Wedding Woes

Involve your boss.

Dear Prudence,

Eight months ago, my colleague “Andrea” lost her husband. They were married for 20 years, and have two children under 18. It’s obviously an awful situation, and Andrea still understandably struggles a lot with her grief. We are fortunate enough to have a great workplace that is very flexible—Andrea took three weeks off paid, and another three weeks unpaid. (Yes, I know I said they’re great, and they are—they are a small company that cannot afford to give someone 1.5 months off paid. They did tell her that her job would always be there for her if she needed more time, and they’ve also been completely supportive of her changes in schedule now that she’s a single parent.)

A little over two months ago, my cousin suddenly died. She was the same age as me, and we grew up basically as sisters. We were extremely close, and went through a few tough situations in each other’s’ lives together. I was (and still am) devastated. I took off a week to mourn, and am planning on taking another week soon to go with family members to my cousin’s lake house to celebrate her memory. Andrea found out, and confronted me, basically saying that I’m a terrible person because I “only” lost my cousin, while she lost her husband/father of her children, and I should be donating my paid time to her, instead of “taking a nice vacation” while her whole life is turned upside down. I was completely caught off guard, and had no idea how to respond, so I said, “Andrea, I’m so sorry you’re going through this, please know you’ve always had my full support.”

Well … she took that to mean I was agreeing to give her my vacation time, and I had to stop her, because she literally turned around to walk to our boss’s office to tell them. I said that wasn’t what I meant, I’m sorry she misunderstood. She called me a bitch, and now I’m public enemy #1. Around our boss, she dials it down by just not interacting with me, but otherwise, she’s pretty much openly hostile, and a couple of other colleagues have confided that she’s been trash-talking me up and down. I honestly don’t even care about that. They haven’t taken sides, and I don’t expect them to—as long as they’re still civil and neutral towards me at work, I don’t care if they let her vent in private to them. But, I cannot keep working with her blatant hostility. I don’t know what to do—I really don’t want to involve our boss (who, I do think suspects that something is up), but there’s no way I can talk to Andrea. For clarity—I don’t think Andrea would get in trouble if I reported this, I just don’t want my boss to have to play mediator. So, what’s the solution here?

— Grief is a Curious Thing

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Re: Involve your boss.

  • Talk to your boss.  Be clear that you are going to take the time that YOU need to mourn YOUR loss which in no way shape or form is a competition with Andrea's. What you also intend to do is work towards your  economic obligation to your mutual employer with the requirements that the job entails.  

    It is time to be clear and document the statements made to your boss and HR because Andrea may need additional therapy to cope with her grief but that does not mean that she's allowed to create a hostile work environment. 
    charlotte989875VarunaTTMissKittyDangerei34
  • Nobody likes having to get the boss involved in a workplace conflict, but I think you have to here. Andrea is creating a hostile work environment and trying to involve other people in her problem with you. This could turn into a situation where she interferes with your work and your ability to do your job, and you really should let your boss know what's going on before that happens.

    You have just as much right to take time off to grieve a loved one as Andrea does. Frankly, considering how generous and understanding your office has been with her, I think she's got a lot of nerve. 
    image
    VarunaTTshort+sassy
  • She’s weaponizing her grief at you, and that’s not on you to take. Talk to your boss so they know what’s up. And take however much time you want to grieve. 
    ei34
  • I agree with everyone else.  My bullying co-worker has always been terrible; she also recently lost her husband and her terribleness has escalated.  I've literally said, "I know she's grieving and I know there's some mental health issues AND she's not allowed to pull all of us into those things with her by her behavior".  It wouldn't be okay in a personal relationship and it's certainly not okay in a professional relationship.  Boss needs to know and then let boss decide how they will handle it.
    mrsconn23charlotte989875Casadenaei34
  • Andrea is in an awful headspace clearly.

