my office hosts a regular “Drinky Day,” employee pressured a client to hire her son, and more

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

1. My office has a regular “Drinky Day”

Every Thursday afternoon, the CEO at my job hosts “Drinky Day,” where he and/or other employees bring in beer, wine, hard liquor, etc. This is a mandatory meeting where we “debrief.” We do work that’s adjacent to addiction issues, and it can be stressful. When I interviewed for this position, this “debrief” was described as a time to support each other since our work is exhausting in so many ways.

I hate this meeting. It makes me so uncomfortable because there is no “debriefing.” It’s just the full-time employees sitting at our desks in our shared office space while they drink and ramble on about nothing relevant and I watch the clock. Even if no one is talking or if they are rambling on about nonsense, the CEO keeps us until 5pm (often later). I get the impression that he loves this event and talks about it often and even had us come to his house to drink last week. I do not drink at work. While it’s nice that the director wants us to socialize, having a drinking party at work every week is extremely uncomfortable for me.

I want to tell him that I do not want to participate in this any more. I would rather be able to go home and complete some additional work at home, or be allowed to work in the office without everyone drinking. How do I tell him that I do not want to participate?

Oh jeez. I suspect this started as a real meeting, or at least as a reasonably legitimate way for people to process difficult work, and then got alcohol added to it, and now is being used as the CEO’s personal social outlet.

Do you know where your other coworkers stand on it? If you can find a few who feel as you do, you could push back as a group — saying that the meetings aren’t useful to you and you’re not comfortable with drinking at work, and asking that they be made explicitly opt-in rather than mandatory.

But otherwise, try saying this to your boss: “I’d like to opt out of the Drinky Day meetings. I’m not comfortable being around drinking at work and I’d prefer to use the time working on my cases. Can I excuse myself going forward?” (Or even, “I’m going to excuse myself going forward and wanted to give you a heads-up.”)

A decent manager will be okay with this. Hell, a decent manager will hear this and realize he erred in not considering that some people might feel this way (or that even if everyone liked it at first, eventually someone would be hired who didn’t — or someone who might be in recovery). But I don’t know if you have a decent manager or not, so you’ll need to factor in what you know about your boss. Is he likely to be personally offended and see this as you declining to be part of the team? If so, you’ll have to calculate how much of a hit to your political capital it’s likely to be, especially as a new employee, and how much you care and whether you’d be better off just working through these meetings (since you said everyone’s at their desks for them) and trying to tune them out as best as you can — but it’s ridiculous that you have to make that calculation.

2. Was this plan for a four-day work week bad?

I wanted to see if this plan for a four-day work week sounds as strange to you as it did to me. This was a few years ago, and Covid and remote work kept it from actually going into effect.

I was working for a tech company of a few hundred, and the policy about to go into effect was for everyone to work four days a week, and have either Friday or Monday off. Sounds great so far, the days are even still eight hours! However, everyone was to be given weekly goals that must be met by Thursday/Friday in order to get your day off, or you must come in the day you’d otherwise have off. You might also need to come in based on company and team needs at managers’ discretion. This was to be applied across the whole company. Everyone would be paid for 40 hours a week whether they worked four or five days.

I was on a coverage-based team, answering customer requests. We had enough people to avoid stress if no one was out sick or on vacation, but someone always was. This would also leave us with half coverage for customers on Friday/Monday. Part of our income was based on monthly goals and some months there just weren’t enough requests to hit those goals and get your full pay, so I saw weeks being similar. On top of that, our coverage-based department usually needed half of us to work on company holidays already, so I didn’t think half of us on two normal weekdays would work out.

I felt alone in being skeptical. Everyone else was totally stoked! I saw myself unable to make plans for a day I wasn’t sure I had off, and getting angry every time I find out the day before that I don’t get it off, and stressing about goals more than needed through the week.

There was at least an option to opt-out, which I was taking, and you could only change it once a year. Once I shared the above views with some coworkers, some changed their mind as well — figuring better to just know you’re working than to have hopes crushed about it. However, I was also worried that if everyone else did end up getting their day off all the time and I opted out, I’d be angry about that as well, unable to change for a year. It seemed like a recipe for stress, low morale, and animosity to me, even if I could try to avoid those things myself. Was this the bad news like it sounded to me?

Well, it was tricky for your team’s specific set of circumstances.

I can see what the company was thinking: “Hey, let’s give everyone a shorter work week, with the understanding that sometimes business needs will need to take priority. This is meant to be a perk and we don’t want anyone to feel demoralized when occasionally we need them five days, so we’ll structure it in a way that lets everyone know up-front what could require that.”

It sounds logical! And for a fully-staffed department that wasn’t coverage-based, or for one that already wasn’t meeting its monthly goals with a five-day week, it might have worked beautifully. But those two factors made it a difficult fit for your team — and that makes it more complicated for the company as a whole.

That said, I don’t see any reason to opt out; if you were bothered by the uncertain nature of it, you could have left those days open and then enjoyed the surprise free day off if you ended up not being needed. (In fact, I think it’s odd that they even suggested people could opt out; if they didn’t offer you anything in exchange for opting out, there’s no advantage to refusing extra time off just because you couldn’t plan around it.)

3. My employee pressured a client to hire her son

One of my employees made a delivery to a client. While making the delivery, she brought up how her son tried to go to an open interview at one of the client’s locations and the location didn’t have any open interviewing happening at the time. My client said that it happens all the time.

My employee then sent an email letting her know her son’s name and a list of preferred locations that he would want to work at.

I feel like this was highly unprofessional on her part. This is a longtime client and my employee has only talked to this client two or three times in the two years she has worked here.

Yes, it was unprofessional and inappropriate. She used the access that she’d been given for work purposes to try to lobby a client for a personal favor for a relative, and probably annoyed the client in the process.

The initial overture was sketchy — maybe in a certain light you could see it as an attempt at networking — but the follow-up email crossed a clear and bright line.

How is this employee’s judgment normally? If it’s generally fine, just talk to her about why that was inappropriate and that she can’t use access to clients for personal gain. If this is part of a pattern of judgement issues, it’s a sign that you’ve got a bigger problem you need to address.

4. How do we decide which donations to match?

I’m on a committee in my medium-sized company that has been tasked with drafting a policy around donation matching. My company is impact driven and has strong values around inclusivity and corporate responsibility. We already offer volunteer days, with no restrictions on what counts as volunteering. However, with donation matching, we’re considering adopting some guidelines around which organizations we give our money to. How do we balance allowing enough discretion for our teams to support causes they care about, but also ensure we don’t contribute to organizations that actively perpetuate harms? Also, my committee is skewed pretty young and progressive, so I’m worried that we might adopt a policy that only allows donation matching on causes that align with that perspective.

It’s pretty typical for donation matching programs to allow most 501(c)(3) organizations to be eligible, often with an exclusion for religious organizations. You can also include language saying you won’t provide funding to any organization that discriminates based on race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin or that espouses hate. Beyond that, most companies leave it pretty broad.

Be aware, though, that would mean matching donations to a very wide range of organizations — including groups with quite controversial stances. Some companies solve that by limiting the categories of organizations that are eligible — limiting it to, for example, educational institutions, arts and cultural organizations, environmental organizations, and direct service charities — although participation tends to be lower if you have a very limited list of qualifying organizations, since employees want to support the causes that are important to them. So ultimately it depends on what the company’s goals are with the program.

5. Order of degrees on a resume

I have a doctoral degree in a healthcare field, but I’m going back to school for a master’s in computer science with the goal of shifting towards a career in health tech. When I list my education on my resume, should the doctoral healthcare degree stay at the top due to being the highest degree, or should the master’s in CS get listed first due to being the most recent? Or should the order change depending on the job I’m applying for and the relevancy of each degree?

List the most recent first.

That said, like all resume rules, this is flexible if doing it differently would strengthen your candidacy for a particular job.

{ 380 comments… read them below }

  1. vito*

    Re: #3,

    Why do I have the feeling that the kid’s name will be put on the Do NOT hire list.

    1. Cheshire Cat*


      And I might talk to the client and explain that the employee was out of line, to reassure them that it won’t happen again.

      1. Elitist Semicolon*

        In my headcanon, the employer is a nationwide professional services company (like, say, a tax firm) and the son in question is 45.

      2. Observer*

        And I might talk to the client and explain that the employee was out of line, to reassure them that it won’t happen again.

        Very much this. Because if I were on the receiving end of this kind of communications, I would be having a VERY SERIOUS conversation. And it would not be with the LW, but with my boss. And we would be discussing moving to a new vendor. I might then ask the Manager about how they intend to deal with it going forward. But, depending on what they provide us, I might not.

        If the Manager came to me and and told me that they realize that this was a major over-step and indicated what they are doing to keep this from happening again, I would take that as a good sign. Otherwise….

        1. Craig*

          in surprised the initial overture is sketchy. I might say oh my son/friend whatever applied here as small talk during the delivery. But the email egads no.

      3. ferrina*

        Yeah, if I were the OP I would definitely be doing damage control with the client. And also encourage the client to come to me with any concerns or if the issue arises again. And make it clear to the employee that if this ever happens again, she is gone.

    2. Roy*

      Because while it is a normal networking technique for higher-ups, it is considered uncouth for lower-downs to engage in it.

  2. Nodramalama*

    For LW1 I come from an office culture where happy hours and after work office drinks on Fridays are very common place.

    And even I think making what sounds essentially like an office happy hour, a mandatory meeting, very weird.

    1. coffee*

      Even without the drinking, it’s a mandatory two-hour meeting on a Friday with no outcomes, and now it’s also turning into going to another location too so you’ve got an extra commute to get to the meeting? I like a work social event and I’m still recoiling.

      The drinking has its own problems again.

      Also if this is the only support, it’s concerning. Like handing someone a balloon instead of a lifejacket then tossing them into the ocean.

      1. Lea*

        I like a work social event but two hours is a really long time!. Like is there food? Cause two hours drinking without food has its own

        Maybe they could suggest a monthly event instead, or a shorter one, or bring Mocktails or something??? Ask for an agenda? Idk

      2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        I don’t think the drinks at boss’ house are in place of Friday Drinky Day, I think they are in addition to.

        I think Boss wants someone to drink with so she can call it socializing instead of drinking on the job. 2 hours every Friday where no one can leave and invites to come over for drinks. Boss found a way to destress that is probably not very healthy.

      3. Elitist Semicolon*

        I wonder whether the other location – e.g. the boss’s house – is a sign that the boss recognizes that the drinking is problematic given their clientele and cares enough to avoid being caught, but not enough to cancel the “meeting” outright?

        1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          I think the other location is an opportunity for the boss to do more drinking, she just calls it socializing in order to jsutify it.

          1. XF1013*

            Yeah, that was my thought too. Drinking at her house means that she doesn’t have to drive afterwards.

            1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

              Boss is not considering if she has to drink and drive. Boss just wants another excuse to drink.

      4. New laptop who dis*

        Reading all of the objections makes me realize how inappropriate my previous work environments have been. Almost every job I’ve ever had (agency world) has been SO boozy.

        Knocking off work at 3 on Friday to sit around and shoot the breeze over a couple of beers seems totally normal to me, and is pretty low key compared to a lot of the alcohol-fueled work shenanigans I’ve witnessed over the years.

        I agree that there’s a lot of liability and exclusionary behavior around all of it, and that it’s inappropriate in general. It’s just so normalized to me!

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I think there are a couple of exacerbating factors here. The first is that it’s a mandatory meeting framed as having a work purpose. (I’m guessing that if everyone stopped working at 3pm on Friday at one of your past workplaces, that means that it was considered the end of the workday and people could leave at that point if they wanted to.) The second is that LW says they sometimes drink hard liquor during the mandatory 2-hour meeting, which is sounding less like “socializing and there’s also alcohol” and more like “alcohol and there’s also socializing”.

        2. JustaTech*

          For a while some folks at my work did this (actually they played beer pong with water while drinking some kind of alcoholic beverages), but it was *optional* and very much *not for senior managers*.
          It was also a thing people did because they were done working. It was strictly social, no one got drunk and generally a good time was had. I’d call it low on the scale of not-appropriate work behavior.

          Having it be a boss-directed event that is called a meeting? Nope.

    2. Your Mate in Oz*

      I’ve worked at companies that do this, but they’ve always made allowances for non-drinkers. Either by making the event genuinely after work/letting people go home early, or by picking locations where there’s more to do than just use alcohol and wait for it to be over. Making it mandatory AND alcohol-based is weird and feels wrong to me.

      In one company this was as simple as going to the outdoor “garden” part of a nearby bar and ordering food, with the explicit instruction that people could get a drink or a food item on the company, but not both. Company bought various shared ‘bar food’ items too.

      If cannibis is legal where LW1 works maybe bring some in and see if that causes a policy change :)

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah, but even if there’s good options for non-drinkers, it sounds like OP just doesn’t want to do these meetings where other people are getting tipsy, and doesn’t find them useful or productive; I’d focus on the optional part of it most.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          OK but skipping it may not be a good idea either if it’s access to the boss and general relationship building for at least 5% of the working week. Isn’t this a version of “promotions are decided on the golf course” but the success criteria are based on how amusing you are when tipsy?

          It’s a bad setup and I hope boss realises.

        2. What_the_What*

          Yeah everyone seems so focused on the drinking, which .. meh, if it’s 1 or 2 per person WHILE working, *shrug*, but I’m with the OP in that I’d be annoyed it’s mandatory, I don’t drink AND it’s worthless productivity wise. It’s the “this meeting is not useful” that would bother me the most. I’d encourage her to opt out. “I find the drinking and social chatter distracting, and since I don’t drink, I’d like to focus on finishing my tasks for the day; is that ok?” Focus on the lack of meaningful discussion and not the drinking.

      2. Admin 22*

        The company is opening themselves for legal charges or lawsuits if someone leaves tipsy or drunk and has an accident injuring another individual. If the company has a legal office it might be a good idea to mention this to them.

      3. NurseThis*

        My last workplace was like that but having events in a bar and then saying “you can play darts!” is kind of disingenuous to me. I am a non-drinker and don’t enjoy bars or being around drunks.

        I am of the opinion that alcohol really doesn’t have a place in office culture. It’s not fun or charming to those with a known addiction or don’t drink for religious reasons.

        1. Autumn*

          I do drink, but I’m super strict about not drinking and driving. I also dislike not drinking among people who are imbibing. I can deal, but it’s just no fun.

          I also have personal boundaries about drinking in front of my assorted managers. While it varies person to person, it’s kind of a danger zone in my eyes. I can put my foot in my mouth quite readily when sober, add alcohol? Eeeesh, no, thanks! That’s why I would hate the “mandatory” nature of this and I find it very sketchy.

          I would want to remove either the alcohol or the mandatory part, whichever is easier to ditch. If I was ever put in a management position I would never set something like this up. Maybe a real debrief with a professional facilitator one a month and when something heavy happens, and if folks wanted a debrief from the debrief that’s on them to set up.

    3. I can read anything except the room*

      Yeah, at my last nonprofit office there was a version of this, but it started at 4, not 3; it was staged in a conference room, not a workspace area; and once 4 struck folks were equally welcome to come to the conference, stay at their desks and continue working, or go home early.

    4. Ella*

      I also think it’s a really big assumption that none of the employees are in recovery.

        1. MassMatt*

          Was going to say this. Having a mandatory meeting where alcohol is served for 2 hours on a Friday afternoon is a huge liability.

          Not to mention this sounds very tone-deaf on multiple levels–because of the work/clients this group serves, the pressure the employees are under, and the lack of any alternative or opt-out for someone who doesn’t want to drink at work.

          All that said, LW might face being labeled a spoilsport or “not a team player” if she pushes back on this. I would try to get a feeling for whether there are others in the group that are uncomfortable with this also before bringing it up. IME the only place I’ve seen/heard of this sort of thing is at restaurants or teams that skew younger and still have a college drinking culture.

        2. Simona*

          yeah, I dont drink often and even if I have one drink, I won’t drive. So I’m not going to find transportation so I can drink with coworkers, I’m going to save that for social and life affirming events.

        3. Festively Dressed Earl*

          Yeah, two hours of drinking/social pressure to drink followed by a commute home is a recipe for disaster. Even more so since it’s rush hour and there’s already a plethora of idiots on the road.

        4. Wendy Darling*

          Yeah, my office is very boozy but most of the people doing the boozing are taking public transit home. I have to drive home and I’m a total lightweight, so I virtually never drink at office events — sometimes if an event starts early in the afternoon I’ll have one drink at the beginning knowing it’ll be out of my system when it’s time to go home, but that’s it.

