at 5.”

          That took the wind out of my forward momentum. I took that as a “whoa, whoa there! I may have said you should be able to leave on time and not be staying but now that you want to out that into practice… no.” I never sent that message.

          1. Bird names*

            If your manager truly refuses to back you, that’s them refusing to do their actual job of managing. They are supposed to not only keep an eye on your work product, but also (ideally) assess if your workload is realistic. You did your part by pointing out the hours you work atm. You need them to step up with the others and clarify for you what kind of task *actually* rises to emergency level. If it turns out everything is an emergency, in fact nothing is. That means folks are just bad at prioritisation.
            Please keep in mind: you should not set yourself on fire to keep other people warm.

    2. Blue Pen*

      Yeah, your boss now is basically my boss—it makes all the difference to me in the workplace, the work I do and the energy I give to it, and why I will be committing to this place for the long term. The acknowledgment is that, because I’m given a ton of flexibility and autonomy throughout the year (including cutting out early before holidays or when there’s really not much to do), I’m more than happy to pitch in and stay late when the (rare) emergency comes up. They give me that respect, and so I will give that respect right back to them.

      I wish there were more people like our bosses who understood this!

  11. TheBunny*


    Personally I would ask her directly what he reason is that she feels you need to keep a separate file and spend time doing double work. I’d ask exactly like that… for 2 reasons.

    1. Curiosity. I’d be really curious as to why she feels you need to spend time doing the same work she is doing.
    2. To see if there’s some silly quirk you can address when she answers. (Doesn’t want to share document passwords, afraid you will delete it, whatever) and see if you can address it with her and solve it.

    If this doesn’t work you can then go to your boss and tell them you spoke with her, you made your issues known regarding the process, you attempted to find a work around… and that if you are going to be expected to be this person’s backup in the future, you will need intervention to be successful.

  12. Jinni*

    For LW1, I’d want to dig deep into the reason for the conversion from hourly to salaried? I’ve seen (when I practiced law) conversions to exempt to save money (more work like LW1 – but with no overtime pay!), but it didn’t meet the qualifications of exempt and was reclassified or sometimes fined. (I’m in CA which makes this a big issue).

  13. LW1*

    LW1 here! There was a title change/promotion involved. It’s complicated. lol! But I am aware of what you’re talking about. It’s something I’ve kept in the back of my mind since this all came about. There are some perks to the arrangement that works in my favor. I’m just trying to figure out the hours and where boundaries are with this whole salaried thing. Seems like there aren’t many. Fortunately my boss seems supportive of the 4o hour week. It’s more the workload requirements in contrast to that. I need to just leave on time. Seems so easy, don’t get why it’s so hard!

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      You mentioned that you and your boss have discussed that isn’t sustainable and eventually you need more resources/staff, and they are supportive of your working a 40-hour week. Have the two of you put together a plan to make this happen, or is it nebulous right now?

      If not, it sounds like it would help to create work plan for roughly a 40-hour week. For example, the two of you can prioritize tasks A and B, decide that C and D will need to be done at a slower pace, and E can’t happen right now based on your limited resources.

      1. LW1*

        Supportive but nebulous. There may be a plan but it seems to hinge on hiring people they can’t find to fill positions yet. And so much if my job are mini projects that not much lingers more than a few days before it’s done. There’s a whole side of my job I’m not even touching at this point because there’s literally not enough time in any day.

        1. Meg*

          I commented above, but I’m a veterinarian. I do really important work that is in really high demand and we recently lost a vet in our practice so we are at 50% capacity and booking out a long while. I know I will start to lose it if I work more than 45 hours, drive more than 4 hours a day or see more than X appointments. I had to leave my last industry due to burnout and making under $20/hr some weeks. Completely unsustainable.

          I now have hard boundaries around my work life. When we lost that other vet I refused to step up and take on more clients because I CAN’T. If I did that we would have zero vets and that just compounds the problem. I also had a very lengthy vacation scheduled for a year that we now have almost zero coverage for. I did not cancel it. I’m taking it and the world will not burn down. My job is hard to recruit for, but is actually amazing. It’s also not my problem.

          Start with some little boundaries like even once a week. It will feel really good after a little while and you can keep working in more.

        2. Not your trauma bucket*

          No matter what they say, bosses and companies *show* you their priorities. Right now your boss is saying “yes, it’s a problem and we’ll fix it” but not *doing* anything about it. As others have pointed out, they have no motivation to fix it, because you’re getting everything done. In my experience, the only way to get action in that situation is to make them feel your pain. Any time you get a request or assignment that puts you over capacity, you take it to your boss and ask them what you should drop. EVERY TIME. If you pushback on a request and get flack, immediately loop in your boss and keep them looped in until there’s resolution. Make them feel it. Make it real for them. If you get any response other than a solution or a concrete plan, then you know that it will never get resolved and it’s time to move on.

    2. GovSysadmin*

      I’ve been salaried for most of my career, and I just wanted to echo that it completely depends on your situation regarding whether or not it makes sense to you. In my particular case, it has worked well for me – while there is the occasional maintenance weekend or off hours emergency I have to respond to, for the most part my job is generally 40-45 (at most) hours a week, and I have the flexibility to start a little later and work a little later each day, which works better for me. In addition, the reality is that there’s a much higher compensation range for salaried folks at my organization. So when you do the math to figure out what works for you, you might want to consider what it may imply for you 2-5 years down the road if you stay with your company.

      1. LW1*

        Thank you! I plan to sit down at the end of the year to break down wages and hours and see how it all comes out.

        1. tg33*

          The end of the year sounds a long way off, if you mean December 2024! Can you do it month by month? That way you have fairly up-to-date data, and you aren’t trying to remember what you did 6 months ago!

          As well, do you have a hard limit? Are you willing to go to 45 hours (or less 42.5 hours which is 30 min a day) and no more? Then stick to that. As long as the work is getting done there isn’t much pressure to change, but if it can’t be done things will have to change…

    3. BubbleTea*

      Perhaps you could make plans at 6pm, and then at 5.30pm, for a few weeks. They could be something as simple as having a friend call you to check if you’ve left yet, or signing up to a class, or anything that will feel important enough to push you out of the door. It sounds like you’re able to prioritise other people’s requests more than your own needs, so make your needs into someone else’s request and practise!

        1. Bird names*

          I really like BubbleTea’s suggestion. Setting boundaries is a skill and therefore requires practice. It’s completely fine to start with workarounds and enlist the help of others if needed! That way you hopefully get enough mental distance that you can work on the more deep-seated mindset driving some of this.

      1. Really?*

        This is not a bad idea! It makes it easier for you to say to with a clear conscience to the guy that’s dropping stuff off at 4:30 – “I’m sorry I won’t be able to do that today, I have an appointment. I can get to it first thing in the morning” (Or “ in the morning after I finish Desdemona’s presentation” let them know that they are not the only person dictating your workload, if applicable). Having been the professional staff in question, if he desperately needs it for that client meeting, he’ll find another way to get it done, up to and including doing it himself. The old saying “lack of foresight on your part does not constitute emergency on my part” needs to come into your thinking! As someone approaching retirement, I have absolutely no regret about the times that I left to spend time with family or friends. What I do regret, is bringing work with me on vacation, spending hours in the office instead of spending time with visiting family members, and generally taking time away from personal commitments to meet the needs of companies and people who probably would not return the favor. You will not be able to get the time you should’ve been spending with the people that are important to you back. You are exchanging your labor for salary; you owe them commitment for 40 hours or whatever it is, and flexibility when they need it within reason; it shouldn’t be all consuming – you don’t owe them that

        1. LW1*

          Thank you for this. As I get older and my parents sicker, I have this horrible guilt and shame over not being able to better control my work hours. There’s a lot of guilt. It’s hard.

    4. Free Meerkats*

      Have you looked at the requirements for being exempt in the federal regulations to ensure you meet them? It’s not unusual for employers to convert jobs to exempt when they don’t meet the requirements – though they won’t say it out loud, it’s usually to save money while stroking the widely held belief that exempt>hourly.

      Unless your job and salary meet all the requirements, you are misclassified and they owe you money for all the overtime you’ve already put in. I understand you like the flexibility, but is that worth the tradeoff of not having a life outside work?

  14. Government Drone*

    OP1 – I became salaried / got a promotion in 2019. It is totally a scam. The level below me is till very strict with the 40 hours, I typically work 50-60 a week minimum. I’m trying to have better boundaries and balance the time, but the workload makes it tough. It’s the #1 thing I mention to people wanting a promotion.

    1. LW1*

      Well that’s depressing. It makes me wonder if any company is realistically staffed so their workers don’t feel like they’re drowning every day.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        I highly recommend watching the videos by that Toodaloo woman on YouTube. I live vicariously through her. Might give you some ideas for how to maintain work/life boundaries. (Of course, you may have to pick your battles, too.)

        1. AnonInCanada*

          Loe Whaley’s shorts always show up when I open YouTube on the homepage. Guess where the mouse pointer’s heading first.

          “Toodaloo!” And yes, those University of North Texas mugs add a certain added charm.

      2. Government Drone*

        No one that I know in any field in 2024 isn’t burnt out and overworked.

        1. Brain the Brian*

          I am burned out but not overworked. I *was* horribly overworked, and then my manager finally reorganized our workloads, and I wound up with so little that I drift along aimlessly but still so burned out that I can’t possibly fathom raising it with her for fear that we’ll go back to the other extreme.

          1. LW1*

            We were supposed to reorganize and shuffle responsibilities around some time ago when I was promoted but it never happened for a variety of reasons.

            1. Jaydee*

              Okay, I’ve been reading your comments for a bit so I’m going to chime in now with a few suggestions based on my experience in my current and past jobs. Because you sound a lot li

        2. RVA Cat*

          We all were assigned the added “job” of living through a global pandemic that took untold numbers of people out of the workforce through death, disability or caregiving. There’s more work than there are workers with the right skills to do it and employers don’t want to train anyone.

        3. Excel Gardener*

          This is the exact opposite of my experience. Most people I know who work in salaried jobs work 40 hours a week with only the very occasional overtime. They also often take advantage of the flexibility of work from home to do chores or even errands during the day. Some of these people make six figures by the way.

          Point being, LW1, don’t listen to the doomers. Balance is totally attainable and normal in salaried jobs.

          1. LW1*

            Whew! Thank you for this. Gives me some hope! Especially when I do like my job and my coworkers and my boss. If the workload/hours thing could get resolved it would really be nice.

      3. misspiggy*

        Realistically staffed probably means paying for enough people so that there isn’t a mass exodus. If people stay and work extra hours that’s a free gift to the company. The company doesn’t see their stress. It only sees actions taken.

      4. Nancy*

        I am salaried and prefer it over hourly. I rarely work more than 40 hours a week, and if I do, it is never more than 45 max. I have much more flexibility in my start and end time for each day, and can go on appointments during the day if needed.

        It really depends on your workplace and whether you already have tons of overtime. I don’t, so being hourly gave me less flexibility with no real overtime benefit.

    2. kiki*

      This is definitely something I learned from my own experience and that of those around me– if you’re promoted and changed from hourly to salaried, make sure you review the salary against expected hours of work to see if it’s actually a raise. I’ve had a lot of friends given “raises” when they move to salaried pay that were actually pay cuts because they didn’t factor in the overtime that was being done before.

      1. LW1*

        Oh, I definitely did the math at the time and was earning way more salaried. My overtime during my hourly years was large as well so I know what that came to at the end of the year for taxes, so I know – even know – my salary still shakes out to more. I’m just flipping tired.

