I got rid of my office’s furniture by mistake, is combined PTO better than separate sick and vacation time, and more

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

1. I got rid of my office’s furniture by mistake

We downsized our office recently, and I was in charge of getting rid of all the excess furniture. I’ll admit, I probably could have paid better attention in the one (one!!!) meeting we had that showed the new floor plan, but the thing that was really emphasized to me was which offices and rooms we were getting rid of. It was a lot and I was able to put it off because the start date kept getting delayed to “TBD,” until we got a week’s notice that construction would begin and I had to call a company to remove everything.

It was a pain getting a company on such short notice, especially since the removal had to be after hours per our building’s policy. I was also still sorting what tech could stay and go and juggling my usual job duties at the same time. All this to say, I was very stressed and distant from our initial meeting discussing everything and (since I had zero oversight on me) I marked way too much stuff to be taken because I thought there would be absolutely no room for it post-downsizing.

I’ve just come into the office now and I see that we have a new conference room to replace our two that were lost (so now we have one large and one medium conference room) as well as a long blank hall leading to our CEO and CFO’s offices. We had furniture that would have fit there in excess, but I got rid of it all (and paid for the privilege!) so now those areas are completely empty and we have no extra furniture to put there.

I have no idea what to do. Clearly my boss hasn’t been into the office in a while or I’m sure he’d have said something. Do I own up to it? Try to find replacement furniture so I have a solution when I do? Or just wait until he says something about it?

Right now I’m freaking out and wondering how many part-time jobs I’ll have to take on to make rent once I’m fired for making such an expensive mistake, so I’d really appreciate any advice you can give.

You need to own up to it right away, not wait for your manager to notice on his own! Not saying anything would make the original mistake worse.

For example, you could say: “I’m not sure what happened! I didn’t realize we’d have two conference rooms and that long hall to furnish, and was more focused on making sure we didn’t have too much furniture still with us post-move. Now those areas are empty; we need conference tables and chairs at least.” If you can’t credibly say you didn’t realize those areas would exist because you were shown them and just forgot, then the framing is more: “I’m not sure what happened, but somehow my calculations didn’t include enough furniture for XYZ. The conference rooms and hallway are currently empty. I realize this was my mistake, and I’m mortified. What’s the best way for me to fix this?”

But own up to it, and take responsibility. The fact that there was no oversight may have been a mistake on their side, but on your side it sounds like you were pretty haphazard about it (for example, normally with a task like that you’d ensure you had your own copy of the new floor plan and were mapping everything out). It’s unlikely to be a firing offense if you take responsibility for it, but it’s more likely to become one if you (a) don’t speak up right away so a solution can be found and/or (b) don’t take ownership for what happened and for getting it fixed.

Read an update to this letter.

2. Is combined PTO better than separate sick and vacation time?

My company “LittleCorp” is going through a merger into “MediumBiz.” The question has been raised whether to continue MediumBiz’s practice of five weeks Paid Time Off (PTO) to cover both vacation and sick time, or to move more to what LittleCorp has done: unlimited sick time, but only two or three weeks of paid vacation (depending on seniority).

Several folks see the five weeks of PTO and want that extra vacation time, and I can understand that. Especially since Covid, people have gotten sick a lot *less* because of distancing and we’re mostly WFH now.

However, prior to Covid, LittleCorp had cramped office quarters and a terrible culture of coming to work while sick. All of us got sick multiple times a year as some new disease ripped through the office. Technically this is a “management” problem of not enforcing “stay home if you’re sick,” but combining vacation and sick time into PTO would seem to set up a perverse incentive to come to work while sick to “save” those vacation days.

What say you? Which is better? Less vacation time, but more sick time? Or just combine ’em?

There’s no one correct answer to this. Different people have different (strongly held) opinions, and no matter what you do, some people are going to think you made the wrong decision and will be upset about it.

That said, I hate policies that combine sick and vacation leave into one overall PTO bucket. It’s great for people who never get sick; they get the maximum amount of vacation. It’s bad for people to do get sick more often (or who have kids); they feel pressure not to plan out time for vacation because they know they’ll need to hold on to those days for sickness. On the other hand, two weeks of vacation is bare-bones level stingy, and it won’t make you competitive or seen as having good benefits. Three weeks, at any level, is the absolute minimum I’d consider. Can you do a minimum of three weeks for everyone (more with seniority) plus unlimited sick time? That’s where I’d land if forced to pick.

Another complication: If this means people who used to get five weeks of vacation under MediumBiz’s policy (because they rarely got sick) are suddenly only getting three, those people are going to feel they got a paycut. The more generous you can be in plotting out vacation minimums, the better this will go.

3. Break room HVAC system aggravation

I’ve been employed by a small business for many years, and the president also owns the building. Unfortunately, routine maintenance isn’t a priority (outdated and inefficient equipment is not replaced unless it is forced, and there is no hot water in our office, for example). A few years back, an HVAC system was installed in the break room, which doubles as a file storage area. Before this, the room was intolerable during summer and winter, especially for spending an extended length of time in, such as my lunch hour. I once measured the temperature at the break room table to be 95 degrees in July. It’s important to note that it’s just the president and me working in this part of the building, and he never uses the break room. Our service technicians come in about twice a year to work from here, and at that time the boss orders lunch for everyone. In short, I’m practically the only person utilizing the space.

The HVAC system had issues since the start, and ultimately my boss stopped placing service calls on it, so it failed to heat or cool from the summer of 2022 to December 2023. I can have my lunch there during spring and fall when temperatures are pleasant, but in the extreme heat or cold, I would have to sit at my desk or go elsewhere for my lunch hour. During lunch, I work on other interests and make phone calls, and prefer not to do that at my desk so I can have some privacy. So in December, when it was extremely cold, I asked if he would consider having a technician check the system. Right after that, I fell ill with Covid and missed a week of work. During my absence, it was decided that the unit needed replacing, and my boss proceeded with it.

A couple of months later, I decided to visit a nearby Free Little Library during my lunch break. After eating in the break room, I left to exchange some books. When I returned to the office, it was about 5-10 minutes before my lunch hour ended, so I sat in my car and replied to a few texts. Upon re-entering the office, my boss confronted me, asking flippantly, “Is there something wrong with the heater in the back?” Confused, I assured him it was functioning well. He responded, “How come I just spent $4000 on it if you are just going to keep sitting in your car during lunch?” I was taken aback, because that day was the first time I had left the premises during my lunch in several weeks. I explained that I had taken about 20 minutes to eat lunch in the break room, then went to exchange some library books, and when I returned spent the remaining time in my car to return some texts to my family. His response was that he had paid for that system for me.

It’s spring now, and the lovely weather is enticing me to spend my lunch hour outdoors at a nearby park. The thought of spending nine hours confined to the office without the freedom to eat elsewhere or attend to personal tasks, all for fear of arousing my boss’s anger or seeming ungrateful, leaves me with regrets about raising the HVAC issue back in December. Should I have stayed silent? Or is it reasonable for me to choose where I spend my lunch hour, despite the fact that my boss says he invested in the HVAC system primarily for my comfort? Notably, there is no policy in our handbook that forbids leaving during lunch.

It was reasonable for you to raise the issue originally, and he’s just being a grump now. Part of operating an office space is having a working HVAC system. Or, if for some reason he’d decided to abandon heating and cooling the break room, he could have simply told you that — as in, “Sorry, we can’t prioritize the break room’s HVAC right now so it might not be usable during extreme temperatures for a while.” Or he could have said, “How often do you use it? It’s expensive to fix and I’d rather hold off if you’re only in there sporadically, but I’ll do it if it’s a space you want to use regularly.” Any of those would have been better than grousing at you because you didn’t use it once in three weeks.

All that said, I wonder if you’re putting more weight on his comment than you should. He’s probably not tracking exactly where you spend your lunch hour every day, just happened to notice the one day you weren’t in there, doesn’t realize that’s not your normal M.O., and is now wondering why he paid to make it habitable if you don’t use it regularly, given his overall cheapness. But he also might never bring it up again after his one cranky outburst.

As for how you should handle it, if it comes up again, say this: “I don’t spend my entire lunch break in the break room every day of the year. Often I do, though, especially when the weather is bad, so it really helps that it’s usable again.”

4. Employers ghost me after requesting lengthy tests and projects

I work in media. It is standard to be asked to complete an “edit test” after the first interview. These range from three-hour timed tests to three-day projects.

I am consistently ghosted after these tests. Obviously, I understand that this means they’re not moving forward with me, but after preparing (usually for a day) for a test or project or memo and completing it, I expect a polite rejection email. Most recently, I’ve been following up via email a week or two after these tests and homework and I STILL GET NO RESPONSE.

Is there a way to force a “sorry, we didn’t pick you” from these people or do I just have to accept this rudeness over and over? I should add that I have 15 years of experience in my field and am surprised to be rejected after an edit test. I’ve written for some of the largest, widest-read publications in the country and I know I do a very good job on said tests.

There is no way to force a response from them. What they’re doing is rude and unprofessional (although very common) but you don’t have any power or leverage to make them respond to you. You’re better off figuring that their silence is their response (which it is — it’s a rejection — just a particularly rude one).

That said, a three-day unpaid project is ridiculous. If that’s the norm of your field and all the most desirable employers are in your field are doing that, you probably can’t do anything about it unless your skills are especially in demand … but in general, it’s very reasonable to decline to do three days of unpaid work.

{ 433 comments… read them below }

  1. Happy meal with extra happy*

    At my job, we have regular PTO (about 3 weeks) and 7 flex days. The PTO typically needs to be approved in normal course in advance, but the flex days can be used for last minute emergencies. I’m not sure if this ultimately creates the same problem as having one bucket, but I do think the flex days can also be used as typical PTO (and a total of ten days, combined as needed from both buckets) carry over into regular PTO each year.

    1. InTheClinic*

      My job has combined PTO that works out to about 5 weeks with my level of seniority. I recently put in a request for 2 weeks off in November and 1 week off in April 2025. I had just enough hours banked to cover it, and would still be earning on a rolling basis. I was told that the April dates couldn’t be approved yet because now we have to “keep 40 hours in reserve to cover holidays and sick days.” So functionally, if I want to take a week off I need to have 2 weeks banked. Nevermind that I’ll likely have 3+ in reserve by the time I get to to April. It really stinks for long term planning.

        1. kalli*

          Yes… they don’t approve leave that would leave someone with a zero total so they don’t go into the negative if they get sick. The number they chose is 40hrs/1 week FT which covers most common illnesses and COVID isolation requirements, and gives time for someone to make arrangements/apply for short-term disability/communicate generally if something’s more long-term. The leave is in 11 months, so taking it out of the pot now might be functionally no different to taking it out in September, but if OP needs to take sick leave before then the system might be a bit annoying about it or they could end up having to go into the negative for approved leave, which could create
          issues. It also sounds like they have a system that involves using PTO for holidays, so they might also have come to that number knowing that a regular employee will use 40 hrs of PTO per year for prescribed holidays (e.g. Christmas shutdown) and have it that way so nobody goes into the negative and then can’t or won’t take leave when they’re sick.

      1. I can read anything except the room*

        It’s beyond weird that it’s not just a 40-hour reserve minimum, but 40 hours after deducting future planned leave but not accounting for future expected accrual. I’m not sure if our leave calendar is bookable 11 months out, but I do know that when I book vacation the hours available to me are my projected balance as of the future dates I’m requesting.

        I’d be tempted to ask in some fairly public (internally) setting if the reason you can’t work with your projected leave balance is because they want to retain the option to slash everyone’s vacation accrual in the next year, and if you should consider your vacation benefit to so tenuous that you can’t reasonably expect you’ll still have it next year.

      2. Sybil Writes*

        My last job offered 10 days PTO for first 5 years. That was for anything: vacation, personal, sick.
        Current situation gives 3 personal days, 2.5 vacation weeks, 2 weeks sick. You can carryover 150 hours of vacation (anything above that goes into sick time; you don’t totally lose it). Also personal days do not carry over, but convert to sick time if you don’t use them. Last year they started a “wellness policy” that allows you to use sick time for anything you consider wellness. I’m not sure you’d get approved for a weeklong absence, but if you want to take a few hours to stare at tree or a day to go to a museum, that’s fine. Also, you are allowed to ‘flex’ anything up to half a day without having to get approval. You have to enter it into a system so everyone knows where you are or when to expect you. So if you have a 3-hour dentist appointment, you can work a few hours extra (within the same pay-period) and flex it without having to dip into your sick time. We already do a hybrid schedule of WFH 2x/wk, and they are good about working with you if you need an extra or specific WFH day to meet with a delivery or contractor. It’s probably the most flexible employer I’ve ever had.

          1. mlem*

            Not Sybil Writes, but my company has “PTO”, “sick”, and “personal” categories as well. Our “sick” time can be taken in 1-hour increments and is supposed to be used for sickness or medical appointments. Our “PTO” can be taken in 4-hour increments and basically vacation. Our “personal” time can be taken in 1-hour increments and is intended for errand-type things; we only get 16 hours of that.

            I think the “personal” days came from a requirement in one of our states of operation, but I can’t swear to that.

          2. No Lizards Allowed*

            In my offuce, personal days can be used for any purpose, but they don’t roll over to the next year, while all sick time and a certain amount of vacation time can roll over.

    2. Greige*

      I like the flex days rather than sick days! It acknowledges that other emergencies can come up besides illness, like a problem with your house or car.

    3. Web of Pies*

      I was always baffled by sick vs. personal days especially, like, why does it matter whether I’m down with a fever or waiting for the plumber, it’s a sudden absence either way. I always hated having to lie about being sick (and you did have to lie, otherwise you’d be denied) at those jobs when I just needed the day off to deal with a burst pipe or whatever.

      1. KHB*

        This is what I like about my employer’s policy of all PTO in the same bucket: It’s a lot easier to say “I’m taking the afternoon off to deal with the plumber” or “I’m taking the afternoon off because it’s a beautiful day and I want to go for a walk” when those are the same “kind” of thing as “I’m taking the afternoon off because I have a headache.”

        That said, my employer is very generous with PTO (so even people who get sick a lot have plenty left for vacation) and people on my team are generally responsible enough about scheduling their beautiful-afternoon walks around getting all their work done. If either of those wasn’t the case, it would work much less well.

      2. Bast*

        Yeah, I’ve only worked for one company that had separate Sick v. Vacation v. Personal banks, and it could be a little frustrating to determine what counted where. In theory, Personal was supposed to be used for last minute emergencies that didn’t qualify for Sick. This was in the years before WFH was common, so you could use Personal for things like a burst pipe at home, car problems, really bad weather if the office didn’t close, etc. Sick was supposed to be used for being sick/doctor’s appointments. Vacation had to be submitted so many weeks ahead of time. Where it got messy was that if you ran out of Sick time but still got sick, you could still take a sick day and they’d pull it from either your Personal days, or if you didn’t have any of those, from your Vacation time. If you had a Personal event that came up and you were out of Personal days, depending on what the event was, management may or may not let you use a Vacation day. This, however, never went the other way. If you had no more Vacation days, but it was near the year and you wanted to use Personal instead, you couldn’t. It would have been so much easier to just say “Here’s X days, do what you will” than having HR trying to split hairs as to whether this is REALLY a Personal day or if it should be pulled from another bank, etc.

        1. Bast*

          It also didn’t necessarily stop people from just making up another reason for not coming in. It was pretty easy if you ran out of vacation to just call in and say, “I’m having car trouble today” or “I’m sick and can’t come in today” to have it taken out of another bank. Any more than a day or two and this would be problematic, but it would still have been much easier to not have to attempt to figure out if someone was really sick or not.

      3. Lenora Rose*

        My workplace, despite many chunks of it involving working with kids and theoretically understanding that kids can have issues, is very strict about whether a medical appointment is yours or someone else’s. To take a child to an appointment, you need to take it out of 3 separate “family emergency” days – which is nowhere near enough if your child has so much as a monthly appointment. Whereas actual emergencies – having to leave 45 minutes early to fetch a child from daycare after, let’s say, an Incident – don’t easily count for that (and end up docked off vacation/PTO) because I believe the family emergencies can be taken a minimum of half a day at a time.

        My son, my daughter AND I have all had appointments to go to, and it’s none of their business whose. Their health is my health.

      4. The status quo is your friend*

        If I currently had the setup OP described — five weeks combined PTO, which I can use for vacation — and someone tried to reduce that to three weeks, I would be immediately looking to leave. I don’t use two weeks of sick leave. I don’t care that some folks get sick more than others; I am acting in my interest.

        I suspect others will also think this way. You’ll end up with a lot of employees who, for whatever reason, get sick frequently. Sick leave or not, that will affect the company.

        The ideal way forward is unlimited PTO. Barring that, leave the arrangement as it is.

        1. Ellie*

          Unlimited PTO still wouldn’t make everyone happy. I don’t like it, because I like the security of banking up my sick leave and annual leave for emergencies. I feel I’ve earned the right to take it in a way that I don’t if the leave is unlimited, and I have to guess what my boss considers reasonable.

          On the other hand, I currently get 4 weeks of vacation leave a year, plus 3 weeks of sick leave, and they both accrue indefinitely. I also get 3 months long service. It is probably the only benefit which my company is generous with.

          I agree that if I was one of those 5 week’s combined people, and it was reduced to 3 weeks, I would leave. You will never make everyone happy, but you should at least look at the people who you really want to retain, and take into account their preferences.

    4. Anonymouse*

      My organization has a hilarious number of different leave banks, each with different maximums and rollover rules. We have:
      -Sick leave
      -Banked sick leave
      -Wellness hours
      -Banked vacation
      -Floating Holidays
      -Compensation time
      -Community Service hours
      -Caregiver leave
      -Retirement leave

      I don’t even know what all of those are, TBH. At one point we also had a separate Covid leave bank, but that’s been combined with the sick leave now. I believe the first three do not need manager approval beforehand (you can just call in sick), but the rest do.

      Every time I need to log PTO I’m paralyzed by all the choices.

      1. Katherine*

        My employer does this too AND some types of leave can be taken in increments but other types have to be taken as a full day. One nice thing though is that several of the days are pretty flexible, so like if you only have 10 vacation days but want to take a 3 week vacation you could use 10 days vacation, 2 days flex leave, 3 days management leave or whatever

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        That must be awful for everyone involved – having to manage/enforce all those policies and then having to understand them and know how to use your own leave… it’s just a lot.

      3. Ellie*

        We have special leave with a bunch of sub types too…. volunteering leave, blood donation, compassionate leave, service leave, study leave, etc. We originally had 2 weeks of Covid leave too, but unfortunately that’s gone now. As a manager, it’s nice to be able to let people know that if, for example, their grandparent has just died, they’re entitled to a few day’s off that doesn’t come out of their regular balances. It’s a bit miserly, but it’s much better than nothing at all. Same for volunteer fire-fighters, etc. it’s nice to be able to give them something towards it.

    5. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      I like my partner’s company’s policy: 3-4 weeks vacation, plus ~10 ‘personal days’ to cover sick days, appointment days, or to be used as you like. The personal days can’t be attached to vacation (unless you’re actually sick), and you can’t just use them to make up a bunch of extra long weekends. The rules are mostly policed after the fact, by HR holding the right to reduce the number of personal days for the following year (for everyone) if it appears they’re being used more as vacation days.

      My public job is better though – 5 weeks vacation plus unlimited sick leave. I’ve yet to see anyone abuse the sick leave.


  2. Not A Manager*

    It’s interesting to me that LW1 says “combining vacation and sick time into PTO would seem to set up a perverse incentive to come to work while sick to ‘save’ those vacation days,” while also noting that LittleCorp, with its unlimited sick leave, had “a terrible culture of coming to work while sick.”

    It’s not clear to me that the five weeks of combined sick leave/PTO would set up any *worse* incentive than “unlimited” sick leave that *really* means “don’t ever take any sick leave.”

    1. LW from LittleCorp*

      LW2 of LittleCorp here! (waves) That’s a good point, but I can only say it’s not really like that? It’s more the industry we are in: there tends to be lots of little projects with *very* hard deadlines of anywhere from a few hours to two weeks. It breeds a culture where employees feel they have to do whatever it takes such that “the show must go on” sort of thing. The managers tend to rise from the rank and file so they’re just as bad. It’s not really an issue where managers pressures anyone; they all pressure themselves.

      That said, it all came to a screaming halt with Covid, because we all switched to near-total WFH. This merger may mean the end of that…and some of the reasons are actually good ones for workers (a better office facility, for one). So it’s hard to say if people will still insist on coming to the office when sick, or maybe they’re used to WFH enough to stay home when sick? I mean, they really shouldn’t be working, period. But personally I’d settle for them not coming in and infecting the rest of us!

      I think there’s still a “perverse incentive” issue…but I readily concede it’s hard to really nail down exactly how that incentive would play out.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I just want to push back gently on the too sick to come into the office but not too sick to work – on the team I’m a part of we’ve got a few folks with chronic conditions and also a few with really horrendous hay fever. There are days for all of these folks where the commute to the office would trigger a flare-up of their condition or they just sound horrible with the non-stop cough/sneeze, but they have a set up at home where they can work comfortably and effectively and then save their sick time for when they really just can’t work.
        My one coworker with RA (rheumatoid arthritis) has said that WFH has been amazing for her because she can save her sick time for the really bad flares, but work from home with her devices through the more minor flares, and help prevent them from becoming major flares.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          +1 to this.

          “Well enough to work” and “well enough to commute” can have very different thresholds.

          LW might be interested to hear that I’ve commonly worked under systems where the first n days of sick leave in a year are paid in full and after that at half pay (say). In my experience that means people take time when they need to but don’t milk it.

          1. Sloanicota*

            Wow, I for one would kind of like this system, if it was a separate bucket from vacation and the first n days were fairly generous (not like, three days and then it’s half pay).

            1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              I never got close to n so I honestly can’t remember, but it was certainly more like 10 days than 3.

              Worth mentioning that for legal reasons you can only use sick for your own sickness and not as a carer, which is covered separately.

            2. Insert Clever Name Here*

              We have this at my company where n=240 hours (6 weeks) and vacation is a separate bucket. Your 6 weeks can also refresh during the year — if you go 6 months without taking a full day of sick leave, your 6 weeks resets. It’s the best leave policy I’ve ever encountered (we get personal days, flex holidays, and volunteer time off too that are separate from our regular vacation pot).

              1. Insert Clever Name Here*

                Oh, and you don’t “earn” sick leave — new employees have the entire 6 weeks on day 1 with the company.