      1. Spero*

        I think that’s also concerning since they serve a population OP mentions is often using/in recovery. That tells me that they don’t have representation of client population among their staff because if they’re taking someone who was previously homeless due to alcoholism and forcing them to drink at work that is a nightmare. It also makes me question how they address the client’s needs. Ex if they are providing employment coaching to someone who is using, talking about not using/drinking on the clock is pretty standard and would be clearly hypocritical in this case

    5. Bellis Coldwine*

      My area has an informally organized and completely voluntary “Yay Friday” type event at 4 pm pretty much every week, but it’s off-site (within walking distance of the work building).

      I can see why LW1’s workplace might have started in the office (since debriefing involves confidentiality, etc), but making this voluntary and off-site seems like a much better situation with less loss of productivity. (And maybe a private room could be reserved if confidentiality is a concern.)

    6. MailOrderAnnie*

      I used to work for a London based law firm and every Friday afternoon at 4 we had Drinks Cart: beer, wine and delicious nibbles. But it was totally voluntary and no one was ever pressured to attend. This “Drinky Day” thing sounds like an alcoholic’s excuse to day drink.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        The name alone caused my eyebrows to shoot up. “Day drinking” is a common symptom of alcoholism, so it’s a bit alarming that an organization that works with people with drinking problems is using a cutesy name based on it.

        I’ve worked at a company that had beer in the refrigerator, a whiskey-tasting club and provided wine for a monthly after-hours meeting, but all of those together don’t come close to this level of focus on alcohol.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          Oh, yeah, it’s the cutesy name that flagged me at the start. Even before all the other stuff.

          The other stuff is worse! I just hate the cutesy name, especially in a work setting.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            Admittedly, I hate most cutesy names applied to anything that isn’t a pet or young child (especially in work settings).

            (I spent quite a bit of capital trying to get one of my employers to change the name of their workgroup on reducing maternal mortality, “Saving Mommies.”) *shudders*

    7. What_the_What*

      Right? Our corporate office has a “Bourbon Room” (it also has other stuff but started out because the male execs all like Bourbon), but it is used for celebrations or ‘post meeting wind downs’ and only maybe once a quarter and it’s NEVER mandatory or encouraged to drink. And nobody is permitted to have more than one of whatever they’re drinking. Sounds like that office boss just has no other way of letting off social steam so …

    8. Wendy Darling*

      At first I was like “oh no is this my office” because we have “wine thirty” on Friday afternoons. But that is extremely non-mandatory. Wine and beer are available, but if you want to sit and drink a seltzer or coffee or nothing and socialize no one cares, and also if you ignore it no one cares.

  3. Magenta Sky*

    LW #1: I believe alcoholism, past or present, is covered by the ADA. A mandatory two hour meeting where everyone sits around drinking would be a legal minefield if there’s an employee in recovery. Not hiring someone in recovery would be an equally serious minefield.

    Plus, two hours of drinking is way more than enough to be pretty drunk. And unless the manager has a breathalyzer at the door to test whether or not employees are legally drunk when they leave, they’re simply not qualified to even guess.

    The first time an employee gets a DUI (or worse, has an accident) on the way home will be disastrous for the organization. Is there an HR department that can *make* the manger stop? Cuz it seems to me like they’d be pretty likely to do so.

    1. anonymous acoa*

      That’s really interesting and good to know. Sending empathy to LW1, I was fired for trying to get out of a similar event. Spoiler: it was also at a male dominated company…

      1. Reebee*

        That sounds like grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit, especially if your gender played a role. I mean, firing someone for not attending a meeting and presumably for not being male? I wonder how your ex-employer justified that.

        1. Simona*

          You can basically fire anyone for anything and it would be hard to prove due to gender if there weren’t male coworkers who had also refused to go and didn’t get fired.

          1. Reebee*

            But there are wrongful termination lawsuits. I’d say this qualifies beyond the at-will “right” to fire laws.

            1. anonymous acoa*

              Yes, plus, unfortunately it was hard to prove, and within the probation period. I dodged a bullet in the long run but it still sucked.

              1. anonymous acoa*

                Also I’m not an alcoholic myself, I was raised by one and trying to break the cycle.

                1. Anonychick*

                  I honestly don’t know if that would count, but it’s certainly possible that if you were ever diagnosed by a mental health professional as having problems stemming from that part of your upbringing, it very well might. After all, groups like Al-Anon don’t exist for no reason! (Also, I can think of someone I know who’s been greatly affected by their parent’s alcohol use in a way that could easily be diagnosed as an ADA-covered disorder: they are quite literally phobic about alcohol, to the degree that they would not be able to remain employed somewhere that required them to even attend drinking-centered events, let alone participate!)

          2. Boof*

            Well, arguably women have “lower” alcohol tolerances (i think it has to do with lower body mass as much as anything) so i think there’s grounds for mandatory alcohol being discrimination in a lot of ways (gender; certain ethic groups; various medical conditions too)

            1. What_the_What*

              Well, the attendance is mandatory; I don’t get the idea that the DRINKING is mandatory. The LW seemed more bothered that she’s sitting watching people drink and not dissect their work week as it had been presented, rather than being bothered by about not participating in the drinking. I get the idea if there were meaningful discussions going on over a beer/glass of wine/shot of whiskey, it might feel differently.

            2. MigraineMonth*

              It’s not just body mass or composition (though that helps); AMAB people have on average about 50% more gastric alcohol dehydrogenase (an enzyme that helps process alcohol) than AFAB people, so they can metabolize alcohol faster.

      2. Coco*

        I strongly urge LW to read the room before saying anything. I have a family member who requested to opt out of a situation basically identical to this. She was fired the following week for “not being a good fit”.

    2. TechWorker*

      Two hours of drinking is indeed plenty to get drunk, IF you are continuously drinking in that time – but I’d hope they aren’t!
      I also don’t remotely see it as the employers responsibility to check whether employees are safe to drive but perhaps that’s from coming from a different culture (where drinking after work is common but no-one would dream of driving afterwards, and lots of people do not drive to work in the first place).

      1. Been There*

        I think the difference is that this is drinking during work hours, at a work-mandated meeting.

          1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

            These two points are key. Optional happy hour after work — liability is iffy (but not non-existent). Mandatory drinking meeting with the drinks supplied by the company? Hello lawsuit.

            If the non profit is large enough speak to HR and mention you are concerned about legal liability. They have more pull with the director than you do — hopefully.

            1. Miette*

              When I worked for a large tech firm back in the 90s (when dinosaurs roamed the earth), there were non-mandatory, quarterly parties where free food, beer, and wine were served. The timing of it was typically to celebrate the end of the quarter. Unfortunately, an employee left one, drove while impaired, and caused an accident. The firm was sued by the other driver and soon after: no more parties with alcohol.

              If that was the case for an optional, work-sponsored social gathering, I can’t imagine the liability for a regular meeting like this one where it sounds like attendance is required and the boss is providing the alcohol. I will bet the company’s general counsel would love to hear about it, and if that’s not something at the firm, then surely the board. This is a huge liability–what is this boss thinking?

            2. Spero*

              Nonprofit may not have an HR person, but I would bet they have a board of directors who would be concerned.

          2. What_the_What*

            Well not work, exactly. The LW said, “she and/or other employees bring in beer, wine, hard liquor, etc.”

      2. londonedit*

        Yeah I hadn’t even considered the drink-driving aspect, because where I live practically no one drives to work. But I still think the fact that it’s mandatory, it’s disguised as a ‘meeting’ and it sounds like joining in with the drinking is seen as pretty much mandatory too, makes it very problematic (and I’m someone who enjoys a drink!)

      3. Thinking*

        In several US states I am familiar with, it would definitely be the legal responsibility of the work place to be sure no one drove drunk. Even hosts of parties at private homes can be sued for this.

        1. TechWorker*

          Interesting, thanks so not just cultural difference, but difference in the law too. Here you’re not supposed to serve alcohol to people who are overly drunk but there is a HUGE gap between that and ‘safe to drive’. Pretty sure it is solely the legal responsibility of the person who chose to get behind the wheel of a car (rather than say, getting a taxi, getting public transport, or worst case finding somewhere to sleep it off).

          1. Sparkle Llama*

            Yes, I think this is a uniquely US phenomenon. It varies dependent on jurisdiction but it is common for the bar and even the server to be partially liable when someone is killed by a drunk driver. I think there tends to be less liability in private circumstances, but it again depends on the locality and specifics of the situation. I know whoever was involved in getting a minor in my state alcohol is liable for anything that happens as a result.

        2. Clorinda*

          I do think that this particular situation, a mandatory meeting where the focus and expectations is everyone will drink, would leave the company uniquely liable. it isn’t an after hours workplace party with two drink tickets per employee. It’s DRINKY DAY. Who wants to be the lawyer representing the company when a tipsy employee causes harm?

      4. Rebecca*

        I don’t know where the LW is, but there are definitely places where the person or company that supplies the alchohol can be found liable, and there are definitely places where whether or not the building is licensed for alcohol would come into play. It’s why so many people prefer to take meetings and events to a restaurant or bar where the liability and licensing is their problem.

        1. Observer*

          It’s why so many people prefer to take meetings and events to a restaurant or bar where the liability and licensing is their problem.

          True. But in a case like this, the company would still be on the hook. Because a company is always liable for any foreseeable outcomes of behavior they require. Drunk driving accidents are *absolutely* foreseeable, and this behavior is being mandated by the ED, who definitely qualifies as “management” for the purposed of liability. So even in states that typically don’t hold hosts or bartenders liable, this would be a whole different kettle of fish.

      5. Irish Teacher.*

        And given that this is a regular event and the employees know it is coming up, I would hope anybody who is planning to be drinking at it would have a plan for that, which might involve having a family member collect them after work those days or using public transport or if the company is in “town,” doing their shopping or going to the cinema or something afterwards and not driving home until later.

        But yeah, the odds that somebody will get in their car after drinking over the limit and put their own life and that of others at risk are well above zero here.

        1. So they all cheap-ass rolled over and one fell out*

          Responsible participants should do that, but from the employer’s liability standpoint, they are really rolling the dice that 100% of the participants are going to be responsible, especially after a couple of drinks lower their decision-making ability.

      6. DJ Abbott*

        In the US, most of the country is car-dependent. People have to drive to get somewhere and there is little to no transit.
        As you can imagine, this causes all kinds of problems and drunk driving is just one of the more serious ones.

      7. Jolie*

        That was my thought too – where did we get the assumption that the means of transportation for most employees is going to be a car – including on the drinking days?

        Though I guess this raises an interesting question: what if one employee actually lives really far out in the sticks with no reliable public transport and has to go back by car? How are they supposed to manage this meetings without being effectively excluded? Are they expected to just sit there and not drink?

        I guess depending on location, “some people need to drive” may not have occurred to the manager?

        I can also imagine someone like OP who doesn’t care for the mandatory happy hour to begin with may find this an extra annoyance if they prefer to drive, even if it’s not strictly necessary. I can imagine them thinking “Crap, I’m getting pressured into drinking beer, and now on top of this time-waster I’ll have to take the bus and add 15 minutes to my commute”

        1. metadata minion*

          In the US, there are many urban areas that still don’t have reliable public transit, let alone people in rural areas. I’m in the Boston area, which is one of the better ones for public transit, and there are still places I could drive to in 20 minutes that take an hour and a half to get to by bus/train, because I have to go in to Boston and back out again rather than directly from one suburb to another.

          1. doreen*

            Even when there is public transit, there are plenty of people who still have to “park and ride”. There are very few circumstances even in NYC where you can assume that everyone uses public transit for their whole commute.

          2. Quinalla*

            Yes, most places in the US people are driving to work, this is the norm. Unless OP is located somewhere where this is not the norm, it very much should be a consideration of the boss here.

            And yikes OP, definitely try and opt out of this “meeting” since there is no actual work being done. If there was something actually happening with drinking on the side, I’d still be frustrated, but at least there would be actual work happening.

            1. Jolie*

              Oh, I see. I’m in Manchester, UK.
              I think even for Manchester it can be a bit neighbourhood-dependent, and it can vary by professional field too, but in my experience based on where I lived (Manchester, and before that London) driving to work everyday is really not the norm even for people who have cars, at least not for office jobs which tend to be concentrated in the City Centre or other places with good transport links.

              I expect somewhere like Amsterdam, Copenhagen or possibly even Brussels driving to work is even more rare than where I am?

              On the other hand, I know in the UK, once you start living in towns or rural areas rather than cities, you might encounter places where people are more likely to drive to work. My husband’s mum does, for example (Weymouth /Dorchester). Otherwise she would have to change two buses and it would be 45 minutes instead of 15 – so not impossible but a pain in butt. (For comparison, if my husband attempted to drive to work his commute would probably be actively longer, because we’re in a low traffic neighborhood, on Manchester’s best bus route, and city centre where his office is has very kittle parking space). The only people I know who genuinely couldn’t get to work at all without a car live in a village in the Cheddar Valley. (They’re also considering moving to the US, so they understand and are prepared for US car culture, whereas I could never).

              1. Non-profit Drone*

                I’m laughing at the place names, because I’m in Boston, the United States one, and Dorchester and Weymouth are suburbs here.

              2. MigraineMonth*

                I lived in the US without a car until I was 29. To do so, I had to craft my entire life around public transit: there were a limited number of cities where I could live (and it was pretty much only cities; suburbs and towns don’t have sufficient public transit). My workplace had to be on a bus line, and my apartment had to be on a connecting bus line to keep my commute reasonable. If my bus was delayed and I missed a connection, I’d have to call a taxi. My work hours were determined by the bus schedule; if I needed to stay late to finish something, I had to call a taxi.

                There were a lot of things I just couldn’t get to by bus. A friend’s house that wasn’t on any bus route. A therapy group. Dance classes at my favorite studio. Remember, this is all in a city with fairly *good* public transit, as compared to the vast swathes of America with little to none at all.

                1. MigraineMonth*

                  @metadata minion – I’ve always hated that driving means I have the ability to end multiple lives in a moment of inattention or slow reaction, so I held off as long as I could. Then my sister, who lives in the suburb of a nearby city, had a baby. To visit her and the kiddo, I could either drive (1 hour 45 minutes) or take a taxi, a commercial bus, a local bus, a commuter train, and ask for her to come pick me up at the station (5 hours 15 minutes).

          3. Laura*

            I’m laughing at the “add 15 min to my commute” as well. I work in Boston but live in the ‘burbs. At this moment, mid-morning, I can drive home in just under 30 min but public transit would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 hr 40 min (with some substantial walking included on a 90+ degree day). To be fair my commute is more like an hour during rush hour but that would impact a public transit commute as well since my bus would also get stuck in traffic.
            (I typically take a company provided shuttle, which makes my total commute time longer than driving but less stressful for me/better for the environment. Unfortunately, for childcare reasons I’m having to drive in most days over the summer)

            1. Jolie*

              Most places where I lived driving to work would actively add extra time to commuting- and that includes when I lived in a far out suburban area (but that was Croydon to London, commute was by trains/Overground + tube, so in the car you’d be stuck in traffic for ages, so public transport was faster by car by at least 30 minutes.

              I work from home /job still in London /commute by train or coach every 3 weeks or so, but where we live in Manchester based on my husband’s commute, a taxi can be maybe 10 minutes faster than the bus, but if he got his own car he would probably have to park God knows where and walk, so it would easily end up taking longer than the bus. (Tried it when his dad, who lives in the US and is very US car culture-brained, came to visit with a rental car and attempted to drive it into town despite me explaining that the bus is faster, cheaper and easier)

            2. sb51*

              Heh, I am reading this in Back Bay station, on my endless in-and-back out Boston commute. I still prefer it, generally, to driving in Boston rush hour, but it’s very long.

          4. Festively Dressed Earl*

            I’m in Florida, and even though every city has ‘public transit’, it’s a joke. I had to do without my car at one point, and it took me two hours each way to get to work. AFAIK Atlanta is the only metro in the U.S. Southeast where it’s tenable not to own a car, and even that is iffy.

          5. BostonPublicTransit*

            Boston has horrible public transit compared to most cities, it just somehow got the reputation for having good transit. What a let down when I moved here and discovered the truth. There are quite a few other issues, but you named one of them – it’s a hub and spoke design. Every other place I’ve lived or visited would have bus service around 128 and 495 with transfers to the various spokes, not to mention not allow towns to reject subway lines (hello Arlington, you ruined it for the rest of us – but the MBTA allowed it) or demand existing lines be pulled up (hello Watertown, ditto) or not run all of the lines to transfer points (hello Green line trains that stop at Government Center instead of connecting to the Orange line). I could go on but I’ll stop now.

