Sunday, December 10, 2017

Is employer responsible for expense if I might leave?



Every couple of years, Lil (not her real name, but let's call her "Lil") has to renew her professional license with her state so she can continue practicing as a psychotherapist. The agency at which Lil sees most of her clients generally reimburses Lil for the cost of the license as well as any continuing education courses she needs to take throughout those two years to keep up-to-date with her profession.

For several years now, Lil has contemplated retiring. She enjoys her work, she writes, but she believes it's time to pull back on the work hours and pursue some other interests she's long put off for lack of time. But for several years now, Lil has not followed through on her plans to retire. Now, at 70, she's decided that she'd really like to retire in six months, right before June, so she can look forward to the warm weather in her first days of retirement. At least, that's what Lil thinks she wants to do.

"I've been here before," she writes, "and each time, I've decided to keep on working and seeing clients."

But this time, it might be different.

Because Lil will still have a year-and-a-half left on the license she's now renewing if she does retire, she's wrestling with whether it's right to ask her agency to reimburse her for the cost of the license renewal.

"If I know before I renew the license that I'm likely to be leaving, wouldn't it be wrong to expect them to pay for it?" she asks.

While Lil might be overly conscientious about what she asks of her agency when it comes to supporting her in her profession, there are a few factors here that she might consider before offering to pay for the license renewal herself.

First, even if Lil does follow through with retirement plans this time around, she still will need a current license to see clients at the agency. The agency benefits by having her on staff to see clients, so if it's its practice to underwrite the cost of its practitioners' licenses, then there is no reason not to expect it to do so for any fraction of the time Lil will need one. The state does not seem to have any provision for license terms that are less than two years, so if this is what's needed, then that's what the agency should pay for.

Second, Lil simply may decide, once again, to put off retiring. She has not given notice to her agency, nor has she set her retirement plans firmly in place. If history is any guide, she's just as likely to continue working as she is to retire. Having a valid license in place makes sense.

The agency must regularly face situations where a practitioner leaves the practice for one reason or another. It has never asked one of its practitioners to reimburse it for the time left on the current license. There would be no reason to expect it to do so should Lil retire by June.

Lil should rest easy, renew her license, continue to do good work with clients, and, when the time is finally right, retire with peace of mind that she did the right thing. 

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Simple Art of Business Etiquette: How to Rise to the Top by Playing Nice, is a senior lecturer in public policy and director of the communications program at Harvard's Kennedy School. He is also the administrator of www.jeffreyseglin.com, a blog focused on ethical issues. 

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to rightthing@comcast.net. 

Follow him on Twitter: @jseglin 

(c) 2017 JEFFREY L. SEGLIN. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Tell me your stories



It's the time of year when some people seem to feel a bit more charitable than at others. Below are just a couple of recent stories. I'm confident there are hundreds more stories that readers can share of their own experiences of being the recipient or doer of good acts with nothing expected in return.

In October, in Iowa, Lisa Brownlee was surprised when neighbors showed up to harvest her family's crop of corn and soybeans. According to Donnelle Eller, a reporter for The Des Moines Register, Brownlee's husband had died of a heart attack earlier in the year, leaving his "last crop" of "about 235 acres of corn and 165 acres of soybeans" to be harvested.

Word of the effort apparently spread and more help than expected came calling, many working to harvest Brownlee's crops before they finished harvesting their own.

"It's something Van Brownlee would have done for his neighbors, says Steve Downs, Brownlee's friend since junior high."

Neighbors stepped in to help a neighbor when she and her family needed it most.

The harvest is just one example of how some step up to do the right thing when the need arises.

Another happened in early in November, Kate McClure, of Bordentown, N.J., started a GoFundMe page to help raise money to thank a homeless man named Johnny who offered her his last $20 so she could buy enough gas to make it safely home. McClure knew that Johnny regularly sat on the side of the road with a sign every day, so she returned to repay him the $20 and also dropped off some gloves, warms socks, a jacket and some sums of cash when she sees him.

But McClure wanted to do more, so she took to GoFundMe to try to raise $10,000 from strangers to help get Johnny enough cash to secure an apartment with first and last months' rent and four to five months' worth of living expenses. By Thanksgiving, McClure has surpassed her goal and the GoFundMe site has yielded $323,900, in donations.

There are many stories of people doing good year round. Even when their own fields need harvesting, they do the right thing by helping a neighbor in need. Even when the homeless guy who lends his last twenty bucks to a young woman he might never see again, he gives her the money with nothing expected in return because he believes it's the right thing to do.

Now, it's time to tell me your story. What story from your life captures a moment when you stepped up to do the right thing for someone else, regardless of whether or not you received recognition for it? Or, when have you been the recipient of such an act?

Send me your stories. Provide as much detail as possible, but keep your submission to no more than 300 words. Include your name, location, email address, and telephone number, and submit your story by Dec. 25, 2017, to: rightthing@comcast.net. I'll run some of these stories in an upcoming column. 

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Simple Art of Business Etiquette: How to Rise to the Top by Playing Nice, is a senior lecturer in public policy and director of the communications program at Harvard's Kennedy School. He is also the administrator of www.jeffreyseglin.com, a blog focused on ethical issues. 

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to rightthing@comcast.net. 

Follow him on Twitter: @jseglin 

(c) 2017 JEFFREY L. SEGLIN. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.


Is employer responsible for expense if I might leave?

Every couple of years, Lil (not her real name, but let's call her "Lil") has to renew her professional license with her s...