              2. Dust Bunny*

                We don’t get the whole block of sick time immediately but it does start accruing immediately so even if you’re a new hire you have a bit of time really quickly, and we have a sick time pool from which you can borrow. Vacation caps at 280 hours and sick time at . . . I forget how much but more than that.

                We have a lot of very long-time employees.

                1. Insert Clever Name Here*

                  Same! I’m at 9 years and plan to be here for a loooooong time (they do a good job on a lot of things, not just leave).

                2. Bast*

                  Most places I have worked at come nowhere close to that. I’d like to submit an application, lol.

                3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                  At my job vacation caps at 240 hours, but you can pile up sick time as long and high as you want.

                  New folks are started off with two days of personal/vacation leave and four days of sick leave. We accrue half a day per pay period at the start (which increases with seniority – we have some folks closing in on 30 years with the org).

                  And our bosses are adults about the “can I work from home for the day for reason” as long as you’re an employee in good standing (yes I have two coworkers who aren’t given that freedom, but both are on PIP’s for failure to meet productivity standards). It’s refreshing to work with adults.

          2. A Simple Narwhal*

            Agreed! My commute is about an hour and a half. I’m fortunate that most of it is by train and I can work during it, but it’s still a LOT of energy to expend just to get into the office. And even when my commute was shorter, going into the office still means getting up earlier to dress/hair/makeup, spending time packing my breakfast and lunch, packing my bag, getting to/from the train, etc. If I’m not feeling well, all of that effort can feel/be impossible. But I’m perfectly able to sit on my couch and just do my work, and not worry that I’m spreading disease or making others concerned.

            Plus sometimes you wake up feeling meh and can’t tell if this is it or if it’s just the start of feeling even worse. It’s one thing if you drive locally to work and you can say “oh if I decline I’ll just go home”, but if you rely on public transportation, you’re dependent on a schedule and might have to wait a while before you can even start going home. My train only comes once an hour during commuting hours, during the day it stretches out to every 1.5-2 hours, meaning it might take three hours to get home if I need to leave suddenly, which is not something you want to gamble on if you aren’t feeling 100%.

            I also realize this is a whole other can of worms, but when I was pregnant I was exhausted constantly. Moving from the bed to the couch barely felt possible some days. But once in place I was perfectly capable of doing my job. If I was forced to come in I just…wouldn’t be able to. I was certainly well enough to work, but I was not well enough to commute.

            1. overeducated*

              This is a good point too. My train line doesn’t even run midday trains, the latest leaves my city at 7 AM and the earliest return is at 3:45. There’s no “going home early” unless you’d like a $150+ cab ride.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Oh so much this and what General V K said.

          I am fine to work–not so fine to drive the commute more than once in a while – and my carpool fell apart then retired.

        3. Polaris*


          My “horrendous hay fever” frequently involves a fairly gross thing: nose bleeds. Nobody wants to deal with me on a day where my nose just randomly does this. The ability to WFH on days where that happens (its on and off for an hour or two) is fantastic.

        4. Hell in a Handbasket*

          Yes, and there is also the scenario where you feel well enough to work but don’t want to spread germs to co-workers.

        5. Also-ADHD*

          Totally! If I have a cold or even the flu, I’m personally going to want to work. But I don’t want to get others sick, so working from home is fantastic. Sometimes I’m so sick I can’t think straight, but not normally when I’m still obviously sick, and I’d rather keep busy. It’s the last time I want to rest and reflect on how crappy I feel.

        6. Resentful Oreos*

          I seem to recall a letter to AAM a few years back, where the LW had a chronic illness that sapped their energy, and was wondering what kind of job or workplace would suit them. It turned out they had a monster commute and that was 3/4 of the problem. Taking away the commute (I am not sure if they moved closer or worked from home) solved a lot of their job woes.

          I think a “drive till you qualify” two hour commute, which used to be somewhat common before 2020, would put even the Energizer Bunny out of commission. And just anecdotally I know people who have chronic illnesses (lupus, fibromyalgia, etc.) who were now able to work full time thanks to work from home or at least “you only have to be in the office two days a week” policies.

        7. KateM*

          I have had many a day when my *kids* are too sick to be at school, but not so sick that I would have to spend the day at their bedside.

        8. Ellie*

          Yes, I have an office job, and was able to WFH when I fractured my knee. There’s no way I could have come in to the office, but I could easily WFH after the first week. Otherwise, it would have been 8-12 weeks bored at home and nothing left if I caught a cold later in the year.

      2. Amy*

        I think there’s almost two types of sick days. One where the worker’s shift will be covered and one where it won’t.

        My tasks will not be covered while I’m on a regular sick days (FMLA or short term disability is different.) Unless I’m practically in a coma, I’d much rather work at 70% capacity from bed than have double, triple or quadruple the amount of work when I return. It makes me sick just thinking about it.

        1. CoverageWoes*

          Yes! same for any other time off too. If I take a three day weekend it’s at the expense if doing five days of work in four days.

        2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          And even then, those scenarios are going to hit different employees differently.

          Personally, I know I’m more likely to take the PTO if the work will wait for me until I return or if I can do the work in advance; I may work an extra 8 hours the rest of the week to take a day off, but when I return/after I catch up, the work I did will have been done right. My experience with having my work covered is corners cut, (faulty) assumptions made, and heavy reliance on “oh, the Latinophone will recognize anything that’s wrong and correct it; after all, it’s their name on it,” so in a use-it-or-we’ll-confiscate-it policy (that’s the policy I loathe), I often end up deciding it’s less stressful to forfeit the PTO than use it.

          The idea of coming back from PTO and having to roll back and redo all the work makes me ill just thinking about it.

          Consensus here is the opposite; that others are more likely to take time if their work falls into someone else’s lap in their absence.

        3. SJ*

          Same, my kid got covid and I was home for a week caring for them, when I came back I had twice as much work to do since no one covers me. It was awful!

      3. Smithy*

        The only place I ever worked with combined sick/vacation PTO was a hospital – and as part of a larger pediatric cancer team.

        This was already a high achieving department and certainly able to make the case of “life or death” coverage. As well as those educated enough to know that perhaps being ill around children with compromised immune systems wasn’t amazing. And folks came into work sick all the time. Very much so a “it’s just allergies” system.

        The desire of saving PTO for vacation or absolutely positively necessary sick days for themselves or kids/dependents created a real race to the bottom dynamic. On the one hand, it gave me a system where for a very early job I ended up with 4 weeks of PTO. But the only time I ever called in sick was after I’d been hospitalized for food poisoning. Your fears are very well placed.

        1. samwise*

          And unfortunately, most of the patients/parents/guardians will not speak up when someone’s hacking up a lung next to them.

          Fortunately for my son, I was always the parent who said, Excuse me, could you please wash your hands first? and, Excuse me, we will need another tech, one who is not coughing/sneezing/snuffling. And would stand up and put my body between the offender and my kid if they were resistant. Also had no problem finding the head nurse and reporting.

          But most people are afraid to do that.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I can’t speak for others, but my company has unlimited sick time that really does mean that – though they do expect that it’s only taken in 1-3 day chunks (exceptions for covid), and if you’re out for surgery or something that’s a different story. But if you need 3 days for a sinus infection and two weeks later a day for a migraine and a month later you have a stomach bug, no big deal.

      1. Zing*

        We have that system. It’s wonderful. If you’re out long enough they want you to take short-term disability (provided free with our benefits), but otherwise it’s just not a big deal. They’re also fine with WFH on days where coming in is out of the question but you’re still capable of getting some work done. It’s refreshing to be treated like adults.

        This company has other policies/culture I don’t like as much, but this part they got right.

    3. the cat's pajamas*

      I went from separate PTO and sick to combined and hated it. Part of the problem was when I took the job, they didn’t tell me that. I heard “4 weeks paid vacation” and assumed there was going to be sick time.I’m in academia, so 4 weeks vacation + 2 weeks sick time is standard. I thought I was keeping a similar balance but it turns out I lost 2 weeks of benefits.

      I’m one of those people who doesn’t get sick very often, but it still ended up being stressful because I had to carefully plan vacation time so I had some left in case I did get sick. It made the rush to use up PTO at the end of the year even more challenging than it already is. Everywhere I’ve worked had a limited amount you could carry over when the fiscal year reset.

      I was at this job during the pandemic, and it added even more stress to try and keep 2 weeks available in case I got covid, and I missed out on some mental health days I really needed. This was before the government passed that temporary emergency regulation that gave people extra pay or sick leave.

  3. Musikal*

    Office furniture guy- you should contact the junk removal company. I highly doubt they took this to the dump. Most likely they sold it to an office furniture reseller- there are tons of used office furniture sellers all over Craigslist and Marketplace , and you may be able to get it back. I would say, “I accidentally tagged several items for removal that should have been reserved for our conference rooms, is there a way for me to get these items back?”

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Yes, find out what is possible, then own up immediately to your manage, stating what you’ve found out can be done

      1. Agent Diane*

        This! Because then you’re going to your boss with both the problem and the solution, and showing you’re being proactive about fixing it.

    2. Sloanicota*

      This was my first thought. OP, the first thing my dad ever told me when I was starting my career was, “your boss doesn’t want you to come to them with a list of problems. Even if you make a mistake, come to them with two solutions to offer and ask them which one they want you to do (of if they have other ideas, of course).” So do some research of options and then present those. How much better is it to say, “I accidentally ordered too much furniture hauled away. I’m so sorry. We can pay X to have it redelivered, or we can order Y amount of new furniture. I’m mortified by mistake.” Versus trying to cover it up somehow or just throwing yourself at their mercy.

      1. Carl*

        Agree, but – OP sounds overwhelmed by this situation. And if feeling like you have to have solution before raising causes delay – don’t delay!

        I say that as a procrastinator (and perfectionist), who often lets wanting to do it “right” get in the way of just getting it done. Sometimes you have to accept that there is no good time or good way to break bad news. Sometimes earlier and imperfect is better than later but less imperfect. Just rip off the bandaid!

    3. xylocopa*

      Hopefully you’ve done this already but YES, worth a shot. It might be gone or it might not, but the quicker you call them the quicker you’ll know and the better your chances of getting some of your stuff back. Plus “of course I contacted the removal company right away when I realized” is something you need to be able to say.

    4. WellRed*

      If you go this route make sure you get a cost estimate of how much you’ll have to pay to buy it back.

    5. Ann Nonymous*

      Throw yourself on their mercy. Tell them that you totally screwed up (haven’t we all at one time or another?) and say that even though it’s totally your fault, you would really, really appreciate their help. If possible, it’s very likely they will be willing to help you out.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        They’ve probably had this kind of situation before, or wrong furniture getting tagged, etc. Good luck!

        1. Tiny Soprano*

          Agreed. I bet it happens all the time. Even if they don’t still have the furniture, they might know what people have done in the same situation previously. Or have some other furniture kicking around. Nothing to lose by asking.

    6. Hedgehug*

      I came here to suggest this too. My first action would be to phone them and apologize profusely and beg for their help, lol. Usually if you begin with that, the person on the other side will do everything they can to help you.

      If that route is a dead end, if the furniture is gone, then see if your area has a government salvage place. My city has one and stuff goes for pennies.

      Any chance that the furniture was terrible and in need of an upgrade anyway?

    7. Overzealous Downsizer*

      Hi! I’m the office furniture person. I can’t believe I didn’t think of this! I had the furniture removed in late March, so it’s been a while, but it’s definitely worth a shot to see if I can get at least some of it back cheaper than buying new. I havw to call them anyway to see if they can help move some heavy stuff around.
      It *was* all pretty terrible and most of it was damaged. I was meant to tag all the damaged stuff specifically, so I don’t think I got rid of *too* much that was in good shape. hopefully that works in my favor.

      1. Furniture*

        If you live near a university, they often offer sales of furniture cheaply this time of year as the term ends. Just as an added “you might be able to offer an affordable solution” option.

        1. Tiny Soprano*

          I may or may not work in the tertiary ed sector, and while they *say* you can’t use their office furniture re-use program for personal or external use, they literally have an entire underground carpark repurposed for storing all their spare furniture. A good contact can often shuffle you stuff for free. The main issue might be it doesn’t all match nicely.

  4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

    So my job you earn sick and annual in equal amounts in separate pots, and also allows WFH. If you sound horrible with allergies but can fully work for example our boss encourages WFH. But if you’re just not going to get anything done because you are sick – they tell you to just take the time, and we’ll see you when you are feeling better (and if you’re feeling better but possibly still contagious please WFH). Oh – and if you don’t need it that year, you can roll it for later as long as you are with the company.

    This keeps Annual for you to relax fully and disconnect from the job – which is equally important. They let us roll over annual till you hit 240 hours, at which point it becomes use it or loose it above the 240.

    It works for our group – because the bosses are serious that we’d rather have you healthy than getting everyone else sick (and they did write up a person back during Covid for lying about their status and deliberately bringing in and getting others sick. They also have done the same with a norovirus outbreak).

    1. MollyGodiva*

      “Use it or lose it” is morally wrong. If I don’t use it then I am working more. Thus I should either be able to keep banking the hours or it should be payed out.

      1. properlike*

        “Use it or lose it” above a six-week threshhold? It means you’re working harder FOR NO REASON, and to your own detriment.

        It’s like saying, “I want to work 18 hours a day, and you have to pay me, because I’m working harder and earned it.” These are not how the rules work. It’s not an advantage to the employer OR the employee.

      2. Belles Chaussettes*

        Morally wrong for whom? The small city I live in had no cap on sick-leave accrual. One department had a staggard schedule, so they all made their dentist, doctor, etc., appointments on their week days off. No problem.

        Until the department head retired. He had five (5) years of accrued sick time that had to be paid into retirement. Not 500 hours, 5 years. It meant cuts to essential services because of the budget hit.

        There was almost a mass quitting when the city changed its policy to cap accrual at 500 hours. They were all going to apply to local municipalities until they discovered this was the norm.

      3. Starbuck*

        It’s a totally reasonable condition, if the work culture actually allows you to use it. If it’s just that you’re choosing not to…. that’s on you!

        Allowing for a 240 bank to roll over is also REALLY generous – that’s six weeks! I can take that much in a year if I manage it right, but my bank cap is at 180 hours. This is because my workplace actually wants us to (and the load allows for us) take regular vacations. Also they want to limit the liability balance on their budget sheet.

        1. kupo*

          My former workplace had a cap on how much you could roll over but never let me take time off because of arbitrary rules like:
          – One of my projects is going out that week (this was nearly every week and it didn’t matter if I did all the work in advance or had someone lined up to cover it)
          – The majority of my department (but not my work) is understaffed that week
          – My counterpart is out that week (probably the only legitimate excuse)
          – It would look bad because other people have to work on [holiday] and even though I didn’t have to work that holiday, I couldn’t take the days off around it
          – Two weeks off in a row is too much (when I finally find an opening despite the above)

          There was always an excuse not to let me use it. And when I complained that I was going to lose my time off? “Just use your vacation days on holidays and the floating holidays will carry over.”

      4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Use it or loose it is only for the personal/vacation time. I have no problems being told that if I have more than SIX weeks of leave stored up that I really must take some personal time to recharge my batteries. We are paid out for personal leave in full when we leave, but you only get paid out for a partial level for sick time. The point is to say you can bank sick time if you aren’t one of those folks who get sick – but don’t just pile it up counting on a pay out when you leave (because that won’t happen).

        And yes – it’s so refreshing to work for a place that expects you to take time off when you are sick. Mr spread Covid was fired the second time he lied about being positive and coming in…..we didn’t miss him at all.

      1. Good Enough For Government Work*

        Me too. Writing someone up for knowingly infecting other people? God, if only this was the norm.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Sadly we’re in a hiring freeze till at least the end of this fiscal year. But I do like my job, and even better I get along with 90% of my team.

  5. GythaOgden*

    Office furniture — sucks, but as someone who works in property management, this is why you yourself need to be on the ball about stuff. Management isn’t omniscient and we’d hate it if they were. Therefore, you need to let them know what you need when you need it.

    If you had done your due diligence, then management would probably be to blame here, but you’re the person who should have been proactive obtaining more information about stuff. Sometimes things do have to happen in a pinch. You won’t always have a lot of time to get things done and other people will drop balls; that’s on them, but you are asking for advice, not them. So now the situation is over, it’s time for a debrief as to what you’ll do next time you have a short deadline and a hole in your knowledge. It doesn’t have to be a formal thing at all, just a kind of thought process that ensures that you can be proactive next time and not make the same mistake.

    I find online there’s a lot of harsh words said towards people who could have prevented something but not towards the person who actually messed up. It’s possible to blame management because they didn’t give you what you needed when you needed it, but as Alison said, the mistake is ultimately still your own. Sh1t happens as they say, so by owning up and trying to fix it you can put the mistake behind you. No-one died. But if you keep pushing the blame onto people who ‘should have known’ or ‘should have told you’…then I think you haven’t done enough to make sure it doesn’t happen again for your own sake by putting in place a game plan for next time.

    I caused a flood at work so I know what I’m saying — it was my own fault and I fessed up mostly because it stopped maintenance having to look for a non-existent leaky pipe and be able to move on to the clean-up process. Meanwhile my boss said he’d rather have a flood than legionella — we’d been flushing the building by turning on the taps, and I’d accidentally left one on full blast in a sink with a plug in it — and praised me for owning up so maintenance didn’t have to waste time scratching their head as to where all the water had come from. My colleague wanted to remain quiet about it — and thus let maintenance have to work ages to find a leak that wasn’t there on one of the hottest days of that year and cause the company more of a headache than there already was for it.

    Ownership of the mistake is much better than foisting the blame upwards. Maybe management should have done better, but a responsible employee doesn’t rely on management to police this kind of task — the buck stops with you.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I think it depends a bit on what level OP and what experience they have with office management. If they’re junior/early career and didn’t get much help, it was probably unrealistic for the manager to expect them to know something like “I should get my own copy of the new floor plan and mark everything off” if that wasn’t offered. Ditto if they’re the marketing person who just got assigned this task (been there!). But if they’re the office manager/ facilities person with a good amount of experience and expected to work independently, I’d feel differently.

      1. Hyaline*

        Eeeeep, I don’t know…getting a copy of the floor plan and making lists of necessary furniture early seems like plain old common sense, not a product of experience. And “ask for help or clarification if you aren’t sure what to do” is just basic workplace functioning. The LW is not going to get anywhere foisting blame upwards on this one, but they might prevent further career damage by owning up and grow personally by assessing what went wrong. And if this kind of task requiring independent critical thinking and decision making is just beyond their capabilities…well, if it’s going to be a regular requirement to take on tasks with minimal oversight but with responsibility for the outcomes, even if this particular project won’t be repeated, maybe this role is not a good fit.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Yeah, I’m with you and Gytha on this one. LW, I recently left a job with a terrible c-level coworker who was always foisting work and responsibilities off on other people. The biggest ones were “When my new assistant starts, she’ll be figuring all this out” or “When we get the report from the wealth screener, we’ll categorize donors into portfolios.” It was maddening to us because there was plenty of stuff that she could have been figuring out ahead of time before the screening was done or the assistant had started (like, I don’t know, looking at all of our major donors and figuring out herself which ones should go into which portfolios; there was no need for a wealth screening for current donors). But she didn’t do any of that and then suddenly wanted everyone else to do All the Things ASAP that she could have been working on and sending to us as she was finishing with certain tasks.

          My point is, even though you weren’t sure when the move would happen and so you obviously couldn’t schedule the movers, there were plenty of other things you could have been doing to prep for the move. It does sound like you have a lot going on at your job, but even spending a couple of hours with the new office plan and figuring out which furniture you needed would have been a very good use of your time. In addition, just because there was only one meeting about it a long time ago doesn’t mean you can’t ask more questions or ask for another meeting closer to move date to clarify any issues you might have come up with. Since presumably your office doesn’t up and move terribly often and this was a major event, it would have been a good idea to make it a high priority to plan the things you could plan before you knew the move date. For major projects like this, it can be extremely helpful to break it down into smaller pieces with internal deadlines (even if the deadlines are just for you), like “Figure out by June 1 how many chairs needed” or “Ask VP if he wants to keep all the bookshelves in his office before next Friday.”

          All this is probably not very helpful to you after the fact, of course. So what to do now? As AAM said, own it. Be extremely apologetic. Do not blame anyone else for the fact that you messed up. If you work for good people they will understand and if you don’t work for good people or (sorry, LW) you have a history at this job of a lot of similar types of mistakes, you may be in big trouble, but there’s nothing to be gained from blaming others for your own mistakes.

          1. Czhorat*

            You’re not wrong, but there should have been a project manager for the entire move whose job it was to keep track of things like that. There’s SO MUCH that goes into an office move.

            Data requirements including network go-live date
            Phone migration (if you have phones)
            Decommissioning/removing gear from the old space.
            Moving supplies and personal items
            Updating letterheads, business cards, email signature, website

            It’s a ton, and you can’t just throw those tasks at random people and expect it to all get done. Nor can you count on everyone assigned a sub-task to complete it on time and in coordination with the rest of the team – someone needs to be running the show and clearly nobody was.

            Did LW drop the ball? Absolutely. Was the move otherwise run well? Not from what we’re hearing. That doesn’t excuse LW entirely, but makes the failyre more understandable.

            1. Slow Gin Lizz*

              Yeah, that’s a really good point. There definitely should have been more than just one person in charge of all of this, and especially if OP is pretty junior/new to the workforce, there should have been someone overseeing OP and giving OP specific tasks to hand out. I guess it’s a situation of not really knowing what you don’t know, and that would have been ameliorated by someone with more experience helping OP figure out what needed to be done in advance.

              Added to my comment above about working with good people: if they really are good people they will probably realize that they also really dropped the ball here by not helping you out with this monumental task. (Moving suuuuuuucks, whether it’s a personal move or a whole office.) But don’t blame them, just let them see for themselves that you’re not completely responsible for the problem. And it’ll help too if you have some solutions for it when you tell them what happened. Good luck, OP, let us know how it turns out!

              1. Ama*

                As someone who has planned logistics for events — I firmly believe you need at least two people looking at every contract/floor plan/av order, etc. It’s just too easy when only one person is handling that many important details for something to get missed. Bare minimum, LW should have had a senior person they could go to to confirm the furniture they had marked to move out. This goes double if their job doesn’t normally include managing logistics in any capacity — a lot of people don’t realize how different managing a project that is mostly data on a computer and managing a project that involves real-world physical assets can be.