            Signed, Bostonian who has also relied on public transit in NYC, Philadelphia, Chicago, Baltimore, DC, Pittsburgh, and quite a few other cities with much better public transportation than Boston.

          6. Freya*

            I live in a spot where the interchange where I swap from the bus that goes past my house to the bus that goes past work is directly in between. I would still have to leave the house around 7:40am to get to work at 9:15am because the second bus leaves the interchange just before the first bus gets there and there’s over an hours wait for the next one. OR I can drive for 11-13 minutes and sleep in an extra hour.

        2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          I guarantee you the employee parking lot is pretty full, even on Fridays. The US is very car dependent even in cities.

          Now should the employees be responsible adults and not drink steadily for 2 hours? Yes. But also should the company not have a mandatory two hour drinking meeting? Also yes.

          1. Observer*

            Now should the employees be responsible adults and not drink steadily for 2 hours? Yes. But also should the company not have a mandatory two hour drinking meeting? Also yes.


            In terms of liability, the fact that an employee was being stupid and possibly irresponsible would put that employee in legal firing line. But it would not excuse the employer for setting up that situation. AND the organization is more likely to get sued, because it’s going to be seen as having deeper pockets. On top of which the PR would be a disaster. It would be a problem in any case, but when you serve a constituency that is known (or perceived) to have large issues with substance abuse, this could literally destroy the organization.

        3. dulcinea47*

          15 minutes would be nothing… public transport, if any, is bad here. It’s a five minute drive to work, but would take over an hour for me to take the bus. This is a common situation.

          1. Betty*

            Yes. It would be literally impossible for me to take any public transit to my work, and I live in a well-populated suburb between two mid-sized midwestern cities.

          2. Irish Teacher.*

            Honestly though, if somebody has been drinking, then I think adding an hour to their commute is a far better option than risking their life and the lives of others by driving when over the limit.

        4. Observer*

          That was my thought too – where did we get the assumption that the means of transportation for most employees is going to be a car – including on the drinking days?

          That’s not a necessary assumption. All that is necessary is that SOME of the staff will drive. And in the US, that’s a reasonable assumption.

      8. Observer*

        I also don’t remotely see it as the employers responsibility to check whether employees are safe to drive

        That’s not going to matter. The law disagrees with you, and PR in general also doesn’t.

        And in this case, the legal angle would be correct. It’s one thing if some staff decide on their own to have a happy hour. But the organization is *requiring* presence at an event whose whole existence is about drinking. And it’s a pretty long event, which means that even people who are not drinking the whole way through are probably *not* fit to drive. The minute you push someone like that you have an absolute requirement to deal with the potential fallout. But you go beyond pushing to a work requirement, it’s completely on you.

        1. TechWorker*

          Yes, thank you someone explained above, I wasn’t aware of US law in this area, as it’s completely not the case where I live :)

      9. Yorick*

        This is every Friday, so those who are going to drink more than 1-2 drinks are able to plan not to drive that day.

        1. Observer*

          From a PR and legal POV it’s not going to matter. The organization has mandated an activity that is highly likely to result in someone (probably multiple someones) driving while impaired. That doesn’t excuse anyone (with other options) who drove after drinking. But the organization is responsible for setting up this situation.

        2. What_the_What*

          The LW first said “every other Friday” and later “every Friday” so not sure how often it is, but regardless drinking should be limited to 1-2 per person, and they should all have a plan if there are also no snacks included. Even 1 drink will “hit me” differently w/o food in my stomach.

      10. RobW*

        Anyone who serves alcohol to anyone else can be held legally liable if that person leaves and then gets in an accident, and possibly criminal penalty. It’s not just bartenders who can get in trouble for overserving.

        And if the server is their boss, basically telling them to drink? I guarantee if anyone has a DUI accident to alcohol poisoning, she and the company will be named defendants.

      11. Magenta Sky*

        Bartenders have gone to prison for serving people who were already drunk, and subsequently killed someone driving home.

        The legal liability here would be about the same, except the bartender didn’t *make* you participate.

    3. Richard Hershberger*

      My first thought was to wonder if this company is in a jurisdiction where they would be liable should (when) an accident occurred, and if so, if the board knows about this.

      1. Observer*

        Even in a jurisdiction where there is normally not liability for allowing someone to drive drunk, this would be a different situation. Because this is an explicit work event, held during work hours, but then running over, which is being *required*. That really amps up the liability, not so much because “alcohol” but because of general “duty to avoid foreseeable consequences of required behavior.”

      1. Slothallama*

        Yes the Board would be handy.

        Also if they are getting any federal funding/doing any contract work that revolves around federal payments then there are strict rules around alcohol consumption at work events and (my dad worked for a federal contractor and they had to change their holiday parties etc. to have employees pay to attend back in the day because of said rules). This whole thing is just real real Bad Idea Jeans.

        1. Project Maniac-ger*

          I immediately thought of that too. State or federal funds often come with a lot of strings, and one of those strings is no day drinking while on the job.

    4. Just me*

      I swear we REALLY need to stop putting alcohol as a base for every get together. It’s cringy, childish, and dangerous because you KNOW people will drink and drive cause they’re dumb. And it’s also very very bad for anyone who’s an addict of any sort. You do not need to drink to have fun!

    5. Freelance Historian*

      If I were in this position, and could talk to the Chair of the nonprofit’s Board of Directors/Trustees, I would drop a dime. The boards I have been on are responsible for the legal well being of the organization, and would be probably horrified by this on multiple levels.

    6. Tradd*

      Yes, alcoholism is covered under the ADA. A friend was a supervisor at a government agency where they had to drive a government vehicle sometimes. The employee they supervised was an active alcoholic (stuff all over social media showing photos of them drinking on weekends) and would often come to work drunk, smelling of alcohol, obviously under the influence (slurred speech), etc. Friend got in trouble and was reprimanded for telling employee they supervised that employee could not come to work under the influence and drive the government vehicle. Friend was written up and had to go through some training. The agency/HR did not seem to be concerned about the liability of the employee driving under the influence, just the violation of the ADA for this employee’s alcoholism. That was a weird one for me.

      1. doreen*

        Alcoholism is covered by the ADA but that doesn’t mean an employer can’t prohibit employees from being under the influence at work or from driving the vehicle under the influence. It does prohibit treating an alcoholic differently from a non-alcoholic so you can’t fire an alcoholic for having a beer at lunchtime while simply warning a non-alcoholic who had a beer at lunchtime. HR might have thought this was the situation with your friend.

      2. Cat Tree*

        HR and the company were definitely wrong here. ADA doesn’t mean that the employee with a disability can do whatever they want with no repercussions, including illegal and dangerous things. It’s completely reasonable to require employees to be sober when driving a company vehicle.

        1. Observer*

          ADA doesn’t mean that the employee with a disability can do whatever they want with no repercussions, including illegal and dangerous things.

          Correct. In fact, the law explicitly states that putting people at risk is never a “reasonable accommodation” nor is allowing illegal behavior.

          I’m trying to figure out how HR messed up so badly.

          1. Tradd*

            That’s what is such a head scratcher. Friend was reprimanded for speaking to the employee they supervised about the employee about coming to work obviously under the influence. This wasn’t someone having a beer at lunch. This was someone coming into the office first thing in the morning already reeking of alcohol with slurred speech. And this employee expected to drive the government agency vehicle that day, which I believe they did. Friend tried to fight the reprimand by pointing out liability issue. Didn’t work. Fortunately this person moved to a different job.

            1. BikeWalkBarb*

              Wow, that’s really something. I work for a state agency and we have an absolute prohibition on drinking or consuming cannabis (legal in our state) if we’re using a state vehicle. They have exempt license plates so it would be pretty clear you were breaking the law as a state employee if you were pulled over by the side of the road doing a sobriety test.

      3. Project Maniac-ger*

        That’s… not right. The law and modern interpretation of it is pretty clear that addiction as a disease is covered under the ADA but active usage of the substance you’re addicted to is not. If it was, there’d be a whole lot more gainfully employed meth and heroin addicts. That HR person did not know what they were talking about.

    7. Performative gumption*

      Ooh I hadn’t even considered most people will be driving potentially. Being London based this isn’t the norm as most people will take public transport or cycle.
      My coworkers and I will often go to the pub after work for a quick drink and last summer my grand boss bought in fortnightly team drinks. Key: they were 100% voluntary, in a pub across the street, started at the end of the day and were not more than 1 drink. He would always leave within the hour and it didn’t always mean alcohol for everyone either. It was a nice way to connect with him and the senior leadership on a more informal setting and get to them as people and not just managers.
      To be fair, a fair few of us would often end up out till relatively late for dinner and more drinks but it was very relaxed and casual. But I do think this is quite normal in the UK, especially London. My NYC friends also have a similar culture but I’ve always wondered if it’s the same in other parts of the US?

  4. Siege*

    Just a suggestion for LW 4 – if you use Alison’s suggested groupings, I’d clarify educational institution as “accredited educational institution” or some other language that defines a line that restricts your company’s donation matching to the more inclusive and legitimate end of the spectrum. Education is under heavy attack right now and there are a lot of rogue entities out there that your company probably wouldn’t want to support, unless you work for a company that, ideologically speaking, would be unlikely to have employee-driven donation matching. You wouldn’t really narrow it down well without putting some time into exploring what’s going on and making some distinctions between institutions.

    1. Sloanicota*

      That letter was interesting to me. Most companies that offer match do it as a morale builder for employees. It’s not going to build morale to put a lot of restrictions on what you consider a worthy institution. If the company views it more as Company X’s Official Charitable Platform, it might be better to nominate a short list and let the employees vote on which charity they want the company’s matching dollars to go to in a given year. You can’t really promote employee charitableness generally while also policing what cause they support IMO.

      1. Katie*

        I agree. My company used to give people ‘credit’ for volunteer hours. They then policing what was considered volunteering and guess what people stopped submitting those hours.

        1. Just me*

          My last company did that credit for volunteer hours too but it had to be what THEY liked. I’m not a fan of donating to organizations, I prefer peer to peer direct donations to people who genuinely need it.

        2. GovVolunteer*

          My organization gives us 8 paid volunteer hours a year that can be used for various groups, including some that lobby for particular policies. I tried to use my volunteer hours to staff the local election, but my organization wouldn’t allow it because it was “too political”.

          I work for the government.

      2. LW4*

        This is a really good point! There’s definitely a morale component here that we don’t want to mess up. I think voting might end up getting pretty tricky. I’d be worried about it turning into a campaign to support a particular cause rather than an opportunity to have our company support a variety of personal causes.

        1. Smithy*

          I think all of these questions are why lots of employers opt to go through third party Employee Giving sites like Benevity. Based on your size and needs, they’re going to help as that accreditor, put in guard rails, and all of that other stuff that helps vet the “good standing” of the thousands of 5013c’s across the US.

          Taking on all this vetting work in-house is incredibly daunting unless that employee matching is offered to an incredibly narrow list. If you do go that way, I actually think a far easier way to narrow down the vetting possibilities is to limit matching within your geographic/metropolitan area. Even an employer based in NYC, if they said they’d do matching based on Alison’s criteria for orgs “in good standing” and based in NYC even that would significantly limit the numbers of entities you’d be asked to look into.

      3. Siege*

        At the same time, it’s entirely reasonable to decide that you are not going to allow your company’s name to be associated with donations to the Pearl
        family (religious abuse) or a non-accredited charter (racial discrimination disguised as education) or a for-profit, any of the myriad other entities operating in education. If that stifles the donor hours, so be it. I know I considered an organization I’m part of differently when I realized someone in the group had used it to support “crisis pregnancy centers”.

      4. Anon for this*

        We do matching at my work and it is wide open so long as they are 501c3s. most of the donations are to PTAs, churches, and alumni orgs, but there are several to food banks and disaster relief. We administer it ourselves (we are a philanthropic organization). My thought is that so long as it is helping a 501c3 charity I’m fine with it – the government has decided they are doing charitable work in the public good, and even if I don’t like their mission that’s not my business.

    2. Needs Coffee*

      Alternatively, it’s also REALLY common for educational institutions and school booster organizations (PTA/PTO, sports, theater, band parent groups, etc. etc) to be EXCLUDED even if they are 501(c)3 registered organizations. The reason being that there are just SO MANY and some parents are quite generous to fundraisers. Especially if they think they can double their donations for free.

      With more organizations using third-party processors, which make the receiving organizations do most of the paperwork to get the funds, I’ve read a lot of fine print over the years. And had to tell a lot of parents who worked for companies of all sizes – small local businesses to multi-national, publicly traded, household names – that their company wasn’t actually going to match their donation.

      It’s a way for companies to moderate their charity budgets with a fairly straightforward set of rules. No politics, no religion, no education. Those are also the big three of Federal alphabet-soup regulations around donations.

      1. BS*

        I know I put my own comment below, but +1 to the educational parameters. I have seen it also as “no educational institution for which you or a child are currently paying tuition” though it can be expanded. And as I wrote, yes, the third-party systems will have an array of ways (and language) other places have used. Note that there is a movement for some of these processors to direct matches to donor-advised funds (DAFs), where the money can sit without disbursement to a charity, so build in that requirement if you want it.

        1. LW4*

          Would this concern still persist if we cap the donation matching? We hadn’t considered limiting folks from donating to booster orgs, but like I said my committee skews really young. I don’t think any of us have school aged children!

          1. The Bigger the Hair…the closer to god*

            Can I ask a question? What’s really the goal here? Why not focus on the employee and paying them for their job? If your company has funds to spare, why not distribute that to the employees?

            Is it possible to give people a day off to volunteer in the community instead and still pay the employee?

        2. Anon for this*

          But why? Most of the orgs our employees donate to are their schools PTAs or their alumni orgs. Who else is going to donate to rando elementary school if not a parent whose child attends it?

    3. BS*

      LW4: I’m on the opposite side of this equation, a fundraiser at a nonprofit. A few ideas:

      1. A couple of large workplace giving programs have a system where a very small group of workers has to “nominate” the nonprofit to be on the list of charities, and then that same amount of employees has to give on a yearly basis for the charity to stay on the list (think 10 people in a organization of several hundred). Depending on your organization’s size, that might be as few as 3 people. Works better for large orgs.

      2. You can do all 501c3s, but save part of your “match” to instead make a corporate grant to a few organizations that employees vote for or otherwise nominate to help choose. You can make as big a splash with it as you choose. Some people also let their community (social media followers, etc) vote, though that works better if you’re small. You’ll have the option behind the scenes to keep the choices anodyne.

      You could also talk to a third-party vendor like Benevity or a community foundation that manages workplace giving for organizations – an account manager there would have ideas in how other places are managing this.

      1. LW4*

        We might be too small to nominate charities, but I do like the idea of having employees participate in selecting where the donations go.

    4. Quinalla*

      We do volunteer hours that have no limitations (so if you volunteer for your church, etc. all good) and then we do donation matching (limit $1000 per employee) once a year and that is 501(c)3 only and limitation is not religious.

      We also do asks for throughout the year for $$ to go to organizations that employees are involved in. Same 501(c)3 and not religious stipulation and also a small group who reviews applications and votes on them depending on a lot of factors.

      So you don’t have to have all your volunteer/charitable giving have the same rules and definitely have a limit per employee for the match to keep it manageable costwise.

    5. Banana Pyjamas*

      Yeah, Purple for Parents was the first that came to my mind for education, and it’s deeply conservative and wrecking our local schools.

    6. Tradd*

      When I worked at a company in the past that did matching, it was explicitly mentioned that no religious or educational institutions were included.

    7. Coverage Associate*

      Just adding another perspective: It sounds like the education related concerns are at the primary and secondary levels. Alumni giving is huge for colleges and universities, and having those partnerships can be a win-win-win for schools, workers and employers. Schools and workers benefit because schools are ranked on alumni donations. Some big granting organizations also look at alumni giving. Employers can get help with recruiting workers. Some employers will benefit from maintaining the prestige of their employees’ schools.

      1. Siege*

        Actually, I limited it to the examples I did because I didn’t feel like getting into a big argument about the attacks on education at all levels by conservative groups who would prefer a nation of uneducated drones or tripping moderation to make my point. Alumni associations are presumably one thing, if you’re not talking about Bob Jones or Liberty University, but as someone who supports educators at all levels and in all job classifications other than upper administration, there is a serious and concerted effort to harm public and private education, and it hides in very banal-sounding language and goals. But it is absolutely active and destructive at all levels, and the things I could tell you about college administrations buying wholesale into their own destruction would curl your hair.