  15. Meep Morps*

    I’m a FT non-exempt worker in California with full benefits, vacation, and sick time. I’m also unionized and work for a public institution. There’s an upcoming job that would theoretically be a promotion and my boss is encouraging me to apply for it, but it’s exempt, and I’ve had enough friends working exempt for this organization to know that unless they are supremely good at maintaining boundaries and have a kind boss, the institution will absolutely take advantage of exempt employees. There’s no increase in vacation time, benefits, or retirement with an exempt position, so I’m struggling to see any advantage to taking on a more stressful job that will likely eat away at my work/life boundaries. My current wage is already higher than the starting salary for the exempt job, and since we’re a public organization I think it’s unlikely I’d be able to negotiate what I would consider to be fair compensation for taking on that much extra work. It would pay more, but only barely. I like my boss a lot but also I feel a great deal of pressure from her about this, since the skill set for the “promotion” is rare, and when I try to present my concerns about the role she says I need to be more ambitious and build my career, and this is the way to do it.

    So it’s honestly comforting to me to hear Alison say exempt with is often, well, a scam. So many colleagues have shown me weird pity when they learn I’m hourly, as though I am being disrespected by not being salaried. All those people worked constant overtime and answered emails on evenings, weekends, and vacations. How is that working reality supposed to be an improvement?

    1. Jinni*

      From what you’re describing I’d only apply/accept a promotion if it were a short lived stepping stone. Otherwise, why? I hate that earning more money/possible overtime is seen as not ambitious…

      That stigma is real, though.

    2. Adam*

      I think this is just a case of people wanting different things. Some people are interested in social status or higher pay or power, and exempt jobs almost always are better for that. If you’re not interested in those things, or at least not more interested in them than in protecting your non-work time, then it seems like a bad choice for you.

      I find a lot of this kind of friction is caused by people not believing that other people could want different things than they do. In both directions! Your boss doesn’t really believe that you value your time outside of work more than the things the promotion could give you, and you don’t believe that lots of people do value those things and trade their time outside of work for them willingly.

    3. LW1*

      But ambitious for what reason? If the ambition isn’t a fire in you and you don’t feel that burn to climb upwards or want that job… it may be someone else’s aim. It’s ok that it’s not yours. I got a very nice pay bump and flexibility which means a lot but no extra days or added benefits. The flexibility means a lot to me and I appreciate it. But as I wrote in my OG letter, even when I leave early or come in late, I’m working that time back and then some. So is it really a perk? Eh.

      1. BubbleTea*

        For me, extra flexibility is enough of a benefit to make up for extra work – it’s why I quit my job with set hours and started my own company. But it’s different for everyone and it’s absolutely fine if someone’s ambition is to have a job that stays in its lane and doesn’t bleed into other priorities.

    4. Skippy*

      In theory, being salaried should be a good thing: the organization pays me for my output, not the number of hours I put in, so I can organize my workflow in whatever way works best for me. So yes, I may need to stay late to run an event one night, or put in extra hours in advance of a deadline, but I can also duck out for an appointment or take a long lunch if I want to — as long as the work gets done.

      In practice, too many organizations use it as an excuse to pile more and more projects on their salaried workers because they don’t need to pay overtime.

  16. Myrin*

    OP #1, since you asked about real world examples, I’ll just tell you how it works for me. I’m not in the US so there are different legal parametres and framings involved but you sound interested in the general realisation of “being salaried” so this might still be interesting to you:

    I’m salaried (working in local government) but still clock in and out, so my time is tracked to the minute and I accumulate overtime accordingly. I personally always make sure to hover at around 25 to 30 hours and I maintain that by taking a day or two off every now and then, which is super nice for short trips to see my family.
    That means I’ve never reached 40 hours of overtime but if you do, you have to sign something – I’m not sure exactly what that sheet of paper says since I’ve never seen it, but it’s to the tune that you need to get down to below 40 in the next X time or lose the additional hours. I’m not sure how that works for my poor best friend at work who is a total pushover and works overtime almost every day without ever taking any time off – I just know that his quasi-boss (the mayor!) certainly stretches the legalities around my friend’s job in particular just so that he can order him around whenever he pleases.

    But that’s NOT how it should be and also not what it’s designed for. The vast majority of my colleagues follow the rules to the letter and enjoy extra time off with no financial detriments. I’m also pretty sure I could get the commensurate money paid out if I insisted on it but that’s not the norm and possibly only happens when someone leaves.

    My sister works in retail full-time, by the way, and it works the same for her (getting a salary but clocking her time), although not surprisingly some employers try to skirt around legal requirements via making people clock out and then continue to work; her current one is very good about that, though. Oh, and also and completely contrary to how it works for me, they actually prefer paying out overtime money because they don’t want people missing days. You have the legal right to demand free time instead, though, which I know because my sister has been doing that for years, much to the grumbling of her boss.

    1. allathian*

      Yes, the system is similar in Finland, although I don’t clock in and out. My employer trusts me to report my working hours reasonably correctly (rounded up or down to the nearest quarter hour, it evens out in the end) on our working hours reporting app. My official workday is 7 hours 15 minutes and my workweek is 36 hours 15 minutes, but I have a lot of flexibility (at least in my organization, some other governmental agencies are much more strict).

      When we have tight deadlines I can work 50 hours one week and 25 hours the next, and I always try to have between 8 and 20 hours overtime so I can flex when I need to without using (by US terms very generous) PTO. An additional advantage is that I generally don’t need my manager’s permission to use OT unless it’s for a whole day, just a heads-up to let her know I’m not available. My work doesn’t require much direct supervision and as long as I attend the meetings I’ve agreed to attend (barring sick leave, etc.) and note in my calendar/Teams status when I’m not available, complete my work to deadline or notify my manager/internal customer when I need to renegotiate a deadline, I can pretty much schedule my work as I want to. It’s a lot of autonomy but I’m a senior IC and not interested in being a people manager, so I see this autonomy as a way for my employer to show that I’m basically a known quantity and I can get my job done to standard without constant supervision.

      Our limit is around 76 hours of OT, any more than that gets snipped every quarter. I’ve been close to that but I’ve never been at risk of losing comp time. Once I took two weeks of consecutive leave on comp time when a project was completed to avoid losing it, though. But after working 50-55 hour weeks for three months, I really, really, really needed the break.

      1. JennyX*

        If a bunch of stressed-out-looking Americans show up at your doorstep mumbling about 401ks and medical deductibles, please be kind to us. I mean, them.

    2. LW1*

      That is interesting! Thank you for that! Here we don’t even turn in a time sheet or track our hours in any way. I still keep track of mine though because I want to know and figured if I ever needed to talk about my workload, I’d need hard numbers. You’d think there’d be some kind of comp time possibly in play here.

      1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        For me, not needing to track minutes or punch a clock is a huge benefit. It’s worth a lot to just not care if I worked 8 hours or 9 yesterday, or to duck out to the pharmacy, or whatever. I get paid enough that the nickel-and-dime of an hour or two of overtime wouldn’t be worth it to me for all that headache.

        1. Brain the Brian*

          I have to track this for client billing purposes even though I’m not hourly. A fun mix that is the worst of both worlds!

          1. I Have RBF*

            I had a job like that. The consulting industry is weird in that it bills hourly to clients, but its professionals are often salary. They actually had a problem when salaried people doing field work were billing the client for 12 hours, but only getting paid 8. They started paying straight time overtime for exempt people doing field work.

            1. Brain the Brian*

              Our accounting software automatically prorates each salaried employee’s hours if they log more than 40 per week, and our bills to clients are based on the actual costs at the prorated amounts. It’s a bit ingenious from a system standpoint, actually, but definitely annoying as an employee.

    3. Rebecca*

      Yes, I’m in France, and when I worked as an employee for a school, I was salaried but my contract clearly stated how many hours I was paid for. Anything more than that had to be paid extra.

      Although, even with the protections France has around that, with teaching it still ended up being a bit of a scam, for two reasons. 1, because actually, I only worked 36 weeks a year, but they took the number of hours and divided it to give me 12 equal paycheques (this is where we get the misconception that teachers are paid for the summer). I still had to find other work during the 16 weeks a year school wasn’t in session. And two, because ‘prep’ time wasn’t calculated, just class and meeting time – I was still expected to have all my classes prepared and graded, etc. If I divided my salary by the number of hours I actually worked, it came dangerously close to minimum wage.

      But teaching is its own animal, and there’s a reason there are teacher shortages almost everywhere. Generally speaking, salaried workers are protected more here.

      1. Texas Teacher*

        Yes exactly this in the US as well. I would love to have teachers track their total hours spent preparing and make that as transparent as salaries are.

      2. Irish Teacher.*

        I’m in Ireland and as a teacher, I am paid for 22 hours (40 minutes of that is for planning and stuff, but the other 21 hours 20 minutes is for teaching).

        In reality, I work probably more like 35 hours a week, though it is very hard to tell, because how much do I count of stuff like talking to colleagues (that often weaves back and forth between work plans and personal topics) and planning, which includes things like thinking through what I need to do, watching videos I might show, etc. To be fair though, I am paid a fairly good salary that probably assumes an average working week, but we don’t get paid extra for anything over 22 hours.

        I think there is a law in Ireland that in general, people are not to work more than an average of 48 hour weeks, but there are some exceptions like Gardaí (the police) and the defence forces) and it certainly doesn’t apply to teachers planning outside hours so I would imagine there are teachers who might be over that, if they run a lot of extra-curricular activities, etc.

        If anybody is interested:

    4. Agent Diane*

      UK based here, and the working time directive applies to our hours too. You cannot work more than 48 hours a week on average – normally averaged over 17 weeks. Employers will ask people to sign to be exempted from that so they can work more, but that’s why staff on salaries still log their hours.

      I was on a 37 hour contract, and would occasionally hit 60+ hour weeks if there was a crunch, as I knew I’d get to take that extra 23 hours as flexi leave.

    5. Kazelle*

      I’m in Canada, working for the federal government, and have always been salaried, but until you are at the executive level, your salary is for a 37.5 hour work week (varies by collective agreement, but that’s the most common work week.) If you work overtime at my level, it typically has to be pre-approved, and you are paid for it in money or lieu time. Certainly I have had times where I do work longer hours during a busy stretch, but then I don’t worry if there is a day I’m stepping out a few minutes early. The point is that even though we are salaried, it doesn’t mean there’s an expectation of a 50 hour workweek. That seems pretty bananas and unsustainable to me.

      There are definitely people at the manager level who are working more than 37.5 hours without claiming the overtime, and this has played into why I have not decided to advance higher in my career up to this point. But I’m learning that that can be controlled too by the kind of boundaries that people are discussing here. The work will always expand to fill the available time, and it’s important to shut things down at the end of your workday.

      Not sure that another non-US example is terribly helpful for you, but I did want to reinforce that I don’t think “salaried” should always mean you automatically work all the hours in exchange for that status. It’s certainly not the case everywhere. Good luck – setting the boundaries to curtail your workday can be hard, but it’s worth it and so are you.

      1. Brain the Brian*

        In this U.S., “salaried” typically has a specific meaning that translates to “exempt from overtime pay” — meaning you get paid the same amount in dollars every pay period regardless of how many hours you work. The situation you describe would considered “full-time hourly” rather than “full-time salaried.”

    6. Dahlink*

      What you are describing sounds like what we’d call compensatory time off or comptime in the US, where you can bank extra hours and spend them in another pay period. This is generally illegal for most non-government workers in the USA. This is different from overtime, which would just be any hours worked that exceed the minimum required hours for a given pay period. This time wouldn’t be banked or rolled over into another pay period. It’s just extra time that you worked.

