columnist Alison Green answers questions about workplace and management issues--everything from how to deal with a micromanaging boss to how to talk to someone on your team about body odor.

Here's a roundup of answers to five questions from readers.

1. My assistant refuses to call in when she's out sick

My assistant has been sick quite a bit in the past few months, and she does not call in sick (or email or text it) to anyone. I have asked her twice to make sure she notifies me each day she will be out. And now for the third time in the past few months, she missed days without notifying anyone. Her pattern is to let us know the first day (or the day she leaves work early) that she is sick, then not contact anyone until she shows up several days later feeling better. We are a very small office (four full-timers), and it's well-known we can just let any of the others know when we'll be out.

Isn't this sort of a common courtesy? I've told her face to face twice that I need to be notified each day she misses -- but now what? I'm thinking my only real option is to explain that I will have to replace her if it continues, although the work of interviewing and retraining someone is more daunting that just dealing with it.

Green responds:

You handle it just like you would any other performance problem or clear instruction that was being ignored: "Jane, I've told you several times that you need to call in each day that you're going to be out, not just once at the start of a multi-day absence. You didn't do that this week. What happened?" ... followed by, "I want to be very clear that you are strictly required to do this; it's not optional. If it continues not to happen, you would be putting your job here in jeopardy." 

I hear you that you'd rather not have to hire and train someone new, but you can't have an employee on your staff who repeatedly ignores clear and easy instructions. It's disruptive, and in time it's going to be demoralizing for others in your office who see her behaving so unprofessionally without consequences. 

2. My company dinner is at a steakhouse, but many of us are vegetarians

There are about 10 people considered "management" in the small, family-owned company I work for. The president of the company invited all of us to a thank-you dinner at a Brazilian steakhouse. It's not just an order-whatever-off-the-menu place. They bring large quantities of various meats to your table, and continue to do so until you flip your little card over. This seemed like an odd choice, considering two other managers (including the president's father and sister) are vegan and I'm vegetarian for ethical reasons. 

I could easily find something to eat. That isn't the problem. I really don't think I can stomach the environment. What do you think about attendance in this situation?

Green responds:

It's perfectly reasonable to point this out while there's still time to change the plans. Say something like, "Any chance that we could go somewhere less meat-centric, since nearly a third of us don't eat meat?"

If that doesn't change anything, then you need to decide whether it's offensive enough to you to decline the invitation. If it were a social invitation, I'd push you toward declining (since you don't eat meat for ethical reasons, and this type of restaurant is pretty unpleasant when you have a moral issue with the very thing they're going to be actively pushing in front of your face throughout the meal). Since it's a business event, the calculation is a little trickier and depends on how strongly the president wants people there (and how much capital you feel you have to spend on opting out).

3. I was promoted without a raise

I work as a manager supervising just one person. Another manager supervises four employees and is considered the "right hand" of the VP whom we both report to.

A few months ago, the VP shared with me that the other manager is not efficient in his position and she wanted me to supervise him instead. I told her that my job was to help her and the company to the best of my abilities but that her decision has to be clear and documented so that other employees will see the reorganization as being fair. This was my way of telling her that we needed to discuss the salary and the "promotion" details first before I assumed the new position. She said she would discuss it with the president of the company. During the following days, she mentioned a few other times that her intention was to have me supervise the whole team (the manager and his four direct reports). She said she also talked to him about this.

Today, she called both of us in and announced that starting in a few weeks he will be reporting to me. I was shocked. I was brave enough to ask her (after the other manager left the room) how this change will affect my title and work. I should have really said what I thought, which is what will be my new salary? She responded that she was still thinking about this. How do I go about telling her that I do not want this new position if I will be paid the same salary for a higher position? I know for a fact that the other manager who she wants me to supervise has a higher salary than me.

Green responds:

Well, first, telling her that you wanted the decision to be clear and documented is not the same thing as telling her that you wanted to discuss the salary. It doesn't really sound like that at all, in fact, so I don't think you should be irked that she didn't interpret that correctly.

Go back to her ASAP and say, "We haven't had a chance to discuss the salary for this new role. I'm hoping for something in the range of $X -- will that work?"

If she pushes back by saying you should have spoken up earlier, try saying that you were caught off-guard at the earlier meeting and hadn't had a chance to think everything through since you'd expected a one-on-one conversation with her before things were finalized.

4. Asking if HR mistakenly rejected you for an internal position

My wife currently works part-time at a public library, where a full-time position opened up. The library director and my wife's supervisors encouraged her to apply -- the same people who would be responsible for the hiring decision. She's qualified and did a great job on her application, but about two weeks after the application window closed, she got a form letter from HR with a non-personalized "thank you for applying but you're no longer in consideration" message. Not even a first-round interview.

Is it probable that HR culled her résumé​ before the decision makers even had a chance to look at it? If her application made it through HR, I don't think she'd be overlooked like this; everybody at the library knows her and would recognize her name. Would there be any benefit to her contacting someone -- and would you start with HR, or going to the library director and asking if she ever saw the application?

Green responds:

It is indeed possible that HR rejected her without looping in the decision makers, and that it would have gone differently if they had. It's also possible that they did loop in the decision makers and still rightly rejected her (other applicants might be stronger). But with an internal application like this, where her director was encouraging her to apply, it's not unreasonable to at least check with them to be sure.

She could approach the director who encouraged her to apply and say something like, "I wanted to let you know that HR sent me a form letter rejection for the X position. I was hoping to at least get interviewed, and it made me wonder if something might have gone wrong somewhere -- I hope I'm not being presumptuous, but do you think it's worth checking into? If I just didn't make the cut, that's fine, of course -- but I wanted to check."

5. Resigning when I can't give two weeks notice

I recently was offered a mid-level job that pays triple what I currently make and is an amazing opportunity. The only stipulation is that I start almost immediately so I can attend the company's parent company annual training for mid- and senior-level employees (which is out of state). This leaves me able to give only one-week's notice to my current job. I explained that I would like to leave on good terms with my current company and pushed for an additional week to give notice. They completely understood, but wouldn't budge and gave me a week to think over the offer. I am going to accept, but how do I approach my current company when giving notice?

Green responds:

Explain the situation and that you tried hard to get more time, apologize profusely, and offer to do whatever you can to help with the transition (including offering to be available for questions for a few weeks after moving on, if you're open to that).

By the way, I'd normally be wary of an employer that refuses to let you give two weeks notice, unless they appear to really understand that this is a bad position for you to be in, and unless they've indicated they wouldn't normally do this but are constrained by something unusual (in this case, the training conference). If they're cavalier about it, that might be a red flag about their likely level of consideration for you once you're working there.

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