  5. Knighthope*

    OK, so I just Googled “Drinky Day” to see if it’s a “thing” under that name. Only this post popped up. What an infantile name, especially because presumably all are of legal drinking age. Unreal.

    1. JB*

      Especially for a non-profit that helps people who have been affected by alcoholism and other addictions. Destressing is one thing, making a cutesy name and drinking ritual of it in the workplace is another thing.

      1. English Rose*

        Yes, this is the part I find the most mind-bending – that the organisation exists to help people with addictions and they don’t seem able to make the mental leap that a regular two-hour drink party might not be a good idea.

        1. Irish Teacher.*

          Especially since it is not unusual for people to go into such work because they have experience of the issue, either themselves or a loved one. I think this could be quite difficult for somebody who say had a history of alcoholism themselves and went into this work to help others who are still going through it or who say had a parent who died of alcoholism.

          Of course there could be people with such a history in any job, but I think the odds here are higher than average

          1. Plate of Wings*

            This is the first thing I thought :( I think that was important context the LW gave and maybe if they bring it up, they can find a way to include that in their concern.

      2. Observer*

        Especially for a non-profit that helps people who have been affected by alcoholism and other addictions

        Yes. That jumped out at me, as well. Just all around insane. And it also puts the organization at much higher risk if this ever blows up. Because it’s bad behavior in any case. But I can’t see this organization having any credibility with the community it’s supposed to be serving and the people who care about that community.

        making a cutesy name and drinking ritual of it in the workplace is another thing.

        Yup. Way to show that you* not only do not understand the problem. But that you are downplaying it to an astounding degree. While serving a community that has been harmed very badly.

        *You as in the people doing this

    2. Your Mate in Oz*

      “drinkies” is a word I associate with alcoholics in denial. It’s an attempt to trivialise the thing they’re building up to.

      1. Angstrom*

        “I’m just having a little drinky!”
        Or two, or three…..
        Yeah no. The diminutive language just makes it worse.

      2. Clorinda*

        Excellent point. My grandmother called her daily pint of vodka “a little drinky-poo.”

      3. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        Oh definitely. Its not drinking on the job, its a debriefing meeting that just happens to have alcohol. After all our jobs are so stressful, we need a way to relax, that just happens to be alcohol as the way, no other way.

        1. Festively Dressed Earl*

          I mean, what about bringing in mobile massage therapists and having massagies instead? Or board gamies? Or readies? Or puppies?

      4. Observer*

        “drinkies” is a word I associate with alcoholics in denial

        I was wondering about that. You have to wonder if this boss is an alcoholic in denial.

        Not that it really matters, but it would explain what’s happening.

        1. JB*

          Or at the very least in a comedic context (with the person saying it usually the person who is already a bit tipsy and who the laughs are at). This is completely antithetical to the goals of the organisation where the clientele is people who have been severely disadvantaged by addiction, including to alcohol. Basically, it’s tone deaf.

          Inviting staff home to continue this blurs the boundaries of professional interaction vs social interaction, the alcohol increasing the odds of bad judgement calls in this. OP’s concern about this affecting their performance review because the drinking ritual is run by same person doing the review makes this a very valid concern.

    3. StressedButOkay*

      “Drinky Day” is, in their minds, better than “bi-weekly bender at work”. If you make it sound fun and harmless, it plays down the really harmful impact this is having on staff.

      1. Baby Yoda*

        Reminds me of Bernadette calling Howard “Drinky Smurf” on the Big Bang Theory.

  6. Punk*

    LW3: It’s common enough for different departments to have different pay structures and standards for meeting goals; are you sure that management wouldn’t have eventually figured out a way for the 4-day workweek to work for your team? Because if it’s a regular thing that everyone at a company has Fridays off except for one team, that can create logistical and administrative issues, and it also means that there might be communication backlogs because you’re working but no one else is checking emails. Plus the morale issues and all that.

  7. Free Meerkats*

    For number 1, What would the Board have to say about this if they knew? Do you have any clients that come to your office? Would be a shame if one dropped in during drinky day and put a bug in the Boards’ collective ear.

    1. Freelance Historian*

      Exactly what I was thinking. They would probably hate this on numerous levels (and rightly so).

    2. hi there*

      THIS. I also work in a homeless services nonprofit, so I understand where the origin of the meeting might have been (sans alcohol). Gallows humor and peer support are essential for getting through our work. However, this is not okay!

      My suggestion: review your HR manual or ask for a copy of it. The E.D. serves at the Board’s discretion, essentially the E.D.’s supervisor. If your E.D. pushes back on your opting out, there should be a grievance/complaint process for you to follow that would facilitate a conversation about this with the Board.

    3. Ashley*

      I would probably casually mention this to a board member before bringing it up in my 4 month review unless I was very senior and then I would just ask in a meeting with the ED and a board member.
      Having worked in a culture like this to me it was a matter of coping mechanisms. Hard plans where I need to leave every Friday at 5pm. Also, because I knew some co-workers over indulged I tried to time my exit so I wasn’t driving near them.
      You can also use the hard 5 leave time for saying you need to finish work so you aren’t quite participating at the same level.
      I have had different companies respond differently the to the responsibility factor of employees driving home drunk. One place did the Friday drink thing and when I brought up my level of discomfort watching co-workers get drunk for a few hours with no more then a single bag of chips offered for snacks and water or pop as your only non alcohol I was blown off as over-reacting. Not to mention the employee handbook prohibited alcohol and the company provided it. It basically told me, I was a bad culture fit and leaving was the right move for me. (And I would have contacted anyone that a co-worker injured to testify against the company because not caring about drunk driving at this point is abhorrent.)

  8. nnn*

    I think the situation in #2 would be much better for morale if, instead of framing it as “FOUR DAY WORK WEEK!!!! *(except sometimes not subject to terms and conditions)” they framed it as “If you meet your goals by Thursday, you get a paid Friday off!” That would feel like a snow day, rather than like being deprived of your day off.

    1. doreen*

      Maybe – and I say maybe because I suspect that most people did see it that way regardless of what the company actually said. The OP said they ” felt alone in being skeptical. Everyone else was totally stoked! ” so however the company presented it, it doesn’t seem to have been bad for morale. I think this was just a bad combination of the OP’s actual job and their individual perspective – because it takes a certain perspective to decide to work five days a week even if you meet your goals by day four because you can’t make plans for a day you aren’t sure you will have off.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        Oh I’m sure everyone was stoked. Until they realized the weekly goals would be set so they would have to work every Friday anyway. Or that the company always found a business reason for people to be in on Fridays.

        With that many terms and conditions, it just reads as we know we need to offer this to sound good, but it is really never going to happen.

        1. doreen*

          I’m not going to say it could never be that way – but it doesn’t have to be that way. It really wasn’t many terms or conditions – as long as you’ve met your goals by Thursday and there’s no business need , you can be off Friday. The LW felt like they would always have to come in on Friday for reasons specific to their department – they didn’t say that they thought management was trying to put one over on them and would always find a reason to have them work Fridays.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            Right, it doesn’t have to be that way, but given the context OP provided – they already don’t have enough coverage if one person is out on Friday or Monday, they already don’t make the goals because there isn’t enough work to make the goals. Sure as hell sounds like the criteria will never or very rarely be met. The latter is also weird – not necessarily in a malicious way from the company, but more like in a didn’t think it through way.
            They have existing goals they cannot meet because there’s not enough work to do to hit the goal. You get the day off of your work is done. Well those seem to contradict? Because they can be “done” and also “not at goal”. So then they have to come in on the “off” day in case more work comes in to do that day thus making it slightly closer to goal. Or…it doesn’t come in and you still don’t make goal. But you had to come in.
            And the coverage thing too, one person out (for reasons other than this policy) = somebody needs to come in. I think OP is spot on to find this suspect. But the stoked colleagues weren’t necessarily wrong either. They probably just weren’t thinking five steps ahead. OP is.

      2. jasmine*

        LW didn’t describe it this way, but I think if their department set goals realistically and staffed with the notion of their four-day work week policy in mind then they wouldn’t have felt the way they had.

        The letter isn’t framed this way, but it’s not that the LW just got dealt a bad hand due to business needs. Even without this policy, their department goals not being true indicators of success was a problem they should have solved. The organization is at fault for poor planning. I suspect that underneath it all that’s what bugged LW.

        The new policy just turned a lot of this from a company problem to a company & employee problem (employees in OP’s department couldn’t take advantage of the new perk).

        1. Bellis Coldwine*

          In her answer, I think Alison missed that the LW was actually getting *paid less* if their monthly goals (not clear if personal or departmental) weren’t met, and that those goals were based on customer requests. So it’s possible that if LW’s entire team is out one day a week, they actually lose pay under this plan.

          A scheme whereby people are losing pay for not meeting goals (in a job that I assume isn’t commission-based) is a whole other kettle of fish, but I recognize that’s not what the letter was about.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            It kind of sounded like LW and colleagues would frequently be docked money because there *wasn’t enough work to do*, which seems like a fundamentally screwed up workplace dynamic. Or maybe a weird way of describing a performance bonus that they were only sometimes eligible for? Dunno.

    2. TX_Trucker*

      +1. We have a few positions in our Department structured that way, though none are coverage based. It’s an unusual perk, not a guarantee. I have a few employees who hustle and regularly get one day off. But most folks average about 8 per year.

    3. George*

      Writer of #2 here
      For me, opting out was personal, and I see how others could frame it that way. By framing it as a four day week, I felt I’d be ‘robbed’ of my day off, even after busting my butt to meet goals early – if it was even possible. You could bust your butt and still not meet goals cause there simply weren’t enough requests. It worked better for me to just plan on working the whole week and working at my normal pace, which was still near the top of our metrics.
      I don’t think it fit an understaffed coverage-based team that well. Between low staffing, sick days, and vacation, I felt we’d often have it taken from us despite meeting goals or trying hard to, and just saying I’d be there 5 days would be a lower pressure week.
      I didn’t want to work high pressure to meet everything a day early when/if possible, just to be told there’s too many people out and they need me. We were coming in Saturdays to work on backlogs.
      I just don’t think it was great to be applied company-wide in the same day. It was also common to be told the company would have a day off, then the day before be told our team needed volunteers to work etc.
      I did feel the people that got the day off more often and the people that didn’t might develop feelings, if not toward each other, toward the managers/departments, since it would be up to managers and they vary quite a bit. Overall I just didn’t want the extra pressure to get done by Thursday, or to be reviewed constantly then to see if I’d get Friday off, and then told I don’t even if I hit goals due to staffing. It would have been a mental roller coaster for me.

      1. George*

        I think if we were able to hit our goals more regularly already, it wouldn’t have felt so weird. But even working 5 days a week, over 20% of our pay as a support org was based on a combination of individual/team/company metrics, in such a way that a single negative or missed goal could severely impact your pay, to the level of covering some bills that month or not. With people already sneaking in work off the clock to try to get their full paycheck, it just didn’t seem realistic, and I didn’t like it being at the whims of a manager.
        I’m no longer there but I’ve heard they only use metrics for performance evaluation now, not to screw with your paycheck by such a great degree every month. A lot of people complained about that during the years I was there.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          LW2*, I think the 4-day week not working for your department was just one more symptom of *everything* not working for your department. Having 20% of your pay depend on meeting goals that weren’t just ambitious, but frequently literally unachievable because you weren’t given enough work to do, sounds like hell. I know I’d also resent my coworkers for every day they took off or got sick if it affected my paycheck. That’s a recipe for dysfunction!

          I’m so glad you got out.

          1. Observer*

            LW2*, I think the 4-day week not working for your department was just one more symptom of *everything* not working for your department.

            I think that this is 100% true. The place was badly managed – at least that department was. I’m glad they are out of there.

        2. Observer*

          I’m no longer there

          I’m glad to hear it!

          That sounds like a REALLY badly managed place.

        3. We’re Six*

          “ I’m no longer there”

          Thank god because that was really the only way forward as far as I could see, at least with the circumstances you laid out.

          1. George*

            I have heard from friends that after enough complaints (and an acquisition by a whole new company), they gave them raises and took away the metrics, giving a much more reliable paycheck, only using the metrics for performance review etc. Sounds much better though still paying below market as I understand.

    4. George*

      I do think that would have been different. I would have felt like the day was robbed from me when I didn’t get it. even if for to my own metrics on a busy week I’d have some reason it happened typically. there were too many weeks where the goals weren’t possible for everyone as the number of incoming requests divided by the number of agents was below target.
      Opting out held you to different standards and benefitted then to have someone always there. It would keep you from looking bad for not getting stuff done in 4 days basically.
      A lot of stuff I’m realizing would have helped contextualize it better but trying to keep my word count lower in my letter.
      Like many company wide mandates, there’s a few teams it didn’t work for. customers would have hated half the tan being available they Monday and Friday.

      Also sales was excluded cause they wanted to sell and they don’t make money if they don’t work. That’s the only team that got a different approach though. My main issue was the often impossible goals being the key, and personally not wanting to be angry every time it felt taken away.

      Also stuff like taking a day of PTO meant you had to work your day off, and you had to use 5 for a full week etc.

    5. Craig*

      that’s how we did it. sometimes there’s an urgent thing that comes up in the week but it’s often an extra day. you just don’t plan around it and if you get it use it to catch up on Netflix or something.

    6. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      Except for the part where you could choose to have Monday off instead. How was that supposed to work?

  9. Eww?*

    Oooh, “Drinky Days” sounds downright cringe to me. And mandatory? It almost has the smell of insisting the whole office enable them in some game of “I’m not really an alcoholic.”
    [Though I admit to being over-sensitized due to being raised in a tee-totaling household, and having an extremely low tolerance– both physically for alcohol personally, and socially for sloppy drunk behavior.] Beer-thirty every week or two for 30 minutes if optional sounds fine to me as an alternative, though maybe still not appropriate in this environment.
    (And to be clear, I wouldn’t be in favor of a mandatory jigsaw puzzle afternoon just because the boss loved it either.)

    1. Allonge*

      This. I am from an alcohol-friendly background, I drink socially, so no issues on that level. But there should be limits (at least at work).

      There is nothing wrong with having a standing de-stress meeting, but mandatory AND always alcohol, AND multiple hours every week? Bad idea for so many reasons.

      1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

        Every other week, according to the letter. But yeah, bad, BAD idea for SO many reasons!

        1. Allonge*

          Right, sorry. Still, way too much, as you say.

          For me a ‘let’s get boozy together’, even if optional, still should not happen more than once a month (and even that is questionable in this context). If for nothing else, it leaves space for other kinds of get-toghethers to destress?

          OP, I wonder if that would be something to propose. Not that you should have to organise it, but saying ‘hey, I appreciate the intention to relax together, I saw this [game/quiz/meditation/whatever], could we try that instead of drinks once in a while? It may work out better than to just decline Drinky day.

          1. JustaTech*

            I once worked for an academic lab where our PI decided we needed to have some “fun” so he wanted to do journal club at 5:30 on Friday afternoons. (Journal club is where everyone reads and academic paper, one person presents it and the whole group tears it apart on its merits. If you really squint you can call it “fun”.)
            To sweeten the deal he said “I’ll bring the beer!”
            Long, long silence.
            Lab manger finally says “We’re all done by 4 on Fridays and I don’t drink beer.”
            “Neither do I!” chimed in several people.
            Boss was super deflated, but to his credit he read the room and gave up on journal club.

            1. MigraineMonth*

              Imagine if it had gone ahead. “I’m so excited to present. I just cannot believe the reviewers let these guys get away with using such outdated statistical analysis methods when it’s clear they were cherry-picking the data! Like, dude, do the authors even know how to program in R?”


              “…where are you all going with my beer?”

      2. Smurfette*

        > I am from an alcohol-friendly background, I drink socially, so no issues on that level

        Ditto. But being told when to drink, and who to drink with, would not sit well with me.

        I’m also wondering about company liability when it comes to plying people with alcohol for 2 hours and then sending them off to commute home. Driving would be a huge issue, and even mass transit could be problematic, if people are tipsy.

      3. Richard Hershberger*

        Is there nothing wrong with a standing de-stress meeting? I take this to mean sitting around and complaining for two hours. I would not find this de-stressing in the least. On the other hand it seems so unstructured that I could just bring a book.

        1. Allonge*

          Well, if it’s unstructured or only about complaining, that is bad.

          But it does not have to be so: e.g. we have contact points all employees can talk to, confidentially, in cases of harrassment. They have quarterly meetings where they get to talk about the impact of this work on them (obviously not sharing details of cases they encountered, but still releasing some of the tension it comes with). This is structured, with an actual anti-harrassment expert and psychologist participating (and does NOT include alcohol). De-stressing, regularly, professionally. As it’s quarterly, it’s also mandatory without any major issues.