                That said, it sounds like LW had a lot of uncertainty around this project and ideally would have asked for help before they made any irreversible moves, so they are going to have to take some ownership of what happened here. I had a direct report years ago who messed up a project to prep some materials we needed to ship out to an event by a certain date — she told me things were going well every time I checked in for two months, and then day of the shipping deadline it turned out a bunch of things she told me she’d done she hadn’t actually finished and I had to drop what I was doing to make sure we got all the materials ready to ship on time. We did have to have a serious talk about time management and how it was a really big problem that when I asked for status updates she had claimed she’d done work she hadn’t even started. But her track record to that point was strong enough that I just stressed that it couldn’t happen again and we moved on.

            2. JFC*

              There’s no evidence in the letter to say that other parts of the move didn’t go smoothly aside from the furniture issue. Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t. It’s pretty clear LW dropped the ball big time and worse, is now failing to take ownership of the mistake by blaming everything else under the sun. I predict this won’t end well.

              1. Slow Gin Lizz*

                That’s true but it does seem like there should have been *someone* at the company making sure all of it went well, so why wasn’t that person overseeing OP’s part of it?

            3. MK*

              Actually, yes, you can “throw those tasks at random people and expect it to all get done”, it’s called delegating different tasks about the move to different people. There is no purpose that I can see to have a project manager for the entire move, unless there are tasks that need to be coordinated with eachother, and the one OP was assigned doesn’t fall into that category. In this instance “to keep track of things like that” translates in “remind OP to do their job”, anf there really shouldn’t be a need for that.

              1. properlike*

                Well sure. You can “delegate” and expect everyone to “do their job” (on top of their existing jobs)… and then you can end up with empty rooms and possibly a computer system that doesn’t work that you then have to spend more money to fix.

                OR… you make it 100% someone else’s job, and likely save time and money upfront. This isn’t a scam from the Project Management Industrial Complex. It’s basic planning common sense. At the very least, you form a committee that reports regularly on progress.

              2. Slow Gin Lizz*

                Well, except that moving is such a rare occurrence that there should have been someone double-checking what was going on. It’s not like a minor work project where if an assignment is a day or two late that just delays some other tasks; moving an office is a big deal and should have more than just one person making sure it goes correctly.

              3. Salsa Verde*

                I am a project manager and most of my job is just reminding other people to do their job.

                And in a move there are always tasks that need to be coordinated with one another – if OP had been in on the planning of the movers, she might not have been as unprepared when the moving date was announced. That is exactly the purpose of a project manager.

              4. Distracted Procrastinator*

                except if you are going to delegate, it needs to be done with clear instructions and at least a plan in place. Should LW have taken better notes at the planning meeting and asked for a floor plan? Absolutely. Should they have to have asked? probably not. Why is a random employee deciding furniture placement for the whole office? Why weren’t they given a list of rooms that need to be furnished with a basic plan of what was needed. It sounds like someone tossed them the task with no framework. Which is fine if LW is an office planner or has other experience with furnishing a business space, but not if they are and admin or a member of a random department.

                LW should absolutely own up to the mistake as early as possible (and call the furniture removal company to see if they can get the furniture back!) And they shouldn’t pass blame on to other people. But they should see it as a learning opportunity for the future. This company throws jobs at people without proper support or instruction. It’s a good idea to make sure they fully understand the scope of the work and ask as many questions as possible up front so they can create their own planning documents for the project.

              5. Laura LL*

                Not if those people don’t work in facilities. My company did a big cleanout of our on-site files a year or two ago and our facilities department sent out tons of reminders with very detailed steps and made upper level managers have meetings with the people below them who were actually going to be doing some of the cleanout (it wasn’t everyone – some people had stuff on site that needed to be taken care of and others didn’t). if they’d just said “figure this out yourself” a lot of it wouldn’t have gotten done!

            4. Dust Bunny*

              We just had an office re-do/new furniture and that person was the head of the department (although it could have been someone else if she had delegated it). She got our input on what furniture we all thought we needed and where it could go, but the final decisions were between her and the executive director. Granted, we’re a pretty small organization so it’s easy to get ahold of IT, etc., to set our phones back up, but there wasn’t going to be a special person to manage it.

            5. Goldenrod*

              “but there should have been a project manager for the entire move whose job it was to keep track of things like that. There’s SO MUCH that goes into an office move.”

              THIS. We just did an office move. Luckily, we had the help of an incredible move coordinator whose whole job was to organize the move.

              It’s A LOT. I think it was unfair to expect one person (OP) to be 100% in charge of furniture. Why weren’t there other eyes on it? Why weren’t there checks and balances? It’s kind of a bad process to rely on one person whose main job isn’t to solely focus on this. OP should have had more support.

          2. ferrina*

            This is how I feel too. I’m surprised that LW didn’t get a list of the furniture early on then be able to reference that when the move happened. Especially since this is a costly mistake. This isn’t the kind of thing you want to guess about on the fly. And if LW needed more info, that’s on them to ask.

            That said, I’ve worked in places where my boss assigned me a major responsibility then refused to answer any questions about that responsibility and didn’t share key information with me. I can’t tell if this might have happened with OP. But if that happened, the solution is to job search- blaming management is futile because management isn’t going to change.

            1. Slow Gin Lizz*

              Ah, ferrina, as usual we are on the same page about these things! OP, how the company responds to your admission of error will tell you a lot about what to do next WRT your career. Best of luck!

            2. Observer*

              I’ve worked in places where my boss assigned me a major responsibility then refused to answer any questions about that responsibility and didn’t share key information with me. I can’t tell if this might have happened with OP

              Yeah, in a case like that, the solution is job searching.

              But it really doesn’t sound like that’s what happened here. The LW admits that they weren’t really paying attention at the initial meeting. And it doesn’t sound like the LW actually asked for the information they needed.

        2. AthenaC*

          “Plain old common sense” itself is a product of experience. It does not automatically descend down from the sky on wings of angels.

          1. Jackalope*

            Yes, this. This is not to take all responsibility off of OP’s shoulders, but as someone who has never managed a work move, and has only handled the moves for my own personal stuff, I would not know the first thing about what some people are talking about here. I wouldn’t have known that a floor plan is something that I as a non-architect could request or get access to. (With personal moves I just take all of my stuff and figure out how it will fit when I get there, and this has always more or less worked for me.) Had this been a few years ago (I now have a little bit of experience in Health and Safety) I would have had no idea what the required distance between desks is for aisles so the aisles are wheelchair/scooter accessible, or that file cabinets (which I don’t have at home and rarely use for myself at work) need to be loaded from the bottom first, or any of a number of other things. I would still have no idea how to take a bunch of desks and other office equipment and figure out its configuration in such a way that everyone had proper access to the right outlets and all of the…. bits needed at each desk, and so on. Since it’s a job I’ve never done, I could not without training sit down with a list of rooms (see: unaware I could request a floor plan) and a list of furniture and figure out how much furniture would fit in each room and in what configuration.

            These are a whole lot of skills that people have to learn and there’s a reason that this is a separate job that people have. I have a tiny bit of an idea about some of the things that would be needed, and an idea of some of the areas I would need someone else to chime in, but there are so many areas where things that are common sense to a person with experience in this area would not occur to me at all. Which is fine, since I don’t work in facilities and my employer is big enough that I don’t need to. But I could easily imagine doing my very best with a project like this and still failing miserably.

            1. Hannah Lee*

              Really great points!

              When my company moved to our new location years back, I had just started, and some of the move logistics fell on me to pick up and run with while I was still new.

              Fortunately the owners and one other employee had done a lot of the work RE data, and phones and electrical wiring, and specialty movers for some of the production equipment, but I picked up a lot of other details.

              Everything went pretty smoothly. But I had made the assumption that overhead lighting was just overhead lighting, and since the space had already overhead lighting “throughout” it would be fine, and didn’t give it any thought.
              Turns out some cubicles/workspaces had no light fixtures nearby, or did but light was blocked with cubicle/racks etc or too far from the work surface to be useful. I wound up having to rush order a bunch of desk lamps, work station lights.

              Lighting … just never even thought to think through lighting, because I had never planned a move, workspace before.

            2. 2e*

              Absolutely agreed.

              I’m not sure that I would have made the same mistake as LW, but I absolutely would have screwed up something major if I’d been delegated this task in my early 20s.

              And, honestly? In my early 40s, I would still not be able to handle the task entirely on my own. The difference is that I have a much better sense of my limits and—by virtue of experience—would now know to say that I don’t have the time, capacity, or resources to pull this off without more guidance/support.

          2. Slow Gin Lizz*

            Yes, I’ll never forget when I was a music teacher back in the day and had a student who wasn’t doing well in lessons and I didn’t know what to do about her. The scheduler spoke with the kid and her mother and determined that the kid would really have preferred learning a different instrument and signed the kid up for those lessons instead.* I marveled at how the scheduler was able to figure out the real issue and she said, “Eh, it’s just common sense.” To me, young and inexperienced as a I was and also not great at reading other people even today, it seemed like magic. And I have too skills that other people think are magic but to me are just common sense (see: reading music, maps, and knitting patterns). It really does depend on your own experiences what common sense is.

            * This was not a problem for me. There were plenty of other kids on the waiting list who wanted to learn my instrument so I filled the spot quickly.

          3. NotJane*

            Also, if you’re neurodivergent, a lot of the time what seems like “plain common sense” to other people doesn’t work the same way in your brain. My mind overcomplicates situations so sometimes the common sense gets lost in the chaos.

            1. AthenaC*

              Yes, this too – “common” sense presupposes a “common” framework and way of looking at the world. Neurodivergence multiplies the ways in which the “common” perspective isn’t so common.

            2. Dust Bunny*

              Paying attention in a meeting about it shouldn’t need to be explained even if you’re ND (says the ND person). That’s something you should have learned through twenty-ish years of school already.

              1. Shoot another shot, try to stop the feeling*

                Yeah, as an ND person I’m deeply insulted that my ADHD means I don’t have to be proactive or use common sense. Low expectations, much??

                1. Ahnon4Thisss*

                  As another fellow ND person, I find that there are a lot of times the comments section here makes it seem like people with ADHD just simply can’t function at all, so we should excuse the (sometimes EXTREME) behaviors that could be caused by ADHD. It feels weird, like borderline ableist lol.

                2. Eucerin*

                  Yeah let’s not lay this at the feet of neurodivergence/ADHD. The fact that the move was delayed, delayed, delayed, actually gives OP less of an excuse because they then had more chances to gather more info, lay things out, etc.

                  Pulling a neurodivergence card all the time like this blog always wants to do is very “the ableism of low expectations” :-(

                3. Hortled*

                  That’s not what was said. What was said was that neurodivergence often causes one to not make the same assumptions that others do.

        3. Mockingjay*

          I’ve been involved in many office moves and all but one were very poorly planned. Some junior or mid-level person with no experience in property management is tagged to “coordinate” on behalf of managers. Oh, and they still have to do their day job in between calls to movers for price quotes, trying to sketch out floor plans and furniture arrangements, inventory and tag furniture correctly for moving or disposal, and coordinate dates for the move itself with employees, IT, and management.

          I think OP1 could have asked more questions. But Management definitely needed to provide more oversight or check-ins for a large task like this or assemble a team and divide responsibilities into manageable chunks.

        4. Michelle Smith*

          Eeeeep, I don’t know…getting a copy of the floor plan and making lists of necessary furniture early seems like plain old common sense, not a product of experience.

          To YOU. Not to me. And obviously not to the LW.

            1. Hannah Lee*

              It sounds like “coordinating moves and planning office layouts” actually ISN’T the LW’s job. It was a one-time project that they were assigned.

              So being poorly suited to doing that could be a non-issue given their core responsibilities.

            2. Good Enough For Government Work*

              The OP says they were doing the work on top of their main role. So quite possibly they ARE unsuited for this job… because it’s NOT THEIR JOB.

        5. Tippy*

          Agree. Even if the floor plan wasn’t thought of how does one not ask “hey what do you want me to do with the furniture?” as a basic question?

          LW1 needs to own up now especially if they can get the furniture back.

        6. fhqwhgads*

          I can sorta see it both ways. I get what you’re saying about basic competance, but at the same time, if management’s the one who called this meeting, and gave the only info they were intending to give during it, and then basically said “off with you, go do it” I can see how someone who’d never done this sort of project before might interpret that as “well they assigned it to me and this is what they provided, so that must be all I’ll need” and only after the fact realizing “nope!” If keeping track of inventory isn’t your normal job, it’s easy to not realize you don’t know what you don’t know.
          That said, in OP’s specific case, their actions during the delay were not exactly detail oriented and seeing that they appear to have known they were being kind of casual about it, mistakes were made. But the knowing you should have a floor plan and cross things off I can see how if it weren’t offered it could be easy to think, well that’s just not an option of they’d have given it to me.

      2. Observer*

        If they’re junior/early career and didn’t get much help, it was probably unrealistic for the manager to expect them to know something like “I should get my own copy of the new floor plan and mark everything off” if that wasn’t offered.

        I disagree. That’s a pretty basic thing, and it’s really not unreasonable for a manager to expect a competent person to manage those basics.

        Should the manager have proactively offered it? Sure. But it’s still not unreasonable for them to expect someone to ask for the information they need.

      3. I'm just here for the cats!*

        I agree. And really the management should have been more involved and realized that the OP didnt have the floor plan and gave them it. And it sounds like there was only one meeting. That’s incredibly short sighted of management, especially since it sounds like there were delays.

        1. MaryB*

          Why would management be expected to “realize” that LE didn’t have a floor plan if LW never asked for one? In my experience if there are documents discussed at a meeting and tasks assigned, usually the documents are distributed after the meeting. Ideally the organizer would send to everyone but if someone got missed, it’s reasonable to expect that they would speak up and ask for a copy of the documents they needed to do their job.

          Managers are not like kindergarten teachers that go around the room making sure that everyone has a red crayon. If an employee needs more support/resources/guidance about an assigned task, it is their responsibility to speak up and ask for it.

    2. Reebee*

      I disagree. No employee is more responsible than their manager, even when the manager didn’t directly cause the problem. It’s called “oversight,” and it’s the responsibility of management to engage in it. If anything, a responsible manager doesn’t rely on an employee to “police” things. The buck stops with management.

      Put another way, what’s the use of having managers in the first place if the buck stops with employees?

      1. Hush42*

        Well it depends on the perspective. From the employees perspective the buck stops with them and they need to own up to their mistakes to their manager and *especially* to themselves. A good manager will also own up for their mistakes that lead to the issue to the employee when said issue is discovered. They will also take full responsibility for the issue when asked by anyone else in the company, especially senior leadership.
        Basically between me and my team member the mistakes on both sides need to be acknowledged and taken responsibility for. Between me and the rest of the company the mistake was all mine.
        That being said the letter wasn’t from the manager, it was from the employee, and that employee needs to take responsibility for the mistake to her manager and come up with options to rectify the mistake. I expect AAMs answer would have been slightly different if the manager had been the one to write in. Because yes, the manager does have responsibility to give oversight but the letter was how to recover from the mistake the employee made without that oversight.

      2. ferrina*

        Nah. If managers have to double-check everything themselves, what’s the use of having staff?

        Yes, managers should absolutely be clear on their expectations, ensure that employees have appropriate resources, have access to the information they need (including being able to ask questions of the manager) and that they are asking things of their employees that the employees have the appropriate knowledge and experience to do.

        But if all the above has happened, the employee is responsible for their own actions. Yes, the manager ultimately has to answer to the company and address the issue, and sometimes that means “I have identified the problem employee and they’ve been let go.”

        To be clear- I’m not saying that is what should happen to this LW, just responding to Reebee’s comment in general circumstances.

      3. Tippy*

        Because at some point adults who are being paid to do a job should have basic common sense on some matters.

    3. Daryush*

      This is, quite frankly, the best comment I’ve ever seen on this website. Agreed 100%

    4. davenport*

      Agreed. Be an adult. Don’t blame your boss. You didn’t pay attention in the meeting!
      This is why there’s pushback towards all of the knitting and sleeping during meetings apologists. If people aren’t paying attention, mistakes get made!

    5. Betty*

      I agree about owning up being better. I’d suggest something like:
      1. Name the problem: “I overlooked the conference room and hallway in planning the furniture removal, and now we need furniture for those spaces”
      2. Explain your mistake: “I’m sorry for this error. I realize now that I should have gotten a floorplan to use in making those decisions, rather than trying to just rely on my memory from our meeting back in August.”
      3. Anything you’ve tried to do to fix it: “I’ve reached out to the removal company about whether we can get those items back ” [per the thread above]/”I’ve looked at some catalogues from our usual suppliers, and think we can get a table and chairs for the conference room and xyz for the hall for around $XXX”
      4. “How do you think we should proceed from here?”

      1. TeaCoziesRUs*

        If the company is cheap / pinched, you can also check out the office furniture resellers in your area. I picked up some VERY nice pieces at one in San Antonio for my personal office. If you aren’t in a major city, check the nearby major cities.

    6. el l*

      Yeah, I’m troubled by the “I was able to put it off until we had a week to do it” bit OP mentioned. That’s not how a big effort works. Should’ve been working on it, asking questions, etc with the idea that they wouldn’t have a ton of time.

      Also, perhaps management should’ve given more clarity on timeline etc, but even more it was absolutely OP’s responsibility to ASK for that clarity so they could do their job here.

      Yeah, it’s a mistake, but (depending on culture) not a fireable one if they are like Churchill said about mistakes, “generous, true, and also fierce.” Genuinely say “I made a mistake,” say what they should’ve done better, and then say they were doing their best under adverse circumstances. And it all generally goes way better for you if you bring the mistake to attention, rather than make someone else track it down and pry it out of you.

      1. Tio*

        This is the part that gets me. OP was kicking the can as far down the road as possible, and then rushed it at the end and messed up. OP, you have to own that.

        That said, management should have definitely checked in once or twice on it – but if they did ask about it, and OP said something like “oh still waiting on the construction” and nothing else, I would assume they meant they didn’t need anything and had it handled. I’m wondering if it was ever brought up again at all? And then how distant in terms of time was the actual meeting from the move?

      2. Dust Bunny*

        Yeah, this. We can make allowances for ND or inexperience or whatever all day long but the LW themselves says that they didn’t pay attention and ignored it until crunch time. There was a lot of preliminary work that could have been done even if the actual move couldn’t be scheduled yet: Inventory and measure existing furniture; get a floorplan; ask employees how current workspaces were working for them and what/if they wanted anything changed; calling movers to find out what it would take to schedule one.

        1. Shoot another shot, try to stop the feeling*

          Yeah… the fundamental problem is the total lack of curiosity and proactiveness on part of OP — that is *not* something you should have to be explicitly told to do.

    7. William*

      Hey as someone who works in architecture/interior design there should’ve been several people and checkpoints involved in this furniture moving. It was irresponsible and careless for everyone involved to think a single meeting would suffice. Usually you need several plans and lists that show what furniture is being reused where. It;s literally a full time job and an entire industry. That’s not the same as telling maintenance you caused a leak, not at all.

      It’s all too common for management to throw unreasonable tasks to their underlings, and then pass the blame on them when the underlings fail. And at the end of the day management makes way more money because they are ” in charge”. Yet so often they like to pass all responsibility down the chain.

      1. kiki*

        Yeah, I’ve been seeing a trend in my workplace and others of super “lean” offices just throwing whole projects that are completely out of their wheelhouse on top of their normal duties, then being surprised when it wasn’t done well.

        While I think this is a learning experience for LW (try not to procrastinate on projects so you make sure you have time to look into things thoroughly, ask for what you need to do a project well, etc.). I think it should also be a learning experience for management that if they want something done well, they need to actually allocate enough time for it and make sure the person they’ve assigned the task to can prioritize it.

      2. Goldenrod*

        “Hey as someone who works in architecture/interior design there should’ve been several people and checkpoints involved in this furniture moving.”

        YES. +1000

      3. Laura LL*

        THANK YOU. It’s wild to me how harsh everyone is being on the OP when this clearly wasn’t even their normal job. I mean, I don’t think they worked in facilities management or something similar, they were just told to do this. Otherwise, they would have had a much better idea of what to do.

        And yeah, for something as big as an office move you don’t just have ONE meeting. You have many.

    8. kiki*

      “you need to let them know what you need when you need it”

      I think this is an important lesson but it can be hard one, especially depending on the environments you’ve been in before. I think some people have been in environments where they may have been called whiners or annoying for asking for what they need to get the job done. Having been a manager now, it’s so much clearer to me that I’d rather have a bunch of employees who feel comfortable enough to ask for help when they need it (even if it takes up more of my time) than a bunch of employees who never reach out. The latter can seem more peaceful in the moment, but the former gets us to the *best* solution rather than a meh one.

      1. kiki*

        I do want to call out, though, that it can be hard to understand what you need if you’ve been given a task that is way outside your realm or normal operations, which it sounds like LW was. It also sounds like they were given this task as a “hey, with your extra time, just get this little thing done” when it’s actually a larger project. While I think this was a valuable learning experience for LW to ask what they need, I think it’s also fair for management to learn, “moving is a big project that requires an employee’s full attention, not something they can just do with any extra time they have between their regular duties.

        1. Observer*

          I think it’s also fair for management to learn, “moving is a big project that requires an employee’s full attention, not something they can just do with any extra time they have between their regular duties.

          Except that the LW was not tasked with moving. They were only tasked with getting rid of the extra furniture. Could they have handled it better? Sure. But they weren’t *that* unreasonable in handing a single, discrete task to LW with minimal oversight.

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            It looks like OP had to determine what to keep–she was the one marking what the haulers were to remove. So it was not a single, discrete task. It required judgment and knowledge of the new layout. She had no oversight, no one checking in to see how she was progressing or if she needed guidance.

            Yeah, she screwed up. So did management.

    9. Observer*

      Maybe management should have done better, but a responsible employee doesn’t rely on management to police this kind of task — the buck stops with you.

      I’d get rid of the “maybe” here. Management should definitely have done better here. But that does not change the fact that the LW messed up. Both things can be true here.

      1. That'sNotMe*

        LW owns a lot of this by not paying attention in the meeting that was had and putting this off to the last minute. There were several opportunities for them to flag that they had questions and that this was a bigger job than anyone expected and they missed every one of them. My manager gives me projects and expects me to let them know if they have underestimate what it will take to get it done so that they can rethink their approach (or not).