  17. Allonge*

    LW5 – beyond getting used to the idea that all policies need repeating (people can be seriously clueless even on things that are in their interest), also get used to the idea that some policies will be broken.

    You give an example of people asking for time off incorrectly. Given that there will be cases where people ask for time off in an emergency / rush / pain and so not thinking clearly, even with regular reminders there will be cases of this.

    Which is not to say people don’t need to abide by rules because they are in a rush! It’s just that your goal cannot be to have no need for reminders of the rules – that will never happen.

  18. JennyX*

    Serious question: does anyone who’s salaried work a 40-hour week? I tend to be right around 50 no matter what industry I’m in.

    1. Katie*

      I do, I time track so I know I’m consistently between 37.5 and 40 on an average week. On a rare occasion I might have to travel, so there’ll be the odd 12 hour day thrown in including travel, but post-pandemic that’s a real rarity now. I’m not US based though, so culture probably plays a big part in this.

    2. Myrin*

      I would if I didn’t intentionally do about 45 hours – I do that because I want to accumulate overtime to take off entire days later on in lieu. But sometimes I don’t feel like working longer and I do a regular 40-hour week. The vast majority of my coworkers work one hour longer Monday through Thursday and then leave at 12 on Friday, so they generally get to 39 or 40 hours, as well.
      (Like Katie, though, I’m not in the US, so cultural expectations and norms certainly play a role in this.)

    3. BubbleTea*

      In the UK so we don’t have quite the same exempt/non-exempt thing, but when I had a 30 hour a week job, I worked 30 hours. All my colleagues worked their hours too – and if people did rarely need to do a bit extra, we could and did take that time back elsewhere. There was no expectation that anyone did ridiculous hours to get all the work done; if we did too many hours over what was meant to be our core hours, workload was looked at. Doesn’t mean there wasn’t always more work that could be done, but management were realistic that it never would all be done.

      1. JennyX*

        Yeah, I’m in a high cost of living area in a US state with at-will employment. In a different job market, I could see being a bit more strict about boundaries, but right now? I’ve seen people get fired over being seen as not being team players.

        OTOH, at least in the orgs I’ve been in, there’s a big difference between exempt and non-exempt in both the work and the pay. Plus “exempt” gives you benefits and bonuses.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Mostly, yes. Most of the year I am at my desk for about 42-43 hours a week, but as a result have no qualms about bumbling around with personal stuff for 15 minutes here and there during my work day or taking off a couple hours early for an appointment without making it up. (Year end gets a little dicier with big deadlines, but.) I’m also remote so my lack of commute and not having to put on a work look saves me a bunch of time, so even if something does pop up that keeps me at my desk an extra half hour I’m still done and in home mode by 4.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        (And I am in the US. My boss doesn’t even track my hours.)

    5. Aeryn*

      Yes, but I am in a unique situation! I work for a US federal defense contractor, so while I’m a salaried employee at my company, the contract I charge can only be billed to the maximum of the pay period (so, 80, 88, or 96 hours depending on the length of the month). Plus, I can’t do my billable work from home so I get to leave the office and disengage until the next day. I can flex my billable time within a pay period (so work a couple 10-hour days to leave early or take off another day). Plus, my company always has some sort of training to do that I can charge overhead for instead of using PTO time (like if I need to stay home for a repairman). It’s a actually a pretty sweet setup since I’m technically salaried but basically work as an hourly employee (sans overtime pay).

    6. Astronaut Barbie*

      I have to say in my case being salaried works out great for us- we have the flexibility to run out for an errand, or leave early/come in late when we need to. Also I make my own hours (which means I get to choose to come in super early and go home early). The reason it works is because 1) the boss just finds it easier to pay salary, and 2) no one here on the small support staff in the office abuses it, and we all get our work done and have a good work ethic. I do realize we are the exception and are very lucky!

    7. Cat Tree*

      I typically work about 40 hours. There are usually 4 or 5 weeks a year where I work way more. I don’t get paid overtime for those but my overall pay is high so it’s just part of the deal and I know that going in.

      I will say that it’s partly about boundaries though, and I’m good at enforcing those. Knowing how to prioritize work is part of my job, and I do it. During a normal day I hit the high priority items and only log on in the evening if urgent high priority items still remain (often waiting for input from someone way above me who refuses to let those at the right level handle things, but that’s a different problem.) I’m also very willing to say “not my job” instead of keeping my hands in everything forever. I definitely have coworkers who work way more than I do.

    8. Renata*

      I am salaried and I work at most 40 hrs/week. I also dread ever leaving my office (small, limited room to advance) because my workload is so reasonable and our policies are so humane.

    9. I should really pick a name*


      I’m a software dev. I do what I can get done during my work hours and that’s that.
      I’ll work extra hours if something’s particularly important/time sensitive, but that’s a rare occurrence. There’s basically an endless stream of work for me, so I’m never “done”. That means I have to define my own end point.

      Note: I’m in Canada

      1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        Same here as a data scientist. Sometimes there’s a major deadline and I’ll work extra, but usually I get to have a hard stop at the end of the day and hold to it.

      2. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        Also a software dev, but in the US, and that pretty well defines my schedule – 40 hours/week, with extra hours once or twice a year. If I unexpectedly have to stay late to deal with an issue, I can leave early later in the week to get the time back. If I know in advance I need to be in early/stay late, I’ll adjust my schedule the same day and leave early/start late.

        This is not universal for software development, though. You hear stories about companies expecting developers to work 12 hour days and/or weekends and/or while on vacation. There are companies that do this, and it is a recipe for burnout. (I keep up with industry gossip, and there are a couple of well known companies that I will never so much as interview with, much less work for, and this is why.)

        1. I Have RBF*

          I’m a sysadmin, and I often get bunged in with the software devs. There are a lot of tech companies, especially the ones who employ H1b workers, who abuse salaried workers and expect their minimum hours to be 50 per week, or more, and the H1b people can’t push back or they get deported. I think that’s part of why they also don’t like to hire older workers, because older folks in this industry know what their hours should be and will push back.

          My current employer isn’t a strictly tech company, and I think that’s part of why they are not so insane.

    10. Random Bystander*

      My son does, for most weeks, work 40 hours (some weeks it is less–he works in IT for a college and they have “summer hours” which means a 4-day work week without expectation of longer days). I honestly can’t remember any time when he worked over 40 in a week except for the one time they got hit with a zero-day.

    11. Spacewoman Spiff*

      I’m around 35-40 but I’m in higher ed. Used to work in consulting and I made the switch because the hours just weren’t sustainable for me…I remember taking a vacation once, and being so miserable over having to take two days PTO when I’d already worked over 40 hours in the first three days of the week. No matter how good the salary, I just couldn’t sustain that.

    12. PotsPansTeapots*

      Mostly, yeah! Everyone at my job is exempt; I generally work 37-43 hours in a week and most people seem to work about the same.

    13. Immaterial*

      I do outside of busy season. So for about 2.5 months I work minimum 45 hours a week (usually no more than 50 hours) . occasion ally I will have to work more, about 45 hours in a given week outside of that busy season depending on project deadlines.

      This am out of overtime is low for my field though.

    14. academic fashion*

      I don’t track my hours, my boss doesn’t track my hours, but I feel fairly confident in saying that I work 35-45 hrs/week. Earlier in my career, I’m sure that reached 50 hrs/week at times, but I’ve streamlined some tasks.

      For me, I’ll take the lower overall pay of salaried for flexibility over my schedule. I’ve had ongoing medical appointments for the last while, and being salaried makes it easier to take care of those; it lets me do a little work in the evenings, which is actually when I prefer to work, as well.

      1. academic fashion*

        I am in the US.
        I am really good at saying “no” to things I don’t have bandwidth for. (I often worry I say “no” to too many things lol.)

    15. Excel Gardener*

      I have many salaried friends who as far as I can tell almost never work more than 40 hours a week, it’s not abnormal at all.

    16. Daryush*

      Yes, I generally work a bit less than 40 hours a week. During the busy season, if I have to stay late, it’s usually only by like 30 minutes to wrap up what I’m working on. Last week I left at 2 PM one afternoon to go swimming. Took a couple calls after I left but was pretty much done for the day.

    17. Accounting Gal*

      I typically work a 40ish hour week, yes. That has been the case at most jobs I’ve had, with the main exceptions being one week around month end close, and generally slightly longer hours for about a month around budget season & year end. Otherwise I stay close to 40, and in slower times even lower than that (especially at past jobs).

    18. Sharkie*

      Averaged out? Yes. But my office has a culture that helps protect this- Summer Fridays, late start/ early leave when needed etc.

    19. Skippy*

      I only work a 40 hour week. Worked in arts non-profits for years, now in the government.

    20. fhqwhgads*

      I did for years in my current job. Recently I tend to go over, but not because of pressure from my employer. It’s totally a me problem of getting into something and not stopping, and oh hey oops that 20 more minutes turned into 90. But I could go back to exactly 40 hr/wk, and no one in my chain of command would blink. They don’t want people busting extra hours because they want to know if we’re properly staffed or not. They don’t want us compensating. It’s so damn refreshing. But also I’m very reasonably compensated.

    21. Lana Kane*

      My work 40 hr weeks the vast majority of the time. Baked into the role is the understanding that I may need to occasionally put in some after hours work, but it’s not often, it’s scheduled in advance, and it’s not a large amount.

    22. Cathy*

      My workplace takes the 40 hour workweek seriously, and our salaried folks get comp time if they work extra hours, which does happen because they are fundraisers and evening events are not unusual.

      It’s one of the many reasons I love this workplace- in every other job I’ve had the salaried workers were abused.

    23. FormerManager*

      I’m salaried and I generally work 40 hours a week. When I was a manager of staff and my own department… well, that’s a different story.

  19. SettingExpectations*

    LW1, honestly, your reaction is closer to what I’d expect from someone who suddenly found themselves working 60-80 hours/week. 45-52 is a blip, something that would barely be noticeable to most people and absolutely normal for pretty much everyone I know who consider themselves in jobs with good work-life balance. If it’s closer to 55 every week you’re starting to hit the high edge of normal, but you’re still not in “I should be able to convince my boss to get me help” territory unless you have a really good boss with great corporate funding.

    If you complained about 4x hours/week at any company I’ve worked/interviewed at you’d be laughed out of the room and likely get a reputation for being out of touch (or worse, lazy).

    If this is an overwhelming number of hours for you, you might consider looking for contracting work which will pay by the hour and usually be limited to 40 hours/week. The down side is you likely won’t get any benefits at all.

    Also, were you getting paid time off as an exempt employee? Most places I’ve worked don’t give paid time off to exempt employees – they straight up get paid for the hours they work. That’s a huge benefit for most people and often more than makes up for the lack of extra overtime pay.

    Obviously you’ve got to do what’s right for you, but that may be avoiding exempt jobs if this is such a big deal for you.

    1. JennyX*

      Yeah, agreed. You really can’t say much until you’re over like 60 – not once in a while, but pretty much always over 60.

      Welcome to capitalism.

      1. Bird names*

        Mh, sounds like a good path to burnout tbh. Looking at the kind of positions that ‘required’ these kind of hours in my last job, the turnover was much higher for them and we had multiple people be out for several months due to stress related health issues.

      2. BubbleTea*

        Not everywhere. The idea that 45 + hours a week is normal is quite specific to America. In Europe and the UK, the average is 37.5 hours, 30 to 35 is commonly viewed as full time, and the highest average working week is around 42.

        1. Rebecca1*

          By “America” do you mean the US? A number of countries in both North and South America work similar hours to the US. Asia too (Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, and Japan come to mind).

