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Day 75 — A Fine Art: Reading the Fine Print

Searching for love online—and a job—intersect at reading the fine print. Let me be the first to admit that I don’t always read the fine print in an online dating profile, or employee manual, despite constant harping from lawyers and career counselors that this is important.

Sometimes, you need to experience the horror of not reading the fine print to convince yourself that you really need to pay attention to the details. Close-call example: A woman my ex husband was about to pursue on OkCupid.com said to read to the end of her profile. He dutifully followed her advice.

So, boom, he gets to the end and if worms don’t have balls it turns out this woman does. Yes, she was a he! Naturally, my ex goes back and looks at the picture and says to himself, Yeah, I can see the gender crossover. Good thing.

My run-ins with reading the fine print typically relate to not reading it. Like in potential dating situations, it can be important in employee-employer relationships. Enter the dreaded employment manual. The last one I got was so big I figured it had cost several trees their lives. I threw it away, thinking I’ll never need it. I regretted that decision when I got laid-off.

Details become excruciatingly important if your employer accuses you of misconduct, or you need to argue a point. That can happen if you’re trying to prove, for example, that you were singled out for an impropriety, such as not coding your time sheet properly.

A question to ask yourself: Do you code time off for a doctor’s appointment as vacation, sick leave or something else? If you encounter a major medical issue that requires more frequent absences from the office, you will want to follow the rules from the get-go.

While you are covered by federal employment laws in addition to abiding by the rules of your employer, you should also be aware of laws specific to your state. In Washington, D.C., the Parental Leave Act of 1994 allows parents to take up to 24 hours of leave during any 12-month-period to attend or participate in school-related events for their child.

I doubt many parents are aware of that law and bet they would code such time off from work as personal leave or vacation time, rather than ask if another code would allow them to spare using up this time.

At the start of your next job, clear up these administrative-type questions rather than wait for a blow-up that could cost you your job.

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