    10. Overzealous Downsizer*

      Hi! I’m the furniture person. I intend to take responsibility (I’ve set up a call for Monday because my manager is unavailable today and I’m guessing this is something better done over phone/video than email? Please tell me if not, I would much prefer an email).
      As people have guessed, I’m pretty junior and I am definitely mad at myself for dropping the ball on this, because it does seem like common sense in hindsight. My job technically includes this, in the ‘additional tasks as needed/admin’ way, but 95% of my job is non-administrative.
      It’s funny how the other things I do, I would consider higher-level, but I consistently struggle with (what should be) easy administrative tasks when I get them. I think, even if I work this all out and fix it, that I will start job hunting again for a position that has no admin role because I am just not capable of doing it well.

      1. Observer*

        Phone call is definitely better, so as much as you would prefer an email (which I sympathize with!) your plan here is solid.

        I think you are wise to look for a job that plays to your strengths. But I would also look into figuring out ways to avoid these kinds of mistakes. One good source for ideas is stuff aimed at people with ADHD, as execution can be an issue for that population. (No, it’s not universal, and no, it’s definitely not only people with ADHD that have this problem. It’s still where a lot of good ideas are put out.) Because there are a LOT of non-admin positions where you need to have a plan and execute on it.

      2. e271828*

        Hey, “the other things I do, I would consider higher-level” is an idea to drop. Facilities work is not low-level. As you see, it is invisible until it is done badly.

        1. Eucerin*

          Yeah, this idea that you were given a “low level” task so “of course” you biffed it is how you got into trouble in the first place OP.
          And even if your next job is somehow totally free of admin tasks (??? Explain to me that magical job, truly), you’ll still likely have meetings of some type, deadlines, assigned tasks, etc. And it’ll still be your responsibility for doing them correctly without falling back on “I wasn’t paying attention, no one had a second meeting!!” etc etc

    11. Lisa Simpson*

      When I ran swimming pools, it was widely said that you didn’t really run a swimming pool until you left the water on overnight, overflowed the pool, and flooded the deck.

      Though in my defense, the time I did it, the pool had a fill switch with an automatic shutoff. But no one told me the automatic shutoff was broken, and had to be turned off manually. So I set it to autofill, went home knowing it would shut itself off, and the next morning the 5 am staff came in to the deck and locker rooms flooded.

  6. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    I vote 5 weeks combined. I’ve never been out two weeks sick in a year, much less three. I know some people need more sick leave, but I’d guess it averages less than that. If so, the new company will be getting more total work days out of its employees with the stingy vacation and unlimited sick leave.

    Plus separate buckets should mean a greater amount of total leave available. (I know one of the buckets is imaginary, but it still is a useful idea.) If you have 2 weeks of vacation and 3 weeks of sick, that time is less useful and you are going to end up using less of it. For this to make sense mathematically, there has to be a lot of sick people using up leave. For every me, who takes maybe a week of sick leave, there has to be a person using up MORE than than five weeks by as much as I use under it. So if I get two weeks vacation and use one week sick, there has to be a person who uses at least 5 weeks of sick leave, more like 6, AND their regular 2 weeks of vacation for the situation to be a net positive. Do you have a large number of people who need 6 weeks of sick leave a year?

    And people have the option of work from home when sick so that means less sick time used. A good half of my illnesses are colds where I’m clear headed and reasonably energetic, just dripping and too gross to be in public. So I need less sick leave.

    Plus it’s way easier to convince management to turn a blind eye to you being over the leave allotment if you are out with cancer than if you want a week on the beach.

    Also, how much do you trust the company to actually have unlimited sick leave? If you are out for 3 weeks, which is the break even point where the person is up to their 5 weeks combined, are you going to feel comfortable going on vacation? Will you feel comfortable taking an extra day when you are still recovering? Or will peer and management pressure keep you working? What if you actually take 6 weeks of sick time?

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I took 6 weeks sick leave on full pay 3 times at FinalJob, no problem. I’m in Germany so no big deal, but if a US employer also states unlimited sick time then I’d push back if they 0bject.

      Combined bucket is imo ableist. You may be happy but your coworkers with chronic health issues are being deprived of vacation time to recharge – and hence probably feel even more unwell than need be.

      Also for office jobs, people coming in sick to save vacation days doesn’t just affect them; it makes others sick and those with weaker immune systems can be ill for weeks.

      The vacation days need to be a more reasonable amount though – I had 32 plus comp time, which I realise is high for the US, but 2 weeks is too stingy surely, even for 1 vacation.

      1. Cj*

        that might be true if you have an unlimited sick leave, but the one place I work that’s supposedly had both unlimited sick and vacation, it wasn’t really unlimited at all. in fact, I asked how much time people usually took for vacation, and they said they usually take one week straight, and then a day or two here and there. so maybe 2 to 3 weeks total.

        if you have 5 weeks of PTO like the one company mentioned in the letter has, but they split it up into 3 weeks vacation in 2 weeks of sick leave, that no doubt still leaves people that get sick more often with less vacation. most companies will let you use vacation leave if you are sick more than your allotted sick leave allows. so if you’re sick for 3 and are allowed two, so you take one of your vacation weeks as sick leave, that still leaves you with less vacation than people that aren’t sick more than 2 weeks. so in my mind it comes out the same.

        I do agree that one bucket made for each people who are sick to come into the office so they can use more of their PTO for vacation time. if the new company allows them to continue to work mostly remotely, that shouldn’t be an issue.

      2. Cmdrshprd*

        “Combined bucket is imo ableist. You may be happy but your coworkers with chronic health issues are being deprived of vacation time to recharge”

        I don’t get how this is ableist. a person with chronic health issues can mentally divide their PTO as 3 weeks vacation and 2 weeks sick.

        But even in a separate system with 3 weeks of vacation and 2 weeks of sick, if a person with chronic illness runs through their 2 weeks of sick time, and need more time for sickness they are likely going to use their vacation time for sickness anyways.

        My point is if a person with chronic illness needs 4-5 weeks of sick time a year and only get 2 weeks of sick time, they will still use vacation.

        1. Prof*

          Except the split option on the table is UNLIMITED sick days. So, now people who get sick more often can still have vacation. Saying “no, I don’t get sick so I don’t want better sick days options so I can up my vacation (by using leave that is accounted for as sick leave but happens to be in one bucket)” is in fact ableist.

          1. Katara's side braids*

            This. It is a valid concern if the vacation time is also so stingy that chronically ill people don’t get vacation even with separate buckets, but that’s not what we’re talking about here.

          2. PotatoRock*

            I have never seen an “unlimited” sick leave in the US that’s actually unlimited — like the example above (from a commenter in Germany) where they were able to take 6 weeks sick. In practice, if you need 6 weeks sick time in a year in addition to your vacation in the US, every where I’ve worked, you either would need to take time unpaid eg via intermittent FMLA, or you would end up losing your job. Mayyybe you could swing it if your work schedule was very flexible, so you were actually getting the same amount of work done by eg. working a lot extra on days you’re not sick — basically if no one can tell you’re actually using that much sick time

            1. GythaOgden*

              In the UK you would have to have a doctor’s note after 7 days to claim the statutory pay from your employer, and at my org report in every week. When I was off on longer term sick due to panic attacks during the first weeks of the pandemic, my boss asked me to let him know how I was getting on; after a couple such discussions he reassured me that he cared about me rather than the office, was going to vouch for me himself rather than make me get a fit note, and that made it easier to let go and heal from the chaos of those first rather worrying weeks. He’s a good man — he’s no longer my boss, but still around and we occasionally bump into each other because we work for different sides of the same coin. He’s certainly incredibly good with people, if not that great at property management. But we’d had a number of years at that point — 3 IIRC — for him to build trust in me and vice versa. In the end I went back to work when the strictest regulations lifted because I was just bored and wanted to get back to where I spent most if not all of the pandemic ‘war’. (And also the public transport I relied on resumed normal service — I think at some point even if I hadn’t been off sick it would have been VERY difficult to get to and from work anyway. The night lockdown officially started I spent two hours waiting for a train home when the frequency of service at that time of the afternoon should have been three an hour.)

              The sick pay is generous, but on the flip side the process is more strictly monitored to ensure the person can either do the job or plans have to be made to cut ties. I’ve been the temp who went perm after the person I was filling in for resigned just as she was about to use up her fully paid leave and go down to half pay.

              So six weeks wouldn’t be a big issue. Six months would exhaust the statutory minimum sick pay time, but even in my company you’d be having discussions about your future at the company. I doubt it’s possible in most places to string sick leave out a lot longer.

          3. Cmdrshprd*

            I took the comment I was responding to as saying in general combined buckets versus a split bucket system was ableist and not speaking specifically to the situation at hand between combined and split.

            But it seems that unlimited sick time really is not much different than just significantly increasing the total PTO to like 6/7 weeks.

            I imagine even under “unlimited sick time” there is a limit, not sure where it would be. But a person can’t be out sick 3/4/6 months out of the year without going on FMLA and expect the company to hold the job.

        2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

          Another reason it is ableist is specific to on-site jobs:
          With a combined bucket, people are much more likely to come into the office with infectious diseases that they personally can battle through OK. They infect coworkers with poorer immune systems who then feel unwell for several weeks.

          Too many healthy people are selfish enough to put their wish for maximum vacation ahead of consideration for their coworkers who are less lucky with health.

      3. Lyngend (Canada)*

        This, current union job has 3 weeks vacation, a couple weeks of pto and basically unlimited sick days. It makes such a difference not to have the same bucket for all of them. But the pto is expected to be used for recurring medical appointments, where as I can have not-reoccurring medical appointments (which I’m supposed try to schedule for pto but that rarely works) every month with out using my pto.
        So lucky my therapist works evenings. The pto has been great at reducing my stress levels.

      4. Prof*

        THIS. Especially when the choice is between unlimited sick leave vs a combined situation. Unlimited sick leave should be the default. I don’t agree with Alison, there is no question you take the unlimited sick leave option. (and make sure that people are actually encouraged to use it and not come in sick).

      5. Penguin*

        My current job combines in one bucket, and only gives 10 days (accrued). They do front load a few personal days, but even factoring that in, it’s not on par with other places. My previous jobs gave you at least (if not more) than 10 days in sick days alone. I didn’t find out about the stingy PTO policy until orientation, and regret not asking about it during the interview process. I just assumed it would be at least on par with previous jobs(a mistake, I know). The message this policy sends is “Don’t get sick, or don’t take a vacation.” As someone who needs to go to several specialist appointments throughout the year, I’m not sure what I’m going to do. As previous jobs, let you use sick time for doctors appointments.

    2. Anon Teach*

      Ugh. The year my kiddo started preschool I took 25 sick days. And so did my husband. I’m a teacher, he’s a nurse, so no WFH. It’s better now, but life happens!! Our workplaces’ generous sick leave policies were such a blessing, even if we were scrambling to cover the actual work.

      1. Percysowner*

        Yeah, my daughter is running out of PTO because kindergarten has knocked everyone’s socks off. It’s not so much kiddo being sick, I watch them while the parents work, but bringing it to everyone else in the family. We keep remembering that by next year kiddo should be more immune because they brought every germ in the city home this year.

      2. A Simple Narwhal*

        I have a toddler and I have been soooo sick this year. I normally have tons of sick leave left over, but after my last illness I just realized I only have two days left for the rest of the year. I’m fortunate that we have generous PTO so I have a vacation time I could take instead if the second half of the year ends up being like the first (please god I hope not).

        It’s been a rough year, and it’s only May!

      3. Hedgehog O'Brien*

        Exaaaaactly. We have a 4 and 6 year old, and the past 2 illness seasons have been just brutal. Multiple stomach bugs, strep, ear infections, and this year we all got COVID. And it’s not just as though one kid gets sick and needs to stay home for a couple of days – one kid gets sick, and then it works its way through the entire family over the course of a week or two, so we need to take sick days for both our kids and often for ourselves.

        When I was in my 20’s the company I worked for offered 5 weeks of combined PTO and I thought it was amazing because I never got sick, so I basically just had 5 weeks of vacation. Now, I would hate it because I would probably end up taking at least half of that as sick time and it would be really tough to plan vacations not knowing how many sick days we would need.

    3. Green great dragon*

      There’s no reason separate buckets should reduce the amount of leave overall – that’s a choice the company makes. You’re right that the average is less than a week, so the company should give people 4 weeks or more leave plus unlimited sick leave to replace the 5 weeks combined.

      I have unlimited sick leave, and really don’t see the pressure you suggest – people just don’t link them like that. Feeling pressured to come in because you’re out of sick leave and about to lose pay, however, is a thing.

    4. Percysowner*

      One bout with pneumonia can take you out for 2 weeks easily. Also things like having an automobile accident. You have been lucky to never need more than 2 weeks sick leave, but there are so many reasons people can need more.

        1. ShortTermDisability*

          short term disability doesn’t usually kick in for something like a flu unless you’re hospitalized from it. The normal standard is a serious illness or medical incident of a set minimum length with an expectation of recovery. There’s a one week waiting period followed by coverage for a specific amount of time determined by the insurance adjusters with lots of info from your doctors, usually also with a maximum number of weeks dependent on your longevity with the company.

          1. No Tribble At All*

            Plus you usually have to use up all your available PTO for the year before you can go on disability :( you can’t just opt-in. And, it’s usually only paid at 2/3 (ish) your normal rate. It’s not a great option.

            1. ShortTermVsLongTermDisability*

              I’ve never seen a requirement that you had to use your PTO first, and I’ve never seen short term disability that pays less than 100% of salary – the 2/3 or 50% (for bad coverage) is standard for long term disability. In most cases you continue to get your normal payroll payments; the insurance pays the employer the correct amount to pay for it.

              A good employer will have employees pay taxes on their portion of the long term disability premiums (and make sure employees do pay a portion) so you don’t owe taxes on the payments (in which case 2/3 is close to normal take home pay for many employees). If you don’t pay taxes on premiums you have to pay taxes on the payments.

        2. amoeba*

          I mean, not in places with a reasonable (= unlimited) sick leave policy.

          Probably my European upbringing, but anything other than unlimited sick leave just honestly seems so absurd to me. People get sick, and they don’t chose how much! Having a limit is like… want to tell that to the viruses or broken bones?
          How much vacation you take is a choice (mostly), therefore, a limited amount is fine. How much you get sick very definitely isn’t, and so limits just make no sense to me.

          So yeah, would basically always chose the unlimited sick leave policy if I had a choice.

    5. Tired Librarian*

      It is *so* easy to end up off sick two+ weeks a year – one bad chest infection would do it one fell swoop; Covid has been a week out minimum every time I’ve had it; flu easily can be two weeks…and that’s just on things that are 100% going to be circulating every autumn/winter.

      1. AJ*

        I got the flu at the beginning of May, was out for three days, took two more days to get my house clean and household back in order after being in bed for three days straight, and then… got the same flu again Sunday night and was out for another week. Bang, two weeks sick.

    6. Helewise*

      My first year of a new job I got COVID and injured myself in a way that required surgery and convalescent time. I took much less time off than I should have, but a less generous policy would have lost me the job – and I’m generally a really good worker and don’t get sick much.

    7. Fives*

      A few years back I unfortunately had to have two surgeries in one year, one at the beginning and one at the end, so I was out for six weeks for those alone. This didn’t include doctor’s appointments or other times when I was sick that year. We had sick and vacation buckets then but have one combined PTO bucket now. I get five weeks of PTO now plus whatever rolls over from the previous year so this would just wipe me out.

    8. Justme, The OG*

      I use sick leave for doctor’s appointments too. Plus my kid’s. It can definitely reach more than two weeks a year adding that in.

    9. CheckYourPrivilege*

      Wow, how privileged you are. I’ve never had a job where managing sick time wasn’t a major stressor, and I’ve normally had either 10 or 12 days. Just getting medical care without actually being sick requires great time management skills.

    10. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      You’re looking at it wrong. This is like saying ‘I never go to the hospital so why do I need to pay into the health service for all those people who go often?’.

      I’ve had to use up my entire annual leave allocation on sick days (in the UK, to avoid being put on a report) sometimes and that leaves absolutely nothing else. Having a chronic condition (or ten) means both flare ups and when I do get a virus it knocks me absolutely sideways. I need at least a day off work to recover from a pap smear!

      If you treat the sick leave as totally separate AND don’t put ridiculous restrictions on it then I bet you have far more honest staff. I know I lied a LOT when I knew every day off was being analysed to see if I ‘really needed it’

    11. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      I’d you have chronic conditions that need monitoring, two weeks gets used up faster than you think, especially if you need to take a half-day for each appointment. Seeing a specialist every six months, plus the regular doctors (dentist twice, PCP once, maybe gyno, maybe eye doctor) adds up fast. My kid has ADHD and I need to take him in every three months for a med check, so that’s four half-days right there. I need scans every six months for one condition and I see a specialist in another city for another, so I have a lot of “sick time” spoken for even without catching anything. (I just had a cold last week, the first time I’ve caught anything contagious since an asymptomatic case of COVID in 2021, but I still easily use more than a week of sick days between myself and my kid every year.)

    12. Ginger Cat Lady*

      If you’ve never been out more than two weeks sick in a year, you are LUCKY and not the model of what’s reasonable or normal. I’m guessing you don’t have a chronic illness, and you’ve never had a major issue like cancer, either.
      Your life experience does not set the standard.

    13. Red Canary*

      Meanwhile, as someone who has chronic conditions, my experience is that a combined PTO bucket means that I get way less vacation time than jobs where I have separate sick time and vacation time. Sure, it’s great if you’re a healthy person, but I have to really carefully manage my time.

    14. Stipes*

      Do you think you should get to take more vacation than other people because you get sick less often than them?

      That’s essentially the function of a combined bucket.

    15. AJ*

      My (soon to be ex) husband, who is apparently able-bodied, is out sick 3-5 days per month. That’s 5 weeks per year, without even a chronic illness.

  7. Older than 12*

    “I’m not sure what happened!”

    This isn’t taking responsibility for your actions. You know what happened; you explained in detail in the letter. Say “I miscalculated” because that is indeed what occurred; it’s as valid an excuse as “oh I don’t know how this even happened tee hee la la” and actually explains what happened, which is a reasonable mistake.

    1. GythaOgden*

      Yeah, in many cases it’s not the mistake that is the problem, it’s how you deal with it and then how you not make the same mistake in the future.

    2. bamcheeks*

      I would gently agree with this. It’s completely sensible and normal in your own head, you need to look at why you messed up, and things like the fact you had never done something like before, didn’t allocate enough time to it and didn’t have all the information you needed are very important, and you can definitely reflect on those things when you’re figuring out how not to make a similar mistake. But when you speak to your manager, the message should be, “I messed up, what do you want me to do now?”

      The comment about contacting the furniture removal and seeing if you can get some stuff back is also bang on though. Definitely do that first, and then go to you manager with “we can get it back, we just need to pay a delivery fee” or “unfortunately I checked and it’s definitely gone”. Having started to put a solution in place goes a long way.

      Lastly, remember that “an expensive mistake” doesn’t automatically = fired, and in fact rarely does at a well-run place. Remember It costs a lot to hire and train someone too. You fire people when they make frequent mistakes, when they lie, when they’re dishonest, and when they cover up mistakes, but generally firing someone for a single costly mistake isn’t a good business decision unless you’ve good reason to think they’d do it again. Working through that mistake and figuring out how to prevent it in the future is usually much more cost effective than firing someone and recruiting someone new.

      (This isn’t to say that people never get fired for single costly mistakes— they absolutely do— but it is definitely not inevitable and it isn’t usually a smart business decision when it happens.)

      1. Observer*

        This isn’t to say that people never get fired for single costly mistakes— they absolutely do— but it is definitely not inevitable and it isn’t usually a smart business decision when it happens

        True. Also, this mistake is not *that* major. Sure, getting a conference table and chairs is going to cost money, but if it’s going to be THAT big of a deal, the company has got bigger problems. It’s not like the situation where a LW sent their management to the wrong city *and country* thereby causing significant losses and embarrassment for the company. Even there it’s not clear to us outsiders that they should have been fired, but it does make some sense. Here? It’s possible to get a conference room set up for a reasonable amount of money on the one hand, and on the other hand the lack of furniture in the hallway and conference room is unlikely to cause any truly significant problems.

        So, if the company is reasonable, your risk if you do NOT own up is a lot higher than if you do.

    3. Jam*

      I have a lot of sympathy for the letter writer because this is unfortunately how I tended to react to messes early in my working life – total panic, seeing how much was missing in hindsight, “it’s not even my JOB!!!”

      It’s a fairly natural response, but once you have felt these feelings and had a cry you have to steel yourself up and take responsibility (quickly!). Someone who makes a big mess and is useless in responding to it is someone expendable. Someone who makes a big mess and puts in trojan work to fix it is someone who is worth a second chance.

      Also I echo those above who say to call the removals company. It’s awkward and embarrassing and not ideal but honestly you have a chance here.

      1. Macro Husbandry*

        One of the most important shifts that occurred for me on my journey from early to mid career was a change in mindset around mistakes. I moved from my first thought being “How can I hide this??” to “Who can help me fix this?

        Obviously everyone would prefer to never make a mistake, but we do, and everyone prefers a colleague who takes accountability over one who doesn’t.

        1. AJ*

          My mom took a quiz once as part of a hiring process and I recall once of the questions she told me about was something like, “What if you’re at a party at a friend’s house and you spill wine on their carpet?”
          The answers were like:
          A. Leave and never come back
          B. Put a rug over it to hide it
          C. Blame someone else
          D. Just ignore it and admit later that you did it

          And we were both perplexed that “Admit it immediately and ask if they have a carpet cleaner or offer to pay for it,” was not even an option.
          Anyway, I’m so glad for you that you figured out how to find that Option E for your own career!

          1. Happy*

            That probably wasn’t an option because if it was, everyone would pick it (as clearly the correct answer). Making people choose what they see as “least bad” provides more insight into how they think.

    4. MK*

      Yes, I think the main issue with OP is that they aren’t taking responsibility for their mistake. Getting rid of some office furniture is hardly something that requires multiple meetings, you don’t need to know the date of the move to make a plan about what you will keep and, if you are in charge of getting rid of excess furniture, it’s your job to get a copy of the floor plan.

      1. WellRed*

        OP didn’t seem to take responsibility for actually doing this properly from the get go.

