Dear Amy: I am a hard worker. I try not to let my personal life affect my job.
However, the one thing that I cannot control is one of my three children getting sent home sick from school or daycare.
I work from home; my office closed indefinitely during the pandemic.
My boss is hard on me when I ask to make up my time in the evening so I can care for my sick kids, or when I ask if they can be home while I work.
I needed to leave work six times last year and I called in sick once (I made up all of my missed hours).
During my end-of-the-year review she told me that I needed to have more of a plan for when my kids get sick.
I was so upset and explained that all institutions have become stricter about illness since Covid, especially schools.
I understand the inconvenience, but I also have four weeks of vacation and three days of sick pay a year.
She talked down to me for a solid 10 minutes about my attendance “issues” but never thanked me for all of the weekends I worked so our department stays on track.
Am I being too sensitive? Should I look for a new job where the manager is more understanding?
— Weary Worker
Dear Weary: Some at-home workers report being more productive when their schedules are flexible, and according to you, you are making up all of the time you may have missed due to your childcare responsibilities.
But should your boss thank you for making up the work you’ve been hired to do? I don’t think so.
You should not have to ask permission for your children to be home. They live there! If your company wanted to guarantee a child-free workplace, then perhaps they should expend the resources to reopen their offices.
Your boss might have been attempting to direct you toward setting new goals, but she cannot professionally retaliate based on your need to occasionally use PTO or sick day to take care of a sick child.
The Center for WorkLife Law (worklifelaw.org) has prepared an extensive document outlining the post-pandemic statutes that protect workers from Family Responsibility Discrimination.
According to their research, “At least 195 state and local jurisdictions have enacted laws outlawing discrimination against parents.”
Although this conversation really took you aback, it would be a good idea for you to follow up with an email outlining your productivity and noting that the fact that you work from home means that you pull lots of late nights and weekend work, and that your ability to do this means that your team is on track.
And yes, you should look for another job with a company that values at-home workers’ productivity.
Dear Amy: My brother has spent his adult life in a foreign country.
When our parents were still alive, he brought his family to the U.S. every summer, and we usually saw them then.
Even then he rarely answered emails or returned phone calls.
I send him a chatty email about every month, which he rarely answers.
His inattention reached an extreme when I wrote to let him know that I was having surgery.
He hurt my feelings, but more importantly I don’t think I know how to maintain a relationship with my own brother.
Dear Lost: The word “relationship” invokes the concept of an exchange. You don’t seem to have that with your brother.
It really does take at least two people to maintain a relationship, and based on your description I’d say that you’ve likely had warmer and more personal-seeming exchanges with the cable guy than with this sibling.
You have absolutely nothing to lose here, and so I suggest that you lay it all out. Email your brother and tell him how sad and hurt you feel. Tell him you’d like to have a better relationship with him, and ask him if he is willing to try.
Prepare yourself for the very real possibility that he does not want to try.
Dear Amy: You don’t seem to run many fan letters, but I want you to know how much I appreciate you.
You had a recent response that really moved me, when you wrote: “The best work I do is to amplify the beautiful wisdom of my readers.”
That brought tears to my eyes.
Dear Appreciative: Even though letters of complaint tend to get more traction, I really do appreciate the affirmation.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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