    LW needs to talk to their boss asap because regardless of situation - most companies you cannot "donate" your vacation
  • banana468 said:
    Andrea is in an awful headspace clearly.

    LW needs to talk to their boss asap because regardless of situation - most companies you cannot "donate" your vacation
    This isn't true.  In several companies including where I currently work, an employee is able to donate surplus PTO.   We have had several situations where an employee has presented a hardship to HR and there is a maximum donated amount they are allowed to receive.    
    Yeah, it's definitely a thing.  My company doesn't allow it, but I've heard of it happening.  It's actually something that kind of highlights that we don't have strong national leave policies or guaranteed time off (yes, FMLA...but there's no pay and the most scant of protections).  So yeah... /political rant 
    CasadenaVarunaTTSTARMOON44levioosa
  • ei34ei34 member
    First Anniversary First Comment First Answer 5 Love Its
    We can donate PTO to coworkers too.  Agree with everyone that it's time to speak to your boss.  I get feeling funny about bringing someone in to mediate but managing your employees is part of the boss's job.  Sorry that LW is dealing with this...I get that the other coworkers don't want to land on Andrea's shitlist but it's too bad a few of them can't check Andrea's behavior when she starts her next rant.
  • mrsconn23 said:
    banana468 said:
    Andrea is in an awful headspace clearly.

    LW needs to talk to their boss asap because regardless of situation - most companies you cannot "donate" your vacation
    This isn't true.  In several companies including where I currently work, an employee is able to donate surplus PTO.   We have had several situations where an employee has presented a hardship to HR and there is a maximum donated amount they are allowed to receive.    
    Yeah, it's definitely a thing.  My company doesn't allow it, but I've heard of it happening.  It's actually something that kind of highlights that we don't have strong national leave policies or guaranteed time off (yes, FMLA...but there's no pay and the most scant of protections).  So yeah... /political rant 
    Yeah it definitely speaks to the issues.

    One that recently arose was a coworker who took PTO to be with her husband who was dying from cancer.  
  • I know of many places that let you donate your PTO to a coworker, including my brother's job. 

    But yeah, she needs to involve the boss. 
    VarunaTT
  • I also find Andrea's behavior odd in that she is targeting the LW's PTO, who also just had a tragedy.  Her other coworkers could donate PTO also, but she isn't bothering them about it.
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  • This is so weird to me. Maybe it's an American thing? Canada you don't get to donate any time off.
    For deaths there's a certain time frame you can get called bereavement - certain legally a lotted and some a company can opt to do depending on situation.
    Example - when my dad passed, my boss told me I could work or not my choice for 2 weeks afterwards because of situation.
    When my nana passed, I got that day {because it happened over night} and the day of her funeral.

    My job was good, and when Angel passed I got a bereavement day.

    For my mum, it was different after my dad. She knew certain days she had to be off but her boss let her flux her hours when she was able to work.
  • Probably a company thing @MissKittyDanger.  Our company doesn’t do that. I joke about that often since I’m ALWAYS using PTO and people in my office complain that they reached their PTO cap and aren’t accruing it anymore.  I always say “give me yours!” I have family that live 5 hours away and could see them more often. Plus, I just use it. 

    mrsconn23
  • This is so weird to me. Maybe it's an American thing? Canada you don't get to donate any time off.
    For deaths there's a certain time frame you can get called bereavement - certain legally a lotted and some a company can opt to do depending on situation.
    Example - when my dad passed, my boss told me I could work or not my choice for 2 weeks afterwards because of situation.
    When my nana passed, I got that day {because it happened over night} and the day of her funeral.

    My job was good, and when Angel passed I got a bereavement day.

    For my mum, it was different after my dad. She knew certain days she had to be off but her boss let her flux her hours when she was able to work.
    It's a company thing.  Some companies allow donated PTO, some don't.  About half the companies I've worked for had "donated PTO" options.  But it's not something that comes up much.

    I assume the LW's workplace has this option or Andrea wouldn't have mentioned it.

