Did I handle this properly?
April 8, 2008 10:54 PM   Subscribe

New Job Etiquette: Did I do the right thing?

I am a university student and have just landed my dream summer job. I am thrilled and I start on the 28th.

Being an 8:30 am - 4:30 pm job, however, means that I will need time off in a few months to attend a court date. I have to fight a traffic ticket (if it's at all relevant, I am 100% sure the police officer made a mistake and pulled me over for speeding, when it was someone else).

I was notified that I got the job yesterday. I will be communicating with my boss via e-mail for the next few days, to set up training dates and my contract, etc.

I e-mailed her this evening to inform her about the court date. I told her I did not want to ask for time off as I had just got the job, but I felt it was necessary to give her as much notice as possible (the job is very schedule-sensitive).

Did I do this right? Should I have waited until I started? Should I have told her in person? I am afraid I may have made a bad impression. If I did make a mistake, is there any way I can remedy that? This job is really important to me, and I want to make my boss glad she hired me.

Thanks for any feedback or advice.

(anonymous because of current co-workers that read the site)
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (12 answers total)
If it's in a few months, you could have waited, but don't worry. You did fine.
posted by Tomorrowful at 11:02 PM on April 8, 2008

Don't trip, I did the same thing (when I was even younger than you are) so I could go to Warped Tour of all things. When my future employer asked what my availability was I said that I cold start any time but I needed one specific day off to attend a previously scheduled engagement, and they seemed cool with that. Most reasonable employers know that life was indeed moving on before you applied for the job and shit may come up, as it often does. At worst they might ask you to work a day you might otherwise have had off that week (should they be open) or do a little bit extra to pick up the slack. You sound like you're willing to do that should the situation warrant, so I don't think you have much to worry about.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 11:04 PM on April 8, 2008

This sounds totally reasonable. Everyone has to take care of things like that once in a while, and she'll probably appreciate the advance notice. Regarding email vs. face-to-face etiquette, it almost certainly won't even make a difference. Don't sweat it.
posted by sellout at 11:20 PM on April 8, 2008

You did right. Don't worry.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:24 PM on April 8, 2008

Months away? You should be fine. I can't imagine a situation where giving 1+ month notice can be a problem. You mentioned that "the job is very schedule-sensitive", but people get sick, have to go to the doctor, pick up a family member, etc. all the time, not to mention planned-in-advance things like vacations. Any employer who expects 100% attendance and punctuality is ridiculous.
posted by meowzilla at 11:32 PM on April 8, 2008

Depending on the job (for instance, if you're part of a team on some long-term project and the manager needs to take people's availability into account when figuring out the schedule), I think they might actually -appreciate- the heads-up - I know -I- would have, back when I was working at a "corporate" job. Even if that's not the case, though, I really don't think it makes you look bad - at the VERY most it could make you look like you're not yet sure just how things work there in terms of what folks need to know and when they need to know it, but I think that's to be expected from ANYONE who's new to their job. And personally I'd feel FAR better about a new employee who was a little over-zealous with what they told me right off the bat than one who didn't tell me things soon enough ... If you're really worried I suppose you could indicate that you'd like to figure out when you can make up the hours you'll be missing, but that doesn't seem necessary to me, especially if you're talking about just one day or less, a few months from now.

Don't sweat it, you did fine in telling her. Enjoy the anticipation of starting your new job, and good luck! =)
posted by zeph at 11:47 PM on April 8, 2008

Contrary to what meowzilla said, employers do expect 100 percent attendance, and they also expect you to be there on time. It is naive to think otherwise.

Yes, things happen to prevent you from doing what you know you need to do sometimes, and the more notice you can give for these few occurances, the better.

I think you are off to a wonderful start here. You understand how important you will be to your employer in accomplishing what it is they are hiring you to do. Your honesty is refreshing, and they will be happy to work with you to see that your job still gets done when you are off on your court date. Even better, maybe you could work out how to have your work done by others in your absence? I know you would be happy to help them out with their work should they have an unusual circumstance like yours.

I predict VERY positive things for you in this work-world, and that is easy for me to say because of who YOU are.
posted by LiveLurker at 12:34 AM on April 9, 2008

Eh, you're fine. Frankly, I'd be a bit surprised to hear about an absence months ahead before an employee even started the job, but given that you're new to the work world, I'd write it off as being over-zealous. (If a more experienced employee did that, I'd think something weird was going on.)

As moewzilla correctly points out, people have needs to be out of the office all the time: appointments, health care and otherwise, family events, illness, vacations, etc. At least in the white-collar world, smart bosses don't treat employees like prisoners, and every boss is also an employee, with his or her own needs to be out of the office. Any expectations of "100 percent attendance" are those of inexperienced bosses, blowhards, or primary school teachers trying to instill fear.

A court date means you are legally required to show up (or admit guilt and pay the ticket). No reasonable boss bats an eye over a legally required absence.

(Hell, in my situation, some days I just call in and let my team know I'll be working from home that day, because it's more convenient for me.)

One more small bit of advice: you're coming off as too over-zealous and too much of a worrier. Conscientious is great, but going too far can end up being an irritant or even a burden to bosses and co-workers. To a large degree, you're being hired to take work off your boss and co-workers. Once you understand your job responsibilities (and not before) concentrate on those, not on taking up co-workers' time to validate/approve your every small decision, as that would suck up the time they hoped to free up by hiring you.
posted by orthogonality at 2:14 AM on April 9, 2008

it was fine. better to bring it up early--at my job, people schedule vacation months in advance, so it makes sense to claim your days off as soon as possible. just offer to take them without pay, as a sign of good faith. no problem. this happens all the time.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:29 AM on April 9, 2008

It's common to not be permitted vacation days in your first X months at a new job. It's almost as common to say 'I have a previous commitment for these X days. If I accept the job, I will need them off, even if that has to be without pay.'

I might have left off the detail that it was to fight a traffic ticket, but informing them before you accept an offer is the right thing to do.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:29 AM on April 9, 2008

Yes, you did the right thing. Employers do expect 100% attendance- if you are scheduled to be there. Needing days off occasionally and giving plenty of notice that you aren't available to be scheduled occasionally is perfectly acceptable. There is a reason time off policies (should be) spelled out.
posted by gjc at 6:34 AM on April 9, 2008

It would be a red flag if you couldn't ask off months in advance. Don't worry about it so much. You should work hard, of course, but don't crush yourself with concern over being better than perfect. You'll just burn out and not be any good.

Any sane company will recognize this.
posted by dosterm at 10:00 AM on April 9, 2008

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