        2. Cat Tree*

          It’s not universal even in the US. In my industry most people don’t work more than about 40 hours most weeks. There’s a bunch of examples upthread.

          The working conditions in the US are seriously problematic, but treating the country as a monolith does nothing to help. The inequality is part of the problem.

      3. Immaterial*

        depends on the field and your level. This definitely does not reflect my experience or what I’ve heard from friends (outside of one specific field known for long hours)

    2. Allonge*

      To be honest I am getting the sense that OP works 45-52 and does not seem to manage to get things done to a reasonable level.

      So the issue is not so much the hours now (not that an extra hour / day is not a problem), it’s that this is nowhere near enough and there seems to be no help coming.

    3. LW1*

      When I can’t leave my desk until after 9pm multiple days a week or I’m clocking out after 11pm and am back at my desk every morning when we open, I do believe I have a right to be concerned, especially when everyone else in the office (in rank) above me or below me is long gone and I am literally the only person left there besides janitorial. I’ve worked upwards of 59 hours in a week and that hasn’t been a one off. If somebody wants to call me lazy (lazy!!!!!) for that, have at it. I’m not a lawyer or a doctor or some high powered exec. I’m just some office admin doing her best to keep up.

      1. JennyX*

        No one here thinks you’re lazy, we’re pointing out that if you complain about working <50hr/week, you risk being seen by management as lazy. To add further clarity, this is definitely specific to the US. Other places seem much different.

        1. Bird names*

          I’m not sure I follow @JennyX.
          Why would LW1 be seen as lazy, if, as they said, her boss is okay with limiting her hours and going home on time? The general culture in that workplace also does not seem to follow this trend. I am somewhat baffled at this conclusion.

          1. JennyX*

            I got the impression that she thought that I and perhaps someone else had implied that she was lazy because we said that in many cases, complaining about working a bit over 40 h could be seen as such. I didn’t mean to imply that, just to say that at some workplaces, that’s the way it is. I’ve worked in offices where you can’t find an open conference room at 8 pm.

            I actually missed the detail that the boss is ok with her leaving after 8 hours. If that’s the case, go!

            1. Bird names*

              Ah, that makes sense. :)
              In the long run I’m really hoping for a broad cultural shift around this issue so we do not constantly have to contort ourselves in toxic or semi-toxic workplaces.

        2. LW1*

          There’s only one job position in my office that carries expectation of 50+ hours and they make way more than I do. The rest of the positions don’t have that expectation. I don’t mind hard work or occasional longer hours. I’m just trying to figure out the benefits of being salaried when all I see is I’m working harder and longer and have lost financial compensation (OT) and comp time I used to get when hourly. It’s all new territory for me.

          1. Bird names*

            Sometimes things that look better (to some) like more prestige are worse for those who don’t care about that and pragmatically assess their losses.

          2. JennyX*

            Depends on the company. Bonuses, benefits, and a more subtle thing which is being “seen as” someone who could continue to be promoted can be (but aren’t always) more readily available if you’re in an exempt role. You could get all of these things as an hourly person too! Just … depends on the place.

          3. I Have RBF*

            If you are salary anything over 40 hours in a week is supposed to be credited to comp time, IIRC.

        3. Excel Gardener*

          I’m in the US, in my experience management would absolutely see someone consistently working 50 hours a week as unsustainable and as a problem (unless they were like a very highly paid senior manager). Don’t overgeneralize from your particular field and experiences.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        If you’re an admin, do you actually fall under the category of folks who can be considered exempt?

        1. I should really pick a name*

          There’s a post about how it works in the US.
          I’ll reply with it.

    4. Rebecca*

      Attitudes towards this are shifting drastically, with way more people advocating for stronger boundaries and clock out times.

      It’s also incredibly specific to America. I live in a place where we’d ride at dawn if someone shortened our 90 minute lunch period.

    5. Brain the Brian*

      When I started my professional career, I was full-time hourly, non-exempt, and did in fact earn vacation and sick time — a standard in my industry.

    6. Yup*

      This is the kind of work mindset we need to absolutely stop promoting. Companies are making record profits and we’re still thinking it’s OK to work unpaid hours and give our life to our boss and their business. I think we absolutely should be pushing back on donating hours of our life to work without compensation. This is literal time stolen from your family, your past-times, your time with friends, your relaxation, your vacation, and your life itself. There is no getting it back. When I see new generations refusing to be exploited like this, I see hope for our future.

      My father was a company man and although he did not work crazy hours, he missed some key life moments that changed his family relationships dramatically and permanently. This is a destructive mindset and we need to collectively push back and take our lives back.

      1. Elizabeth Proctor*

        Right! Pushing a narrative that 5 10-hour days is okay and normal is so damaging. With a 30 minute commute one way and a 30 minute lunch, that has you essentially working (taking a 30 minute break to eat doesn’t count as freedom) from 8-7:30 pm. And if you are able to work from home, it’s still 8-6:30 or something similar but shifted.

    7. Sarah*

      So heavily disagree. 45 hours is an extra hour a day, which is definitely noticeable. 55 hours, which you’re saying is normal, is an extra 3 hours everyday! That’s a huge chunk of your time.

    8. Loredena*

      “Also, were you getting paid time off as an exempt employee? Most places I’ve worked don’t give paid time off to exempt employees – they straight up get paid for the hours they work.”

      I’m wondering what industry you are in? In 35 years of working I’ve never seen that to be the case Junior and admin/non supervisory roles are FT, with benefits, but non exempt Shift work is more likely to be as you describe

      As to hours unless you are big law consistently working over 50 is a problem! I’ve definitely done it way too often as a consultant or in IT at year end – but it’s balanced out by light periods because it’s so project driven

    9. Cat Tree*

      This is definitely far from universal. I’ve been salary for 20 years and never routinely worked this much. I work in engineering and have a high salary. The expectation is to work about 40 hours a week, but with more sometimes for *non-routine* events or projects. And I definitely have those weeks several times a year. But it’s not most weeks and I would definitely complain if it was.

    10. KitKat*

      Yikes! This is not universal and may not be great advice for the letter writer. I personally consistently work a bit under 40 hours a week, with only very, very rare weeks over 45. So rare, I can’t remember the last one—it certainly wasn’t in my current job, which I’ve had for 3 years. I am a very high performer and was recently promoted.

      It behooves anyone to look around at their company culture, and even more importantly team culture, and take that into account. I would want my team to tell me if they were overloaded, and I would define overloaded as regularly clocking more than 40 hours. My boss would do the same for me. Other places, that could be out of sync and require more careful handling (but that doesn’t mean the OP can’t ask). Your advice does NOT apply to all companies and industries.

    11. Salsa Verde*

      This is absolutely not the case in any other place I’ve worked, and to provide context, I think JennyX was saying the other day that people in her company who used all their PTO each year or even those who used their PTO as soon as it was earned were seen as poor performers, so I think that this is very industry specific, and not common at all.

      I have been salaried for >25 years and I have never been expected to work over 40 hours per week regularly. Here and there for a special project, sure. But in general, an extra 1-3 hours every day? Absolutely not.

    12. Helewise*

      This doesn’t sound remotely normal to me and I’m really curious what industry or area this represents. Forty-five hours on a pretty regular basis for some jobs, sure. But by the time you’re at 50 a week on a regular basis you’re well outside the norm IME.

    13. I Have RBF*

      No, this is wrong. Exempt salaried pays you for 40 hours, and is not supposed to expect 50 or 60. If you are regularly working 60 hour weeks and not getting comp time your company is abusing the exempt category. They can’t work you 60 hours and pay you for 40 every week. They need to either pay you for the extra or give you comp time.

      Sure, in the capitalist paradise of the USA it’s “legal” to work you 60 hours a week without additional compensation, theoretically, but all it takes is one well placed complaint and they may decide you are misclassified and you get back pay. Smart companies who need you to work all of that extra time make sure to compensate you, because burned out workers are bad for the bottom line.

      Yes, there are tech managers who will do this. But HR will tell you that your salary is based on 40 hours a week.

  20. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    “for all I know she’s doing it right now without being asked”

    Alison, this aside really made me smile this morning.

    1. A perfectly normal-size space bird*

      Same, especially since for a moment I was picturing my own mother. She was my boss at an office admin job when I was a student. I learned very quickly to not list her as a reference.

  21. Katie*

    OP1, the only instance where being salaried isn’t a scam is either when you’re strict with yourself about not working beyond 40 hours, or when you’re paid above and beyond what you would be as an hourly worker. It sucks because there can be so much pressure to finish workloads and get things done, but realistically the happiest people I know who are salaried are the ones who literally will walk away from the computer at 5.30pm, even if they’re mid-sentence typing an email.

    1. Rocky Mountain (Not) High*

      I am the walk away person. I’ve been salaried for almost 20 years now. I definitely started off feeling like I needed to be available all the time, and it was costly in both mental and physical health. I had a job 2009-2011 that finally broke me of that–I was busting my ass working 60-80 hours a week, and then was fired out of nowhere when I pushed back ONCE on an unreasonable request (then they replaced me with 3 people). That, along with the numbers of lay offs I’ve been through, really drove home that there is no reciprocal benefit to killing yourself for a job. I do not work in a a field that has any true emergencies. No one suffers harm if I don’t respond to a request until the next business day. And, frankly, what I accomplish in 35-40 hours a week is more than what many others do in 50-60 hours. My employers fully get their money’s worth without me needing to sacrifice my whole life to a job. I live a much happier life when I check out completely in the evenings, weekends, holidays, vacation time, and even sometimes for an hour or so during the day to pick up a Pilates class or something.

      1. I Have RBF*

        That, along with the numbers of lay offs I’ve been through, really drove home that there is no reciprocal benefit to killing yourself for a job.


        The experience of working for an asshole boss who expected me to regularly put in 50 hours plus just to have him sandbag my review and get me fired (actually a layoff under deceptive causes) broke me of that crap.

        Yes, if there’s after-hours stuff that needs to be done, I’ll do it. But you better believe that I will claw back that time later in the month, and my current boss is okay with that. He went through like three or four people in my position before he got me. He is a tech industry veteran, and does not want to burn out his team for appearances. Because of that and other things, if there is actually a need for long hours, he’ll let us know and we’ll do it, because he always makes good on balancing it out.

  22. Carmina*

    LW4 (mom as reference): if truly you are the only reference possible, is this maybe some sort of family business? If so, perhaps listing it in the CV, something like
    Admin assistant at Llama groomers (family business)
    or some such phrasing might avoid the bait and switch feel when it turns out the only possible reference is the candidate’s mom?
    And if it’s not, I am a bit surprised they let you hire your daughter under your sole supervision, to be honest! My company will only allow hiring family members if they don’t work together and I thought that was fairly standard.

    BTW, feels like as the hiring manager, I would still want to talk to the mom if truly she is the only available reference? I would take it with a grain of salt of course, but it’s better than nothing. But I am not very used to checking references (I used to hire, but references are not commonly used in my country), so what do I know :)

  23. Thomas*

    “There is no one else here who could be the reference for her.”

    Unless your mother is literally the only other employee there is always someone else. The grandboss, a manager or supervisor in a different department, a peer, HR. Maybe the reference will end up being barebones start date, end date, no serious issues on record kind of thing, that’s still better than a reference from your own mother IMHO.