    Bereavement leave also isn't something guaranteed.  It's up to the company.

    For the places I've worked, it has to be a specific relationship to you.  Like spouse/parent/sibling/child/grandparent.  That's usually about it.  All the companies I've worked at, it's capped at 3 days.  But some employers might be more generous.
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    STARMOON44
  • Probably a company thing @MissKittyDanger.  Our company doesn’t do that. I joke about that often since I’m ALWAYS using PTO and people in my office complain that they reached their PTO cap and aren’t accruing it anymore.  I always say “give me yours!” I have family that live 5 hours away and could see them more often. Plus, I just use it. 
    I literally do not understand people who don't use their PTO.  Ours is 'use it or lose it' and we're in the vacation industry, so it's encouraged we use it.  I am on a high tenure team, so we actually have issues with high demand days and PTO slots.  Bossman is very flexible and will let people off if we're slow. 
    VarunaTT
  • mrsconn23 said:
    Probably a company thing @MissKittyDanger.  Our company doesn’t do that. I joke about that often since I’m ALWAYS using PTO and people in my office complain that they reached their PTO cap and aren’t accruing it anymore.  I always say “give me yours!” I have family that live 5 hours away and could see them more often. Plus, I just use it. 
    I literally do not understand people who don't use their PTO.  Ours is 'use it or lose it' and we're in the vacation industry, so it's encouraged we use it.  I am on a high tenure team, so we actually have issues with high demand days and PTO slots.  Bossman is very flexible and will let people off if we're slow. 
    No kidding!  If my company would let me, I'd go to a heavy p/t schedule even if it was less money.

    Our state's labor laws don't allow "use it or lose it" policies.  But my company's policy is they'll only roll over 160 hours from year to year and pay out the excess.  Give me the time, not the money!

    A coworker I used to share an office with worked an "every other Friday off" schedule.  He would hoard his vacation time and then take his "on" Fridays as vacation days for the entire last quarter of the year.  He loved, loved his Fridays off, lol.  Plus he was an avid hunter and deer season is toward the end of the year.

    He complained all the time that our company doesn't have a 4 10's schedule.
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    VarunaTTmrsconn23MesmrEwe
  • This is so weird to me. Maybe it's an American thing? Canada you don't get to donate any time off.
    For deaths there's a certain time frame you can get called bereavement - certain legally a lotted and some a company can opt to do depending on situation.
    Example - when my dad passed, my boss told me I could work or not my choice for 2 weeks afterwards because of situation.
    When my nana passed, I got that day {because it happened over night} and the day of her funeral.

    My job was good, and when Angel passed I got a bereavement day.

    For my mum, it was different after my dad. She knew certain days she had to be off but her boss let her flux her hours when she was able to work.
    This isn't just a US thing but based on your employer.  Your time off is through the employer and the only guarantees you have are if your company is big enough to qualify for FMLA but that is unpaid. 

    Ex: Bereavement leave at my company is 3 days.  Additional time I would want to take is PTO and not all people are covered.  I had to use regular PTO to attend the funerals of DH's grandparents and we both had to use regular PTO to attend the funerals of our nieces. 

    But it's company specific about whether or not you can donate PTO and at my employer it's also specific about the quantity of PTO that the employee is allowed to receive as a donation. We do allow rollover of some PTO but it maximizes at 40 hours. 
  • Side question - is PTO like vacation/sick days?
    Because most companies those are separate things.

    Like I've been with my company nearly 10 years so I get 15 vacation days and 10 sick days.

    Is it just X days of PTO and that's it?
  • Side question - is PTO like vacation/sick days?
    Because most companies those are separate things.

    Like I've been with my company nearly 10 years so I get 15 vacation days and 10 sick days.

    Is it just X days of PTO and that's it?
    A lot of companies have moved to combine all time off as PTO to use as you wish.

