Declining work travel
July 11, 2018 8:30 PM   Subscribe

A few weeks ago, I started a new job. Travel was never mentioned and I got the general impression it was limited <5%. Now they want me to work on a different project than we originally discussed with more than 25% travel. I am a single mom to a child with special needs. I can't travel. What to say to boss?

When he initially asked, I said I could travel a very limited amount and needed to be home with my young child (but no other real details, it was my first week). I agreed to one short international trip. It has now doubled in time. And boss wants me to go on three other business trips in the next three months.

I obviously can't travel. I need to tell my boss no more clearly. But I also need money to pay my bills. I'd love to work this job for a year but it's been 3 weeks. How to do damage control?
posted by Kalmya to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Level with your boss on the single mom thing, decline the travel, and negotiate next steps. Maybe there is some other role in the company you can take that does not require travel more than 2-3x/year.

Be open to returning to the job hunt. This might not be the gig for you. Don’t compromise your family life to level up your resume by one year. Business travel is not worth it.
posted by crazycanuck at 9:32 PM on July 11, 2018 [14 favorites]

Hmm, more diplomatic people than I will come along and help with the phrasing -- but I think you may be overthinking the issue. You're a single mother. (You need not even mention your child's special needs if you don't care to.) You cannot travel like that. It's impossible. They clearly just didn't understand your family situation, because if they had, no one in their right mind would think asking this of you was reasonable. This isn't really the kind of edge case that calls for a delicate hand, you know? What would you say if they asked you, oh by the way, to walk on water or turn lead into gold? Say that.

I would just say that I was flattered that they proposed expanding my role in that way, and sorry if I misunderstood their needs initially, but I am a single mother. More than X days of travel a year is just not possible for me. Thanks for understanding, and maybe we can talk about other ways I can support the project (or whatever).
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 9:36 PM on July 11, 2018 [18 favorites]

Ask a Manager has some good scripts for “the job requirements are becoming different from the way I understood them when I took the job” situations. Don’t assume you have to quit yet. You have good standing to push back.
posted by matildaben at 10:05 PM on July 11, 2018 [30 favorites]

Do your best to to use phrasing that makes it clear this is about you and your specific situation. Other single parents may have different situations and be able to handle such travel (different back up options, older kids, etc). But yeah, the job's changed and they should have interviewed differently "this role may expand to require travel up to 25%, etc..."
posted by beaning at 6:31 AM on July 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Following up on matildaben's comment,this recent piece by Alison Green of Ask A Manager contains some of those scripts.
posted by jouir at 9:59 AM on July 13, 2018

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