  24. IT Squirrel*

    For OP5 where you suggest talking to them instead of sending the section of the handbook – I may be an outlier, but (as long as the reminder itself was friendly and explained what the issue was, not just a ‘request rejected, here’s the handbook’) I would actually prefer to be sent an extract of the handbook than have the person track me down to talk to me about it! 1) Having someone phone/see me in person means I have to break focus to talk to them, concentrate on what they’re telling me, and then I have to try to get back on track with my work and 2) because of the above I will probably forget what you told me unless I now also take time away from what I was doing to write it down straight away. Whereas getting an email is a nice written record I can refer to next time I need to do the thing, or it’ll remind me to check the handbook first…

    1. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      Yeah, I agree. Maybe LW should couch it a bit nicer if they aren’t already doing so, with a little bit of ‘saw your request, it actually needs to be filed IAW policy below, please let me know if you have any questions’ and not just a screenshot of the policy. I would save the screenshot version and nothing else for a repeated offender.

      I also agree it’s easier to get it in writing somewhere more manageable where you can reference it faster. Sure, the policy may be available somewhere, but sometimes its just easier to have something like this on hand for immediate reference instead of having to do things like I have to, like go to the company portal, search for it, find like 8 different versions, and hope I have the latest one and there’s not a 9th around somewhere haha. I’m not onsite so it takes a few steps to even log into the company portal, and then you have to search through the document.

      But also, LW should also check to make sure that if everyone is doing it wrong that the policy actually makes sense as written.

      1. IT Squirrel*

        It sounds like we’re all thinking the same thing after all – I just read ‘talk to them’ as having a verbal conversation rather than a written one!

  25. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

    Being salaried can be a scam but it depends very much on your employer. I was promoted to a manager position from hourly. On paper I make more money and have more benefits. But, at the same time we were short one part-time position. Instead of filling it, the work fell on me which meant that I haven’t had a full weekend in months. Hourly workers can turn down extra work without fear of being penalized. Salaried employees don’t have that option because we’re responsible for making sure that goals are met even if it means working every Saturday. If I knew then what I know now I would have turned down the promotion. I love the work and if we were fully staffed it would be a great job.

    1. Hourlyworker*

      I am an hourly worker and absolutely cannot turn down extra work without fear of being penalized. Until the pandemic, I worked overtime just about every single weekend. There is mandatory overtime for most of my coworkers, and if you miss, you don’t get your holiday pay either on a weekend like last. There is pressure to work off the clock too. I am always racing to get things done, because that is the expectation.

      On the other hand, my supervisor, who is salaried, and makes at least double what I do, comes in late, leaves early, takes off all the time, does personal business constantly…

      Every situation is different, but the idea that hourly workers can just turn down work without repercussions? No.

      1. Sh*

        It’s an academic setting which is it’s own strange world as frequently noted here. Along with the expectation of extra work, we are expected to be grateful for the chance to work for an prestigious institution.

  26. Irish Teacher.*

    LW4, could your daughter get a reference from a lecturer? It sounds like she’s really starting out in her career, so a lot of people won’t have any relevant work experience at that point. My references when I started teaching were from the principal of the school I did my teaching practice in and from my “tutor” (who was the college representative who evaluated my teaching practice and came out to the school to sit in on some of my classes). I had worked full-time the year between my degree and my Higher Diploma in Education, but it was retail, so far less relevant

    1. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      Seconded! I think they just need someone at this point to talk to her character, and a college professor, or high school teacher can work just fine. They can also talk to her punctuality, work ethic, and a few other characteristics that work will care about.

      Also, for my references I put things like the below, but I applied during the times of more uploading PDFs for everything, not just typing into a form, so I may be dated. That way she can potentially document that one of her references is her mom.

      Dr. Jane Doe, Professor at School
      Ethics 201 Professor, and Ethics Bowl Team Coach
      Phone Number

      Bob Smith, Engineer
      Former Classmate
      Phone Number

    2. Procedure Publisher*

      Agree. I had a couple of professor who was more than helpful with providmg references.

  27. old lady*

    Shared file: If I read this correctly the file deals with money – purchases and invoices. Go to the boss and work with IT to set the file up so that one person can make changes but other people can see it. Keeping that file secret could be a red flag for auditors. Money flow/use needs to be transparent in the business. My spouse was an auditor for decades. Most fraud occurs when only one ‘trusted’ employee handles the money and can siphon off funds unseen.

  28. Maggie*

    My hourly role “coincidently” turned salaried when another coworker left and I found myself suddenly expected to work an extra 15-20 hours every week. I was too young to recognize at the time that they had scammed me but I hope LW1 doesn’t get stuck in the same trap.

    1. LW1*

      I hope not, too. When I saw a week where I worked just a bit under 60 hours, I realized that is one full time job and plus a part time job on top of it. That’s when I really started worrying about this upward hour trend and thinking about how salaried was supposed to work. Like, if I work twenty hours of overtime in a week, does that mean I could take a comp day off? Come in much later the next day? Only work a half day? It’s never really been explained (my fault too for not getting better clarification). But then I’m back to chasing my tail with I can’t take time off because the work has to get done but the work can’t get done in 40 hours so I can’t take time off. lol!!!!

  29. Blarg*

    LW 1: Also, make sure you are properly classified as exempt. Jobs must meet specific criteria to be allowed to be exempt, that typically involve some amount of autonomy and decision making, and how much they pay is not relevant beyond it can’t be very low and there are some exceptions if you are very highly paid. [Note that they are working to raise the minimum salary quite a bit but it will be tied up in courts for a couple years, probably]. There is info on the Dept of Labor website. I will put a link in a comment for moderation.

  30. TX_Trucker*

    #5. Our HR identified the 10 policies that employees are most likely to violate. Every month we review one of those policies. We are in a highly regulated industry and folks forget details for stuff they don’t deal with daily.

  31. Who Plays Backgammon?*

    Re LW 3 – it sounds as if there’s more to this, and it sounds personal. LW says they aren’t the admin asst’s boss and that they are the AA’s backup, but they don’t actually say what their role is. They also say they started about the same time as the AA, but they seem well versed on how her predecessor did the job. LW makes some sharp criticisms, calling AA a “brat” and saying she gives the silent treatment. It left me wondering what AA would have to say about LW and their working relationship. It’s tough for AA’s to set boundaries, and coworkers often don’t take it well. “Jane is supposed to do whatever anybody tells her to do.” Uh, no.

    I’ve had a coworker who hoarded information, and it sucked–it was a total turf war and power game. Absolutely if the file needs to be shared, it should shared. However, if the reason AA isn’t could be something other than “She just won’t share.” There may have been decisions made after the last AA left the role; AA may be following her actual boss’s instructions; somebody may have messed up the master file before. It sounds as if a serious conversation is called for, probably including the actual boss. But it’s not up to coworker to give Jane orders.

    We’ve seen plenty of postings here from people complaining about having to do admin tasks as if it’s beneath them. I’m wondering if at least part of this is LW not wanting to do admin tasks (refusing to answer questions while AA is out, referring to the “gulf” between their roles).

    Sorry this isn’t as concise as I’d like it to be at this hour.

    1. WellRed*

      If OP doesn’t have access to the information how are they supposed to fill in for the tasks? I also don’t see where they say anything about not wanting to do admin tasks?

    2. Observer*

      I’m wondering if at least part of this is LW not wanting to do admin tasks (refusing to answer questions while AA is out,

      That only makes sense if you ignore the fact that the LW *does not have access to the information they need*.

      Nowhere does the LW say or imply that the Admin is supposed to do whatever anyone tells her – I went back to check. So I don’t know what is setting you off, but there is nothing in the letter to indicate that the LW is overstepping, on the one hand, and you are also ignoring the evidence that the Admin is not sharing information that should be shared.

      Appropriate boundaries are all good and fine. They are to be applauded. But the key is *appropriate*. What the Admin is doing here is absolutely not appropriate.

      AA isn’t could be something other than “She just won’t share.” There may have been decisions made after the last AA left the role; AA may be following her actual boss’s instructions; somebody may have messed up the master file before.

      Nonsense. If this were instructions from the boss, someone trying to set an appropriate boundary would have said so. They *certainly* would not have told the LW to keep a a separate file. *Especially* if there were any concern whatsoever about incorrect information coming into the file.

      1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

        i did say if the file needs to be shared, it should be shared. but reading op’s posting and some of the language they use, it sounds to me like there’s more going on here and there seem to be some personal issues going on.

  32. TrixieJeep*

    Regarding exempt vs. non-exempt – I have been in my position as an Administrative Assistant for 25 years. At year 17, they installed a timeclock for all non-exempt employees. The five AAs (including me) for the Exec Team pushed back hard that it would be impossible for us to stick to a strict 40 hour per week schedule (and we are confidential employees) as it was said that collecting overtime was prohibited. The CFO said no exceptions – we all (non-exempt) have to clock in, clock out and clock in/out for lunch breaks.

    Well, Allison got it right. I’ve said MANY times over the last 8 years that the organization has lost out on so much time I used to “donate” to my employer. Before the wretched timeclock, I would pick up stuff on the weekends for work while I was running personal errands, I would stay late to meet deadlines and attend meetings, etc. Now? You want to count my minutes – I give you exactly 40 hours per week. I almost always have to leave early on Friday so as not to collect overtime. And I only run errands while on the clock. Their loss, my gain. But it made me totally look at my job differently. I thought I was sitting at the grown ups’ table, but instead I am clocking in/out for the first time since I was 17 and working at a soft serve ice cream stand in Hersheypark. My attitude changed overnight about my position. Fortunately only 8 months to retirement!

    1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      Serious question – if you’re non-exempt and don’t have a time clock (or the app-based or online equivalent), how does that work? How do they track your hours if they don’t track your hours?

      1. pally*

        Can’t answer for others, but here, where I work, one submits a time sheet every two weeks. One is on their honor to indicate their hours worked, PTO (if any taken) and OT worked.

        Only one person ever fudged this. And that was egregious.

      2. Melody Powers*

        I’m salaried non-exempt and we sign in and out every day and write down the time we came in and left plus the time of our break. In practice, everyone just puts the same times that we’re expected to be there for our shifts each day and no one really cares about accuracy as long as we’ve done what we were supposed to do. It took some getting used to when I came from years of hourly jobs that tracked my time to the minute.

    2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I was always salaried but FinalJob had a time clock because we had to badge in and out (R&D Eng centre ) but I LOVED this – every single minute I worked above / below my 7 hours went into my comp account, so I never worked for free.

      I added these comp days to my 32 vacation days (Germany, so plus ~10 public holidays plus 6 weeks sick leave on full pay, then 2 years on 70%)

      I still had the flexibility to work anywhere between 4 and 9 hours, so long as I got my work done.
      I see no problem clocking in when it is so effortlessly badging in; it was to my advantage.

  33. Gimme all you got*

    Even after reading LW2’s comments I still don’t understand what exactly they did that was wrong, or at least wrong enough that it required such a response.

    If anything it seems like an extremely minor misstep, but I might be missing something.

    1. WellRed*

      I read it as, the role is changing, which OP didn’t know. OP also had no standing here to do anything and stepped on some toes.

    2. TheBunny*

      OP also came close to opening up the company for discrimination liability. OP had certain employees they liked. If one of the others was in a protected class, there’s the lawsuit

      1. Gimme all you got*

        Lawsuit over what though? All OP did as far as I can tell was just let people know about the opening – they have no role in the hiring process Why would they have had to tell everyone about it?

        It sounds like OP did all this too early in the process, but I still don’t get why it’s being treated like some major breach of protocol

    3. Velociraptor Attack*

      We all bring our own perspectives to this, and I have a staff member who has a habit of overstepping in subtle ways that seem like no big deal, but they add up ands it’s clearly an intentional pattern at this point. In fact, they recently had a similar situation where they told someone something about an internal role that was not their place to say anything and was wrong information, so I flagged it for HR and had a stern conversation with them.