          I suspect there would be a way to apply this system to a larger team of people doing social work or related, with more frequent (but optional) meetings to talk about work-related stress. Structure would absolutely be needed, and I suppose they could sometimes end with going out for a drink or two, but that is the closest alcohol should come to it.

        2. Sloanicota*

          Yeah honestly even without the alcohol this still doesn’t sound that great to me.

          1. Lea*

            Two hours is way too long. Max one hour would be my though maybe a little training/destress whatever for 15 min and some
            Unscheduled time?

        3. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          that’s the other point — the only option offered by the organization is alcohol to destress. When free or reduced therapy would be better, or you know water balloon fights or something.

          Before there is a pile on, I know not everyone likes water balloon fights. You will never find something that fits everyone but at least vary it up a little so that at some point there will be an option that each person likes.

          1. sparkle emoji*

            Or take the time that’s reserved for “drinky day” and ask that employees leave early to do a destressing solo activity. It doesn’t sound like the 2 hours is being used in a productive way anyways.

          2. Allonge*

            To be honest, considering the population they serve (and just in general), offering alcohol as a de-stress option would be pretty inappropriate, let alone having it as the only solution.

            Asking, once in a while, if people want to go out and grab a drink? Needs to be done with some smarts but will work in a lot of places. This? Is so much worse.

        4. Jackalope*

          I worked at a nonprofit that had a social services type component, and this sort of debriefing (without the drinking) was actually really helpful. Everyone getting the chance to share a good and bad story from the week so we could get it out (since outside of the organization it would have been breaking confidentiality but we could share with each other), talking about recent trends (“We’ve reached the part of the year where everyone is super thirsty when they come in; let’s stock more water and make sure to offer it to everyone”), specific clients with special needs and how that was going for them so we could all be on the same page in offering services, etc. It really is helpful in a high-emotional-stress job like this to have a place to talk things through, and some places require it. That’s worlds apart from just giving everyone booze and chilling, though.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            That’s worlds apart from just giving everyone booze and chilling, though.

            Yeah, I wonder if the meeting started as a real debriefing: going over what was and wasn’t working, brainstorming solutions for specific clients, etc. Providing actual support to each other in doing the job and someone to lean on when things got tough.

            Then someone (I’m betting the manager) decided that instead of debriefing it should be destressing, so everyone should just drink and not worry about work… which doesn’t actually make the job any easier, just distracts you from it for a while.

            From my past toxic job experience, I predict the meeting could turn into a gripe fest about the job and the clients and start a cycle of negativity it will be hard to break out of.

        5. MCMonkeybean*

          I think in a lot of emotionally draining fields many people would find this useful, but I am sure others would find it more draining–so I think it’s good to have it but don’t make it mandatory.

        6. I&I*

          Nothing mandatory is ever going to be de-stressing. A slot in the week where people could come to the manager and raise issues they’d like addressed, and those who didn’t want to could hang out, catch up on work or go home without comment? That might work. But if you want people’s stress levels down you have to give them control of what happens to them.

      4. Double A*

        I’m of an age (40) where one drink at 3pm on a Friday ruins my Friday. Like, I’m down for the count. I am very judicious with my drinking because I have very little tolerance these days.

        But I’m also of an age where I would announce that as a reason I wasn’t drinking and I wouldn’t drink at the meetings. Still, 2 hours of forced chit chat running out the clock on a Friday sounds horrible, even though I enjoy my coworkers and like to socialize with them.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      Yeah, between the cutesy name and the origin story of using alcohol to ‘support’ each other when dealing with tragic work outcomes (about addiction!) this had an alcoholic pretending to be sociable whiff all over it. Not enough of a flag to be at all sure, but enough to make me really wary of criticising it, unfortunately.

      1. Mangled Metaphor*

        it’s an orange flag for me.
        throw in having the Drinky Day at her *house* and it’s shading to pink with embarrassment

    3. GythaOgden*

      Yeah. I would be excluded because I don’t drink at all for medical reasons. ADA here we come. I am not above having a cordial made with tonic water because I actually like the sour/bitter taste of alcohol and wanted to recreate it after I had to stop drinking totally, but in a situation where I wasn’t able to say ‘no thanks, just get me a diet coke’, that would be really awkward. I was never a heavy drinker, and I do miss the sparkling wine toasts at weddings and New Year as well as ‘Pimms o’clock’, but I did actually like the bitter tastes involved. The meds make my life so much easier, much more so than alcohol ever did, so I can live with orange juice or coke at social gatherings.

      (Thankfully I work in healthcare, in a job in which most people on my team have to drive around different sites, and around maintenance people, and between those three things any alcohol or other intoxicating substance during the day at work is very much verboten. We’ve had to sack someone because he relapsed after we sponsored rehab for him and it was incredibly sad, but when you’re around the general public even as a porter or other steward you just cannot drink on duty.)

    4. CityMouse*

      I don’t have any personal issues with alcohol but I find the idea of mandatory drinking meetings for 2 hours every other week honestly bad enough that I’d be looking for another job. It’s the sign of a deeply unhealthy workplace. I honestly can’t decide if regular alcohol in thr workplace or being expected to go to the boss’s house to drink in a regular basis is worse.

      1. Observer*

        It’s the sign of a deeply unhealthy workplace.

        Very much so. In fact, so much that I’m kind of surprised that Allison mentions that a “reasonable” boss would respond well. I don’t there is any world in which this boss could be considered reasonable. The whole is just soooo bad.

    5. londonedit*

      Yeah, I mean I love a drink or five and I work in an industry where after-work drinks are a common occurrence, but a two-hour mandatory drinking session on a Friday, disguised as a work meeting, is a bit much even for me.

      If it was more of a ‘we crack on with a quick meeting and then finish early and people are welcome to hang around for a drink – alcoholic or not – afterwards’ then fine. But this just seems OTT.

      1. Performative gumption*

        Exactly this – mandatory meeting when you’re just trying to get s**t done for the weekend sounds awful regardless of alcohol.

    6. I&I*

      Yeah. Another example: I’m not technically teetotal, but my body just doesn’t process alcohol very well – a couple of hours after I have the drink I get the hangover. Generally it’s just not worth it; it’s more comfortable to stick to soft drinks.

      But explaining that is complicated and boring, and here’s the other thing: it’s arguable. We all know people who get defensive and demand you justify why you don’t drink, and if your reason is just ‘I personally don’t enjoy it,’ that is usually … not accepted. If I had to go to an event where my boss required me to drink, I might very well stretch a glass of wine over two hours just to avoid attention, and then spend my Friday evening feeling a bit crapper than I had to. Not nice!

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      I think your first paragraph nailed it. “Are you drinking alone? Drinking before five? Drinking at work? Ha! All of these will become fine if I require my employees to start drinking with me at 3, and refuse to let them leave until I am done rambling.”

    8. wordswords*

      Yeah, it really rang that way to me too. (And I’m not from a teetotaling household, for what that’s worth.)

      A mandatory Friday meeting that’s really just socializing (and complaining rather than the debriefing and processing it’s theoretically for) sounds annoying. One with company-provided alcohol sounds like it has more potential to be annoying and/or cause problems. But calling it “Drinky Day,” blurring the lines between work and social life, etc. all sound like it’s increasingly become a way for Boss to cover for and/or rationalize her alcoholism: see, this isn’t problem drinking! It’s a professional debrief session and team bonding! And a way to blow off steam after a hard work week! And a social life! We’re all just having a few little drinkies. And none of us have any problems with that! Actually, we all find it very fun and useful!

      I suspect that’s likely part of what’s making it even more uncomfortable for LW1 (especially in the context of a job that’s helping people who have substance use issues, but even without that). Unfortunately, I suspect it also means LW1 should be prepared for some pushback from Boss about anything that upsets that We All Love Our Little Social Drinkies Together And None Of This Is A Problem narrative. That doesn’t mean don’t do it! Alison’s scripts are good and your discomfort is extremely valid. I’d be wildly uncomfortable and resentful if I had to deal with this weekly. But it’s a possibility to be prepared for.

    9. Petty Betty*

      No, you’re not wrong. I come from an alcohol-heavy family (and quite a few alcoholics) and am considered a “former party girl”. I also worked in drug/alcohol rehab. This screams all kinds of wrong to me.

      Alcohol should *not* be on a work site at all when the industry doesn’t actually have anything to do with the production or sale of alcohol. Management should not be encouraging employees to drink for 2.5% of their paid time each month. Realistically, they are paying for 52 hours per year per person to drink. I’d hate to calculate the manhours for that. Especially when they could be using that for direct services or other actual business uses.

  10. Adam*

    LW #4, I don’t think you can practically avoid matching donations to organizations you might feel are harmful without basically specifying a list of blessed organizations, which kind of defeats the point. If that’s not acceptable to you, you might want to just use the same money to donate to organizations chosen by a committee or something (and you can take recommendations) rather than doing donation matching. The same amount of money goes to charitable organizations, but it’s all under the company’s control.

    But basically any real donation matching scheme is going to run into the fact that your employees might support an organization that you disagree with, and that comes with the territory, so either you have to accept that or you should donate some other way.

    1. Philanthropy*

      There are lots of companies that do matching thoughtfully. There are also services you can purchase that will help vet the organizations. For example, local community foundations can help you in this area.

      I work in philanthropy and would recommend googling Council on Foundations “Don’t Fund Hate” to get great advice on this topic.

      1. Katie*

        That’s what I am figuring. My company matches our deductions and any organization I have ever thought to donate to was on that list (and some have been niche causes). I am sure my company just used the already vetted list that a company already provides.

        I hate the idea of limitation but as long as its rather broad most will be fine.

      2. soontoberetired*

        We also match charitable donations but only to approved charities. It is a big list but it has been vetted. And there’s a limit on how much will be matched.

        1. Amy*

          My company is the same. It’s a vetted list of about 500 charities and non-profits. They will match $2,500 a year to that list.

          If you want to add a charity, you can make the request and they will review it. The one time I requested an addition, it was granted.

    2. LW4*

      We are trying to balance that consideration, so I appreciate you making that clear. We’ve also considered requiring employees to write a couple of sentences about why their chosen charity aligns with our company’s core values as a screening tool, rather than setting forward a predefined list. But that would require some sort of review process that we have yet to solidify.

      1. Trina*

        If you go the route of making a review process, I would encourage including a look at how effectively the non-profit uses the funds they raise. Charity Navigator does this for most medium to large non-profits and has searchable profiles that include ratings on several different criteria; if the non-profit is too small or new to have a CN profile, you can do your own research via publicly available tax filings (form 990, I think?).

        1. Jackalope*

          One caveat to this is to make sure that you aren’t just looking at how much is going to overhead. A healthy amount needs to be used to pay staff if you want a nonprofit that’s going to be stable and actually get stuff done, but having enough overhead to pay living wages and benefits is sometimes seen as a detriment.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            Very true. Also remember that the “effectiveness” of a charity is not always easy to measure. It’s far easier for a charity that distributes mosquito nets to estimate how many human lives it has saved than for a nonprofit that runs a summer camp for kids with rare health conditions to meet each other, but that doesn’t mean that the latter isn’t valuable.

        2. Coverage Associate*

          CN is largely just putting the 990 information into a different format. I don’t know how many organizations that file long 990s don’t have a CN profile. The smallest 501c3, of which there are thousands, file literal postcard 990s with of course very little information.

      2. Smithy*

        I would strongly recommend connecting with a vendor like Benevity. I think even if you don’t opt to go with a third party to support this – they just have a lot of experience with managing these programs and pragmatically thinking through solutions.

        1. Parenthesis Guy*

          When I worked at a big company that used Benevity, Benevity took about a third of the match and took months to process. I’d stay away.

  11. Smurfette*

    OP2, I completely understand your frustration. Basically your company introduced a huge perk for employees, the equivalent of an additional 25 days of paid leave every year, assuming most people could take advantage every other week. But your team would pretty much never be able to do that because the work was coverage based. I would definitely have pushed back and asked for a variation of the scheme that considered your specific circumstances.

    1. GythaOgden*

      Yeah definitely. I’m in facilities and maintenance admin, and our company handbook states that we’re needed five days a week on a regular basis because of that coverage need. We could obviously take the odd day off a week using our AL, but the goal of that statement in the book is to say that we can’t use AL to just take Fridays off every week since even on Friday people are still needing supervision and a response to anything that comes in at the eleventh hour.

      You can’t have real equality, but you can devise a system that resolves it equitably.

  12. Peter*

    LW1, if anyone is under pressure to drink alcohol, that’s bad, but otherwise I’d just see this as another work meeting. Is it worth trying to avoid some work meetings when busy? Absolutely. But I think the idea that other people have a beer in their hands during it may be leading you to think something inappropriate is happening when it really it sounds very normal to me for people to have alcoholic drinks in the office while socialising on a Friday afternoon. I would ask for soft drinks options (and it’s odd if there aren’t any) and stick to those. And if you’re busy certain weeks, just say you really want to finish x work this week and do that.

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

      The problem is that this is mandatory 2 hours every other week AND nothing is being done. there is no actual debriefing being done. And it sounds like this is stressfull for the OP (and possibly others as well). So this mandatory “debrief” 2 hour meeting is having the opposite affect that it should.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I would be surprised if the meeting didn’t devolve into a regular gripe-fest. Those feel really good, like you’re blowing off steam and can relax, but they’re actually really damaging from my experience.

        The company culture devolves pretty quickly into us-vs-them (which is bad when it’s employee-vs-management but horrible when it’s employee-vs-client). It’s also damaging for the employee because it normalizes the toxic environment and bad coping mechanisms while making the employee feel like they can’t “abandon” their co-complainers by leaving.

    2. Adele*

      I agree. I think OP is moralizing about alcohol and that is leading them to make too much of this. The point of a happy hour (as we would call it) is not to be productive or to drink, it’s to socialize with their coworkers. My company hosts a happy hour each week, hourly workers get paid for it, there are plenty of non-alcoholic options and snacks, and no one raises an eyebrow if someone is too busy or anti-social to put their work down and attend. Well, we do take notice if someone appears to be overworked and try to help them so they are able to attend if they want to.

      OP says this is mandatory, but there aren’t any details about anyone trying/wanting to opt out and how that has gone, so there’s always the possibility that it’s not as mandatory as OP has thought. I agree with OP that people should be able to opt out, and don’t see a problem with asking straight out–why wait until your review? But, you should attend on occasion, unless you have a good reason like an alcohol dependency triggered by being around others who are drinking, because again, the point is to socialize with your coworkers and bond together. It’s just not that deep.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Wow no. People are allowed to think that work and intoxicating substances shouldn’t mix; it’s an entirely reasonable thing to feel shouldn’t be happening during the day (it happens in some industries but to be honest a lot of them have cleaned up their act from the days where British satirical magazine Private Eye could give its stereotypical journalist the name ‘Lunchtime O’Booze). As long as I don’t try to stop them, I can disapprove of something all I want to on the grounds of conscience. Certainly I would be very upset if someone made me participate; I’ve been to a couple of work parties and saying I don’t drink was the end of any funny business.

        Alcohol is fun to have and in moderation can be enjoyed, but she’s not wrong that it feels uncomfortable to be mixing it with work during the day. I work in healthcare where we cannot even have alcohol on the premises because of the kind of work we do. The public don’t want to see people drunk around them and even at home I’m making decisions, writing diplomatic minutes and raising work orders that require the sort of attention to detail incompatible with intoxicants. There are plenty of places where alcohol and work don’t mix and people are allowed to hold whatever viewpoints they do about that kind of thing.

        This is quite apart from the health impacts alcohol has and why some people might feel it’s inappropriate to be forced to drink alongside colleagues even if it’s permissible in their job to have it on the premises. That’s discriminatory when it intersects with people like me who don’t drink for medical or religious reasons (I have a lot of practising Muslim colleagues who vary in their devoutness; our company handbook does use it as an example of not assuming people conform to all aspects of their religion and culture and thus to treat them as individuals but still it would be unfair to force anyone to drink, least of all someone who sees it as a cultural and spiritual taboo) and this forum is generally really good about respecting that boundary. Someone else feeling uncomfortable and expressing that discomfort with people being intoxicated during work hours is not something you get to police. It’s kind of taken as a given in most places I’ve worked that during the day you’ll be sober and able to focus on your job and drinking is done out of hours. (And totally I’ve been to work-sponsored parties where we’ve drunk a restaurant out of clean glassware. But it wasn’t /during the working day/. It was there that I found that I went from enjoying the taste of a cocktail to hungover without any kind of buzzed feeling in between, so even before I went teetotal I preferred mocktails in general.)