        1. Hyaline*

          A consideration with the PTO buckets—where does “not sick but not planned vacation” fall for your company? Life stuff like “wait for the plumber, kid is sick, car won’t start”—if this is covered under sick, does that change the equation? Because if you do unlimited sick but you the employee personally have to be sick, two or even three weeks PTO can disappear pretty quickly if people have kids who get sick or other life stuff and I’d prefer the five weeks combined. But if it’s flexible to use that unlimited sick time to stay home with the fifth kindergarten bug of the year, that’s awesome. (Or if your WFH policy would allow for this—last minute swap to a WFH day.)

          1. Green great dragon*

            But to answer – I’ve always seen unlimited sick time for when you are personally sick, anything else comes out vacation time. So yes, some people may still end up with less ‘spare’ vacation, but they’re much less likely to wipe out all of it.

            Then examples in the letter aren’t equivalent, the 5 weeks is more generous than 2-3 weeks plus sick leave. A fairer comparison would be 4 weeks vacation and unlimited sick leave, since the average sick leave is about a week per year according to a quick google.

        2. Hyaline*

          But despite the nesting fail—yeah, the LW kinda should know exactly what happened here, which was not taking proactive responsibility on this project.

        3. Czhorat*

          I’m genuinely surprised at the level of hostility to LW on this one. Yes, they did screw up. BUT it wasn’t a good process at all.

          If it was their job to remove the excess furnityre, whose job was it to assign the existing furniture to final locations? Was the plan to just pack it up and distribute it wherever there was space? Just load it into a truck and hope you find a spot for it?

          I’ve seen LOTS of office moves (it’s my job to design AV technology for new spaces; that has me as part of the design and build part of the project). I’ve never seen furniture treated that casually.

          The LW played their hand badly, but were dealt a bad hand to start

          1. WellRed*

            I’m not hostile toward the letter writer but there’s a lot of passivity in their post about what happened. I’m sure they’ve learned from this, though.

          2. Glomarization, Esq.*

            The LW admittedly didn’t even pay attention in the meeting that was held to discuss the topic. (I guess not all meetings could just be an email, despite what a large number of commenters on this board like to say.) Then they didn’t follow up with anyone to figure out what was needed to be done. Finally, they try to deflect responsibility by blaming a lack of supervision.

            If they didn’t know how to handle the task or project, they needed to follow up and ask questions, but instead it sounds as though they kind of put their head in the sand.

            1. Saturday*

              Actually, I was thinking this is a meeting that should have been an email – then there would have been written materials to refer to.

              1. Glomarization, Esq.*

                Woulda been some written materials if the LW had paid attention at the meeting and taken notes, too. But in any event I don’t think an office downsizing project is something that can be reduced to only emails.

          3. Nancy*

            OP admits they didn’t pay attention in the meeting that discussed this, and doesn’t seem to have asked any follow-up questions, two important aspects of the job they were given. I can’t imagine paying to trash a bunch of office furniture without first confirming that everything I marked was correct.

            1. Starbuck*

              Also they commented that this happened back in March and they still haven’t discussed it with their manager! Not good!

              1. Cafe tavolini*

                Oh my god yes! I just saw their note in the comments! So uhhh…that’s certainly some info.
                Because that probably means the original (usable) furniture is long gone by now, at least.

          4. ferrina*

            whose job was it to assign the existing furniture to final locations?

            This is the key question. If this was LW’s job, then it’s reasonable that LW should have planned accordingly and figured out what furniture to keep. But if someone else was responsible for the new space, both they and LW were responsible for connecting and ensuring that they were on the same page.

          5. blah*

            It’s always so interesting to me when commenters decide others are being “hostile” to a LW. They wrote in seeking advice, and people are advising that they need to own up to this mistake.

            The LW messed up. Their management messed up. These are not mutually exclusive.

          6. MK*

            Eh, where do you base your claim that this wasn’t a good process, when OP didn’t actually describe the process? There was a meeting where she was assigned this task and possibly the questions you are asking were adressed; she didn’t pay attention. She was shown the floor plan; she didn’t ask for a copy or take notes about how much space the new location had. There seems to have been plenty of time between the meeting and the day of the move to ask for more information or make at least a provisional plan; she waited till the last moment and then scrambled to do it. Now, if she is an entry-level employee, maybe she didn’t have the experience to handle this, but if not, it’s not outrageous to assign this task to one employee and expect them to stay on top of it without prompting.

            1. Czhorat*

              See what I said above.

              There was no apparent project management for the move. If there were, that PM would have seen to it that the team coordinated furniture to be moved, furniture to be discarded, and the new spaces. Not confirming coordination here is bad process.

              Office furniture is expensive; I’d argue that it’s bad process to discard a significant amount of it with no oversight at all. This lack of oversight is bad process.

              The LW didn’t have a plan until the last minute before the move; for nobody to have asked for status and confirmed that the plan met the project needs was poor process – this is also where a mistake could have been found out. “I found a service to take the six conference tables away” “What do you mean six? We’re going to still need two of them!”

              Yes, LW messed up. But they weren’t exactly supported as they should have been.

              1. blah*

                And what others are saying is that, even though LW didn’t have the correct support system or oversight, the LW still made the mistake! Own the mistake and do your best to correct it. No one’s saying to go to your boss and make a scene begging for forgiveness.

              2. MK*

                That sounds like word salad to make a point that isn’t there. You don’t need a team to “coordinate furniture to be moved, furniture to be discarded, and the new spaces” and a project manager to oversee them. You need one person to make a list of the furniture you have, look at the floor plan and find out which and how many pieces of it can fit in the new spaces and decide which ones to disacard. There is nothing to coordinate, it’s a task that OP didn’t do. The point about furniture being expensive and lack of oversight would only be relevant if OP had done the job to the best of her ability and then a higher-up complained about the way it was done. And trusting that an employee will do their job ia not “lack of oversight”.

                1. New Jack Karyn*

                  No one is saying you need a project manager for that. We’re saying that the whole move needed a manager, and that manager should have stayed in touch with OP. A one-0ff meeting was not sufficient.

              3. Glomarization, Esq.*

                It wasn’t a move. It was a downsizing. The LW “was in charge of getting rid of all the excess furniture.” This is a task, and while it’s not necessarily a simple, one-step task, it’s not a project that needed managing. The downsizing was a project; handling the soon-to-be excess furniture was one part of the project, which was assigned to the LW.

                If the LW didn’t have a plan until the last minute, that was wholly on them. I simply can’t agree that this task was so complex that it required project managing and someone supervising the LW’s progress and checking in on them to make sure they were on track. Nobody asked for status? Well, neither did the LW check in with anyone during all the time that the construction was delayed.

              4. Cafe tavolini*

                The OP has added in the comments that this actually fell under their job description. And from the original letter and other comments, it sort of sounds like it was less a case of them being the only one physically in charge of a total “move from physical location A to physical location B” and more of a “get rid of broken or gross furniture when we move like two floors downstairs” or whatever (implying that other people were involved in this move AND that it wasn’t as comprehensive as some people are thinking).
                So yeah, I don’t see the need for a full on separate project manager to tell the OP to pay attention in meetings, get a copy of the floor plan, and maybe schedule follow up meetings.

          7. Observer*

            I’m genuinely surprised at the level of hostility to LW on this one. Yes, they did screw up. BUT it wasn’t a good process at all.

            No one is being hostile to the LW. But they are, very reasonably, pointing out that as poor as the process was, the LW messed up on some really basic stuff. They didn’t pay attention at the first meeting, never asked for a floor plan and didn’t think to mark anything till they were ready to hire the movers. None of this is advanced project management.

            Is it the end of the world? No. Should they be fired for this? No. But if they just pretend that nothing happened, or they try to put the blame on someone else (including the people who didn’t provide enough oversight), that WILL be a problem. And one that is going to be *much* harder to come back from.

          8. Hortled*

            I’m genuinely surprised at the level of hostility to LW on this one.

            It’s easier to see and blame the person executing a process than it is to understand the poor planning and setup of the process.

          9. KKR*

            I agree – and also all this “You aren’t taking responsibility.” Like obviously it’s a good thing to advise something like, the language you use to describe this incident sounds like you are deflecting responsibility and maybe use this instead. But we aren’t the ones who owned the furniture and we aren’t OPs boss who she needs to truly apologize and speak with. Of course she isn’t going to sound as sorry and mortified to us asking for help to deal with a bad situation than she will when she speaks with her boss, and I think it would be weird if she went out of her way in this post to make sure *we* know how she specifically messed up and how badly she feels. She doesn’t need us to absolve her wrong doing at work and accept her apology, she just asked for advice on talking to her boss

        4. A. Nonymous*

          Yup– this is the crux of the issue. If you need to be *told* to do it properly rather than having initiative… that’s the problem that needs solving.

    5. Ann O'Nemity*

      Why are we assuming that the LW was expected to reuse the old furniture in the new spaces? It’s just as possible that the company is planning to buy new furniture that fit the new spaces perfectly instead of reusing the old furniture. It doesn’t sound like the LW was ever explicitly told to save certain things to reuse.

  8. Cj*

    #3 – they said the office doesn’t have hot water. it’s always been my understanding that offices are required to have hot water for hand washing purposes. I just Googled it to make sure was correct, and I can’t remember the exact wording now, but I believe it said hot or lukewarm water in the restroom.

    their initial complaint was about the break room, so they must not have hot water there either in order to wash their dishes and utensils.

    1. GythaOgden*

      A quick Google confirms that.

      For comparison, here’s the document (a PDF) issued by the HSE in the UK about facilities provision. (Pumping rooms are not required because of maternity leave being more generous, but a designated ‘rest room’ in the literal sense is encouraged for people still pregnant or needing a quiet place for other reasons.)


      1. Pocket Mouse*

        Given the HVAC situation, I’d assume “temporary” can easily turn into years in that building.

      2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        Doesn’t matter if it is temporary. But it is my understanding (which could be wrong) the building needs to be shut down until there is hot water. Which yes, temporary as in, this only goes on for a short time because we need the building open.

        Temporary acceptable would be – we will be without hot water while they work on the water heater for a couple hours. Not, we don’t have hot water and won’t until someone comes in to fix it.

    2. ScruffyInternHerder*

      “Tempered” ;-)

      My understanding is that under a number of building and plumbing codes (I’m USA based, so mileage varies outside the USA), potentially OSHA, and potentially various health departments, the answer is “yes”.

  9. BellaStella*

    On the last letter regarding tests:
    In 2019 I got a job that required an assignment to create marketing and comms materials. It took me three days. The place hired me and used my materials! All of us who worked on the team had been through this and got our materials used.


    The work of those three days was not ever compensated and they were happy to tell us we were lucky to work there. In the end I left after a year.

  10. DeskApple*

    LW5: Are these legitimate/well-reputed companies you’re working for? I got scammed a couple times when freelancing with these application “tests”. I found out later from the comments here that some people/firms use applicants for free work and to build their own portfolios! It’s becoming more common, and Alison has several articles on how to push back on it and define what is a reasonable amount of work. Obviously most companies need you to show what you can do but there are different ways to do this and they need not all be so time intensive.

    1. Branch*

      Unfortunately, there are many legitimate media companies that do this. The New Yorker, for instance, has an extensive edit test.

        1. L.W. 4*

          Inalso provide these companies with a link to my portfolio, which has at least 15 articles in it showing what I can do and for whom, etc.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Yes. I am 100% sure that every test I’ve taken was genuinely intended to test my skills and not to steal my work or ideas. Misguided and poorly conceived, sure, but not a scam. In my field it’s rampant — I’ve been asked to do tasks that are 10+ hours! Personally, I’m willing to walk away from applications that require tests these days.

  11. Nodramalama*

    I have limited value to the bucket of leave conversation, but as an Australian I can’t imagine not having annual leave and sick leave as seperate buckets. In fact I’m fairly sure its a requirement here

    1. GythaOgden*

      Yeah, here in the UK too. However, paid sick leave can be very minimal at a statutory level, and instance systems are legal so long as the company doesn’t summarily dismiss anyone reaching a particular number of instances but treats each situation on a case by case basis.

      America does need to pull its socks up at the federal level, but it’s not to say that other countries are actually more generous in provision, or that there aren’t things that your pre-planned AL isn’t expected to cover, such as appointments, Christmas shutdowns etc (and in the NHS as I am those three days between Christmas and New Year are still /working days/ for us so yeah, if you’re asking for them off, you’re having to take leave anyway; I generally don’t mind doing them as a graveyard shift because they ensure I can escape my mother’s efforts at getting everyone together all week). The telling thing for me is that the question that often comes up here, ‘Do I have to take PTO for this?’ is so usually ‘Yes’ that we don’t often have to ask.

      It’s a different culture but also one that has its restrictions as a result of the generosity involved.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      We moved from separate buckets (12 sick days, 15 vacation days) to combined (30 days total) several years ago, and there’s really no functional difference in how it works. If you ran out of sick leave, you could use your vacation days to continue to be paid for additional days. (Though, I guess if you ran out of vacation days, technical you could not use sick days for that but it probably depends on how strictly enforced it is.) If you had to be out sick an extended period of time, that started moving into short-term disability coverage, which is usually not full pay.

  12. r.*


    why oh why do I suspect the combination of three-day “test projects” followed by ghosting you simply is a way to extract free labor from you?

    Would it be possible under the customs of your industry to say, “I am perfectly happy to take a test or complete a small test project as part of the interview process in order to allow you to evaluate my skills and abilities up to x hours. I am of course also willing to complete projects longer than x hours as part of the interview process, but I hope you understand that I’d have to charge y/hour for hours in excess of x”?

    1. Keyner*

      Advertising the job, screening applicants, setting up the test projects, and judging which are strong enough that the candidate can proceed is a lot of work in itself. Most companies and hiring managers will not carry out that work unless they genuinely have to. Applicants’ fears that companies asking for test projects are all out to get “free labor” are usually overblown. The labor isn’t really free if you have to mount a candidate search to get it completed.

      1. FashionablyEvil*

        Uh, if they don’t pay the candidate and use the work, yes, they are getting it for free.

        1. Ally McBeal*

          It won’t generally be actual work product. I also work in media and have taken tests like this, and it’s always been a made-up scenario. For example when I was applying to work in college communications my test was to draft a press release about a completely imaginary announcement and create a list of media I would pitch it to. I ended up getting that job and that announcement was indeed fictional (there had been no discussion of said announcement either before or after I was hired).

          You might have a bad actor here and there that commissions real work product from unsuspecting candidates, but that would be rare and egregious.

          1. MsM*

            If it’s entirely made up, you can make up a test that doesn’t take three days. I don’t know what that would even tell you about a candidate that you couldn’t do a better job of gleaning from a shorter assignment, including how well they perform on short deadlines.

      2. WellRed*

        What?! No, hiring is part of the cost of doing business. Asking people who don’t actually work for you yet to do a project is wrong.

        1. Don't You Call Me Lady*

          I think what Keyner is saying is that companies aren’t doing all that to purposely get free labor from people who don’t really know that much about their business. They just don’t run a good interview process.

          That’s separate from ghosting which IME occurs at all levels, regardless of what happens in the interview

          1. Keyner*

            Yes, this is exactly what I am saying. It’s not all a nefarious plot to get work for free, and it isn’t even “free” to pay your current employees to set up these test assignments and sort through them for something usable.

            It can be easy when you’re applying for work to feel sensitive—like the world is against you and everybody’s just trying to use you—but probably they just don’t know how to hire well and aren’t even thinking about you.

      3. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

        Yeah, no. If you aren’t paying the person to do the work, you shouldn’t be using the work.
        30 minute exercise as part of an interview process? Sure. Multiple hours-DAYS of work to assess a candidate? Ridiculous.

        Or, if you really need to use the candidate’s work, it’s not hard to pay them a consulting fee. I’ve done this a few times when I needed comparative data on the performance of the work products of the top 2 candidates; they each got $2k for a couple hours of their time and I made a better hire whose work more than justified that investment, everyone went home happy.

        1. Fergus*

          software engineer here. one company wanted me to spend 3 evenings of my time doing homework, a test, or a project. That ended when I graduated college. My resume was 5 pages, i had samples of my work, and I had lots of experience. If the company can’t figure out that I would be an asset then I don’t have time for them to figure it out by assigning homework.

        2. Common Taters on the Ax*

          I agree you shouldn’t use the work–In fact, I think that should be illegal, but I guess it’s not. I also agree that multiple days of work is ridiculous to ask whether you’re going to use the product or not. Multiple hours, though, is necessary in some jobs to tell if the person has any ability to do the work, as long as the multiple isn’t super high. I think 2 or 3 would be needed to assess ability to do my job. In my opinion around 4 hours is the most you should ask for this kind of thing, and obviously, only if it is necessary.

      4. r.*

        You seem to think this is a mutually exclusive choice between a hiring process and obtaining free labor; it is not.

        You can mount both a candidate search, because you are genuinely searching for candidates, and then give them test projects whose successful and adequate completion is usable by the business for purposes beyond the interview process. If the submitted test project is not usable then the business is no worse off than before. If it is usable you got something for nothing, because all process steps performed as part of the interview are process steps you would have completed anyway.

        That way the company is simply extracting additional value out of a process they would have been doing anyway.

          1. r.*

            Yes, it is unethical, and I would not do it.

            However, in much of the US is can also be legal to do so, and some companies do unethical but legal things all the time.

            Even if that were not the case, and even if the project was completely fictional, expecting a candidate to put in three days of unpaid work on an assessment project is completely bonkers. The only hiring processes I’ve ever participated in on either side of the table, and I’ve interviewed hundreds of people, that consumed that much of a candidate’s time were for higher-level positions, or where the candidate flew in from enough timezones away you stick them in a hotel for a day first, so you can interview them after they had time to acclimatize and get over the jetlag first.

            Perhaps this is normal in the some parts of the media industry, and it would perhaps explain some things, but in the sane parts of the job markets expecting that much uncompensated time investment for a regular individual contributor position is ridiculous.

        1. Keyner*

          I understand this feels true from a candidate perspective, but actually, there are very real time and labor costs to a hiring process, and a company that expends that time and labor only to discover that a candidate can’t do the work *is* worse off than before.

          I fully understand that unethical people at some companies use candidate test work sometimes, and that this is a bad thing. But speaking as someone who works in an industry in which tests are standard and I usually get the job after completing the test, I do feel the need to push back on this idea that tests exist to extract free labor. That’s not a common or even a workable business model. The tests exist because firing people is hard and some candidates lie very well. They usually aren’t paid because hiring managers are usually too overwhelmed to think these things through and are often inconsiderate to boot.

          1. Branch*

            I think a lot of people here do not understand just how common edit tests are in media. We can talk all day about ethics but it is an absolute norm!

            1. L.W. 4*

              They are normal, but I do have a higher expectation of an actual rejection after ghosting and ignoring my follow-up email if I actually did the work requested.

          2. r.*

            I work in an industry where tests are reasonably standard-ish, too. I’ve also interviewed literally hundreds of people, and have built entire departments from the ground up. I am perfectly aware of the costs of hiring in general, and of hiring bad candidates.

            A reasonably done test, to be completed in a reasonable amount of time, is perfectly acceptable.

            At no point ever have I found it necessary, appropriate or helpful to just give out a single three-day-consuming exercise, not the very least that if your concern is that candidates lie you’d have to have the candidate on-site and supervised during the time they work on the test. If you have the concern that a candidate is dishonest to you, and you give them a take-home exercise to complete unsupervised and believe this will help you, then you need to have a bit of a think; services that help candidates cheat on those types of take-home tests by having someone else do them exist.

            If you think you have the capability to detect this in the post-test part of your interview process, you almost certainly have the capability to create a test that assesses knowledge and skill with less than three days taken. Since in general assessing test performance has a proportional (but likely sub-linear) proportion to test duration it’ll be cheaper for you too.

            Hence a three-day test almost never will be a good idea. You just end up wasting both your own and your candidate’s money. Additionally, an uncompensated three-day test will likely also rob you of your most desirable candidates, because they quite rationally will prefer to work for competitors with less inane hiring practices; hence it also is counterproductive from a concern of hiring the wrong people.

            Even if it does not exist to extract labor, I am not really sure that disrespecting a candidate’s time like that out of incompetence instead of avarice is much of an improvement. :-)

            1. Keyner*

              Oh, I agree with you completely that three-day tests are a bad thing, for all the reasons you just listed and more. I just disagree with your earlier suggestion that the purpose of such a test is to get free work.

          3. Anony Mas*

            Agree. Edit tests are absolutely necessary. More times than I can count, we’ve had candidates who look good on paper but who totally bomb our (very straightforward) edit test. But the test has to be reasonable — no more than an hour or so. You shouldn’t need more to get a sense of someone’s skill level.

    2. Just Thinkin' Here*

      Agreed. This is way too much work to just throw away afterwards. It’s been used somewhere internally.

      1. Cj*

        Bella Stella mentioned in a separate thread just above that they had to do something like this. They were hired, the work they had done for the hiring process was used, as was the project everyone else on their team had been.

        I would be willing to bet that the hiring project by those who were not hired were also actually used by the business.

      2. Anonymous Moose*

        Meh. Sometimes inexperienced hiring managers put up giant hoops because they’re very fearful about hiring the wrong person. Sometimes an applicant does an unusually thorough job or has trouble doing the work in a timely manner because they really are a bad fit. The time expended is a clue that something isn’t working, for sure, but not proof that the test work is being picked up by the company.

        Source: I’ve had someone tell me that they took days on my test assignment before. It was because they were slow and my assignment was too long. I shortened the assignment going forward, but I didn’t use their work. It was honestly unusable in any case.

    3. AVP*

      Media, ugh! The job market is just awful now. I don’t know if you can say that without losing the interview but it’s a perfectly reasonable thing to say in normal times.

      For those asking – usually it’s a made-up scenario, or at least you get paid a little for it. Mine are :30 minutes and the set up is very unbelievable so it’s obvious it won’t be used. Three days is not very normal and frankly they might be testing for how long it takes you to complete.

      LW4, I suspect employers are giving more edit tests than usual and that’s why they aren’t converting into jobs as you’d expect. They used to do this only for top candidates, but now seems like they’re giving them to larger pools and choosing from there. I know a lot of people in the industry who are looking right now and getting rejected after this round.

      1. AVP*

        For fun, I’ll say > my hiring test is a set of facts, and candidates need to turn it around into a press release and a set of social posts. The scenario I made up is the “Brooklyn Bulldog Festival,” a party for dogs headlined by Snoop Dogg.

          1. Good Enough For Government Work*

            Please oh please oh please…

            Or they could hold it at the Isle of Dogs in London!