      I’m not saying that’s OP also has a similar pattern because we have no way of knowing that but because of that I definitely view this as more egregious than some people do and perhaps some of the people in OP’s situation are bringing a similar lens.

      1. Gimme all you got*

        Yes, I agree if there’s a pattern and of doing it intentionally that’s deserving of a stern convo

  34. Yup*

    LW#1: This is part of the reason I ended up going freelance. I get paid for every hour and I can work my schedule largely around my life. The idea that you literally GIVE hours of your life to the company, who turn around and refuse you time off or make you eat into precious vacation time for appointments, etc., IS a scam and to me it is nothing short of legal theft. You can’t ever buy back time. It is the most precious thing we have. We should be compensated for giving our time to businesses who *make money* on our free donation of moments of our lives. How have we collectively come to see this as not only OK but necessary?

    1. I should really pick a name*

      The idea that you literally GIVE hours of your life to the company, who turn around and refuse you time off or make you eat into precious vacation time for appointments, etc., IS a scam and to me it is nothing short of legal theft

      Sometimes you have to remember that the people work for good companies don’t have a reason to write it in.
      There are lots of companies that don’t refuse time off requests or make you use vacation time for appointments.

      1. J_crane*

        also when you freelance you have to make sure you make enough to cover time off and other benefits. A lot us don’t have the skills and/or enough client interest to do that.

        1. Yup*

          I was speaking of my personal experience in advertising, where at one point I was making less than minimum wage when divided by hour. Most of us were. I am pushing back on the idea that it’s OK to regularly work more hours than are considered a regular work week.

          No, not all companies are like this, but when they *are* like this is is time theft.

          1. I should really pick a name*

            (unless it was made clear when you were offered the job how many hours you’d actually be working)

    2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      I have never had a time off request refused, nor have I had to take off time for appointments of a couple hours. (Procedures that require me to take half a day or more off, yes.) Maybe don’t assume that all salaried people are (a) putting up with this sort of treatment and (b) too stupid to realize it?

  35. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

    LW#1 ugh, life of the salaried worker haha. Take a look at your contract to see how many hours you need to work, because technically you could work 30 and still get paid full, which is why most organizations will declare that you have to work a 40 hour work week. My team lucked out because when we moved companies (yay government contracting!) they gave us a memo that said they wanted all of us to work an additional 4 hours per week, documenting it on our timesheet as unpaid overtime. Luckily, I had a lot of older workers (as in they had a LOT of capital) on my team who immediately pushed back hard on making this a requirement, and the company backed off and said it was just ‘suggested’ since a lot of us do work over 40 (but most of us try to comp time ourselves, like if I worked 35 hours M-Th, I might just leave after 5 hours of work on Friday). However, the team that got picked up on another contract after us, their contracts actually say that they are supposed to work 45 hours a week logging it as 40 hours base salary, and 5 hours unpaid overtime.

    But bottom line, no one is going to be looking out for you besides you. In government contracting they want me to list as many hours as possible as depending on the contract they can make more money off of me, or they can utilize it to negotiate more money at the next ‘check in’ point as I, and others, apparently need to work a lot to get what the government wants done. Therefore, no one’s really going to put in any effort to tell you not to work those hours or to help you out, you have to defend your time. Nothing wrong with putting in the extra hours I do it often, but at the same time, I do take my half day Fridays, or just close the laptop after the 40. Do what makes you feel best, the work will always be there, and the organization will always want more hours from you, just make sure you know what the contracted hour amounts are and go from there.

  36. Fishsticks*

    When I used to work retail, it was a Known Fact that nobody really wanted to work management roles, because salaried assistant managers and store managers made less per hour than minimum wage, given all the unpaid overtime they were expected to put in. Watching those managers absolutely run themselves into the ground for, in the end, less money than -I- was making definitely made me cautious about salary for a long time. And I definitely look askance at any place where overtime is anything other than rare.

    1. Kelly L.*

      Food service is big on this too. “Congratulations, you’re a supervisor now! You get a slightly less ugly shirt. However, you get no actual authority; you never get to actually manage a shift, because you’ll always be scheduled with a manager and three other “supervisors.” Also, no more overtime. Awesome, right?”

  37. Trout 'Waver*

    OP#5, Be very careful with time off requests. Time off is part of compensation, and if you have complex rules for requesting time off and you’re getting angry at employees for not following them exactly, you are definitely alienating them.

    I have no idea if your rules are reasonable or not. But your first step should be talking to the person, finding out if there’s a good reason for not following the rules, accommodating them as much as possible, and clearly explaining the reason for the rule and asking them to follow it next time. Escalate consequences as appropriate if it persists. But error on the side of humanity because everyone else is watching what you’re doing.

    An absolute inflexibility to the rules is infantilizing and very rarely needed. It also builds distrust as it separates managers and non-managers into two separate castes.

    1. GythaOgden*

      Coverage based jobs do have other needs. It can still be part of the compensation, but there can also be legitimate reasons to have to arrange time off with others.

      Companies can’t afford to retain an infinite number of fully-trained staff on call to cover at a moment’s notice, and you wouldn’t get anyone good to do that because it’s not a stable paycheck or they’re twiddling their thumbs so long they start looking elsewhere (because I’ve been there and they did lose me).

      While it is a benefit, it’s also ok to have a system whereby people have a reasonable expectation of coverage in non-emergencies. I’ve been on such a system for ten years and it worked out fine — we could all take what we were owed, but there was the expectation you’d coordinate it with your colleagues.

    2. RagingADHD*

      They aren’t the LW’s rules. They are in a regulated industry and must comply with the law. If they provide therapy for children, then there are regulations about how many people with which certifications must be present at any given time. If employees don’t efficiently / appropriately communicate that they will be out sick, or request time off with sufficient notice, then appointments will have to be cancelled and the clients will not get the therapy they need.

      It’s a pretty weird assumption that people working in such an industry would not understand the reason for such policies, or that LW is making up arbitrary rules when they stated the nature of the business right up front.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Yeah, honestly. As I said elsewhere in the thread some people did express surprise at my work requiring it, but I’ve seen how a lack of a coverage system ends up in problems. Basically, a clinic set up in my building towards the end of my tenure there had a jobshare but no coverage policy. So ok, the person sharing the job with someone who was absent didn’t come in and cover. And who got saddled with the resulting problems? Us building admin. Double points because we worked for a separate org and didn’t have clearance to view patient data. It was ok for the most part but it got to be a problem when someone turned up on the wrong day and we left them sat for a long time because we didn’t know the patient schedule, we assumed a clinician was running late and went about our own business, and any solution the clinicians could give us was informal at best.

        It was a giant mess, we complained, eventually they got another admin from elsewhere to come over and cover, but it wasn’t good for anyone involved, least of all the patients.

        So yeah, coverage will limit total flexibility, but we know that going in and you get used to it — just like e.g. teachers and people with children of school age get used to having to plan holidays around school terms. Being totally flexible is a luxury rather than a right.

      2. Trout 'Waver*

        You’re right, those would be really weird assumptions if someone made it. I’m not sure what it has to do with this topic, though.

        The point of explaining something to someone who should know it is to set expectations in person. It’s the softest touch in trying to correct behavior. Employee handbooks are full of all sorts of things that aren’t enforced, or aren’t correct.

        If you ever find yourself managing people and your first instinct is copy-pasting the employee handbook without actually talking to the person, I hope you too reach out for advice!

        1. GythaOgden*

          …you’re making the assumption that asking people to coordinate leave with the colleagues and having policies to that effect is inflexible and degrading. But it really isn’t — it’s part of working in a collective environment to achieve a common goal and understanding the norms of your work.

          1. Trout 'Waver*

            No, I’m not making that assumption.

            Part of working as a team is being flexible when it doesn’t really matter. Let’s say the employee handbook says you have to schedule leave 30 days in advance, but someone submits a request 28.5 days in advance. You’re the manager. Do you:

            a) Refuse the request; rules are rules.
            b) Check with your team to make sure there’s coverage, and approve the request if there is.

  38. Alexis ~Something~ Rose*

    #1 I have no issue being exempt because frankly I hate the thought of having to closely track my hours. I love the flexibility I have. My workload can be quite intense, but I take my flexibility where I can get it and my boss is very good about supporting that. I think that’s the key though – if you’re exempt and in a rigid environment that works the heck out of you, nickel and dimes you on PTO, and doesn’t give you flexibility, and you are not well compensated, then it’s a scam. A big one!

  39. Gimme all you got*

    Maybe I’m one of the fortunate sons but my exempt job does not feel like a scam at all. I typically work 40-45 hours per week, they pay ok, give enouugh time off, and I don’t have to think about time clocks and all that.

    Plus, if these jobs were hourly, I’m sure the employers would adjust the pay accordingly anyway

    1. Orange You Glad*

      I agree. My company’s pay bands are higher per hour for exempt employees.

      I can understand how the concept could open itself up to allow terrible management to exploit their workers, but I think the majority of exempt employees just put in around 40 hrs per week and collect a paycheck.

    2. Excel Gardener*

      The negative people are louder on the internet, but yes this has been my experience and the experience of most people I know IRL who are salaried.

    3. Pescadero*

      If it average 40-45 hours, and pays 10% more than the same exact hourly job… it’s about break even.

      Less than a 10% pay bump and you’re losing money.

    4. Bast*

      I am also exempt and pretty much work banker’s hours. There is a very strong culture in my current office of do your hours and go home, take your FULL lunch break, etc. My pay is okay when you average it out. Nothing to write home about, but not awful either. I feel very fortunate because I have been in other jobs that paid more, but had 0 work-life balance. I’d be coming in early, staying late, answering emails at 10:00 pm, etc. The expectation was that you’d “go above and beyond” if you were on salary. Oddly, that only went one way — working 50 hour weeks was “no big deal” but if you wanted to cut out a couple of hours early for a doctor’s appointment you’d be expected to either use PTO or make the time up. I’ve seen both sides of the coin and it really depends what type of company you’re working for.

    5. Lana Kane*

      Agreed – I see the potential for abuse in salaried work, but I don’t believe it’s a scam in and of itself. It very much depends on where you work/your field (as with so many things).

  40. Kristin*

    If I asked my mother for a job reference, I think it would go something like this: “I disapprove of how Kristin dresses and does her hair and she took far too long to provide me with not enough grandchildren, but she is incredibly smart and talented and you should make her the CEO”. Presumably yours is more objective and work-related than this, as you actually did work with your daughter, LW4, but no matter what you say, if prospective employers realize you’re her mom, they’ll discount whatever you say (either you’re too hard on her because you’re her mom or you have an unrealistic assessment of her abilities).

    1. Sneaky Squirrel*

      I once ran a reference for someone who used their stepdad because they worked for him. In the form he was not listed as stepdad but employer, but in the reference call he noted he was stepdad. He said “sometimes they could listen to their mom more” as a weakness.

      Candidate still got the job but we couldn’t take anything that stepdad said as a fair reference and had to discount it.

  41. The Formatting Queen*

    “You might be entirely willing to list off all her weaknesses as objectively as possible (my mom sure would; for all I know she’s doing it right now without being asked)”

    Oh Allison. I feel this. LOL

  42. HailRobonia*

    #5: The GOOD thing is that you do have a handbook of policies and procedures. My office has a lot of policies set by our head administrator that are in addition to the greater organization’s policies (sometimes to the point of contradicting them slightly). These policies are communicated in various emails and staff meeting announcements but there is no central documentation.

    Surprise! Many of us forget the policies. Or “forget” them in cases where they are at odds with the greater org’s policies.