    PTO encompasses sick or vacation time.  If I happen to get a bad flu and take a week off, that's 5 days PTO burned.  However if I'm not taking sick days the PTO is mine to use as I want. 

    IMO it works out better this way because unless your sick time can be accrued and put towards your retirement (a lot of teachers do this - or they accrue it towards maternity leave extensions) more than 3 sick days a year are considered an excessive absentee problem.  Obviously this is not considering Covid, but the standard in a lot of places if you get sick leave is that you're not supposed to use all of it. 

    At this point I've been working for my current employer for 7 years and rolled my prior PTO in when I was hired.  I have more than 4 weeks I can take off per year with the caveat that vacation needs notice and I can't take more than 2 wks at a time. 


    MissKittyDanger
  • banana468 said:
    Side question - is PTO like vacation/sick days?
    Because most companies those are separate things.

    Like I've been with my company nearly 10 years so I get 15 vacation days and 10 sick days.

    Is it just X days of PTO and that's it?
    A lot of companies have moved to combine all time off as PTO to use as you wish.

    PTO encompasses sick or vacation time.  If I happen to get a bad flu and take a week off, that's 5 days PTO burned.  However if I'm not taking sick days the PTO is mine to use as I want. 

    IMO it works out better this way because unless your sick time can be accrued and put towards your retirement (a lot of teachers do this - or they accrue it towards maternity leave extensions) more than 3 sick days a year are considered an excessive absentee problem.  Obviously this is not considering Covid, but the standard in a lot of places if you get sick leave is that you're not supposed to use all of it. 

    At this point I've been working for my current employer for 7 years and rolled my prior PTO in when I was hired.  I have more than 4 weeks I can take off per year with the caveat that vacation needs notice and I can't take more than 2 wks at a time. 
    Hmm yeh that's a better idea - having it all together - but you could roll from another company?
    Most companies here you start from 0 so you get basis amount {my company basis is 2 weeks where M started at 3 weeks}
  • banana468 said:
    Side question - is PTO like vacation/sick days?
    Because most companies those are separate things.

    Like I've been with my company nearly 10 years so I get 15 vacation days and 10 sick days.

    Is it just X days of PTO and that's it?
    A lot of companies have moved to combine all time off as PTO to use as you wish.

    PTO encompasses sick or vacation time.  If I happen to get a bad flu and take a week off, that's 5 days PTO burned.  However if I'm not taking sick days the PTO is mine to use as I want. 

    IMO it works out better this way because unless your sick time can be accrued and put towards your retirement (a lot of teachers do this - or they accrue it towards maternity leave extensions) more than 3 sick days a year are considered an excessive absentee problem.  Obviously this is not considering Covid, but the standard in a lot of places if you get sick leave is that you're not supposed to use all of it. 

    At this point I've been working for my current employer for 7 years and rolled my prior PTO in when I was hired.  I have more than 4 weeks I can take off per year with the caveat that vacation needs notice and I can't take more than 2 wks at a time. 
    Hmm yeh that's a better idea - having it all together - but you could roll from another company?
    Most companies here you start from 0 so you get basis amount {my company basis is 2 weeks where M started at 3 weeks}
    My situation is not normal.  My employer bought my prior employer and I was an asset that came with the company.  My salary and time off transferred.  


  • Hmm yeh that's a better idea - having it all together - but you could roll from another company?
    Most companies here you start from 0 so you get basis amount {my company basis is 2 weeks where M started at 3 weeks}
    You can probably negotiate when you switch companies but most start off as fresh, new, basic minimum.  And I’ve heard of companies requiring 365 days of service before even using them! (My moms old company did). The US is the worst for paid time off and maternity leave. If you hear of someone in the US who has a ton of vacation with good benefits, it’s probably a European owned company or a tech company like facebook, google, etc.

    when I first started here, we had unlimited sick days.  But then it got abused, and you guessed it, our practices changed to one PTO bank. 

