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can my employer fire me if I move to a different state, should I take a job working for my husband, and more — Ask a Manager

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Can my remote employer fire me if I move to a different state?

I’m a remote worker for an all-remote national nonprofit organization. My partner applied for a job in a different state, one we’ve wanted to relocate to for a while. The employer offered the job to someone else but they were so impressed with my partner they invited him to propose a whole new program he could run. They have a solid lead on funding it, but I’m not holding my breath. It would be a good career move for my partner but it wouldn’t replace my full-time income.

So we won’t be moving in the next couple of months but might be in the next year. But when I spoke to my HR director, she said if we move there I have to apply to the board of directors to see if it’s in the organization’s best interest to expand their employment certification to the new state. I would have looked into this earlier but I was under the impression that my organization was already certified to hire nationwide. So now I’m even more stressed about the prospect of the move–what are the chances my employer would actually fire me rather than get certified in the new state? Would I get unemployment if this happens or would my move be considered a resignation?

It depends on how motivated they are to keep you. Setting themselves up to have an employee in a new state can be expensive. They’ll also have to ensure they’re following the new state’s employment laws, which can be a significant difference depending on which states are involved, and can affect how they handle vacation accrual, paychecks, overtime eligibility, time tracking, and more.

They might be willing to do it if you’re highly valued or if they think they might want other employees there in the future. But if they don’t, don’t take it personally, like as a sign that they don’t value you. Again, it’s expensive! And if they’re just doing it for you, it could be the equivalent of adding tens of thousands of dollars to your salary over time.

If they don’t let you work from the new state and you move anyway, they would indeed almost certainly fire you — but it would typically be considered a resignation for the purpose of unemployment (i.e., you wouldn’t get benefits since you chose to move).

my boss won’t let me move to another state — but I’m remote

2. Should I take a job working for my husband?

I’m struggling to decide if I should accept a new job offer. I enjoy my job, but my company doesn’t offer me benefits. Recently, a few employees have quit/been laid off and I am the only employee still on payroll aside from the bosses (it is a small company). So I am left to do everything. I have yet to get a raise along with these new responsibilities.

I was approached by my husband’s company to come work for them. They offered me $1/hour more than I am making now. They offer company benefits, bonuses, free clothing, etc. The kicker is having to work for my husband, who is the office manager. What do you think I should do?

Don’t accept a job working for your husband. An extra dollar an hour isn’t worth the risk to your relationship, your professional reputation (from people who resent your extra access to him, assume you get special privileges because you’re married to the boss, or otherwise see you differently because of the relationship), the burden of both of you bringing work home with you (you’ll now have a coworker you can’t escape), the weirdness of having your spouse charged with assessing your work and professional value, the power dynamic it will inject into your marriage, and the risk that you could both lose your jobs at once if the company has financial issues.

But your choices aren’t between your current job and the job working for your husband. Look for a third option!

3. I do my coworker’s work while he plays video games

I work in a group that has a shared email for people to place orders, ask questions, etc. My colleague was assigned by a previous supervisor to monitor and deal with these emails and I handle them on days he is off. We now have a new supervisor who is in a different building and does not check to see if the emails are being addressed.

I usually let the messages sit for as long as is prudent and then answer them. My colleague plays video games and watches YouTube for about seven hours of his day, so I know he has time to do them. How do I point out to my colleague that group emails need to be done? I don’t want to “tell” on him to the supervisor and I am not his boss.

If the system is that your coworker is supposed to handle all the emails except on days he’s off, you should stop doing them entirely on days when he’s there! But because this is a change to what you’ve been doing, you should mention it to him — as in, “I’ve been filling in for you with the shared email when I see messages have been sitting there, but my understanding is that I’m only supposed to answer those on days when you’re off. So going forward, I’m going to stop answering them on days you’re here, and you should take them over again. I’ll let (new manager) know that’s the plan as well.”

And then do let your boss know: “(Old manager) assigned Cedric to manage the X email account when he’s here and asked me to do them when he’s out. I’ve somehow fallen into the habit of answering emails there more frequently and realized it’s interfering with my other work, so I reminded Cedric those fall to him on days when he’s here and I wanted to loop you in on that too.” The point of doing this is so that if you stop answering the emails and Cedric doesn’t step up, you’re not blamed for it.

That’s not “telling on” Cedric (although frankly you’d be on solid ground if it were since you’re having to pick up his work because he’s playing video games all day). But if you want to try a step that doesn’t involve your manager first, then just tell Cedric, “Hey, I’ve been covering for you on the shared email account but can’t anymore. You should take over answering messages there again.”

4. I think my intern is a scam artist on the side

This morning, one of my reports showed me a Facebook message that appeared to come from one of my student interns. The message is clearly one that is an attempt to initiate a “relationship” in order to bilk money from a victim.

The name from the FB message is the full name of the intern, who uses an abbreviated version of the name as an intern.

We work for a government agency that has made a number of headlines for the wrong reasons, and if the allegations are true, then I suspect this would lead to another one.

I plan to reach out to the internship coordinator to see what can be done, if anything. The intern does good work and contributes, but I am wary of the blowback on myself as a manager — my unit in particular is already under a microscope, and this would only add fuel to the fire.

Well, wait! You’re jumping to conclusions without any investigation. Certainly if your intern is in fact an internet scammer, feel free to cut ties with him — but lots of people’s Facebook accounts get hacked and then are used for this kind of thing. Or it could be someone with the same name, or someone who “borrowed” his photo and name, or all sorts of other possibilities. If anything, it’s probably more likely to be one of these explanations than that your intern is openly trying to run scams on fellow employees (under his own name, no less).

Talk to your intern before you assume anything.

5. How to get to know a colleague who does similar work when they don’t know I exist

I am a solo designer working in a huge corporate company with a manager who knows nothing about design or what I do. I miss having a design informed manager and lately I noticed my company has an internal design team run by a creative director, just in a completely different part of the company. I would love to meet this director and get to know them a bit just in case an opening comes up on their team. How do I make myself known and set up a conversation without it being awkward? We will never run into each other otherwise and I not sure what to say to start a conversation.

It makes a ton of sense to suggest meeting since you’re doing such similar work! Message them and say something like, “Because I do (describe the work you do) for the X team, I wanted to introduce myself. Given the overlaps in our work, I’d love to grab coffee sometime.” You could add, “I’d really like to know more of the company’s designers.”


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