  43. Orange You Glad*

    I am salaried and much prefer it. It makes more sense for the type of work I do. I was hired exempt, then we were bought by a bigger company that switched me to non-exempt and I had to fight for a few years to be put back at exempt. At my company, the exempt pay bands are higher than the non-exempt so anyone switched will see a pay increase. I am also advocating for my direct reports to be switched in the near future.
    The reason I hated being hourly was because it didn’t leave any flexibility in our schedule. My work is highly seasonal, so it’s normal to work OT for a few months and then work less than 40 hrs in the off-season. I can’t do that if I have to submit a timesheet with 40 hours on it to get my full paycheck. Also, those OT hours during busy season were heavily scrutinized and I would have to submit multiple business justifications for it – despite it just being a normal part of the specific job I do. Currently, the entire company has a moritorium on OT to cut expenses.
    I prefer being salary because it gives me to freedom to set my own schedule. I’m a professional who is in this role for my epertise and experience. I can decide to take a meeting at 5pm and then come in late the next day if I choose.
    I’ll also add, at least where I work, there is no expectation that anyone salaried work more than 40 hrs a week. Some folks will have a busy few weeks where they may put in more time than usual, but that is then balanced out later when they can take flex time. It really depends on the job and company culture to figure out what works best for each role.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      I am also advocating for my direct reports to be switched in the near future.

      Just make sure that’s what your direct reports want

    2. PP*

      Wow on this, “there is no expectation that anyone salaried work more than 40 hrs a week. Some folks will have a busy few weeks where they may put in more time than usual, but that is then balanced out later when they can take flex time.”

      I wonder if you would share what industry and type of professional role you are in? And what country are you in?

      Here in the US for more typical/stereotypical professional roles, you absolutely would be working more than 40 hours per week and without taking flex time off for hours over 40.

  44. Sunflower*

    #1 I worked a call center that was salaried. They make us do mandatory overtime during the busy season but never let us work less than 40 hours a week. Scam. Most stressful job I ever had. But oh, they throw us a pizza party once in a blue moon :::eye roll::: To insult to injury, the pizza is the cheap cardboard kind.

    My sister was made a “supervisor” so they don’t have to pay her all the OT she worked. Scam.

    It makes sense to be salaried if you earn at least close to six figure and above but not us on the floor barely earning above minimum wage.

    1. Excel Gardener*

      Those employers were probably violating the law, especially the call center.

  45. CraigT*

    OP 4: Teachers are a great reference. Also. has your daughter babysat, mowed lawns, volunteered at church? These are all potential references. I work in a field that hires many teenagers looking for a first job. Most hiring managers understand references will be sparse. We look more for intelligence, apparent willingness to learn, availability that aligns with our needs. Be clean cut, and dress like the job is important to you. Most parts of the country, have open jobs begging to be filled. She’ll be fine.

    1. Bast*

      When I was 16 and applying for my first job, the only references I had were teachers and a neighbor. It worked out fine. I’d be more alarmed with someone who is 40 and can’t provide any references; 16/18 -ish it is to be expected.

  46. RagingADHD*

    #3, of course there should not be two “personal” files of purchase orders and invoices! That’s ridiculous. And it isn’t about who owns it or who is responsible for answering questions. It’s because having 2 versions is a recipe for errors and extra work in checking which version is correct. Also, because of oversight and transparency.

    The admin should not be keeping anything related to bookkeeping or payments on a non-shared drive. Hiding information about the company’s money? Best case scenario, she’s vulnerable to false accusations of financial misconduct. Worst case scenario would be if she actually is falsifying some of those purchase orders and invoices.

    1. GythaOgden*

      This makes me think about my own files as an admin who does the same work as LW’s errant employee. As it happens, yeah, my own PO record file is on our SharePoint system. I do actually feel more comfortable holding stuff on my laptop, but that’s because I’m relatively new to this kind of book-keeping/accounts stuff and like creating byzantine filing systems and spreadsheets.

    2. Observer*

      And it isn’t about who owns it or who is responsible for answering questions. It’s because having 2 versions is a recipe for errors and extra work in checking which version is correct. Also, because of oversight and transparency.


      The admin should not be keeping anything related to bookkeeping or payments on a non-shared drive.

      Yeah, that’s the kind of thing that gives me palpitations.

  47. Czhorat*

    Cautionary tale re: salary vs hourly – this IS industry dependent.

    Often the more responsible positions with more upward mobility are salaried. I had a colleague who had moved from an hourly technician role to a salaried specialist/field engineer position right before a very major project. He was an onsite lead and had spent a many, many extra hours to get the job done on time. When he got his check and didn’t get OT pay for the extra hours he was incensed; he eventually negotiated a retroactive move back to a salaried position. He got the extra money.

    Over future years when there weren’t projects requiring overtime his salary stagnated. Worse is that he was no longer on the path to a role with higher base pay and more responsibility. Later he had to try to get himself moved back to the salaried role.

    I find that where I am now I’m much better off working salaried. Do I have to put in some extra hours when crunch time hits? Yes, but I’m with a well-enough staffed team that this doesn’t happen that often. It also means that if I need to go to a dentist appointment and am a half hour late to the start of the day I don’t lose pay; in a good company that kind of thing goes well.

    1. boof*

      Yep I am salaried and do tend to find myself working 50-60 hrs weekly, and there’s part of my brain that thinks I “should” be doing the amount of stuff it would take me 80+ hrs to do if I did it all the way I want to do it buuuuut; frankly that’s on me, I need to say no, I need to make my own priorities and schedule. It’s hard because it’s an important industry and your entire training is highly rewarded on being a yes person but you HAVE to learn to say no or burn out. (medicine). So yeah I really can’t complain about the salary (well I could, private practice makes double to triple, but I still make way more money than the average american at this point, although it took years of debt to get there and I have to save a ton of it for possible retirement etc etc see calculations about how physicians and teachers probably make the same over their lifetime per hour of work) but I have to place my own limits or work will blithely suck me dry and then some.

    2. Lana Kane*

      I’m salaried and agree with all your points. I suppose I’m fortunate to be in a place where my salaried status isn’t abused. I benefit from a wider salary band than hourly employees, I don’t need to clock in and out and go through all the stresses that go along with that, and I have more flexibility. I would say that when interviewig for a salaried job it’s important to ask good questions to make sure you don’t get stuck in a place that abuses salaried workers (and those companies will abuse hourly workers as well – they just know how to be abusive regardless of the situation!)

  48. SleeplessKJ*

    #4: I ran into a similar issue except with my (ex) husband being my only reference. We owned our own business for 14 years and while we had employees, he was the only one that could give an actual reference for 14 years of employment. It became even more awkward when we divorced and I had to explain that my ex was my reference. Just be up front about it and let your prospective employer decide whether they are okay with talking to them or not. Most of the time I was just asked to provide an additional “personal” reference or two and it was fine.

  49. boof*

    LW1 / Salary OP:
    I know bosses, businesses, employer side etc won’t always phrase it this way, but logically “salary” means income/expenses are fixed. The benefit to the employer is/should be that they know how much you are going to cost them for the year. The benefit to you/LW is you know how much you are going to be making for the year (as opposed to hourly in theory suddenly your hours could be reduced, etc etc). Obviously many hourly employees will always work the standard work week but I know some get scheduled for less sometimes, etc.
    So, the nuance; because there is no “cost” to giving you more work LW, the employer will ALWAYS try to give you more work. There is a huge incentive on the employers part to do this, and the only dis-incentives are somewhat more nebulous; losing you due to burn out, quality of work degrading, etc. That’s going to be highly variable from person to person. On your side of things LW, there is no “overt cost” to saying no except maybe being fired; otherwise they have to pay you what they agreed to while you are working for them. There are nebulous costs such as not getting more money later from some kind of salary increase (maybe bonus incentives if they exist), and maybe the emotional/social costs of having to “disappoint” whoever you have to say no to. So, LW, first question is, will they fire you if you say no to everything except that which you can do within 40hrs/week? My guess is no, but you know the lay of the land (if everyone else is leaving at 40 hrs, almost certainly not). Second question is, is there some kind of big promotion or escalation you’re shooting for? You didn’t mention it so I assume not, but as allison has said in other letters, only hold out for that for some limited period of time (like, 3 months or less), and have the promised rewards in writing ideally (ie, the promotion to x salary by y date). And then you’ll still need to have your exit strategy if you don’t want to keep working those hours so IDK if that’s a great idea anyway.
    So, 1) tell your manager you need to start working around 40 hrs a week, on average, and you need it now. 2) tell your manager what tasks you will be doing, and what you’ll be saying no to. LW I’d advise you time yourself and know how many hours your actually working if you tend to flex them (ie, take an hour to read AAM because you know you will be working late anyway and are burnt out, etc; just stop/start a timer whenever you take a break; like a real break not a quick going to the bathroom break) – this may not be necessary for you but I have a bit of ADHD tendencies so it really helps me see when I’m being inefficient and helps me focus and/or realize when I’m too burnt out and reminds me to take a bigger break not a fake “I browsed the internet but still feel lousy” break.
    LW say no to everything you possibly can until you are caught up on things you have already committed to, or if there things you committed to that you can conceviably say no to do it now (ie, that kind of lame project that you said yes to for Reasons, but aren’t excited about, isn’t a high priority; go back now and apologize and say you need to drop it as you can’t get to it and you want to make them aware so they can do whatever they need to do; I don’t know if your work is like that LW but mine has an endless stream of asks some of which I realize I shouldn’t have agreed to and the right thing is to go back and say no / wrap it up, not ignore it because you really intend to do it someday even though you don’t want to and will always have higher priority tasks)
    — I’d advise targeting 80% of your capacity (so budget 32 hrs of work for the week) because there will almost always be more coming in and it’s better to have a little extra room for the rush stuff then to have the inevitable rushes on top of the 40 hrs you were willing to and end up working 48 hrs etc etc.

    1) tell your manager you’re going to work on (whatever 32 hrs worth of work for the week that you consider most core and what you’re best at doing) and everything else is indefinitely postponed
    2) say no to anything that isn’t essential / part of your core duties / etc (if you have more essential core duties than fits in 32-38 hrs a week, then tell your manager which ones you will be dropping; pick your least favorite; unless they tell you otherwise to pair it down to what you can reasonably accomplish in ~32 hrs/week; again leaving some room there for extra stuff)
    3) defend your boundaries like a fiend. Politely, firmly, clearly, say no, say what your focus is, and keep saying no. If you are asked to exceed, tell them where you will take away (ie, it’s crunch week so you will work 44 hrs but next week you will be working 36 hrs by [going home 4 hrs early x day] and refuse to let that detract from a PTO bucket). Whatever wiggles make sense for your org but rigorously defend it.
    4) if there’s pushback stress that this is what you need to do to be an excellent reliable long term employee. Repeat ad nauseum.
    5) job search if you cannot do above for whatever reason (they put too much pressure on you, their style and your style are incompatable, etc) and find a place that won’t overload you (I think they will be rare but some places may be easier to maintain work life balance than others)
    6) make it a goal to reassess every 2-3 months how you are doing at maintaining your worklife balance and keep pushing back/dropping/etc anything that isn’t going right

  50. Alan*

    For LW #3, given that this is financial information, I strongly suspect that she doesn’t want oversight on where money is going. We had an admin at work who was falsifying travel reports for some extra cash. The lack of transparency is a huge red flag.