      2. sofar*

        Yep, my company (which I disagree with) gives the tests to a wider pool of candidates instead of to the top 2 or 3 like we used to. We also (when I was hired and for a couple years after) did a timed test of an hour (we’d have the candidate hop on Zoom, explain the test, give them a doc and then lock it for editing after the hour). Now, we give folks 72 hours and a vague “spend about two hours on this” guideline.

        Presumably, giving it to more candidates earlier is a way to “widen the path” for folks who may not interview well,” but who do “good work.” I hate it because we give people a vague time expectation of “plan to devote 1 to two hours to this,” but obviously we are not enforcing that. So now we’re now simply giving an advantage to someone with a flexible enough schedule to put hours and hours into the test and disadvantaging people who have kids/current jobs who have less time to put in.

        … also, I hate having to review 10+ lengthy tests.

        1. AVP*

          I wonder if it’s also that the hiring pool has gotten so much wider and better (for employers)? Now you can literally choose between top magazine editors, former digital EICs, practically Pulitzer winners on every hiring round coming from eight different highly-qualified areas, it’s hard to even know what direction to go in until you see their work.

          1. sofar*

            Yep! But what gets me is that … the tests from everyone are all so GOOD, and nobody can agree which of these unicorns is “best” so then all those folks get shuffled on to the panel interviews anyway.

      3. L.W. 4*

        Great point – I feel like these days, EVERYBODY is being handed an edit test, not just particularly strong candidates.

      4. Redaktorin*

        This is a good point.

        I recently tried giving a larger pool of people an edit test because I really didn’t care about anything but the work quality for a freelancer slot I wanted to fill.

        Most of those edit tests were a waste of time, and more people than usual seemed to get their hopes up as a result of making it to the test round, sending me hate mail when I rejected them. So I guess I’m going back to edit tests for top candidates only.

  13. Bookworm*

    #4: I am sorry and wanted to send you sympathy. I have not quite been in that situation (been ghosted after multiple round interviews, was just ghosted after they agreed we should have a chat about the job, no interview time set and no response to my follow up to indicate I remain interested!) Job hunting really sucks and honestly employers appear to have declined even further despite COVID and all this talk about reevaluating our relationship with work.

  14. Redaktorin*

    LW4, is there anybody with equally long experience in your industry who you can look to for an impartial evaluation of your work on these tests? I understand some fields are so completely flooded that even people at the top of the heap can get turned down for reasons that are basically arbitrary, BUT if I were in your shoes I’d want to be sure that getting ghosted after every test assignment didn’t indicate some sort of performance issue.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I did appreciate OP’s confidence that they were aceing the tests if they get ghosted every time they submit them. Which is not to say they’re not, just – my mind would have gone there, and I think I’m pretty good at my job.

    2. Don't You Call Me Lady*

      Based on how common ghosting is though, I wouldn’t think it has anything to do with the tests themselves

      Ghosting seems to happen at all stages of the interview process, and at all candidate levels – it sucks but it’s a reality

    3. AVP*

      I really think this particular market is just flooded right now. Employers used to give these tests and projects out to only their top 1-2 people, which is why LW4 thinks they should be converting better, but now I suspect they’re giving it to 4-6 people as an earlier part of the process. Terribly rude to ghost people after that, though, and it’s a small world — people remember that.

      But for reference, a recruiter in this industry recently told me that this is their worst year since 2010. My husband just didn’t get an offer on one of these and I looked over his stuff before he sent it in, it was good! Another friend just heard that a hiring process he’s going through will need weeks more to look through all of the materials submitted as part of the testing round they did. It’s brutal out there.

  15. Potatohead*

    I’ve never had a job with the generous amount of leave it seems is so common these days…my previous employer gave 2 weeks of combined PTO per year, my current job gives 2 weeks each of vacation and sick time pro-rated over the year. Current Job is at least very flexible about letting people WFH when they need to, so its an improvement.

    1. E*

      The only people I know that get such generous time are those that work for very large companies. My current job gives 3 weeks PTO and that’s the most I’ve ever had. And I’ve never had specific sick days. My husband on the other hand works for a fortune 100 company and gets 5 sick days, 6 weeks vacation and every US bank holiday off.

      1. Potatohead*

        That might be part of it. We have a total of 13 full-time people in Current Job, including the two owners. Old Job was larger, but still probably less than a thousand total. I’ve never worked for a true national or multinational company.

      2. CompanySize*

        Nope, your employers just suck. I’ve been employee #4 twice and still got reasonable/standard time off amounts. In fact, the second time I got slightly better than average. In my experience, many larger companies are a bit on the stingier side because it’s harder for them to adjust policies as norms/ expectations change over time, or they think we’re well known company A and people will want to work for us because of name value so we can afford to have less worker friendly policies.

      3. ferrina*

        The last two jobs I worked for had unlimited PTO, and they were both medium sized. I probably take 5 weeks off per year, including both sick and vacation? It also helps that I have flexible hours and location, so I can take a pseudo-vacation and work a half-day from a different location.

      4. RussianInTexas*

        Yes, I used to work for a massive company and it was much better. Partner works for a Fortune 100 now and it’s 6 weeks vacation, all holidays, 2 personal days, unlimited sick time.

    2. GovEmp*

      I’m in government and we get four weeks vacation (which accrues indefinitely), two weeks sick time (which if unused, we get cash for a week of when the year ends, or it can accrue indefinitely), and we can use the sick time as personal days. We also have a sick bank so employees who didn’t use their sick time can donate a day each year and then if they ever have an extended illness they can tap the bank. I believe the credit for all of this goes to our unions. :)

      1. AF Vet*

        Interesting. I’ve been US DoD civilian and military. The annual leave structure for the military was sweet as a young troop, but stayed the same the entire career – earn 2.5 days / month (30/year) up to 60. If you try to carry more than 60 at the end of the fiscal year it becomes use or lose – which forces people to actually take vacation time or lose that money. Of course if you deploy or something like COVID / 9-11 happen, they flex the 60 day requirement. Government civilians start at 2 weeks / year, and go up to 26 days (i.e. 8 hours per 2 week pay period). They can carry over 30 days / year. Everyone gets all the federal holidays (and if you have to work as a civil servant you get double overtime for those days). Military usually get 4 day weekends for those federal holidays by adding a Family Day, but they are at upper-level command (combatant command or MAJCOM) discretion. On those days, civilians can take a day off with no argument but they have to use their PTO. When you leave government service you can sell back any unused leave, civilian or military.

        Sick leave as a civilian was a flat 0.5 day / pay period, which gave 13 days / year. We could accrue indefinitely, but if we separated it had no cash value. Military sick leave isn’t really a thing. If you’re sick, you go to sick call. The doc puts you on quarters for however long they think you’ll take to recover. If it’s something like a broken bone, they can move you to a different job within the unit that won’t stress the bone (i.e. admin duty rather than walking it to the flightline to fix a plane). If you need to deal with a sick family member, you work it out with your supervisor. Military are eligible for up to 12 weeks a year of convalescent leave to deal with healing from their own injury, take care of a family member, enjoy a new family member (folks recovering from labor are given the 12 weeks plus healing time from the pregnancy and delivery), or for bereavement. The US government definition of Family Member definition is also INCREDIBLY generous:

        “The definition of family member covers a wide range of relationships, including spouse; parents; parents-in-law; children; brothers; sisters; grandparents; grandchildren; step parents; step children; foster parents; foster children; guardianship relationships; same sex and opposite sex domestic partners; and spouses or domestic partners of the aforementioned, as applicable.”

    3. Malarkey01*

      I wish Alison would do a poll on US leave. She says 2 weeks is out of step with standards but I’ve had to do research around this for new positions in my metro for white collar, under $125k salary and 2-2.5 weeks was the vast majority of benefits offered. As you go up in salary or very large companies we saw 3-4 and government topped at 5 for those with long term seniority (15+ years).

      Europe jumps into the comments a lot but unless my metro is weirdly out of step with the country 2 weeks is really common and sadly competitive.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        Yeah, I’ve never worked a place that didn’t start with 2 weeks vacation, except for the one with combined vacation/sick that started with 3 weeks total. I’m a professional who has worked for a wide variety of companies: defense, farm, city government, small manufacturer, utility, laboratory, and 2 weeks vacation, 1 week sick is the standard I’ve seen.

      2. KKR*

        I see and hear about people negotiating their vacation and not settling for such limited vacation but every single time I’ve asked for more PTO its been treated as a complete non-starter, everyone gets the same thing and no exceptions. Except it’s not because the job I used to be at gave the other workers on my team an extra week of PTO to start and I didn’t find out until a couple years in. Asked at my next review if I could match that amt of PTO since I was now that I had been there a few years and was told how that simply was not possible, not negotiable. Same with a raise to market level. Like I would love to have all this PTO but I’ve never seen a company that actually provides it or offers it to us drones on the lower level

      3. Hlao-roo*

        There was a survey on paid time off earlier this year! It was open to people of all countries, but “country” is a sortable field on the spreadsheet of responses, so you can look at data just from the US. The post was “how much paid time off do you get?” from April 17, 2024.

        (AAM readerships isn’t representative of the US as a whole, but it’ll at least give you some idea is 2 weeks is in-step or out-of-step with the US “standard.”)

      4. TimeOffNorms*

        Here in Boston the norm for office jobs switched from 2 weeks to 3 during the 90s. That doesn’t mean there aren’t outliers in either direction, but most of the time folks get at least 3 weeks or start with at least 3 weeks in systems that reward seniority.

        That tends to be a floor, not a ceiling. I’ve worked at a few jobs (and interviewed at a few others) that give 5 weeks (plus holidays + sick time + personal days), although that’s definitely above the norm.

        I would note that holidays have ranged from a very stingy core 5-6 to as many as 12. Most give 9-10.

    4. RussianInTexas*

      I know right? I keep reading people talking about bare minimums they would accept, and here I am, with 10 days vacation, 4 sick days, and only 5 paid holidays.

  16. Don't You Call Me Lady*

    I agree with the advice on #1 to own up to the mistake, there’s really no other option since it will be discovered anyway.

    I don’t know how these things work but is it possible to call the company that removed the furniture? Maybe they still have it and can return it

  17. Middle Name Jane*

    I had always had jobs with separate sick leave and vacation time, and it worked out well. My current company has a combined PTO, and it’s terrible. We have generous benefits otherwise, and the company gives us more paid holidays than most, but the number of PTO days is low. And I got very sick last year–think multiple surgeries. I burned through all my PTO because I was sick and had to cancel vacation days so I wouldn’t go in the negative (our system doesn’t allow negative PTO).

    And while I’m healthier this year, I’m still using PTO days for health reasons and not vacation days. It feels like a punishment for having medical issues I can’t help.

  18. Email (Optional)*

    LW4: I work in media, too. It’s entirely possible that we’re in entirely different niches (I’m in regional print), but I have never, since entering the workforce in 2006, had to take more than an hour-long copy editing test that was built into an in-person interview. I would feel horrendously taken advantage of doing such exhaustive unpaid labor in an already criminally under-compensated field.

  19. Eucerin*

    I think OSHA might like to hear to about the no hot water thing if OP 2 is in the US?

    1. Be Gneiss*

      Coming here to say exactly this. I was curious if “no hot water in the office” meant in the office (like a sink meant for filling the coffee pot or something), or meant places like restrooms where you would need hot water for handwashing. It may also fall afoul of local requirements for building occupancy.

      1. Leah*

        I’m the OP and in the US. The water heaters went out and owner/boss apparently has no intentions of replacing them. He owns the building and there’s another business leasing offices in the building (not shared spaces). I know that they have working hvacs and water heaters bc he complains of having to do the repairs

        1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          OP, your boss knows hot water is a requirement since he keeps it on for the people who pay him. It is just as much a requirement for the people he pays. You might want to make a discreet call to the building inspector in your town or county.

          1. ScruffyInternHerder*

            Yup. “Office lacks tempered water to hand-washing facilities” is what you’re looking at.

          2. MsM*

            And ask yourself if this is really the only place where he cuts corners or is unduly recalcitrant about covering employees’ basic needs, because I suspect it isn’t.

            1. Slow Gin Lizz*

              Oooh, yup! I commented in another thread that this situation isn’t a big red flag in and of itself but is a small, light yellow flag. However, seeing OP’s comment above makes me think that it’s definitely a dark orange flag and probably not the only one. While the work may be satisfying and/or you may be well compensated, if neither of those is the case, then this would be a good kick to spur you to start looking at job postings to see what else is out there. (I know, I know, job searching is a total PITA, but even if in the end you just stay where you are, knowing what’s available is helpful information.)

          3. Resentful Oreos*

            I agree, it’s time to drop a dime on him. (I wonder when that expression will fall into obsolescence, since nobody uses pay phones now!) This is not normal boss or workplace behavior. Having working HVAC and hot water is standard.

        2. Eucerin*

          “The water heaters went out and owner/boss apparently has no intentions of replacing them”

          I feel like the code enforcement for your employer’s location might want to get a phone call too!

  20. Hyaline*

    A consideration with the PTO buckets—where does “not sick but not planned vacation” fall for your company? Life stuff like “wait for the plumber, kid is sick, car won’t start”—if this is covered under sick, does that change the equation? Because if you do unlimited sick but you the employee personally have to be sick, two or even three weeks PTO can disappear pretty quickly if people have kids who get sick or other life stuff and I’d prefer the five weeks combined. But if it’s flexible to use that unlimited sick time to stay home with the fifth kindergarten bug of the year, that’s awesome. (Or if your WFH policy would allow for this—last minute swap to a WFH day.)

    1. OaDC*

      At many companies you can’t use sick leave if your kids are sick, or have routine doctors appointments. So I would disagree with Alison that one-bucket PTO is automatically worse for people with kids.

      I like one-bucket; it’s your time to use as you see fit. I don’t get sick, but I have an elderly parent who needs help with a lot of medical appointments and it would be nice to be able to use the sick time factored into the PTO calculation for that. No one has to argue that they should be able to use sick time to take their pet to the vet. And the person from the other day would be able to recover in Cancun without drama, as it wouldn’t be an issue of them taking sick time to vacation; it’s their time to use as they see fit.

      1. Aeryn*

        The PTO thing is interesting to me. I’ve been at my big, multinational company for 20 years now, so I get 6 weeks of PTO. We have unlimited “use it, don’t abuse it” sick leave. Short-term disability starts on the 8th consecutive day of absence but most people, if suffering from something like the flu, sinus infection, or pneumonia, will “work from home” one day in order to reset the sick time clock! lol We also get three weeks of caregiver leave, so we don’t have to burn PTO taking kids or parents or a spouse to medical appointments, or when kids get sent home from school sick. I think we get all the US holidays except Juneteenth, Columbus Day, and Veterans Day, but we do randomly get off the day after Thanksgiving.

      2. ThursdaysGeek*

        And I’ve always experienced the opposite in the companies I’ve worked for: sick time is for you sick, routine doctor visits, staying home with a sick kid, family member doctor visits. My spouse has an annual out of town eye exam, and because his eyes are dilated at the exam, I get to take sick time to be the driver for a trip to the city.

      3. Observer*

        At many companies you can’t use sick leave if your kids are sick, or have routine doctors appointments.

        It’s actually not all that common – and in some locales it’s that’s even illegal.

        So I would disagree with Alison that one-bucket PTO is automatically worse for people with kids.

        I think that you have a valid point in places where that’s the case.

      4. NotAnotherManager!*

        Is sick leave only applying to the employee common? I believe all my and my spouse’s sick leave policies allowed for caregiving of children/parents as well as time off for doctor’s appointments. It’s also unusual to require doctor’s notes for short absences.

        I am also a fan of the single bucket – when they combined ours, we had three extra days kicked in, we can carry over a month of time year-to-year, and they will pay out up to one biweekly pay period when you leave. I also do not have to vet employee needs for time off to make sure they fall under one policy or the other – they’re just here or not.

      5. Dahlia*

        “At many companies you can’t use sick leave if your kids are sick, or have routine doctors appointments.”

        Man, I would not live that live. I’d just suddenly come down with a stomach bug every time. Prove I’m not sick because my kid is sick. Clearly they gave me whatever they have.

    2. PersonalDays*

      Traditionally that’s the distinction between vacation and personal days. Vacation days needed approval, personal time did not.

      When the concept of PTO came about, it was the combination of vacation and personal days, and thus it typically includes these sorts of life events (even if technically they kept the pre-approval requirement).

    3. ferrina*

      I’ve usually seen where sick time is used exclusively for health things- so doctor’s appointments are sick time (even well visits) as well as illness/injury. This can also include mental health days, but really depends on the company culture. Usually this extends to dependents, but in the cases where it doesn’t, parents can call in and say that they are sick when it’s really their kid (or other dependent). Culturally it usually flies (unless the culture is extremely strict and unpleasant.

      Life stuff like ‘wait for plumber’ or ‘car won’t start’ is vacation time. Or personal time, if your company offers that bucket. Jury duty is in a separate bucket, since it’s legally required to serve jury duty (at least in the U.S.), but that time can’t be used for anything else.

    4. Insert Clever Name Here*

      I’m WFH three days a week (and those days can change as I need them to), so for a plumber or the car not starting I would just turn that day into WFH. Up to 40 hours of our sick leave can also be classified as “dependent care” — the definition of “dependent” is very broad.

      We get 240 hours (6 weeks) of sick leave at 100% pay and then 960 hours (24 weeks/6 months) at 70% pay with vacation as a separate bucket. Your 6 weeks can also refresh during the year — if you go 6 months without taking a full day of sick leave, your 6 weeks resets.

  21. Mellie Bellie*

    Re: HVAC. I wouldn’t worry about justifying the price of your boss installing HVAC in his own building by chaining yourself to the break room. First, having functional/upgraded/
    well maintained HVAC increases the value of his building. It’s an investment in his investment, even if he doesn’t use it. Second, you may not work there forever or he may need to hire someone else and you can certainly bet future employees aren’t going to stick around in a 95-degree break room. Just ridiculous.

    1. Debby*

      I agree with Mellie Bellie! In addition to that, your boss/owner got to use it as a tax deduction (leasehold improvement). I know that’s not as good as a tax credit, but it does help to take some of the sting out of paying the bill. Plus, I’m sure he is enjoying the heat/cooling too-it’s not just for the breakroom only!

    2. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Here’s hoping that LW can stop worrying about it! I think the boss was being kind of a jerk to call LW out on sitting in their car instead of in the break room; what kind of boss keeps track of where their employees are when they’re on their lunch break? The HVAC system definitely needed to be fixed and whether or not LW is using the room for every single minute of their breaks is irrelevant. (And I’m not a builder and know very little about these things, but isn’t it better for the building as a whole for it to stay more consistent, temperature-wise, than to be fluctuating all the time? I have no idea, but it seems like it might be.)

      LW, I understand being on edge now if the boss sees you taking your break somewhere other than this breakroom, but if he calls you out again for it, I’d recommend saying something like, “Oh, I’m so thankful for a working HVAC system for the days when it’s too stormy to go out or in the winter when it’ll be too cold to eat outside, but there are some days that are just too beautiful to stay inside all day.” And if he keeps calling you out, that’s a situation of “Your boss sucks and isn’t going to change.” I don’t want to recommend you find a new job based on this one situation alone, but if he has a pattern of these kinds of things, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to start looking to see what other jobs are out there. Believe it or not, there are places that are nicely climate controlled, with working hot water. (And as others mentioned, OSHA does require hot water in office buildings, as well as maintaining comfortable temperature ranges. I believe that applies to breakrooms as well as offices.)

    3. Slow Gin Lizz*

      My comment seems to have gotten stuck in moderation but I agree! And also I think that this OP’s boss might be a perfectly decent guy but this kind of nitpicking where OP spends break time is an indication that he really isn’t all that great. OP, don’t let him force you to spend these beautiful days indoors if you don’t want to, no one’s boss should be checking up on where their employees spend their break time. Beautiful weather is so precious and limited where I live, sounds like that might be true for you too, OP, so don’t waste it by worrying about your boss.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        I also commented that this situation alone might not be enough to spur you into job searching but if your boss has a pattern of not-great reactions to normal things, OP, you might just start looking at job postings to see what other opportunities are out there. Not saying this is a giant red flag or anything, just that it’s maybe a small, light yellow flag.

  22. Potatohead*

    That might be part of it. We have a total of 13 full-time people in Current Job, including the two owners. Old Job was larger, but still probably less than a thousand total. I’ve never worked for a true national or multinational company.

    1. CompanySize*

      On an unrelated side note, I find it amusing that you make 1000 employees your demarcation line. In my experience 20-30 is a small company and >200 starts behaving like a large company. This is separate and distinct from the enormous multinationals, of course.

      Carry on.

      1. Potatohead*

        I only picked a thousand because I have no clue what their actual headcount was. It was manufacturing with the factory that I worked at in OldState and their HQ/engineering campus in OtherState. Was definitely more than 200 though, so still a large company by your metric.

  23. Snow Globe*

    The company can only hire one person for each open position, so if they gave the tests to the top 3 candidates, it’s likely that everyone did well on the tests, but two didn’t get the job. (Still rude not to follow up with those candidates, though.)

  24. BBB*

    while unlimited sick time is ideal (assuming you’re actually allowed to use it without penalty) my work does the lump sum pto and I get to choose between sick or pto which I am a big fan of. my work has very generous pto, way more than 3 weeks, plus unlimited rollover, so I usually throw 5~10 sick days in the bank for the year for cold/flu season and doctor appointments. if I end up needing more sick time, I can use from the pto bank without an issue.

    ideally the company would keep the best of both aka 5 weeks pto plus unlimited sick. or, it might not be logistically possible for OPs company, but they could consider picking one option going forward for new hires but allowed existing employees to grandfather in and keep their preferred pto set up.
    if I went from 5 weeks of pto down to 3 weeks, I would be looking for a new job. unlimited sick time would not soothe the rage lol

  25. Bast*

    Re PTO: If I were offered just about either of those options I’d be thrilled. I realize that perhaps I’ve just worked at some stingy companies, but just about everywhere I go it has been 3 weeks (15 days) to include both sick and vacation.

    The ONLY hesitation I have about unlimited anything (sick or PTO) is that while it is *technically* unlimited, some companies make it impossible to use said sick time, or have unspoken rules as to how much is “too much” which only crops up when it is time for reviews or raises. I’ve read in multiple threads on here that when some companies say “unlimited” they will then turn around and say, “Well, Charlie, you took 7 sick days this year, which is just far too many, more than anyone else in your group. We question how dedicated you are, blah blah blah.” In theory, I’d love the idea of people just getting sick and taking time off and NOT having it come back to bite them in the butt later, but if this is going to be a “Sally gets a higher raise and is up for promotion because she has only taken 2 sick days, and Charlie’s on the lay off list because he took 7 sick days, which is entirely too many” situation, better to have a clear, assigned expectation.