        Can someone simply say ‘I’m not happy with this’ or ‘I don’t like this’ without being laid into as a prude, a snob, etc? She wouldn’t be out of line in a lot of fields for being concerned about alcohol or any other substances that are used to recreationally alter brain chemistry to get a feeling of being buzzed or high (as opposed to coffee or other caffeinated drinks which we’re ok with as a society because they do generally make people more alert at work) mixing in with work.

        Ironically, saying OP is moralising about alcohol is moralising itself about her feelings towards alcohol and work which are within the realms of validity for her to feel don’t mix. She’s not taking a bigoted stance to be uncomfortable with this and just because you disagree with her doesn’t warrant the contemptuous way you’re expressing that disagreement.

        On a broader level, this is how echo chambers form. When you can’t express a reasonable opinion civilly with someone, you leave the forum to the people who only want vigorous agreement and self-righteous aggrandisement, and it makes discussion of the various different perspectives on the issue harder and thus opens people up to the absolutism that is really poisoning public discourse as a whole. It’s ultimately counterproductive in the long run to any society where we can exist in an /actually/ diverse, inclusive harmony with a range of general opinions that aren’t obnoxious. This is on the exact opposite trajectory.

  13. CookingwithClaire*

    Recovering alcoholic here. “Drinky Day” is 100% the kind of embarrassing idea I’d have had while still active- trying to normalize and cutesy-fy problematic behavior… But also, this mandatory “meeting” would be such a complete nightmare for someone like current me, and there are TONS of people in recovery work in social work or SW-adjacent jobs!! No one should have to be open about that kind of thing at work (even this kind of workplace often stigmatizes addicts) to be able to avoid this/get it shut down. The lack of self-awareness of the ED is ASTOUNDING.

    1. Brain the Brian*

      This part is key. People shouldn’t be forced into disclosing recovery from alcoholism or religious reasons or really anything else over something as small as changing an internal meeting. The ED should change course before being confronted about it, but she should *definitely* change course if someone does bring it up.

      1. Stoli*

        It’s one of the worst ideas ever and a liability waiting to happen. It’s astoundingly terrible.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            Yeah, slowly poisoning your employees’ livers isn’t quite as bad as trying to steal an employee’s liver.

    2. I&I*

      Totally! And another one: all sorts of medications interact with alcohol, including meds for some stigmatised stuff like mental health and ADHD. The LAST thing you want if you’re trying to keep that private is a ‘drinky day’. It’s got the potential for seriously exacerbating mental health stress!

      (Ugh, that’s a revolting phrase. It’s not cute if it’s mandatory!)

      1. Brain the Brian*

        Yep. I take one of said medications for seizure prevention, and interaction with alcohol tends to make the medication less effective (it’s normally extremely effective for me, so much so that I’ve had no seizures for years and years at this point). So in addition to tipsy, I could be driving home with less seizure control than usual if I drank — not ideal, and definitely not safe. I might not mind sitting around with coworkers who were drinking, but I would be sitting there with my coffee instead. Not a great environment overall.

        1. I&I*

          You know, that might actually be one for the OP to use if she wants to raise an issue with the boss.

          It sounds like the boss may very well have a problem with alcohol, and if that’s the case then ‘This meeting is a waste of time/an excuse for day drinking’ is NOT going to go well. At all. The last thing you want to do with a problem drinker who has power over you is criticise their drinking.

          However, raising it as an issue of unavoidable medical privacy is a lot less personal. ‘I’m concerned some people may have private reasons for not drinking like medication interactions they’d rather not disclose – maybe make it optional or at least have soft drinks there that people can choose without comment?’ could go better.

          That said, if the boss does have a drinking problem that’s dictating too much of office culture, I’d start looking for a new job before it gets any worse.

          1. Brain the Brian*

            All good points. I don’t think the commiseration / debrief / decompression by itself is inherently bad — especially if this organization works under privacy regulations that mean they can’t share any patient / client information at all outside the company and thus there’s no other forum for employees to get some of this off their chests — but making it alcohol-centered is a problem for anyone who can’t drink. Citing medical reasons why any one employee might not be able to drink is probably safer and more likely to be effective than criticizing the decision of the ED and coworkers to drink.

      2. TipsyTurvy*

        I’ve been on an SSRI my entire adult life, so whenever I drink I get very drowsy. I’m sure other people have fun while drinking, but I’m the one who drank one hard cider on a date and immediately tried to take a nap.

        On the bar.

        While a live band played.

        1. Brain the Brian*

          Please tell me you eventually married the person with whom you were on this date. That would be such a cute story! :)

        2. GythaOgden*

          I quit altogether when I could paraphrase an instruction leaflet in a box of sleeping pills I’d been prescribed as ‘You know when you wake up after a night out with a banging hangover and full of regret for what you did last night? It’ll be SO MUCH WORSE if you drink while taking this pill. Yes, even just one glass of celebratory champagne at your friend’s wedding. So don’t.’ There wasn’t much benefit I’d ever got from drinking that couldn’t be generated another way and I make enough of an ass of myself in public while sober that I wasn’t going to mix chemicals in that way and make even more foolish decisions.

          Alcohol had never really given me a pleasant feeling between drinking and being hungover. I did like the bitter taste taking the edge off the sweetness of some drinks, but you can get that with just tonic water, so I’ve learned a dozen different variants on cordial and juice mixers (try sweet energy drink powder with sour tonic water, or cranberry juice with cream soda and you get a cool experience with mixed tastes) instead.

    3. bamcheeks*

      Yeah, I don’t drink very much but there is lots of problematic drinking in my family, and as I’ve got older I’m very wary of situations that feel like they’re set up to enable a drinker. I absolutely *hate* feeling like I’m being used as a social excuse for someone to drink. This has that kind of flavour all over it.

      I absolutely think you are right to object and if you can find a safe way to raise this, I would, LW, and you’d be absolutely within your rights to ask to be excused or to casually mention that you don’t think this is an inclusive format for a meeting. BUUUUT if this is someone using her power at work to start her weekend drinking early, then calling it out even in the most gentle ways could launch a *lot* of defensive and angry behaviour. Keeping your head down and your soft drink topped up might be a safer way forward.

      1. Brain the Brian*

        I think the LW can safely raise it once if the ED is otherwise reasonable without fear of serious reprisal. But if the ED refuses to shift course or doesn’t take them seriously, “head down and soft drink topped up” may be the only realistic non-resignation option. I don’t love having to advise that, but mere months into a new job is a tough time to ask people to change an old tradition that they seem to enjoy. Very much a “read the room” situation.

    4. Another friend of Bill W*

      Over 24 years sober here. Mandatory meeting every other Friday watching people get wasted – my resignation would be on the executive’s desk in no time. The booze at meetings is a huge red flag but every other gripe meetings seem to be a sign of inept management on the exec’s part.

    5. Come On Eileen*

      Agree with this 100%. I’m also in recovery, and at 10+ years sober I’m pretty open about the topic with anyone who asks. But when I was newly sober it was an incredibly private issue, and I wouldn’t have been comfortable sharing at work or trying to talk about it as a (c0mpletely legitimate) reason to opt out of a drinking activity. So many landmines here for people who have a troubled relationship with alcohol.

    6. No-Drinky*

      I’m in recovery too and believe me, I would have been all for this kind of meeting in my active alcoholic days. So embarrassing. Even with 5 years of sobriety I don’t attend socials or happy hours when I go to conferences. The focus on alcohol just doesn’t feel good for me to be around. We should really be doing more to make workplaces friendly for people in recovery and this is far from it.

    7. Observer*

      The lack of self-awareness of the ED is ASTOUNDING.

      Or they are an active alcoholic….

  14. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

    As a former member of a religion with a strict rule against drinking, I can’t help wondering shat would happen if LW #1’s employer ever hires someone whose religious beliefs forbid the use of alcohol. Requiring someone to ingest alcohol as a requirement of their employment would be a infringement of the legal rights of such an employee to practice their religion, and deliberately not hiring members of alcohol prohibiting religions would be illegal religious discrimination, would it not?

    Add that to all the other various and sundry reasons people have for not drinking, and the whole thing sounds like a legal minefield.

    I am deeply suspicious of the motives of the director who instituted this as a MANDATORY activity. It definitely has more than a whiff of someone who has an unhealthy relationship with alcohol making up an excuse to use their employees to enable tproblem drinking. drinking.

    1. Performative gumption*

      I didn’t read this as drinking alcohol was mandatory but more attendance to the (useless) meeting was.
      However social pressure for the individual in this situation may be terrible and make them feel ‘othered’ for sure.

  15. Smurfette*

    OP3 I’m assuming (from the way you described this) that your client mentioned it to you? I’d approach it like this:

    Andy Farnsworth from Farnsworth Inc said that you approached her about your son looking for a job. It’s not appropriate to try and leverage the company’s client relationships for your own benefit. That would include this type of thing, and anything else that could be construed as a personal favour, such as asking for a discount on their products. If you’re unsure in future, make sure to ask me or Brenda.

    (Emphasis on the *company’s* client relationships – they are not the employee’s relationships.)

    You’ll see quickly enough whether your employee genuinely didn’t know (and needs some coaching) or whether they absolutely did know and were taking a chance.

    1. Lea*

      Yeah and I’m pretty stuff like this is explicitly forbidden in our ethics training that we have to take so maybe see if there is anything in a handbook or whatever you can point too?

    2. Artemesia*

      This is a giant big deal. It is the sort of thing that could cost a company an important client. It is 100% inappropriate and unprofessional. I would make sure that this point is very clear and would be closely supervising someone with such terrible judgment to make sure it was a one off. There are ways to ‘use’ such relationships e.g. she could have told her son that this company is hiring without trying to push the client into considering her son.

  16. BellaStella*

    OP1. Drinking at work: if the organisation is in the USA and of people drive home drunk the org and this manager may be liable. When I worked in tech we sometimes had parties at work but the drinking and driving became an insurance liability issue so it stopped. Also does this manager know for sure that no one in the team is in recovery? I hope as noted in reply that she does not take it personally and get offended by you not wanting to join. Ugh. Also if your org is supported by tax payer money or donor money this drinking adds up to say 30 hrs a year on the clock drinking …. not a good look to waste money and staff time this way esp as you support people in recovery.

    1. QuaintIrene*

      +1,000,000. Of course, I suspect that last point is why the director is so insistent on calling it a “debrief.”

    2. I&I*

      Plus if any employees go home to caring responsibilities, that’s yet another reason not to ply them with drink! No one needs to go home to a young child or a disabled dependent compulsorily tipsy.

  17. Thegreatprevaricator*

    Given the mission of the organisation for 1, I’m really surprised there isn’t any code of behaviour or policy that outlines acceptable behaviour in relation to alcohol and other substances at work. Also it’s not inclusive generally to have mandatory and regular meetings centred around alcohol. This does speak to me of larger issues – are there not other ways to support employees working in difficult contexts?

      1. Thegreatprevaricator*

        Yes and offer flexible working, have a coherent well-being offer, or supported counselling, a range of optional occasional social offers that don’t hang around alcohol.. wild ideas

  18. Econobiker*

    Unless LW#1’S organization pays for cabs/uber/lyft etc getting them home it’s an easy way around participating because of the risk for a DUI/OWI etc. if you were to leave the premises over the limit. I’d think you should instruct the person holding the “meeting” about the consequences of driving while intoxicated even if just referring to your state or province drivers manual section about the subject.

    At the very least, if you can’t exit the event, you could sit around playing games or reading an e book on your phone as your “drinky” time to decompress!

    1. Jinni*

      The EU has a zero tolerance for alcohol and driving. I’m trying to imagine how or where this is acceptable.

      1. bamcheeks*

        I don’t think that’s true, unless you mean something different to what I’d mean by “zero tolerance”! I’ve lived in cities in Germany and Ireland and whilst the vast majority of people I know would heavily frown on anyone having multiple drinks and driving, having a personal limit of one or two drinks and then driving is extremely common, just as it is in the UK.

        1. londonedit*

          Absolutely. Drink-driving – as in having more than one or two drinks and then getting in the car – has become pretty much socially unacceptable in the UK over the last 25 years or so, but that’s not to say it doesn’t happen, because it does. As does the self-policed ‘I’ve only had one and that was an hour ago, I’ll be fine to drive’. And plenty of countries in the EU still have real problems with drink-driving even if the official stance is ‘zero tolerance’.

        2. Analyst*

          Heck, in Germany you can get in trouble for being drunk on a bicycle….I found this kinda wild when I lived there….

          1. Retiring Academic*

            I believe that in the UK you can technically get in trouble for being drunk on a horse, even if the horse her/himself is stone-cold sober.

            1. OfOtherWorlds*

              I wonder if you could get in trouble for riding a drunk horse, even if you were sober? (Actually, now that I think about it, riding a horse whose balance is impaired seems likely to lead to trouble in the form of serious injury.)

              1. bamcheeks*

                This feels like the beginning of a riddle— where is the cyclist in relation to the horse?

          2. bamcheeks*

            Yes, although as my lawyer-flatmate advised me, it’s a civil not a criminal offence!

          3. Smurfette*

            Apparently drunk pedestrians cause a lot of road accidents, and I imagine the same would be true for drunk cyclists

          4. MigraineMonth*

            Driving a motorboat while intoxicated is both illegal and the cause of quite a few tragedies in the US.

        3. doreen*

          I think people use “zero-tolerance” differently. There’s “zero tolerance” as in penalties are imposed if you are caught driving with any measurable alcohol. In the US, these laws typically apply to those under a certain age. But sometimes people use zero-tolerance to mean people will be arrested for DWI if they test over the legal limit with no exceptions rather than the police allowing you to call someone to pick up you and your car or something similar with no lasting consequences.

          1. Jinni*

            Yes, this is what I meant. I only drive occasionally (renting a car to go out of the city), but don’t drink on those occasions. Everyone here and in France and Germany has told me that you’ll be taken in immediately, no warning, no exceptions. Us expats with residency always fear that being the thing that gets us kicked out…

          2. bamcheeks*

            people will be arrested for DWI if they test over the legal limit with no exceptions rather than the police allowing you to call someone to pick up you and your car or something similar with no lasting consequences

            Oh wow, OK, it definitely wouldn’t occur to me to describe that as zero tolerance! I see what you mean.

          3. londonedit*

            Oh right, yeah…I mean, that’s just ‘being arrested for drink-driving’ which is what’s going to happen if you’re breathalysed by the police and found to be over the limit when you’re behind the wheel of a car.

      2. Nodramalama*

        I’m confused by saying the EU has zero tolerance. It seems like many of the countries in the EU use BAC limits and most are not 0.0?

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I think it means “this is an actual criminal offence that will be pursued and you should expect to lose your licence” rather than “you will get a ticket”.

  19. MassChick*

    Just the terms Drinky Day gives me the creeps. If it were me, I’d just politely state (not ask) that I would not be attending and do any necessary updates using alternate and appropriate channels.

  20. Cats Ate My Croissant*

    Does the person who named it ‘drinky day’ also say things like ‘hubby’, ‘wifey’ and ‘holibobs’, by any chance?

    1. Lab Boss*

      OK, I’ve heard Hubby and Wifey (my wife and I have shirts that say them, and yes, we got them ironically). What’s a “holibob?”

      1. londonedit*

        Holiday. It’s a UK thing (maybe also Australia?) – there’s become a bit of a trend to rename things like ‘holiday’ to ‘holibobs’ and that’s not even starting with the whole ‘platty joobs’ (platinum jubilee) / ‘cozzy livs’ (cost of living crisis) / ‘genny lec’ (general election) thing.

            1. bamcheeks*

              I got earwormed for several weeks of late 2022 (the Truss premiership and aftermath) and then the last six weeks with Tom Lehrer’s Vatican Rag, but the words,

              I did not do platty jubes
              I did not do statty funes
              but I will with great respects
              genny lex genny lex genny lex

          1. metadata minion*

            Is *that* where that comes from?? Thank you; I love random etymology like that!

        1. Two Dog Night*

          Oh good grief. One of my friends (US) insists on “birfday” instead of “birthday”, even in writing, and it’s like fingernails on a chalkboard to me.

        2. Artemesia*

          The UK has this weird ( to me) habit of baby talk terms for many things e.g. Brekky, prezzies, and now holibobs. Hadn’t heard holibobs before but it fits that pattern.

