You can't do that on work time
June 12, 2018 9:14 AM   Subscribe

Was I crazy to ask my boss whether I could go to DMV to renew my driver's license on work time? My job requires travel by vehicle (both personal and gov't agency fleet vehicle). It is written into my job description that I must maintain a valid driver's license in my state. But when I said, "Hey Earl [my boss], I need to go to DMV to renew my license. Is it okay if I go on work time?" he basically laughed at me and said, "Nice try!" Was I completely out of line?

I felt really indignant about his response, but accepted it with outward grace.

Additional context: I've been feeling overwhelmed by the demands of work, caring for a small child, and everything else. And feeling a bit resentful about work intrusions into my life and the sense that it is basically impossible to work full time and live a balanced life. So I may not be thinking clearly on this issue.
posted by bennett being thrown to Work & Money (25 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Are you hourly or salaried?
posted by Think_Long at 9:15 AM on June 12


I think your mistake was asking permission, since your job requires you to maintain a valid license.
posted by a halcyon day at 9:20 AM on June 12 [26 favorites]


I'd probably ask my boss to take PTO for an hour to run that errand or ask to take my lunch break to go to the DMV. But I work for a large healthcare corporation and they keep an eye on that kind of stuff.
posted by IndigoOnTheGo at 9:21 AM on June 12


I don't think you were out of line at all, especially if your job requires you to have a valid license. Most workplaces I've been in that have healthy environments would be fine with this kind of thing. Even if it's not technically allowed, a reasonable boss would usually look the other way or allow a work-around. I guess the exceptions might be if it is a position where you need to find someone to cover you if you leave site- in that case it would be more difficult but still not unreasonable I think.
posted by bearette at 9:22 AM on June 12 [1 favorite]


Your job requires you to drive and to maintain a valid license. You weren't even remotely out of line, but your boss sure is. I'm not sure I think you should push back (in fact, I sort of think you shouldn't?) but your expectations are definitely not wrong, and your boss seems like a tool.

FWIW, I let my staff do this kind of thing on work time and none of us ever drive for work.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 9:26 AM on June 12 [10 favorites]


I think it was a valid request, but I'm also not surprised he said no. And I agree with you that full time is hard! But look at it this way, you're also required to dress in office-appropriate garb and arrive at the office, but neither shopping not commuting time is on-the-clock either.
posted by salvia at 9:26 AM on June 12 [33 favorites]


You are not crazy to ask, no. Does your job provide you with enough vacation time to take at least a half day off per month to deal with appointments and general adulting tasks? If not, no wonder you resent "work intrusions into my life". There are jobs that will either be flexible enough to allow you time to do these things or provide enough vacation for you to do them on your own.
Work Life balance often becomes the employee's responsibility to enforce. Whatever the official line is, people will always try to push it. If you are hourly, you must be paid for every minute you work. If you are salaried, you should not be putting in more than 45 hours on a regular basis. Occasional extra time is understood in a salaried position, but if it is a constant thing, the company needs to balance their workload better. You can push back on the life intrusions politely and expect your job to respect your time. If they can't do that, you need to look for another job.
posted by soelo at 9:30 AM on June 12 [2 favorites]


You were not out of line to make the request, I don't think your manager did anything immoral or wrong denying it, however I would certainly take the information that my employer is not interested in my work/life balance at all and use that indignation to fuel a job search for someone that does.
posted by notorious medium at 9:41 AM on June 12 [2 favorites]


You could go back to him and say "hey I think you thought I was joking, but I was serious. I only need this for work; I don't drive for errands or commuting. And with the baby, it's incredibly hard to find any time. Is there really no 'professional licensing and training' category that we could bill 90 minutes to? I can be the one who pays the renewal fee. But it does feel strange that the office is offering no contribution to licensing that it requires."
posted by salvia at 10:05 AM on June 12 [16 favorites]


^ At least that way he would have to give you a more respectful "no" and realize that he's turning you down for something that you really wanted. It's not fun to be laughed off.
posted by salvia at 10:09 AM on June 12 [4 favorites]


I think it was reasonable to ask, but also within the realms of standard/accepted office policy to be told no. But in a professional, reasonable way, not by being laughed at. That sounds like a crappy way to have a reasonable request answered by your manager..