  26. Lusara*

    I disagree on #2. Saying 15 days of vacation with unlimited sick time is better than 25 days of PTO means you think most people use 10 sick days a year or more. That isn’t anywhere close to my experience. What I’ve seen is if someone is taking that much sick time, it’s either for a one-off significant illness or surgery or such, or they have a chronic condition.

    If you do the 15/unlimited, people are just going to call in sick instead of scheduling a PTO day ahead of time. I understand the argument against a combined vacation/sick PTO bucket and I agree with it, and if the choice was 20 days of PTO instead of 25, I would agree with the 15/unlimited is a reasonable tradeoff. But converting 10 days of PTO into unlimited sick time is too much. JMO.

    1. JB (not in Houston)*

      I don’t know about “most,” but plenty of parents with young children could use 10 sick days a year easily.
      I use quite a bit of sick time myself, maybe not an entire 10 days, but probably at least 8, all for doctor’s appointments, and not for a serious condition, either (primary care doctor for an annual check up, ob/gyn and dermatologist once a year, twice a year appointments with allergist, plus any actual illnesses that pop up like the occasional sinus infection).

      1. No Tribble At All*

        I’ve been back from maternity leave for just over 3 months, my son is in daycare, and I’ve already used 10 sick days. Two of those days were food poisoning. The rest are from Precious Lil Tribble bringing home colds, pinkeye, and Covid. I have unlimited sick leave, and my husband is just getting out of leave debt from his paternity leave, so it makes sense for me to take sick days to watch Lil Tribble. And then I need sick days when I’m actually sick, because it’s impossible for an infant to not spread germs to you.

        It’s a whole other world with little kids. You get a huge surge of being sick when you first send them to daycare, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Very few babysitters will take on a job with a sick kid. Daycare has to send them home, and you have to stay home and watch them.

        1. Czhorat*

          I think some people forget that sick days are also for when your family is sick.

          In another comment I said that a limited sick-day policy is defacto age- and disability discrimination. It also discriminates against family status.

          1. OaDC*

            This varies by company. At my former employer they sent a VP out to lecture to people that sick time could not be used for sick kids. Yes, people could lie but a policy based on people lying is probably not the best.

            One bucket! Give the people their time and let them do with it what they want.

            1. Czhorat*

              Again, “One bucket” discriminated against people with either chronic illnesses or families having same.

              It might not be illegal discrimination, but it’s still inequitable.

              1. OaDC*

                It’s inequitable to give more time off to people with children vs people with other caregiving responsibilities.

        2. AVP*

          And then it’s like 36 hours before you can bring them back! If they throw up at school at 10am on a Monday, you can’t bring them back until Weds morning – that’s two sick days gone right there unless you can get some work done at home.

          (I would submit an early selfie I took as proof here if I could — me typing away on Slack with my sleeping, sick 18-mo on my shoulder.)

    2. Katy*

      But lots of people do have minor chronic conditions, and ten sick days adds up to one day out per month or less. That’s not really a huge amount.

      I’m a teacher and this school year I’ve had two colds plus covid, plus two or three days that I missed because of migraine. I worked through one of the colds but had to take two days off for the other, and I took two days off for covid. None of that is really out of the ordinary for a teacher; if anything, I’ve taken less sick time than I really needed because staying home is more trouble than it’s worth.

      1. Czhorat*

        Yeah, this comment really was “nobody needs more than 10 sick days except the people who do”.

    3. Jennifer Strange*

      means you think most people use 10 sick days a year or more. That isn’t anywhere close to my experience. What I’ve seen is if someone is taking that much sick time, it’s either for a one-off significant illness or surgery or such, or they have a chronic condition.

      If someone has children they can easily have to take 10 or more sick days.

    4. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      So it is close to your experience and you actually have seen it. You *personally* don’t need that sick time. Great! Be grateful for your health. Don’t punish others for not having your immune system though. People can’t control when they get sick or for how long. Nobody wants to be out of work for 3 weeks because they’re sick. And I guarantee you nobody wants to be unable to take a vacation because they’ve been sick all year. It’s cruel to create that situation.

      Also, calling out the strawman BS on “but then they will actually take PTO any time they want”. Cool, they should do that. That’s what it’s for. If it becomes a problem, then the manager would have a professional adult conversation about it. But refusing to provide a benefit out of a fear it will be abused is crap. You sound like you work in retail, where adults are treated like children.

      Try an abundance mindset instead of a scarcity mindset. Employees aren’t stealing from the company when they use their PTO. More PTO is better for everyone, including the company.

    5. Fluffy Fish*

      “What I’ve seen is if someone is taking that much sick time, it’s either for a one-off significant illness or surgery or such, or they have a chronic condition.”

      Well first off, those people definitely count as part of most people so I’m not sure why you’re putting them in this “other” category. The number of people who have chronic health issues is not a small number. The flu can take you out for a week. Then you have the dentist and doctor appointments.

      Then we have to talk about caregivers – they need leave not just for themselves but for their dependents. This also still disproportionately affects women.

      10 days sick is absolutely paltry.

      1. jasmine*

        Even if the number of people with chronic health issues was a small number, it wouldn’t be a reason to brush them aside. Minorities experiencing unfair disadvantages is the kind of thing we want to at least try to avoid.

      2. PotatoRock*

        I can definitely see why people would need more than 10 days, especially if it can be used for caregiving, but I have never seen a workplace where actually taking that much is okay, even when the policy is unlimited

        1. Dahlia*

          Say you get a kid. Three times a year, that kid gets sick. They’re sick for 2 days. They can’t go back to daycare until they’ve been fever free for 48 hours. That’s 4 days.

          You’ve never worked at a company where it would be acceptable for a parent to take care of their sick child 3 times a year?

          1. PotatoRock*

            No – everywhere I’ve worked (regular US office jobs) – they’d be expected to be burning their vacation on that too, or arrange some alternative (and yes, I know how hard that is), or find a new job. Or more realistically, work at 80% capacity from home those days and scramble at night to make it up. Honestly this is making me wonder if I’ve just worked at unluckily terrible places…

    6. Czhorat*

      Your privilege is showing.

      One doesn’t need more than 10 sick days in a year unless one does.

      I had Covid last year. That alone had me out for about six days.

      I’m over 50. A colonoscopy is an entire day. Before WFH was an option a dental cleaning or annual physical would have been a day each.

      An eye exam could be a whole day if they need to dilate your eyes.

      It all adds up.

      Lastly, while I don’t have a chronic illness I have a close family member who does. Taking them to a medical procedure is a full day. I have kids. Taking them to a medical appointment can be a half day at the least. Again, it adds up.

      Checking, I’ve taken 40 hours of sick time already this year, and it’s only May. I have another 8 scheduled next week for a routine medical procedure on myself.

      Not giving unlimited sick time can be defacto age- or disability discrimination. It might not be *illegal* age or disability discrimination, but it is nontheless.

    7. Yup*

      One of the things going freelance has taught me is that being allowed to work with a deadline in mind–as opposed to 8 hours a day–makes life and work so much easier. That means sick days, having a kid sick at home, going to appointments (no pediatrician or doctor has evening/weekend appointments!), and other errands no longer eat into work time but shift the work to fit with my schedule. Yes, there are rare times when I have to ask a client for an extension, but mainly I can wait to work in the evening when my spouse is home, work a Saturday morning if I had a week of doc appointments (or decide Friday is movie day!), or simply re-balance my workload to ensure everything gets done on time. My clients don’t care when I work–they just want good work handed in when they need it. It’s amazing what happens when you let employees decide how to get their work done.

      Because 10 days sick leave in a year is not nearly enough–if you’re a parent, if you have a chronic illness, if you get hit by flu/COVID, if you break a leg, if you have an ill parent, and the list is just endless. Not having had it happen to you is a poor basis for policy making.

    8. Bast*

      With Covid, it’s fairly easy to take 10 or more sick days a year, especially if you do not have the ability to WFH OR if you catch a particularly nasty strain of Covid that has you flat in bed (or in the hospital) for days. I’ve known plenty of people who have gotten Covid more than once in a year, and that’s not even counting other flus, viruses, injuries, etc that people tend to get. And as others have mentioned, if you have kids, or even a partner who brings something home that YOU in turn get… that’s even more exposure and likely even more sick days.

      In most companies I have worked in, and I am not sure if it is the same where you work, people do not use adequate amounts of sick leave because they are coming in to work sick. They are coming into work sick because of paltry amounts of PTO, and managers who encourage you to “toughen up” take an Advil and tough out the day, at the risk of everyone else’s health, and in some cases, the threat of job loss, lower raises, demotions, etc for “calling out too much.”

    9. Agnes*

      Can I point out there is an actual answer to this? I don’t know it, but companies collect data on the average number of sick days taken per employee. I presume it has a long tail, in that most working adults don’t take many sick days in the average year (working adults are by definition healthier than average), but will have a year here and there where they do take a lot, and there are a few employees who take a lot every year. That’s a particularly difficult distribution to manage, because if you set the max sick days based on the people who take the most, you’ll have people who see it as time off that they get take regardless of sickness, and if you set it at the mean or median, it will be too low for some people with genuine needs.

  27. Don't You Call Me Lady*

    For #2, having only two or three weeks vacation is pretty skimpy, so I can see how any change would be appealing. At least this way there’s a chance they could get a couple more weeks.

  28. Czhorat*

    For LW#1, don’t be too hard on yourself; you did fumble the ball, but it sounds like the move was handled very badly. There’s usually a project manager for things like this, a published schedule, and an overall plan. That plan isn’t usually “randomly assign the task of getting rid of furniture to a random employee with no oversight and hope they get it right”.

  29. sam_i_am*

    There’s a pretty glaring piece missing on the “sick vs vacation time” question. For many companies, remaining vacation time is paid out when you leave but remaining sick time is not. This tips the scale pretty heavily in favor of the “one bucket” approach being better for workers.

    1. Katara's side braids*

      For healthy, able-bodied workers. If you’re someone who actually needs to be out sick frequently, it’s pretty crappy to never be able to take an actual vacation. It’s disheartening to see those people’s needs get brushed off in these conversations.

  30. Hawk*

    LW 1: Like others have said, own up to your mistake, and when you do, tell your manager what you’ll do to prevent something from happening like that next time there is a long window for prep for something.
    (Personally I’m surprised that only one person was in charge of this and nobody double checked it, but that comes from working in a large government organization)

    LW2: As a chronically ill person who has a telework policy, unlimited sick leave is still my preference. Some days you just can’t work from home. I do wonder what the culture is at the new company — what is their telework policy? Do they have one but want everyone there regardless? That may have an impact on what you decide. My government org is weird and rolls unused “use or lose” vacation (vacation accrued over the amount you are able to carry over into a new year) into sick leave, which is awesome because to me at this point in my life, it is almost like unlimited sick leave with how much I’ve accrued and rolled over. Granted I should have taken more leave, but we also have a generous leave policy.

    LW3: Oh no. I can’t use our breakroom during the warmer months because our HVAC system works but makes a horrible whining noise. It has been reported to our facilities but they can’t fix it. Please don’t feel like that one comment from your boss means you have to stay indoors. Sometimes taking a break outside of your work building is so, so necessary for mental health. Also… your breakroom is also file storage? That seems like it’s not much of a “breakroom”.

  31. Garlic Microwaver*

    LW 2

    It’s true there is no good or ideal answer to this. What gets me about PTO, though, is that many companies have an accrual policy in place for employees, yet manager level and higher get the days frontloaded. Are we not all adults here? It’s so beyond insulting, it’s unreal. So it’s not only a bad look if you do get the flu in the first month of a new job, but you are also forced to basically never take time off and hoard days. Sadly, this is what I do, because I have a school-aged kid and a husband with some health issues. I am grateful for the WFH flexibility, but if I had more total PTO, I’d take more “pleasure” days.

    But I also do not agree with designating sick vs. vacation UNLESS the vacation bank is ridiculously generous, lest you force people to lie about being sick.

    There should be a new law: all qualifying employers required to give 35 “no-work” days, regardless of scenario, in addition to the holidays.

    It makes my blood boil when I hear people who get TWO WEEKS off. Like, how? I’d die.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      That’s actually almost exactly what my employer does — I have 35 days of PTO per year, to use as I see fit. (Ours includes the holidays, but as I am remote, I also have the option to work the official holidays and save the PTO if I want to, like I will be working Monday because I don’t have any other plans and taking off a random Wednesday in June to go get my hair done.)

    2. jasmine*

      Oh God, I hate accrual. I know it’s super common, but I hate it. I know people can technically ask to go into negative PTO anyways if they want to take a vacation in January or if something comes up, but then why are we even doing this

      1. Erica*

        I think the reason is so if you quit in February, they don’t have to pay out an entire year’s worth of vacation days. Which is reasonable as long as the employer is reasonable about letting people “go into the red”.

      2. Bast*

        I hate accrual (particularly when it goes by calendar year and not by anniversary date) because then managers complain when you have a bunch of people rushing to use time in November and December, and often, someone gets shorted their time. Other than the fact that these are popular times to take off, what do you expect when there are days that people won’t even have available to them until later on in the year? I’d much rather use all of my time in the spring and summer, but if some of my time isn’t available to me until late fall/early winter I don’t really have a choice to use it earlier.

    3. Noquestionsplease*

      I get 15 days vacation, 12 sick days, and every holiday in the book, plus things like the day before Thanksgiving and about a week between Christmas-New Years. I can carry over 10 days of vacation per year, but sick is use it or lose it. I’ve only taken all my sick leave once, and that was because my daughter was in the hospital twice during the year. I wish my employer had a sick bank where your unused sick time would roll over into a communal pool in case someone is really sick or needs more days for some reason.

  32. SickTime*

    As someone with chronic medical conditions requiring frequent medical care (not to mention having days when I am not functional), I loathe combined PTO. It means I don’t get non-sick time. When you take more than average sick time there’s an impression you are taking too much sick time and if you don’t have artificial levers like separately designated vacation time or expiring if you don’t use it bosses often won’t approve it.

    The best setup I ever had offered sick time (10 days which is fairly normal – most places here give 10 or 12), combined PTO (vacation and personal days, they were separate when I started and combined later), and holidays (mid range – more than the minimal 6 but not every single federal/state holiday). You started with 2 weeks vacation + 5 personal days (3 weeks PTO in the new system), got an extra week starting year 2, two more extra days starting in week 3, then an extra day per year up to 5 weeks vacation/6 weeks PTO. You couldn’t have more than either 3 or 4 weeks of PTO on the books at any given time so you had a lever to get time approved, even if only a day every pay period when you were hovering around the max.

    1. SickTime*

      Note: This somehow originally published on the previous post. I copied it and manually reposted it here.

    2. Cat Tree*

      I also have multiple chronic conditions so I’m with you. My company currently has unlimited paid sick leave, which is also used for any medical appointments, even preventive ones like dental cleanings. It feels so inclusive that I don’t have to chip away at my vacation time just to have my medical needs met. This is why inclusion programs are profitable for companies, because retention and engagement are drastically improved.

      We also get 25 vacation days, which is new this year. Basically, I’m not leaving this company before retirement unless they kick me out.

  33. Sneaky Squirrel*

    #3 – I’m one of those lucky people who never gets sick but I take a lot of vacations and personal days, so I prefer that my PTO is combined for vacation and sick time so that I have the flexibility to use it how I want.

    The idea of two to three weeks of paid vacation plus unlimited sick time doesn’t hold as much water to me as five weeks of PTO would. If that’s the way the company were leaning, I would want to understand what counts as sick time. What hurdles are there be to proving sickness? Will I need a doctor’s note every time I’m sick? Can I take a mental health day for myself or must I be sick? What if I just want to have a general physical or the dentist? For those who have kids, can they take a sick day to take care of a sick child?

    1. Red Canary*

      What hurdles are there be to proving sickness? Will I need a doctor’s note every time I’m sick? Can I take a mental health day for myself or must I be sick? What if I just want to have a general physical or the dentist? For those who have kids, can they take a sick day to take care of a sick child?

      I’m sure there are some companies out there that would be weird about this, because I have read AAM, but in my personal experience most employers don’t require doctor’s notes (because that would be completely ridiculous) and of course they allow you to use sick days for doctor’s appointments or for taking care of sick kids. That’s… totally normal. People may disagree about whether you should use a sick day for a mental health day, but in my experience it’s also totally normal to call in sick once in a while for that, and frankly I don’t think it’s any of your employer’s business.

      A combined PTO bucket means that people who have chronic conditions, or who have to stay home with sick kids, or who have other extenuating circumstances end up getting punished by not getting to take as much time off as their coworkers.

        1. Insert Clever Name Here*

          Except that the reason “vacation time” exists is because people need DOWN TIME. Staying home because I’m sick or because my kid is sick or because I’m in the hospital with my MIL after her stroke (or you’re with your elderly relative at a day full of medical appointments) is not the same as staying home while well to sit in the hammock with a good book and festive beverage.

        2. Red Canary*

          That’s completely disingenuous. I work somewhere that has a combined PTO and it’s honestly pretty demoralizing that my coworkers get to take multiple weeks off at a time to go on vacation, or to just decompress, while I *maybe* get a long weekend here or there because I used up my time off dealing with chronic pain. It’s not the same thing at all.

  34. T. Wanderer*

    #2 (PTO) – this sounds like me :) I recently just had my yearly checkin with CEO/CFO of NewCompany and mainly discussed how “15-20 days of PTO total” was both very difficult to manage, and disproportionately impacted people who can expect to need more sick days (like parents! of whom we have many!).

    I think my ideal would be minimum 4 weeks VACATION, and then a generous but not unlimited amount of SICK that also rolls over (which PTO at this company doesn’t currently do). A previous company also had “floating holidays”, which were a couple of non-rollover PTO days that I mainly used for non-federally-recognized holidays.

    1. TimeOff*

      Just FYI, I’ve never seen any company roll over sick time (government/education sometimes does) so that may be a big lift. It’s much more common to roll over vacation/PTO.

      1. sam_i_am*

        My workplace rolls both over. We have a cap on stored vacation time (22 days) and a very high cap on stored sick time (60 days).

      2. T. Wanderer*

        PreviousCompany (from which my team was acquired) did roll over sick time! I think there was a cap on how much you could have, but it was high.

  35. el l*

    Particular situation comment. I can see office cultures too where “unlimited” sick time is treated like “unlimited vacation” set ups. There’d be pressure which says to workers, “Do you really need this? Are your projects in order to take this off? Can we expect responses while you’re sick?” And so on.

    Say that because wonder whether the waves of office epidemics really were down completely to management not enforcing “stay home when sick.” Large share of workers err on the cautious side about coming in while sick, especially if there were no limit they’d have to obey.

    Also, general comment: Yep, PTO-vs-sick time is a “depends on who you are” proposition. Namely, how many days you expect or risk being sick every year.

    1. samwise*

      All the folks who are “I never need sick time” need to remember that virtually all of us are “temporarily able-bodied”. Even the young and healthy. It is to everyone’s personal advantage to have a good sick leave policy (and good affordable health care / insurance), aside from the ethical considerations.

      I work with college students. Even before the pandemic, you’d be surprised at how many young, healthy people become very ill, temporarily or permanently incapacitated, or disabled every year. And how many already are — often you can’t tell by looking at them.

      I myself ended up in the hospital in my 50s, needed many months of physical therapy, used a walker and was unable to drive for months — I wasn’t athletic, but I was very active, rely got sick, practiced yoga…all of which kept me from being incapacitated sooner. Thank god for decent insurance, not living in a medical care desert, lots of annual and sick leave, and a supervisor who said to use the leave as needed, here’s the FML info, of course you can work at home just make sure I know what you’re doing.

      1. Goldenrod*

        “All the folks who are “I never need sick time” need to remember that virtually all of us are “temporarily able-bodied”.”

        Yes, this is so true! We’re all mortal. And at some point in our lives, we are all disabled.

      2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        Each healthy person is only one accident or illness away from suddenly having a serious disability and/or chronic condition, requiring multiple sick days per year forever

  36. House On The Rock*

    My spouse and I work for different parts of a large, public university. I work for the hospital system, he works in administration on the academic side and we have different time off arrangements.

    I get a combined bucket of 32 days of PTO a year and he gets 24 days vacation plus 15 sick days a year. They accrue monthly and we have generous, but not unlimited rollover. Note that we are both at the highest rate due to seniority.

    Because we are childless Gen-Xers who both work from home, we don’t notice any difference. At this point my spouse would rather have all the time as PTO since he’s rarely sick enough to not work and uses those days for doctor’s appointments. However, when he did go into the office, he valued having a separate bucket of sick time for when he wasn’t up to going in. When I went into the office I was probably less likely to take a day off because I didn’t want to “waste” a vacation day.

    So for us, combined time is best but if we had kids or more medical needs I’d definitely want that separate number of days – especially if it was as generous as 15!

  37. PotatoRock*

    For “unlimited sick time”, I assume it’s like “unlimited vacation”; there is a practical limit that it will cause problems if you go over. I would pick 5 weeks single bucket if I had a choice in this system.

    Would there be any way to run the numbers – how many people on the dual bucket system actually took more than 5 weeks combined?

  38. LucyHoneychurch*

    “…two weeks of vacation is bare-bones level stingy” – YES! Why this is standard in so many places is just awful. Why do so many companies consider this generous?? I am even aware of companies that give ONE week vacation, and won’t allow their workers to take extra time, even if unpaid. Draconian!

  39. Nancy*

    Combined PTO also means employees will get paid any extra when they leave. And I know I would mot be happy with separate vacation and sick if it meant I was losing the number of vacation weeks I had before.

    I personally prefer combined PTO. I have separate buckets now but the combined vacation and personal days match the number of PTO days at my last job. So switching can work as long as people don’r feel they are losing a lot.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I also prefer the combined bank, especially when one can go into the negative by a few days.

      I’ve had too many peers over the years who maintained an informal goal of ending each year with zero sick days available–so the final quarter of the year was rife with mental health days and faux illnesses. The mindset of “it’s a benefit and you should use 100% of every benefit.”

