Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a bonus: Can she learn from this dashed hope of a bonus?

My girlfriend gets a yearly bonus based on sick days. Her practice manager informed her a few weeks ago that she could not take any more than 5 days. To date she has took 3.5. One of the owners said to her that’s you now lost your bonus. She replied that she had only taken 3.5 days and he says you only get 3 as you are part time. The practice manager said don’t worry I will speak to him and sort it out.

A couple of days later the same owner said what he said stands, and the practice manager said that she just said it might of been 5 and completely changed her story, but my girlfriend has witnesses in work that she was told 5. Previously the same owner has changed other employee’s sick days to holidays so they could meet their target and get their bonus, and my girlfriend has offered to go in half a day and make it up, as this was a manager’s mistake and she was misinformed. Any advice on this would be much appreciated. Many thanks 🙂

Signed, Short of a Bonus

Dear Short of a Bonus:

Your girlfriend should be pleased with how carefully you’ve described what transpired–being told one thing by her practice manager and not sticking with it when the owner told your girlfriend would get no bonus. Can that be changed? I doubt it. Would it make a difference if your girlfriend enlisted witnesses to say the practice manager definitely promised your girlfriend would get a bonus if she was absent more than five days? Possibly, but those witnesses might not want to say something that would prove the practice manager lied. Moreover, they probably wouldn’t want to get between the practice manager and the owner. And even if they did, I doubt the owner would change his mind.

From here it is impossible to know the full context of what has happened; however, the owner might rescind his “no bonus” declaration if he saw how hard your girlfriend tried to do extra work to get the bonus. The problem for the owner is likely he will provoke ill will of the full-time employees if he gives part time what he said he would not. So your girlfriend has two choices:

To accept the fact that she is part time and that she took more than 3 days sick leave. If so, she should do so without sour feelings and gossip about her manager’s backing off of the 5 days limit. To write up her account of what transpired regarding what she understood the practice manager stated, and to promise to make up the half day more than 3 days she was off. If she likes and/or needs her job and hopes to work there full-time, your girlfriend might decide her best choice is to accept what the owner said and to guard against badmouthing the practice manager.

Obviously, your girlfriend has bent your ear and no doubt you have heard more than enough of her unhappiness about this.The issue before your girlfriend and now you because you have consulted us is: can she learn from this dashed hope of a bonus? Such as, will she get the rules in writing next time? Will she do all that is reasonable to take off less than the days permitted next time? Will she think through if this job is just a job or if it will provide experience that will make her smarter on a career path?

To reflect on this together should help you two know how she and you handle disappointment. You will learn if she can let the past be past or rather if she will become obsessed over things that don’t go as she wanted. And learning that could be more valuable in the long run than to win an argument about a bonus.

Finally, you both might already know that wherever you and she work, things will go better if you can be enthusiastic about what you do, and if rather than seeing the boss as an enemy, you will do all that is reasonable to make your manager’s work easier and effective. That kind of spirit and payoff is encapsulated in my signature sentence: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. I hope these thoughts make sense and that you will let us know what options she elects and what happens after a few weeks.

William Gorden