I think that, if possible, I would take this as a cue to get more hard-ass about drawing some work-life boundary lines. Work wants to get really uptight about whether you can take an hour or two off for a work-adjacent errand? Fine. Work does not get extra effort from you outside of agreed-upon hours. Obviously that is not always possible, but if it is, that's where I would begin to push back, in your shoes.
posted by Stacey at 10:14 AM on June 12 [2 favorites]


You weren't out of line, and work-life balance sucks, and now that I think on it I've done this sort of errand without asking permission (do you get any union breaks? that's my go-to excuse, that I'm using the breaks I don't take most days). But I also know that government work often involves an "is this what the taxpayer is paying us for?" kind of environment, and no, generally they aren't paying us to do things that They don't get paid for (and most folks I know who drive in their jobs in the private sector don't get paid to run to the RMV).

So you weren't out of line, but his response probably was honestly mistaking your question as a joke. Sorry!
posted by ldthomps at 10:25 AM on June 12 [1 favorite]


This would not be something done on work time at any of the jobs I've ever had, as a public employee, even the ones that required me to have a driver's license. This is a personal errand.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 10:39 AM on June 12 [12 favorites]


Not crazy. If a job requires you to maintain any sort of license, it ought to allow you time to requalify and recertify for that license. But that's an "ought." I wouldn't push it in this case.
posted by praemunire at 11:26 AM on June 12 [1 favorite]


I don't think you were out of line. At my former Federal agency, this is the kind of thing that the union would have negotiated.
posted by candyland at 11:36 AM on June 12 [1 favorite]


I would not consider going to the DMV as work time unless my job was actually driving something (trucker, deliveries, etc). Even if it's listed on your job description, I'd consider it on par with "having a high school diploma", and plenty of jobs require education and licensing that they don't always help pay for. I don't think you did anything terribly out of line by asking but I'm also not surprised your manager thought you were joking.
posted by yeahlikethat at 12:40 PM on June 12 [1 favorite]


I only need this for work; I don't drive for errands or commuting.
The question does not indicate the OP only uses the license for work.
posted by soelo at 1:19 PM on June 12 [1 favorite]


My job used to require a ton of driving (college admissions/recruitment at high schools) and I would not have dreamt of asking my boss if I could do that on work time. However, if I had, I am quite certain he would have heard me out, rather than just give me a "nice try!".
posted by Caxton1476 at 1:28 PM on June 12


I think your mistake was asking permission...

This.
Since your job requires you to be on the road, could you simply bundle-in a trip to the BMV with a work-related trip? Alternatively, you might be able to do it on a lunch hour.

Does Washington not do online license renewal?
posted by Thorzdad at 1:54 PM on June 12 [2 favorites]


The question does not indicate the OP only uses the license for work.

I know. But I think it's an essential part of making the case. OP talks about work intrusions into personal life, making me think that maybe this license is used just for work. I probably wouldn't suggest even pursuing this if OP needs the license either way.
posted by salvia at 3:40 PM on June 12


Thanks for the responses! I think I am letting my stress and personal politics get the best of me. I think any worker in this situation ought to be able to do this on work time (and in general, workers should be able to do a whole lot more). But that's just not reality.

The good news is two bosses are retiring soon and I am becoming a supervisor. I won't break the rules, but I'll be extremely flexible.
posted by bennett being thrown at 4:09 PM on June 12 [3 favorites]


It never hurts to ask, but I’ve never heard of such a thing and might’ve assume my employee was joking if they asked, too. My workers are required to maintain a driver’s license, and have a bachelor’s degree, and not be felons-those are minimum requirements for continued employment, not something that my (government agency) is responsible for providing or maintaining. Totally get that doing stuff like this while working full-time bites-we do it on our lunch hour, or take a personal day and do a bunch of errands...
posted by purenitrous at 9:34 PM on June 12 [1 favorite]


Jumping through renewal hoops is the kind of thing my employer allows us to take time for even though we get basically no other benefits. And regular renewals are different than a non expiring qualification or not being charged with a felony IMO. These kind of renewals can add up to a significant annual expenditure of time where as the latter two shouldn't consume any time at all.
posted by Mitheral at 12:23 AM on June 13


Are there options to request renewing the license online?

You were not out of line, and I would have felt indignant too, for the reasons you mentioned. Some managers/workplaces are stricter than others though, especially if they think other employees are likely to abuse this kind of thing.
posted by watrlily at 3:52 AM on June 13


"But look at it this way, you're also required to dress in office-appropriate garb and arrive at the office, but neither shopping not commuting time is on-the-clock either."

Don't forget sleeping you have to do to be optimally rested expressly for work. Personally I think all of those things should be in some way compensated by the business necessitating them, but nobody in my country has worker rights anymore.
posted by GoblinHoney at 2:39 PM on June 13


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