  51. Willow Sunstar*

    #5, depending on the size of your company, some teams may enforce policies in different ways. For example, I came from one dept. where the process was you had to ask your manager for PTO and get approval. In my current dept., we just mark the day off on our calendars. (I guess you get talked to if it’s not approved, and I’ve always been safe rather than sorry for a whole week off, but I’ve been here several years now and not had any issues.) If anyone was hired to your dept. from another dept., could just be the policies were either not enforced, or the team’s manager decided it wasn’t working for their team and made changes. So absolutely, talk to them verbally, because different people retain information in different ways.

  52. Cat*

    #1- yeah, a previous employer was really adamant against letting non-exempt workers work remotely but they let exempt workers do it. I think it was for the reason that they thought they couldn’t control non-exempt workers hours if they were at home and they would have to pay more overtime. Honestly, I think it’s a stupid distinction and really, we should distinguish between managerial roles that supervise people and roles that don’t.

    Also, for the letter about correcting employees on policies, I’ve been corrected many times over the years and I think just being direct with people is best. Sometimes, a boss would email the whole department if one of us did not know the policy at all to make sure everybody was aware. I agree that saying we have to do it like this because of x,y, and z is helpful too since sometimes if it is an HR policy, it might not make sense to employees outside of HR

  53. DisneyChannelThis*

    I’m salary in academia and in my experience it’s just been awful. Even official university holidays everyone “of course” is working. Similar annoyance with needing to use PTO for doctors appointments but routinely working well over 50 hours a week while getting paid for 40.

  54. Sometimes maybe*

    #1, I don’t think salary is always a scam. Of course any form of structured wages can be manipulated, but there are industries and jobs where hourly pay does not make the most sense. For example my brother is a minister, this career is much more a lifestyle than a clock in and out kind of job. Creative, scientific, and educational professionals are also difficult to separate working and personal mindsets.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      There’s this strange idea that professionals should live to work and be above the “common / lower class” attitude of just working a job for money.
      Everyone I know worked conscientiously within the allotted hours but then went home leaving it all behind until the next workday starts.

      I can understand someone working for a cause, such as religion or a charity, but all those I have known – at least in science & engineering – work for money only and keep a work/life balance.
      The minute you quit, retire, or die, the organisation moves on without you and you are forgotten.

      1. Sometimes maybe*

        I think there is a misconception that “working” at least in some careers only entails the actual labor or production done. If you are let say working at a design house, do you only have ideas 9-5, or if you are a teacher, are you expected to completely ignore your “clients” if you see them in the community. Of course all people work for money, my point was there are some careers where you are compensated for the role you play not just the actual output/hours you deliver. Of course when you are no longer in that role, it is not relevant to your life or the company any longer.

  55. Peter the Bubblehead*

    In response to Letter 1:
    Very early in my career path, I worked for a branch of Blockbuster Video. They often promoted Assistant and Branch Managers from among the CSRs working in a specific location, and it appeared for a time I was going along that path into a management position. (Those plans changed when I was hired into a somewhat better paying city government job a few months later.) I was told by one of the guys I worked with who was moved to become manager of another store that upon promotion to management, the employee is given the option to continue to be hourly or become salaried (exempt), with the vague promise that in all likelihood no manager ever needs to work more that 30 to 40 hours a week.
    It was my experience watching what was going on at my store that the Asst Managers worked a minimum of 50 hours a week and the store manager a minimum of 60 to 75 hours a week. Heck, me as a simple hourly CSR never once worked less than 45 hours a week, but at least I was getting time and a half for hours over 40!
    I had made the promise to myself that – were I ever promoted – I would choose to remain hourly. Apparently Corporate realized their stories of managers working less than 40 hours a week was a fantasy, because not long before I left BBV they took away the option and management could only be a salaried position.
    Never let them screw you if you can avoid it!

    1. LW1*

      Whoa! Thank you for sharing that. I know all the other salaried positions in my company carry way more hours but that is a known aspect of their roles and they are compensated much better than I am as a result, rightly so. It should be that way. But sometimes I wonder if I stacked my actual work hours against theirs how that would look right now. lol. I get paid well, don’t get me wrong. But I am nowhere near 6 figures (and realistically shouldn’t be imo). Money isn’t going to solve the time issue which is what I would really like to resolve.

  56. KitKat*

    LW4 (mom as reference) –

    It sounds like she is still/currently working for you. Is there someone else in the business who she could do some projects for, and THEN they could act as her reference? She could explain that her direct supervisor in the position is her mom, who she understands can’t be her reference, but So-And-So can speak about her work on Special Filing Project X. This might also expose her to more/different feedback, which would benefit her professionally as well.

    Also it’s very normal not to have references from a current position (since you don’t want them to know you’re looking) so she could sidestep the whole thing but just offering references from the other job, school, volunteering, etc.

  57. Gimme all you got*

    I don’t have any good advice for #4, but can we hear more about what a job as a birthday party leader entails?

  58. blood orange*

    OP #2 – If the position in question is particularly delicate for whatever reason (internal politics, competition for the role, personalities to manage, etc.), that might explain some of the reaction which may have felt slightly blown out of proportion to you. I would definitely see the circumstance as more of a deal with certain positions over others at my company. I say this not at all to rub salt in the wound, but to offer an explanation of Ben’s and your boss’ reaction if it felt more intense than you thought was warranted.

    I completely agree with Alison that this more than likely won’t follow you in a significant way. You do come across as very conscientious, and your being understanding and apologetic in the way you describe would definitely smooth things over much more than if you didn’t seem to take things seriously, or appeared to try to downplay the situation.

  59. Roguestella*

    OP #4: is there anyone else in your office who could speak to your daughter’s work? Your supervisor or a similar-level peer? That might help her avoid the issue.

  60. F P*

    As for number 1 yes. If you have a college degree and are in a professional field such as accounting, public relations, or any director positions that is exactly what employees are expected to do. They are expected to work many hours and if you have good employer they give you comp time. Otherwise, don’t expect overtime. It doesn’t matter if you don’t make a lot of money. Employers don’t care.

    1. LW1*

      I absolutely do not expect overtime pay. Comp time would be nice though. I get so much PTO a year and at this poi t I’ve already worked more overtime than I’ll get back in vacation time. That’s when I started thinking, Hold on Jerez is this how this is supposed to work?

      1. leeapeea*

        LW1 – I’m in an admin/HR/support role for a small consulting firm in a STEM field. In my 5.5 years here I’ve been both hourly and salaried. As they were preparing to offer me a raise to a salaried pay scale, the company also implemented a salaried OT and comp time policy. It’s structured that salaried workers earning $54K -$75K make their hourly rate for every hour worked over 40 in a work week, $75 – $100 hourly rate over 45. The payout for those hours is quarterly. In addition, you can use up to 40 of the additional hours as compensation time in a year. If you don’t use them, they still get paid out at the end of the year.

        I read through your responses so far this morning, and one thing I’m not clear of is if you’d prefer to be paid for your OT or if you really just want to work less. What would your work schedule look like if you had this type of salaried setup? Would it help you set boundaries, or would the compensation make the additional work and stress worth it? Is this a helpful bargaining tool if you say no to work and then are told you can’t say no?

        The new policy benefitted the emerging technical professionals who were also often hired as hourly, worked 50+ hours weeks during our “season,” and would end up making less the first year they were raised to a salaried pay scale. It would have been a hard choice to leave hourly as I regularly have weeks at ~45 hours (though I also regularly have 40 hour weeks – it works for me). Obviously the pay scale is industry/regional specific, but our policy structure covers folks in our firm with up to 15 years industry-specific technical experience the majority of admin/support staff that are not top management.

  61. Lisa Simpson*

    Mom: When I worked at a Federated National Child Focused Nonprofit Org, we required a family reference for each candidate. The reference check involved a lot of questions about the safety of this person around children, and the thinking was that since most sex offenders first offend within their own families, a family reference may squirm, hesitate, excessively pause, etc. when asked a battery of questions like “Would you trust this person to babysit your child? Have you seen this person around children? Have you seen them discipline a child? Can you describe that?” if something was iffy.

    I encountered a shocking number of parents who’d rag on their own kid for something stupid, though. “His room is a mess! She fights with her sister! Sometimes she’d rather socialize than do her homework!” Like yes, I employ a lot of 16 year olds, I know what they’re like as a group. Don’t drag your own kid for being a kid!

  62. CampPerson*

    In terms of letter 4, I am a camp director, and regularly hire students in high school or college. I often see applicants list parents as references, because they don’t think they have other good options. I don’t expect all of my staff to have job references, so I often let them know that other options are teachers/professors, school counselors, sports coaches, theater/band directors, or even religious/youth group leaders. Since I’m hiring people who are often 16-22, I am just looking to see if they are positive and responsible, and I just want an adult who can speak to that. If they have child care experience, great, but I can teach them the skills as long as they have the right mentality and attitude!

  63. Titi*

    Being salaried has been great for me. I rarely work more than 36 hours a week (without having to take PTO for those 4 hours) and absolutely never work a minute over 40. But it definitely seems like my experience is the exception, not the rule.

  64. Betsy S*

    OP #3 – if that file is important, make sure it is backed up in a way where it can’t be accidentally deleted! (or deliberately deleted if the owner quits or is fired and IT doesn’t realize what it is)

    There really should be a shared folder of some sort on a backed-up network drive for anything important.

    (and possibly, this information should be in some sort of database – might be worth chatting with IT to see what the options are)

  65. Anony4853*

    I don’t get what LW did wrong here. I remember a time I did something similar where a coworker on my team left the position. I reached out to another manager who was asking about open positions in my dept and told him about it, who he then reached out to my manager before the job was even posted. Was that wrong? I just don’t get the stepping on toes part.

  66. MCMonkeybean*

    LW 2 – She’s *probably* just being weird, but honestly taking what was a shared document for tracking Purchase Orders and making it private and then refusing to let anyone else see it is at least a yellow flag for fraud. I don’t know if she has any access to payments but that’s definitely a reason to flag this for your boss. I mean–don’t run in yelling that she might be committing fraud obviously, but this is a very bad control and needs to be corrected.

    And if she’s not being nefarious, then she’s just being wasteful of the Company’s time. It would be a very poor use of resources for you to spend time separately tracking all of the invoices just to occasionally need to reference it as backup when a file already exists! Your boss definitely would need to know that as well. It’s also just flat out rude to you and a really poor attitude to bring to any shared space.

  67. MCMonkeybean*

    LW 1 – I personally like being salaried/exempt because I really hate having to track my hours lol. In my opinion the most important things for it to feel “fair” are:

    1) There needs to be an ebb and flow of busy times and lighter times. I have busy seasons where I am expected to put in a lot of extra hours, but during the lighter times back when I worked in the office a manager would sometimes walk around random Fridays in the summer and encourage people to leave an hour early. The flexibility that you mentioned of being to take appointments whenever and not have to worry about making that up is important to me.

    2) You need to know at least roughly what kind of hours to expect going in and it should be factored into your salary in advance! If you are being paid the same base pay as you were before and they just took away your ability to earn overtime that is definitely not okay. You should sit down and calculate how much you would be getting paid right now if you were earning overtime and compare it to your salary. If you’re making less then take that to your boss and ask for a raise!

  68. Jo*

    #1 I think the advice to look at the staff member’s other work is spot on. Also, how niche is this meeting material? Is her being able to understand and keep up a reasonable expectation?

    I worked in an IT strategy field that could get very technical. I was considered an excellent employee. But I vividly remember one meeting where they discussed a topic so far out of my wheelhouse they might as well have been speaking a foreign language. I only took notes for myself, not the group. But there were words/phrases I didn’t understand, didn’t even know how to spell. Entire concepts flying over my head Thank heavens no one else needed what I wrote.

Comments are closed.