          1. I&I*

            A lot of them don’t land on the UK ear like baby talk, if that helps. Just casual; UK speakers have a tendency to abbreviate as a way of being informal, and words like ‘brekky’ and ‘telly’ trip off the tongue faster than their origin words. Those have been around for generations.

            ‘Genny lec’ and ‘cozzy livs’ are new. I suspect shortening there a sign that everyone is sick of them messing up our lives so much that we have to talk about them this much. Any phrase less doom-laden is a mild defiance.

            ‘Drinkies’ is always baby-talk, though; that’s adding a syllable just to be cutesy.

        3. MigraineMonth*

          Well at least we’re all being screwed by something that sounds adorable and cozy, right?

        4. GythaOgden*

          Oh god I hadn’t heard those and now wish I hadn’t — it sounds like something out of A Clockwork Orange and is making me think of razzy droogs and gullivers and everything else, and I actually read the book recently and wish I hadn’t, not for the glories of Nadsat but because of the mental images the rest of it conjured up.

          ‘Chrimbo’ for Christmas is bad enough.

  21. Turingtested*

    OP 1, in the US, roughly 30% of adults self report having less than one drink a month. Imo happy hours, “drinky days” etc. are inherently exclusionary because so many people abstain for so many reasons. Generally these are good intentioned but fundamentally thoughtless events in a work setting.

    I’ve had good success pointing out how many people don’t drink and suggesting we offer non alcoholic treats “to keep things fair.” That way it’s about the culture of the US and being inclusive vs “picking on their drinking.”

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Even as a barely drinker, I was surprised at how how high a percentage were the nondrinkers and barely drinkers (e.g. 1 drink/year). Popular culture doesn’t reflect this at all. The top 10% of drinkers are carrying the industry.

      1. Turingtested*

        Yes I learned those stats after I quit drinking and was shocked! I thought most people had at least one drink a week.

      2. Kotow*

        That definitely amazes me but that’s probably due to the fact that my profession is known for having a drinking culture, as does my religious tradition and my social activities. Definitely very interesting!

  22. DJ Abbott*

    LW1, I have doubts about saying anything to your manager.
    The manager of my department also puts her social needs first. She is very friendly and sociable and tries to make every interaction a party. She came when I had been at this job for more than a year and my impression was she was friendly and supportive, though I did see the unprofessionalism.
    Then she gave me a bad review, ignoring all my hard work, with criticisms out of left field.
    After four months, you don’t know her well enough to know how she’ll respond to this. Since she makes her social needs a priority, she probably has other unprofessional qualities too. She might try to punish you and/or make you leave the job.
    I would probably just keep working while this is going on and maybe say something once in a while to pretend I’m participating.
    If there’s a way you can tip off someone above her without it coming back on you, maybe do that. But again, the person you tip off would have to know to NOT go straight to her and say “LW1 told me…” and not all grown-ups know that.
    Whether you take action or not, this practice probably won’t last forever as it will cause other problems.

    1. MsM*

      At minimum, I feel like OP needs to be able to pipe up and say that she has commitments after 5 and can’t stick around because everyone else isn’t done chatting (no one else needs to know that said “commitments” are getting the heck out of there). If even that’s a bridge too far, I don’t think just keeping their head down is going to make this an okay place to work in the long run.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      The oddest thing for me about the four-day work week bit is that if there isn’t enough work available for you to hit your target on Thursday, you’ll have to come in on Friday to twiddle your thumbs?

      Surely the actual measure should be “how much is left to do” rather than “how much have you done”.

      Also strong temptation to take Mondays off, as it will be the Mon-Thu gang who most often have to do an extra day, and the Tues-Fri have to be in on Friday regardless.

      1. bamcheeks*

        Yes, I’m slightly confused how this works with the Monday or Friday split. I can’t work out whether it’s

        a) if the team has completed 80 TPS reports by Thursday evening, everyone is given their Friday OR Monday off, depending on which they’ve opted for

        b) if the team has completed 80 TPS reports by Thursday evening, everyone on the Friday rotation gets their day off; if the team has completed 100 TPS reports by Friday evening, the Monday people get their day off

        Or something else? Because both of these just seem very ripe for inequity. I hope someone tracks the Monday and Friday people at the end of the year to see whether they got roughly equal days off!

        1. doreen*

          I think the goals are individual so that if I have completed my 80 TPS reports between Mon- Thurs, I get Friday off and if you have completed your 80 between Tues-Friday, you get Monday off.

          Surely the actual measure should be “how much is left to do” rather than “how much have you done”.

          That depends on the job – I had a job where I had to make a certain number of successful client contacts in a month. The amount varied from month to month depending on the number of clients I was assigned that month but it was X contacts per client. If I had a good month , I might have finished those contacts three or four days before the end of the month. So how many I had already done was directly related to “how many are left to do”.

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            I can see how that would work for you, but OP isn’t in control of their inputs, and comments:

            “You could bust your butt and still not meet goals cause there simply weren’t enough requests.”

            You can’t do work that doesn’t exist.

    3. cottagechick73*

      I was also thinking about faking an alcoholic drink in the short term to 1) get a little more intel on how the manager would react to any kind of negative feedback 2) figuring out if there is someone above her that could take a more definitive action to shut the whole thing down or 3) finding out if there are others in your group that hate this too so you can act as a group instead of an individual. A coke with ice is a go to for a lot of people at a party with drinking where they don’t want to go into why they are not drinking (because its nobody’s business). I have done this a lot and no one really pushes if you say ‘no thank you I already have a drink’ with this ruse.

  23. Cabbagepants*

    #2 I think the company made the mistake of trying to have it both ways: offer a 4-day workweek as a perk, but not make any business allowances to accommodate it. “You get a day off, unless we decide you don’t” sucks, actually.

    1. bamcheeks*

      I was just thinking what a nightmare it sounds to administer! Maybe all the tracking and quantifying is already built into most people’s jobs anyway, but there must be some areas where it isn’t. Imagine being the manager having to decide every Thursday whether people have Done Enough to be granted the Friday off, oof.

    2. Lab Boss*

      When my department first made a proposal to go to an across-the-board 4×10 work week with Fridays off, the company was concerned about emergencies on Fridays that might require coverage. Their original request was “OK, but we have to be able to decide as late as 4pm on Thursday that any-or-everyone must be here Friday, and you can only guarantee a Friday off if you use PTO to block out a day that you already were supposed to have off.”

      We’re all salaried and exempt so it wasn’t an issue of hours paid, but that setup is clearly a nightmare. We pushed back hard and the revised version was “Be willing to be flexible with your hours, and the more senior you are the more likely you might need to hop onto a meeting on a Friday now and then.” That’s WAY more realistic.

      1. Analyst*

        so…your employer compressed the 40 hour work week into 4 days (which is….not less work) …and still kept the option to make people come in more? Yikes.

        1. Lab Boss*

          It’s not less work- while I will always beat the drum for actually shortening the work week, that wasn’t on the table and we universally agreed we preferred 4×10 to 5×8.

          Because of the nature of our role and the fact that the company as a whole still operates M-F, there are VERY rare occasions where Friday work needs to happen so we aren’t bringing a process to a grinding halt. In corporate’s first version, we were all locked into our minimum 4×10 week and then also sometimes Fridays if they decided it was necessary (“you’re salaried, we pay you for the work not the time!”) In the current version IF something truly has to happen on a Friday, we just flex the hours from a different day and don’t work extra time. It’s imperfect but there remains agreement that we like this better than the default 5×8.

    3. Malarkey01*

      Ehhh Summer Fridays have been a thing in my industry for decades and it usually works well. It’s a bonus day off you get to take advantage of a lot but occasionally need to work during (just like occasionally having to work late at work).

      It probably takes a minute to get used to if you’re new to the industry but it’s seen as a great perk.

      1. Lady Danbury*

        The difference between Summer Fridays vs this system (at least everywhere I’ve seen it implemented) is that Friday is treated as another weekend day, so there isn’t a set weekly criteria to earn the Friday off. Obviously you may need to work sometimes, just like many jobs require late nights and/or weekends, but that is considered the exception, not something that you have to earn every single week. Having to earn it every week makes it ripe for abuse, imo.

        1. sparkle emoji*

          Ehh, I work at a company with Summer Fridays and we have criteria to “earn” them. It’s attainable and if we don’t get there we just leave in the early afternoon rather than at noon(so still early, just not as early). It sounds like the issue at LW’s workplace is the criteria to earn the extra day isn’t attainable, not that there is criteria.

        2. Malarkey01*

          I think it’s semantics. We’ve always had x needs to be done by the end of the week, if it’s not done by Thursday you’ll need to come in on Friday. Then we’d have conversations on Thursdays to see if we wanted to stay late or come in the next day when those aren’t met.

          To me it’s the company being pretty clear on what they mean when they say your work has to be done for the week which is always good management.

      2. londonedit*

        Summer Fridays are a thing in my industry (publishing) but the way it works is that you work extra time Monday-Thursday, so you can finish at lunchtime on Friday. You don’t have to prove that you’ve done ‘enough’ work; it’s just a case of working your contracted hours over 4.5 days instead of 5, so you can finish earlier on Friday afternoon. Like bamcheeks said further up, I can’t imagine the logistics of trying to ascertain whether people have ‘done enough’ to ‘deserve’ to take Friday off.

    4. Lady Danbury*

      It also seems ripe for abuse, based on the manager’s discretion. If your manager decides the weekly goals, decides who has met them, and decides if you’re needed even if you meet your goals, then I wouldn’t be surprised if Folake the fav gets every Friday off while Bill who the boss hates has to work more often than not.

    5. George*

      Writer of #2 here – this is how I saw it, and I dunno, I get excited about days off and really devastated when they are canceled – I think opting out would have been best for my own mental health, and a couple agreed they felt the same.
      The fact we couldn’t hit our numbers led to people sneaking in work off the clock already to try and get their full pay, or bonuses for being at the top of a leaderboard, made me wary. Even on holidays we needed half the team in.
      Just turning off the switch and not worrying about whether I had it off or not, and no need to grdin extra hard to meet it, felt better to me.

  24. Not a Penguin*

    My large regional employer made a shift to our corporate matching policy only a couple years ago. Our company vision statement involves improving health outcomes..and so now only organizations that work in that space get a match. As far as I know, the total amount devoted to our foundation hasn’t changed.

    I have also not changed what I support overall — my triple match for giving tuesday goes to a local organization that provides support for the unhoused local population including a food bank, they also match for orgs that provide pregnancy / anti pregnancy services…and my donations to local art museums, symphonies, etc don’t get a match.

    I find it super weird — since our large regional employer is a sports supporter, a ‘broadway in local place’ supporter, a supporter of annual large regional sporting event supporter, a local ‘firework fest’ supporter…. Clearly the corporate money is not so earmarked as the match money.

    I wish we’d go back to the former policy where any eligible non-profit sans religious orgs would get a full match up to $1500/annually.

    1. Lab Boss*

      I do understand it from the corporate point of view- while they may donate their money to a wide RANGE of causes, they aren’t donating to an infinite number of specific individual charities/funds. That means each and every place their money goes can be vetted for any problems or potential PR issues, while matching everything employees donate to could create some bad press even if you assume all the employees donate in good faith.

      I mean, look at the tone here on the recent question about someone wearing an NRA shirt- I’ve been involved in summer camp shooting programs my whole life and donate charitable dollars to those programs, which means my donations often run through the NRA or similar orgs. That seems like it should fit your former policy, as it’s a non-religious org and the specific programs I donate to are for youth education and safety (my dollars don’t touch the political arm). Still, an awful lot of people would hold a company at fault for “donating to the NRA.”

    2. LW4*

      Not a Penguin, I do kind of understand this decision. We do want our giving policy to be in line with the mission of our company, so tying it to your vision statement seems like an easy way to do that. However we also want to boost morale and it seems like these two things are running counter to each other!

  25. MI Dawn*

    OP#4: My company donation matches, within criteria. Similar to what Alison has in her reply, they also limit the donation-eligible charities to those within the state in which it resides. This wouldn’t help for a large, multi-state or international company, but for smaller businesses, it may be a way to go.

  26. RVA Cat*

    Is OP1’s org the Don Draper Foundation?
    Better get out before Drinky Friday involves a lawnmower.

  27. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

    LW3, I cringed. If you haven’t already apologised to this client, do that first and then make sure your employee knows in no uncertain terms that she crossed a line. You could also emphasise that she isn’t doing her son any favours by pulling that kind of stunt, and any potential employers will be put off hiring him rather than deal with a potentially overbearing parent.

    1. Mom2ASD*

      Agreeing!! I totally understand the situation of wanting to help your kid gain employment, but there’s a right and a wrong way to go about it – both ethically and practically.

  28. EP*

    OP4: I’m glad you’re approaching this thoughtfully. I used to work for an organization that matched donations to any 501c3 the organization didn’t have a close working relationship with. It was one of my favorite perks and I did not consider it activism or philanthropy on the organization’s part given how consistent the policy was. But then, amid political changes in the country, the org changed their policies around which donations they’d match. They would no longer match to organizations they deemed controversial, essentially. It shook out in a classic “neutrality” favors the dominant class kind of way, and suddenly felt like a political choice on the organization’s part to me, not a perk. It contributed to me leaving the organization.

    I like the idea of using the donation matching budget toward a company donation the employees vote on if you decide you can’t match all of their donations 1:1.

    1. LW4*

      This is such a helpful comment! We’ve been having our own issues with navigating being a ‘responsible’ company in this current political landscape, and I feel like coming down on the side of ‘neutrality’ would go over like a ton of bricks.

  29. Jessica Clubber Lang*

    The meeting in #1 sounds awful even without the alcohol. I do agree with the advice to ask around and see if others are also put off by this – as a new employee it might be harder to get this changed on your own

  30. HigherEdExpat*

    LW4 – I’m fairly certain my spouse’s F500 company will match employee donations to any 501c3s the company has made corporate grants/support for. That seems like a good impact driven response!

    1. LW4*

      That’s a good rule of thumb! Do you happen to know how the company decides who to give grants to in the first place?

      1. HigherEdExpat*

        Oh this company is goals in terms of community engagement! They have a robust community engagement department combined with a pretty strong connection to the city’s economic development plan/goals.

        It has to be a nonprofit in one of the geographic area served by the company in their strategic giving areas of safety, community building, and environmental responsibility. That’s their website information – but I also know they participate in a number of the local plans/economic development orgs. So that would be a good place for you all to start!

        They give to the United Way, Red Cross, in our town the three biggest neighborhood development orgs, and the art museum, among others.

        happy to geek out more about this!

  31. Crencestre*

    #1: The commentariat has pretty well covered the obvious objection to “Drinky Day” – that it’s a minefield for people with AUD – but that’s only the beginning.

    Plenty of us don’t drink alcohol because we just. don’t. like. it. (duh!) and don’t need the empty calories we’d pile on while consuming a nutritionally empty beverage that we don’t even like! Others take meds that interact badly with alcohol. And many people of Asian descent don’t drink alcohol because of “alcohol flush syndrome” (aka “Asian flush syndrome”); they become very red in the face, their heart rate speeds up and they feel queasy. None of us would appreciate or enjoy being expected to stay at our workstations while being pressured to belt down a beverage that we’d never choose for ourselves!

    Note to OP1’s employer: Forcing your employees to participate in a “fun” activity that actively excludes some of them is NOT the way to boost morale!

  32. Office Plant Queen*

    For charitable donations, my company’s guidelines are 1) no political or religious organizations and 2) must be related to healthcare (our industry) OR work to benefit the local community where the employee requesting it lives or works

    1. Observer*

      I think that this is probably the best policy.

      It’s genuinely neutral and it gives people a lot of leeway.

  33. academic idiot*

    LW 5 – double check with your academic mentor or advisor. no shade to Allison but this is a corporate blog and my mentor has told me differently regarding this. in our academic field (medical/healthcare education) we list the highest degree first, followed by lower degrees. however, your mentor has the best insight

    1. HighestDegreeFirst*

      Yes, I would look askance at someone with a masters and a doctorate not listing the doctorate first regardless of the order earned or which one is more closely aligned to their desired work. I might even wonder what they were trying to hide about it by deprioritizing it.

  34. Ms. Feronia on 5th*

    Re:drinky days

    Having a mandatory 2 hour meeting where nothing is accomplished except complaining and drinking is a nope for me. Being required to be present to this is a nope for me. When I’m at work I want my time to be productive and focused on the work and finding long term solutions to work issues. Drinking isn’t that in my book.

    I’d find a way to bring this to the attention of the Board of Directors AND I’d be looking for a new job.