  • PTO donation policies are garbage. Outside of highlighting the problems in our system, there are so many situations where they lead to guilting/bullying. What if LW wasn't going to celebrate her late cousin, but was going to Europe to celebrate a milestone anniversary? Or just going to the lake to recharge and spend time with her family? What if she needed her sick/personal time to deal with health or personal things that she didn't want to share with tcoworkers? Employees need and deserve their time off and shouldn't feel pressured to give that up when someone has a tragedy. 

    Anyway, involve the boss. Andrea's behavior is interfering with your ability to do your job. 
    VarunaTTMesmrEwecharlotte989875
  • A previous employer I had went really crazy with PTO.  When I started, we had particular holidays off.  Separate sick hours.  Separate vacation hours.

    Then one year, they lumped ALL of that together.  Including holidays.  Into one, big PTO bucket.

    Do you want to work Christmas Day and use those PTO hours elsewhere?  Totally could.

    I liked it better because, if I felt like a mental health day, I didn't have to quasi-lie and say I was "sick".  I just said I was taking the day off because it was all the same bucket anyway.

    FWIW, the holiday part rubbed people the wrong way.  Even though they knew, logically, that the total amount of the previous holiday hours was just rolled in.  I think it psychologically felt "off" to have to take PTO time for a holiday.

    Me personally, I thought it was fantastic.  The more flexibility, the better.  And for Christmas specifically, if someone wasn't Christian, than they could work that day and use those hours for their own religion's holiday.  Or a bonus vacation day whenever they wanted.  
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    VarunaTTMesmrEwecharlotte989875
  • Ours is a watered down version of that, S+S, and I love it. Years ago, we had a lot of holidays. Two days for Christmas, two for Thanksgiving, and the silly ones like president's day/veteran's day that most companies work. When they decided to align us with plants that only close on the major holidays, they gave back the difference as floating holidays that really are just extra vacation days. I'd much rather take a day when I want than be off on columbus day for no reason. 
    VarunaTT
  • A previous employer I had went really crazy with PTO.  When I started, we had particular holidays off.  Separate sick hours.  Separate vacation hours.

    Then one year, they lumped ALL of that together.  Including holidays.  Into one, big PTO bucket.

    Do you want to work Christmas Day and use those PTO hours elsewhere?  Totally could.

    I liked it better because, if I felt like a mental health day, I didn't have to quasi-lie and say I was "sick".  I just said I was taking the day off because it was all the same bucket anyway.

    FWIW, the holiday part rubbed people the wrong way.  Even though they knew, logically, that the total amount of the previous holiday hours was just rolled in.  I think it psychologically felt "off" to have to take PTO time for a holiday.

    Me personally, I thought it was fantastic.  The more flexibility, the better.  And for Christmas specifically, if someone wasn't Christian, than they could work that day and use those hours for their own religion's holiday.  Or a bonus vacation day whenever they wanted.  
    I could also see that working well as long as it didn't affect holiday pay for people.  

    If I was going to be paid extra and now I'm not well - no thank you!  But if in the end it's no difference I'm all for it. 
  • Team "Bring the boss in on the situation" because this can also impact long-term planning in regard to PTO and PTO Sharing FWIW.  Sure, it sucks that "Andrea" is now a single Mom, but there comes a point that it's not her coworker's job to supplement her income nor vacation time!

    With our family business, my FIL when there were unique situations had a way of pulling the super-valuable employees aside and on a personal level tell them "Go take care of business at home, we'll work out the details later, your job here is secure..." and he kept track of the amount, but most of it came out of his own personal pocket.  Sadly, isn't the way of the business world anymore where an employer takes care of their loyal employees like that, nor even can depending on the regulations involved if they even wanted to!

    LW deserves to use every second of her PTO even if the only thing she plans to do on her day off is go buy a cupcake and consume it with an adult beverage of choice, and that's NONE of "Andrea's" business!
    short+sassy
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