      I’ve also had peers who use sick days for vacation fever (e.g. nominal vacation starts on Monday, call in “sick” on Thursday and Friday because their reservations start Thursday evening) and vacation hangover (e.g. nominal vacation ends on Friday, call in “sick” on Monday and Tuesday because they’re just leaving their destination on Monday). So they’re already trying to use days interchangeably–just without the benefit to the business of advanced scheduling.

      I feel strongly that, with a combined bank, employees should be able to go negative up to an entire paycheque; I find it cruel to force someone to cancel a scheduled (probably already-paid-for and/or irrefundable) vacation due to an illness that’s beyond their control. I’d even support someone getting extra days if they provide a doctor’s note to show the time off was due to illness and not just an impromptu personal day.

      I also feel strongly that PTO should not be “use it or lose it;” while the claim is that it forces the employee to take time, my experience is that it punishes the employees who show up reliably and cover others’ vacations and creates rushes to use up the PTO before it’s lost. Once again, it punishes those who step up to the plate and provides coverage–they’re the ones whose PTO gets confiscated. It should be paid out or rolled over.

      1. Bast*

        A few years back at Old Job we had a receptionist who had a lovely week long resort vacation that was booked and paid for months ahead of time. About 2 or 3 weeks before she is to go on vacation, she gets Covid and is out for a week. When she comes back, Boss becomes extremely agitated that she still planned to take her vacation anyway and put herself in the red, “I didn’t think you’d be leaving *AGAIN* so soon after you were just out for a week!” like she planned to have Covid. She did get to go on her trip, but she quit not shortly after. Attitudes about things like that don’t make people want to stay. I’m sure she didn’t choose to get Covid just to make life at the office hard for Boss, but she sure made her feel that way.

  40. ChargeThem*

    OP4, I have asked to be compensated for projects of that sort if part of an interview (at a lower than market rate, usually). It sometimes has the added benefit of placing some time constraints on the project. I only do this for specific assignments, not pick a topic and write a sample X.

    1. JFC*

      Same. One of my first job interviews included a small written project for an actual client. Since it was real work and not a sample test, I was paid the standard freelancer rate for it. Bonus: The client liked it enough that it was sent out into the real world and I was hired two days later.

  41. blah*

    For LW1, to me, part of owning up to a mistake doesn’t include the words “I don’t know what happened.” You DO know what happened! You didn’t have all the proper information and marked things to be removed that shouldn’t have been marked (and that’s not entirely your fault, sure, but it still happened).

    1. Lexi Vipond*

      Except that they appear to have repeatedly been told that the conference room was one of the rooms that they would no longer have – until they got there and found two.

      I’ve definitely had mistakes where I didn’t know what had happened before, and they’ve been the same kind of thing – I could swear I told person B that X was happening but they swear I told them Y, or I double checked yesterday that something was right, and today it’s wrong – things that really do feel as if the world has glitched.

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        Except that they appear to have repeatedly been told that the conference room was one of the rooms that they would no longer have – until they got there and found two.

        I don’t know that’s the case, though? It looks like they were shown which rooms were being removed, but they themselves admit they weren’t really paying attention in the meeting so it’s possible it was discussed there that the two conference rooms were being converted into one large one.

      2. blah*

        “Except that they appear to have repeatedly been told that the conference room was one of the rooms that they would no longer have – until they got there and found two.”

        You appear to have missed the part where I said they didn’t have all the proper information, like not realizing a conference room would still be there.

  42. M*

    I’m a government employee, and we have separate buckets for vacation, sick, and personal time because they have different rules about how much you can accrue and roll over year to year – it’s a little confusing to get the hang of but I do think it makes sense:
    -vacation: amount accrued depends on seniority/contract, can roll over 2 weeks at year-end
    -sick: everyone gets 12 days/year and you can accrue up to 120 days (can be used for parental leave, longer absences due to surgery or illness, etc)

    Vacation has to be paid out when someone leaves but sick time doesn’t here, so it limits that liability for the employer. It is a system based on people staying for a long time, which is less common than it used to be – I have advocated hard to try to get more paid parental leave for people who haven’t been working here 5+ years – but it’s not a bad system.

  43. Matt*

    I’m from Europe (Austria) and the concept of “sick days” is basically unknown here – we have a minimum of five weeks of dedicated “vacation” and basically unlimited sick time. The first few weeks or so of sick leave the employer has to pay you, then the mandatory health insurance takes over. It’s even so if you get sick during vacation the remaining vacation can be converted to sick leave so you get back vacation days.

    The downside of all this greatness is that we have a rather rigid system of needing doctor’s notes for any sick leave that takes longer than a few days – not only demanded by employers, but also by health insurance since they might have to pay your wage. So our doctor’s offices are full of people just needing doctor’s notes to get off work. (During Covid the doctor’s note by phone was allowed, but discontinued after the official pandemic ended, so the doctor’s waiting rooms are again crowded with people spreading their germs just to get a sheet of paper.)

    1. PotatoRock*

      Out of curiosity, how does it work in that kind of system if someone is out sick several days a month, every month – but just a few days at a time each time (under the threshold for it being paid out of social security benefits). American-me can’t imagine the company doesn’t find a way to put those people on the next layoff list

      1. Matt*

        Well, if the employer would find proof that one is not really sick, this would be a reason for firing – and of course attendance is an issue for determining who gets promoted, who stays where they are and who gets laid off, als anywhere else.

  44. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

    Let me blow your mind, LW 2. You are essentially creating a new company out of 2 previous companies. So instead of the false binary of “choosing” one of the structure already in place, you could set up a whole new structure!

    5 weeks vacation and unlimited sick time sounds like a great, employee-centered policy. You will attract tons of talent when word gets out that your merger created a better company than what existed before.

  45. jasmine*

    > The more generous you can be in plotting out vacation minimums, the better this will go.

    This is the real key

  46. Observer*

    #1 – Furniture.

    Fortunately you didn’t do anything disastrous. But it will affect your reputation, and deservedly so. Going immediately to your boss, with some solid estimates on what it would cost to get the furnishings replaced, and making no excuses is your only way to get though this.

    Sure, they should have had some more over-sight. But do you REALLY want your boss to start micromanaging you, or not trusting you when you say you’re dealing with something? You admit that you didn’t pay enough attention to the information you were given at the meeting. Nor did you do the most basic thing you could and *should* have done, which is to ask for a floor plan. And, yes, you should have been given one without needing to ask. But that does not excuse your failure to ask for one.

    So come to your boss with a plan. And *also* make a plan for avoiding these kinds of unforced errors.

  47. Yup*

    LW#1 is kind of confusing. You admit to not paying attention to the one meeting in which details were apparently given, and then basically… winged it?

    Definitely own up to this and see how you can fix it. The company may have needed more structure around this, but it does sound like you were put in charge, which kind of means you had to make sure the structure and all info was in place. Plus you seem to have had a while to put it all together but waited until the last minute when the construction was green-lighted to actually start the process. Sounds like a combo of lack of preparation and confusion about responsibility.

  48. Tammy 2*

    OP3 – it may not matter too much depending on what your company does/how long you have to keep your records, but temperatures that high are not recommended for a file room. It kind of sounds like this is not likely to sway your boss into thinking the HVAC upgrade wasn’t just for your benefit, but at least it’s an angle.

    More importantly, you are entitled to comfortable work spaces (and who is working in that area when someone needs to retrieve or work with files? Probably not your boss!) and to do and go where you like on your break time.

  49. Erica*

    “If this means people who used to get five weeks of vacation under MediumBiz’s policy (because they rarely got sick) are suddenly only getting three, those people are going to feel they got a paycut.”

    As someone for whom vacation time is more important than salary (to a point, obviously – but that point is pretty low) if I used to get let’s say 4 weeks vacation allowing for some sick time, and am now getting 2, I’d start looking for another job IMMEDIATELY.

    1. Yup*

      This. My spouse currently has 4 weeks (plus 2 at Christmas) and is going up to 5 next year. It is precious, precious family time and we use it to travel. We work our family expenses and spending around this time off. Take that away and there is just no way this very high priority in our life is going to fall down the list for the sake of keeping this one job.

    2. Bast*

      This is a fair point. If current employees are not grandfathered in, or some arrangement is not made, expect to lose some people. If I felt my PTO were being cut (though it isn’t high to begin with) I’d start looking.

  50. ILoveLllamas*

    OP#1 – Call the removal company immediately and see if you can reclaim some of the furniture. There is a chance that they haven’t disposed of it and might be trying to resell it. It could be the least expensive solution. Also, when you are talking to your manager about the situation, you can explain to your manager that you tried to remedy your mistake. Good luck!

    1. KKR*

      Great idea!! If OP can it might help to price out the needed furniture from a few sources (new and used) so they are saying hey, this is the issue, this is what we tried, here are the potential solutions. Other branches of the company might have furniture that they are trying to get rid of

  51. KKR*

    I don’t mind combined PTO as long as it actually includes sick time. My job does a combined bank but it is only 2 wks with the expectation that if you miss work due to a doctors appt or illness that you use the PTO or flex your time to make up your hours. If you’re just sick and can’t make up the hours (or get sick towards the end of the week) then that’s cutting into your potential vacation time. It’s cheap on the company’s side and it leaves very little time to really rest.

  52. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

    Not sure how it works in private industry, but as a Federal employee the advantage of separate sick and annual leave was that the sick leave would accrue without limit, whereas annual leave was capped at a max 240 hours carryover from year to year.

  53. Aeryn*

    The PTO thing is interesting to me. I’ve been at my big, multinational company for 20 years now, so I get 6 weeks of PTO. We have unlimited “use it, don’t abuse it” sick leave. Short-term disability starts on the 8th consecutive day of absence but most people, if suffering from something like the flu, sinus infection, or pneumonia, will “work from home” one day in order to reset the sick time clock! lol We also get three weeks of caregiver leave, so we don’t have to burn PTO taking kids or parents or a spouse to medical appointments, or when kids get sent home from school sick. I think we get all the US holidays except Juneteenth, Columbus Day, and Veterans Day, but we do randomly get off the day after Thanksgiving.

    1. Knittercubed*

      I’m retired but one of my first major jobs had a “no time off for one calendar year” policy. Not a single sick day, personal day or vacation day. It was in the mid 90s but I remember being so stressed that I’d need to go to the dentist or something.

      I took it out in trade though….3 weeks after I was fully vested for pension, I quit. They were so angry.

      1. Bast*

        One of my old jobs had a policy like that. And this was in the mid 2010s, so fairly recently.
        It was ridiculously unrealistic to believe that no one would ever get sick, have an emergency, or just need a day off to freaking relax, especially since it was a very high stress, low pay place, and definitely not worth it, however, the environment was very much one of “unless you’re dying in a hospital bed, calling out sick means you aren’t dedicated enough” type of places.

  54. The Rural Juror*

    I work for a company that offers employees who have been at the company less than 5 years (which includes me) 15 total PTO/sick leave. I end up watching my PTO like a hawk and I’m hesitant to take off willy nilly. Plus, we don’t get any “bank” holidays. Until last year, we only got 1/2 day off for Christmas Eve!
    Fortunately, we don’t have to stick to 8-5 very strictly, and we are hybrid WFH/in-office, so I can be out for a couple of hours for an appointment and make it up in the evening.
    Even with that flexibility, it still sucks to contemplate if I SHOULD use PTO or make up the time in off hours. I’ve worked at home several times when I was sick, which is nice to be able to do, but I really should have taken the time to really rest and get better.

    I don’t hate the system of the combined bucket, but only offering 2 or 3 weeks (10-15 days) is pretty crappy. If they were more generous, it would make the system more kind to workers who are at real risk for major burnout (like most of my colleagues) or those will health conditions to take care of.

    1. Bast*

      15 days PTO has been the norm at most of my jobs too (combined sick and vacation). I argued with HR multiple times that it encouraged people to come in sick, especially when they started to crack down on WFH. She was adamant that it did not, it just encouraged people to determine if they were “actually sick” or not. WFH there used to not be a big deal if you were sick, but the last few months I was there it suddenly became a big deal for no reason other than the need to micro manage. This completely changed the environment, as people started coming in with just about anything to protect their paltry time off, and of course, everyone else would get sick too. HR, meanwhile, took way more than 15 days off a year, but would deny doing so. “I manage to do just fine with 15 days, so you can too!” I hoarded my time under that, because 15 days was never enough. We, too, were expected to make up time off for doctor’s appointments and the like.

  55. Cubefarmer*

    Re LW #4, I recently removed myself from a search process that was taking forever (2+ months to fill a vacant position, after it had already been vacant for five months.) The search process up to that point was sloppy, to say the least, and I was already getting a bad feeling. But, I had been through three interviews (Including an initial interview screen with the search firm–completely useless from my POV, because the firm’s reps couldn’t answer any of my questions.)

    During this process, however, I was unexpectedly offered a promotion within my current organization, to a role that I have long coveted (so, like, dream-job territory.) Of course, I took it! Because I assume that I had been a finalist for the other job, and I wanted to be professional, I immediately wrote a brief email to the search firm “Thanks, but please remove me from the process, I was offered another role that I think will be a better fit for me. Good luck as the search process continues.” I heard not one word back. Not even a simple, “Thank you for letting us know, best of luck.” That takes, literally, 30 seconds.

    I think employers are sometimes shocked when applicants and new hires be as self-serving as the employers themselves have long felt entitled to do. Maybe I should have strung them along, possible gotten an offer, taken a day to think about it and then said, “Um, no, not the right fit.”

  56. Albatross*

    For #2, my employer (state government) actually allows you to choose. You can either get what works out to 16.5 days of all-purpose leave per year or 10.5 days of vacation plus 12 days of sick time (at my level; it increases as you get higher up). I went for “all in one bucket”, because my job is primarily WFH flex-scheduling and can be done as long as I can use a laptop for eight hours of the day, but I know some co-workers who have more field work or need more dedicated sick time went the other way. I don’t know how difficult that is on the HR/payroll computer back end, but if it’s an option, it does seem to be the best of both worlds because it lets everyone choose which one they prefer.

  57. Specks*

    From a capitalist perspective, a bucket probably makes sense. I know for a business it probably doesn’t matter whether it’s sick or vacation time — it’s a day they have to pay for but don’t get labor — but as someone with a chronic condition it matters a great deal. I think that thankfully as a society we’re moving more and more towards recognizing that different people have different needs, valuing what people who are different have to offer, and accommodating that instead of treating those who are most “standard” and healthy and unencumbered as most valuable. It sucks to be sick in the first place, but having a “bucket” feels like the healthy people are benefitting from more vacation/recharging/fun time; and that makes me feel like they’re more valued. It’s not all logical: you could say that I’m “benefiting” from more sick time… but it’s just not the same kind of fun, bonus benefit and feels almost like another accommodation. So from a “disabled and chronically ill people have value too and they’re not at fault for being sick” perspective, it’s separate sick and vacation days all the way.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Yes, it’s depressing to read all the comments from people saying that because THEY are healthy and never need more than a few sick days per year, then a combined bucket is the right way; it’s a complete dismissal of those with chronic conditions or disablities who need a ,
      lot of sick days.

      AAM is normally inclusive, but apparently not when the able-bodied think they can gain something.

      1. Bast*

        I think for many as well (myself included) a generous all inclusive bucket is generally see as better because many companies use the word “unlimited’ as a trap. If I could insert that meme, “that word… I do not think it means what you think it means” here, I would. Just from reading the comments section in different AAM posts, it seems that sadly, while many companies SAY unlimited PTO or unlimited sick, there are often underlying expectations for what “unlimited” really means… and it isn’t truly unlimited. I’d rather have X number of days knowing that I have X number of days than have an “unlimited” number of days, and get penalized because I take Y number of days when employer thinks it should really only be X. If unlimited TRULY means that, and someone is not going to be punished for using the policy, so be it, then I agree that it is better, but it seems to often come with being expected to read the manager’s mind as to what is an “acceptable” level of “unlimited.”

    2. PotatoRock*

      Out of curiosity, for people with chronic illness, would you prefer something like : 3 weeks vacation + 2 weeks sick time, over 5 weeks single bucket? (Are buckets preferable even when the total time is the same – or is it more that you have more total time under most 2-bucket systems when you need a lot of sick time)

  58. Henry Division*

    LW4: My industry also regularly has “edit tests” that often feel like unpaid work. There’s been a push in the industry to reform this, either by getting rid of them, making them very short, but my favorite solution is paying people for doing them (presumably you’d only have 2-3 candidates doing the test). It might be worth talking to other people in your field about how to push back. My industry has a couple of organizations that annoyingly don’t do very much :/ but I know some people have had success in reforming other parts of the industry, so worth a shot.

  59. Mango Freak*

    Still mad at the DEI training non-profit that ghosted me after TWO skills tests.

  60. unlimited PTO can go well!*

    My company does unlimited PTO and 2 weeks of sick time. I really like it and it seems to work pretty well. There were pitfalls with the “unlimited PTO” scheme like folks not knowing how much they “should” take, but then leadership cleared it up a bit. They want everyone to take at least 3 weeks of vacation per year (not sick). Above that, there may need to be some additional scrutiny/approval, but they genuinely want to be flexible. I had a coworker just take off for four weeks for her combined wedding and honeymoon. She needed to have the request reviewed by leadership to make sure everything was staffed properly, but it is pretty cool she was able to do that!

    I think one crucial point with having a policy like this is that you cannot have a lean staffing structure– you have to have redundancies and extra bandwith available for when folks are out.

    1. Bast*

      I like hearing that there is a success story with unlimited PTO. This goes to show some companies really do care about a good work/life balance for their employees; I wish more followed this example!

  61. nutella fitzgerald*

    My question for LW 1 is (sincerely, not snarkily): did you have different expectations for how this would go? It seems like the approach of just guessing, without having a clear idea of the floor plan, could have gone wrong in several ways and was basically setting up for a Lady or the Tiger situation with about 9 Tigers and only one Lady. I think some kind of explanation of what the LW had in mind for the ideal result would be helpful for their manager to hear so they could have some understanding of the initial thought process.

  62. Fez Knots*

    LW #3: I’ve written so many drafts of a similar letter to AAM about test/project rounds and whether they’re ethical.

    My partner and I are both freelance writers and editors who manage our own businesses and we’ve had to set firm boundaries on these rounds not only because of the ghosting, but because of idea theft! Several years ago, my partner had two companies take the work he performed in a hiring test round and use it on their socials without his permission (no they didn’t hire him or compensate him). From there, we have only performed test rounds if they’re on completed campaigns to prevent this. Potential employers are generally okay with this and if they’re not, it says something about them.

    Second, I always ask if a project/test round is paid. This is increasingly more common, but I always want to ask. If a project/test round is unpaid and would take time away from other client work or, honestly, time I would take to apply to other roles, I turn it down. It took me a LONG time to be comfortable doing that, but it not only protects my time and places value on my work but it protects my sanity! No more free labor, for anyone, ever!

    Because, third, companies and clients who require long, unpaid test rounds are being disrespectful to potential hires. Not because they’re these monstrous employers, but because they’re sending a message that they don’t value your time, and are willing to judge you on incomplete work (rather than refer to your portfolio, which features completed work). They need to update their hiring policies or pay folks for their time.

    My partner is more senior in our field than I am, and they’ve started to push back against completing project rounds at all. Their reasoning is valid, in that test work isn’t indicative of their best work and if it’s unpaid, it often delays the hiring process further. I support this and hope I’ll have enough seniority (and quality portfolio work!) to do it myself in the future.

    And ghosting in general is a horrible practice, but ghosting after a project round is particularly egregious. I make sure to tell all contacts who ask or if a brand comes up in networking conversations that that’s how I was treated during the hiring process.

    Stay strong, lol!

  63. Red Wheel Barrow*

    I agree with everyone saying that LW#1 needs to take responsibility for their choices about the furniture, but I also feel sympathy for the horror of their predicament. Yes, they absolutely should have planned much better and much earlier; it sounds as if they were avoidably careless about something that required care. But I can totally imagine getting overwhelmed by having to manage this kind of big organizational task alone and without training, putting it off/half-assing it because I didn’t know how to approach it, and waking up from my avoidance into a nightmare of missing furniture! So, yeah, a bad mistake, but one I can (with a shudder) imagine myself making.

  64. Greenfordanger*

    Genuine question here. Is there not legislated paid sick time and vacation time in the States? In Canada you would not be able to combine the two unless the combination met the minimum legislated standards for both types of leave.

    1. PotatoRock*

      No, there is no mandated vacation/sick time in the US at a federal level. A few states have mandated paid sick time; and a federal law offers up to 12 weeks mandatory UNPAID sick time under certain circumstances (FMLA leave)

  65. Resentful Oreos*

    All these tests, “trial projects,” and so on seem to be issues in very competitive fields where employers can pick and choose and make their prospects jump through hoops, because if you don’t want to, there is a line out the door of people who *are* willing.

    And some employers are still stuck in the 2010 Great Recession mentality where job applicants should abase themselves for the possibility of any job because there are 500 applicants.

  66. IdSignUp*

    yes. because it means I can take actual time off for things non-medical. When I’ve had that setup (which is close to my most common leave setup) I had to work hard to manage the sick time and used flexible working hours to not use sick time for most medical appts, but there wasn’t an expectation I save all my time for medical stuff. When I have a combined bucket I end up holding all or nearly all time for sick because there’s a greater expectation from employers that you don’t run out and more blame of mismanagement if you do. Plus it’s harder to get time off for non-stick things approved because you’re actually *gasp* using sick time. I once threatened to quit a job to get a single non-sick day off after 6 months of working there because I already took more time off than they wanted for medical reasons.

  67. Dancing Otter*

    Regarding #2, about combined or separate/unlimited sick leave.

    There seems to be general consensus so far that employees with chronic health conditions are disadvantaged by the single bucket approach.

    Might there be a discrimination concern there, going on “disparate impact” analysis? Older people and people with disabilities are more likely to have those kinds of chronic health conditions and need more sick time, right? Yes, young and fit people can be injured, but generally, yes?

    And while business lobbyists keep pushing to roll them back, there are laws against age discrimination and disability discrimination.

    So employment policies that statistically and predictably put employees at a disadvantage based on those protected characteristics should be legally as well as ethically wrong.

    IANAL, but am I misunderstanding something here?

  68. Kyriebelle*

    Regarding #2, about combined or separate/unlimited sick leave.

    Depending on the state you’re in, any accrued vacation time must be paid out upon separation of employment as wages earned, while accrued sick time is not. That could be a reason why a company might separate the two.

  69. Eucerin*

    I’m really not trying to pile on LW1 but were there NO other phone calls, drop-by conversations, email threads, etc about the move at all?

Comments are closed.