    Mandatory happy hours should not be a part of any business or non profit. Neither should mandatory game time etc. If they want their drinky time they can do it voluntarily after work hours or shorten the work day for those who may choose not to participate.

  35. HailRobonia*

    “Drinky Day” seems like it would be on one of the signs given to Aidy Bryant’s character in the SNL “Birthday Gifts” sketch (summary: it’s her birthday and her friends all give her increasingly disturbing art signs mostly about drinking – think “Live Laugh Love” but about booze).

  36. Samwise*

    LW 1. Are non alcoholic drinks also provided? Or is the boss pressuring employees to drink alcoholic beverages?

    If everyone is sitting at their desks, and no one has to drink an alcoholic bev if they don’t want to, you can try to treat this as just another stupid pointless meeting. If you can get some work done, listen to music or a podcast — I’d suggest a mindfulness or relaxation podcast— do that. And leave promptly at 5. (Sorry boss, I have an appointment and I’ll miss it if I don’t leave right now. See you Monday! Have a great weekend!

  37. CommanderBanana*

    Gross. This kind of stuff is why nonprofits, especially small ones, get such a bad reputation as crap places to work. It’s basically one person’s little fiefdom.

    I worked at a small (11-12 people) nonprofit where the executive director was a barely-functioning alcoholic. The board finally removed him after he got too drunk to deliver an awards speech at the annual conference AGAIN and forced him to “retire.” This was after literally decades of deteriorating behavior as his alcoholism and related health issues got worse.

    An ED who is so devoted to drinking that she’s hosting mandatory, hours-long drinking parties at an organization that serves a client base that includes a substantial amount of people with substance abuse issues does not sound like someone who will be rational if you opt out.

  38. Spinner of Flax*

    OP3: That employee has just (A) made herself into a snowplow-mom laughingstock at whatever company she tried to get her son hired and (B) made her son look like a mama’s into the bargain. That company will now wonder why on earth the son didn’t apply for a job himself and why he’s such a wimp that he’s allowing Mommy Dearest to speak for him – unfair to the son, of course, who may have had no idea of what his mother is doing, but that’s what will happen nonetheless.

    Please, people; before you barrel out there to try to get your kid hired, stop and think how your behavior looks to the company at which you want said kid to work. As soon as you’re gone, they’ll roll their eyes, shake their heads, enjoy a good laugh at YOUR expense and vow never to hire anyone with such a nosy, interfering parent!

    1. Artemesia*

      If she knows the client is hiring and knows something about the company, she can tell HER SON to take a look at the company and apply if he is interested. Her actions are a firing offense and certainly reason for her boss to be firm about how inappropriate this is if she doesn’t want to go that far or the person is otherwise a useful employee.

  39. Reebee*

    LW1: Is there a state board or some other authoritative agency to which you can report these “meetings”? I’m really struggling to understand how a non-profit that exists to help people struggling with alcohol addiction gets away with these.

  40. Emmy*

    LW1: I’d be tempted to just bring a book because I sure wouldn’t be able to focus on work. Or perhaps start journaling, either for private life or jutting down what I need to work on next week, something nice to have done that doesn’t require much brain. Until I find work elsewhere because there has got to be more problems you just haven’t found yet – the fish rots from the head down.

  41. Lily Potter*

    There’s been enough said about it not being cool that the boss expects everyone to partake in Drinky Day. However, that’s not going to change because OP1 (a new employee) doesn’t like it – so my response here is toward how OP1 can deal with the reality of it.

    I’d like to ask OP1 – how much of your irritation is due to the alcohol and how much of it is due to the fact that you’re forced into regularly scheduled social time with your co-workers? In other words, if Drinky Day went dry, would you still resent it? I have a sense that what you dislike most is the “sitting around shooting the bull” aspect of it – perhaps as a newer employee, it’s uncomfortable for you to sit around sharing for two hours every other week with people you don’t know well? In any event, I wouldn’t ask to be exempted out or ask to work from home right now. As a newer employee, it’s going to give off major anti-social vibes to the rest of the team. You don’t have to drink and you don’t have to overshare in the conversation, though contributing here and there would be a good idea. Treat Drinky Day as a boring team building exercise that’s part of the job. After you’ve been with the organization for a while and seen some staff turnover, you might have standing to try to opt out or have a discussion with your manager about changing the format. But right now, trying to change or opt out of a beloved office tradition is not going to end well for you.

    1. CommanderBanana*

      ^^ That’s what I’d do. Stuff like this is sometimes just the price of admission at an organization. Especially since this is coming from the executive director at what sounds like a smaller nonprofit. If this were one manager in one department in a large org, the answer might be different. I’d probably just sit there and zone out and pretend to drink.

    2. Reebee*

      But the organization exists to help addicts, yet the boss wants to drink socially *at work* for what amounts to chit chat. That’s the big picture here; there is no team-building, and the delicacy of being new and being seen as anti-social has no practical bearing here.

      1. Lily Potter*

        Sure, that’s the big picture – but proclaiming “drinking socially is bad for this organization!” doesn’t help OP1, a lowly employee of four months. There’s what “should be” and what “is”. OP1 (a new employee) can’t change “what should be” at this point. Their options are to suck it up or try to opt out, and I’m recommending the former.

        1. Plate of Wings*

          Your advice seems to be the most likely to get results. I’m pretty forthright and outspoken, but I would not push back on something that at least some people enjoy as a 4-month employee. It really does need capital to work.

    3. allathian*

      The boss sounds like she’s an alcoholic in denial without any non-work social outlets. Just how effective is she at serving the population the org is supposed to help?

      1. Bella Ridley*

        I mean…you can’t possibly know that from the letter and it’s beyond the scope of it anyway. Does it matter? How on earth could any of us know?

    4. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      “beloved office tradition”
      Maybe to the executive director, but how many others would rather just go home? Or at least destress for 30 minutes and without the booze.

  42. We're BtWBH*

    #1 I worked at a similar company. My manager came around with jello shots at 10:19 one morning. I actually checked my watch, I was so surprised. Everyone was expected to drink, those who did not were labeled as not team players. This was a large multinational company with over 200 people at our location.

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

      OMG!! I would be like “OK I’ll drink but whose covering the trip to the hospital and/or medical costs because my LIFE SAVING MEDICATION doesn’t mix well with alcohol. (also, I will be in the bathroom because I have learned that alcohol does not like my stomach!)

  43. Banana Pyjamas*

    LW 4

    Could your organization pick a couple of local organizations to have a long term support for? My last organization supported the local women’s shelter pancake fundraiser and children’s hospital fun run, which were both annual events.

  44. NotAnotherManager!*

    LW4, the way my mid-sized (500-1000 employees) organization does matching for any non-profit that is not a religious or political organization and does not discriminate against people based on race, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc. They will not pay your or your child’s tuition, sports/entry fees, tithe, etc. We do not donate to political campaigns, period (there are also reporting obligations there that no one needs to take on in addition to their own job). Donations must be a minimum amount, mostly so the financial folks are not processing thousands of $5 matching checks, and there is an annual maximum matching amount per employee.

    Other than that, there are really no restrictions. When the organization started (and was much smaller), there was a donations committee, and that just ended up with everyone walking away some degree of unhappy with the choices/voting, so they decided to let the employees choose. It’s a diverse employee population, so I’m sure there are organizations that I would not love getting money, and I’d be there are some people who’d be less than impressed with my annual donation list as well. We do also have a couple of organizations we do annual company fundraisers for in the office (one is supported by a March Madness bracket pool w/ entry fees and employer-donated prizes) – those tend to be very noncontroversial local organizations like community food pantries or industry charitable organizations that provide goods/services to those who can’t afford to pay. They are also entirely optional with no pressure to participate.

    For my matching donations, I also reserve one slot each per year for my teenagers to choose a nonprofit that they want to give to. I’ve taught them how to use tools like Charity Navigator, look up 501(c)(3) status on the IRS website, and helped them find causes that were important to them. They’ve picked everything from a scholarship fund at the local youth sports league to cover fees for those who can’t afford them to urban park renewal funds to a Title I school trying to replace their 30+-year-old band uniforms. We submit the matching requests together after we make our donation.

  45. George*

    Writer of #2 here – I think for me it was going to be the added pressure from above to be done by Thursday if you didn’t opt out that I didn’t want to deal with. And if I was opted in, whether I wanted to partake or not, that pressure would be there, and I’d put it on myself as I’d want an extra day off, then be mad about putting forth extra effort when it didn’t happen. To be opted in then just say “I’m gonna spread it out over a week anyway” just wouldn’t have felt right if that’s not what everyone else was doing.
    As I’ve mentioned in other comments, a large portion of our pay was based on metrics, and some months a single bad review or missed metric could cost the price of several utility bills. As not many responded to reviews and it was a %. I couldn’t include every detail, but we were asked to work some saturdays to keep the backlog down, and many people snuck in work off-the-clock (we were hourly) to hit the numbers to get a chance at full pay that month, especially on slower months where it wasn’t possible for everyone to hit the required numbers.
    Just not having to think about it would have been good for my brain personally.

    1. Observer*

      I think that you have a choice to get angry or not about getting the day off. BUT- and this is the biggie, that’s not really the issue here. The real issue is that there is something really problematic with your management. Whether it’s just your division or the company as a whole, this is some pretty terrible management.

      The idea that you can lose that kind of money, and that your actual pay and the pay that you were promised are two wildly different things is seriously problematic. The fact that people feel pressured to sneak in hours off the clock (which is illegal if you are hourly) is terrible. The fact that you are being held to metrics that either are too high for your capacity to handle or that cannot be fulfilled because there is not enough work is beyond ridiculous. I could go on, but overall it seems to me that you have terrible management.

      So much so that I think I’d be looking for a new job. I can’t tell if you are still working there, but if you are I would give a good hard look and evaluate if anything has improved. If not, I would still start looking. The job market is not sizzling hot, but it’s strong enough that you really do have a good shot at finding something at a better place.

  46. Yup*

    There are plenty of people in recovery as well as with personal reasons (religion, etc.) to not be present here alcohol is served. It’s one thing to bow out of a holiday event with alcohol, and quite another to be mandated to attend and encouraged to participate. Plus what a terrible activity for a nonprofit helping people with addiction and other issues! I would not want to be the employee whose name gets attached to breaking this tradition, but there must also be a lot of employees very uncomfortably going along with it who need a voice to speak up.

  47. Many degrees*

    When my Ivy League degree dropped to the back half of my resume (because I had enough experience that I switched to an experience first resume, and enough degrees that it got bumped even further), I can tell you that I still got to talk to a prized employer at a recruiting fair because they saw my Ivy League degree on the back side.

    I didn’t particularly like that they thought that was more important than my other qualities (and it’s the one stand-out time that it has made a difference, and still didn’t get me a job with them). But it is interesting that to some extend if you think you’re burying the lede, it’ll be found if they’re the type of people who care that much.

    1. DegreeFirstClub*

      I still list my education first even though I have 30 years of experience because my education still gets me in the door more often than anything else on my resume (undergrad at a non-Ivy top10 school, grad at an Ivy). I have gotten pulled out of slush piles of resumes several times because of it and even got offered a contract sight unseen once because the boss went to grad school at my undergrad in an adjacent field and had almost no time to interview/hire folks.

      So degree first for me, probably until the day I retire.

      1. Many degrees*

        My grad schools are all state schools (nothing wrong with them, but they were cheaper my primary work degree is in library science and really, nobody cares where you go for that, and my other grad degrees are education related). So even with my Ivy undergrad, three state schools show up first in an education-first resume style.

  48. SocialNotDrinking*

    OP1, I think it makes a big difference whether you’re just allowed to drink or expected to drink. If expected to drink, that would be a problem. If it’s just allowed, I’d treat it as any other meeting unless you absolutely can’t be around alcohol or folks get inappropriate while drunk.

    I’ve worked primarily in tech across multiple industries. Maybe 25% of the places I’ve worked allowed beer at the office for consumption late in the day (sometimes just on Fridays, sometimes any day of the week). Maybe 1/2 of them provided the beer. Of the ones where it wasn’t a regular thing most had some special events with beer. A few had infrequent mid-afternoon (on the clock) trips to a bar (with food too) once a quarter or so. Most places allowed folks to order alcohol including other types at company paid lunches out of the office. Almost every company sponsored evening event of any kind included optional alcohol.

    I don’t drink beer or wine at all, and almost never have mixed drinks. It was never a problem. But if I’d been unwilling to ever be near alcohol it would have been a problem unless I had a good reason I was willing to share. I could have declined to participate most of the time (not quite all) but it would have meant limited or no social time with bosses, bosses of bosses, etc. I realize this is problematic and not ideal, but it’s also the way it’s been and unless you’re the one at the top of the food chain it’s unlikely to change. So if they’re not pressuring you to drink, no one is harassing you while drunk, and you don’t have a medical reason to avoid being around alcohol (not just not drink it) I think you should suck it up. Or look for a new job, but realize you may have a more low key/less frequent/better naed version of this at other jobs.

  49. Kotow*

    Re Drinky Days: So in fairness, I’m an attorney and we’re known for having a drinking culture. This sounds extremely similar to my former workplace (we’d stop work at 3, have a meeting for about 2 hours which consisted of maybe 20-30 minutes of actual work-related issues on average and the rest of the time was socializing, and yes, there was usually alcohol involved). Nobody was forced to drink or even stay the entire time, but alcohol was definitely present. I wouldn’t say my boss had an alcohol issue; he actually had the lowest visible tolerance of all of us. So this event actually seems completely in line with my profession’s culture.

    I think it may help to identify **what** about the meetings is bothersome. Is it specifically about alcohol or is it because they’re unproductive? You’re probably not the only one who would prefer not to go to these, so perhaps pushing back as a group would help at least take out the mandatory part of it. Additionally, as others have pointed out, there are a lot of people who would be excluded if it turns into a weekly booze-fest (it’s not clear from the letter if it’s closer to frat boy style, or a glass or two of wine over two hours). Plenty of people don’t drink for personal reasons, and eventually there’s going to be someone working there who can’t/chooses not to drink who will be left out. Especially if it’s particularly rowdy, that’s even worse.

  50. Delta Delta*

    OP 1 – I worked at a law firm where from time to time we’d end at 4 on a Friday and have drinks and a meeting for 1/2 hour (or more). We had at least one person who didn’t drink, so on days we did that I always made sure we had lemonade or soda for her. And more than once other people had non-alcoholic drinks for whatever reason. But before she worked with us, nobody thought to bring something that wasn’t alcohol. This tiny bit of kindness and inclusiveness actually made it easy for other people to feel like they didn’t have to have a beer they didn’t want. Maybe if the office isn’t into stopping with the tradition all together, make sure there’s something there that isn’t alcohol and see what happens. Just a thought.

  51. JB*

    I was kind of surprised that Alison dismissed OP’s frustration with not being able to plan around the day off for LW#2. I used to work in a job where I had rotating weekends, and in exchange I would get a weekday off leading up to and following the weekend I worked (usually a Thurs/Fri and Mon/Tues). As much as I didn’t love working the weekend, having these weekdays off was so convenient for scheduling appointments and things that I didn’t really want to use PTO for. A lot of places now have penalties for late cancellations too, so I totally see where OP is frustrated by the day off not actually being set in stone.

  52. HonorBox*

    OP1 – While an occasional work happy hour (even in the office) is OK, it feels like this is excessive. For two reasons… First, the number of occasions/amount of time. Second, the mandatory nature of it.

    If the boss set aside some time every now and again to have a beverage (alcoholic or non) and destress as a team after a particularly stressful period of time, or in celebration of some great work, that seems reasonable. But regularly having these for two hours at a time is quite a bit of time being spent doing nothing.

    If these are mandatory and they’re being classified as a meeting, there should be an agenda and outcome. Even a loose agenda where there’s some brainstorming around a particular topic would be better. But if everyone has to stick around and there’s nothing that comes of it, I think it is a huge problem. Your time is better served doing your actual work, or if people are going to continue to sit around and drink, your personal time might be better served by leaving at 3 on a Friday so you can get a jump start on your weekend.

    I think asking the boss if you can fully opt-out because you’re not comfortable drinking at work is a good option. You can even suggest that you feel like there’s no actual work-related outcome with these “meetings” and you’re wondering if they can be optional and not mandatory.

  53. Vio*

    How does donation matching work from an employee privacy point of view? Presumably to match the donation the company has to receive proof of a donation being made by an employee. What if an employee on a tighter budget worries they’ll be penalised for not donating ‘enough’? Or if people worry about being judged for what charities they do donate to (for example an anti-guns or LGBTQ charity in areas where those are controversial)?

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