I recently started a part time job in a small mom/pop organization that's been running over 25 years. The employee lounge is open to all staff members while they are taking a break from their shift.

The lounge room gives everyone on a single work shift enough space to place their belongings in the open. Lockers are provided for free on a work shift, but locks will need to be provided on our own.

Today was what stumped me. I was taking my break as usual, and because I walk to and from work, I carry a backpack with me, with clothes to change and a lunch sack. which is too big to stuff into the lockers, so I usually place my bag on the floor leaning towards the wall. While I was in the lounge, having my lunch, an unfamiliar person popped into the area, and I was alarmed, given I have never met him before. It seems he was very familiar with how the lounge room works, but moments later, my co worker showed up, and they sat across me to have their lunches and being sentimental. I was really disturbed by their action, so I decided to take my lunch into the next room and end my break early. I was also kind of worried about my belongings being in the open, and to have no form of security around it raised a huge red flag for me.

Given this situation, I have been debating if this even needs to be reported to my supervisor. I'm not trying to be paranoid or overly dramatic over this issue, but if one can bring a non employee to a room filled with our belongings, then so can someone else. This would make the lounge room unsafe for everyone's belongings.

Secondly, I understand and I can totally see that being sentimental to significant others is a form of caring and affection towards one another, but shouldn't this be taken outside of the work place regardless of break time or not?

closed as off-topic by mcknz, scaaahu, Jane S, gnat, user8365 Aug 3 '15 at 15:00

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    Foreign as in unfamiliar or foreign as in from another country? – Eric Jul 31 '15 at 10:52
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    What kind of place do you work? Is it supposed to be a secure office with limited access? Do you know that the visit wasn't approved by security or a manager? The only thing here that raises any kind of flags is a person who doesn't work for the company being unescorted. – Thomas Owens Jul 31 '15 at 11:33
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    Surely this question is specific to each workplace. Different companies would have a different view/policy on this. The OP needs to ask his boss/HR if this is OK. – Dustybin80 Jul 31 '15 at 12:21
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    @Eric I don't know where you read the racism. From me it's pretty clear he meant foreign to the organisation – Aserre Jul 31 '15 at 13:23
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    As an aside point to your question, your employers probably have a clause somewhere in there rulebook that any items you leave in the lounge are not their responsibility (Even if you were to put them in a locker!). Typically from what I've seen, any damages to employee property left on the employers premises are not the employers problem. It helps that you probably know and on some level trust the people you work with, but even if one of them were to swipe your bookbag, your employer probably would not reimburse you for any damages (although they may penalize the other employee). – Sidney Jul 31 '15 at 14:19

Different workplaces have different policies on who is allowed into workplaces. Some, (say a defence contractor) have a policy of "Strictly no admittence without security clearance". Some, especially smaller places, allow anyone in if they are with an employee. Many workplaces deliberately make a point of being 'family friendly' and allow family of employees in on a regular basis. My last workplace encouraged Significant Others to come in at lunchtime, and sometimes even children showed up.

You're a recent hire, so presumably you don't know what the policy is at your workplace. You describe the 'stranger' as familiar with the workplace, so presumably their visiting is a regular occurrence. It's almost certain that your workplace has a policy that allows guests of employees into the workplace.

If you want to know more, I would ask what the policy at your workplace is. Don't treat this like 'reporting an incident" because you will look foolish if this is a normal thing allowed by the company. If the company isn't concerned about security, you don't need to be either. Lots of companies think that a positive boost to employee relations is worth a small risk to security. As for your personal belongings, unless you have some specific reason to think your co-workers family are likely to steal things, don't worry about it. And be careful with making that argument - if you even start to sound like you are accusing your colleagues family of being dishonest, your relations with them can sour very quickly.

  • Regarding the last couple of sentences: it's worth mentioning that you're not accusing people or being a jerk; instead you're just taking a neutral approach. You don't know those people at all, probably not even their names, so how can you trust them alone around your belongings ? Would you let strangers from the street alone in your house for a few hours ? I think assuming some level of distrust is very reasonable in the case of the OP. – Radu Murzea Aug 3 '15 at 12:18
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    These are not strangers off the street. These are family of your colleagues. – DJClayworth Aug 4 '15 at 2:26

Is it OK to bring a guest to the lounge is a matter of policy.

Is it inappropriate I hope not. When I was kid my mom would pack lunches and we would go see my dad at work. My mom was a teacher and when I would come home for break from college she loved to have me come visit so she could introduce me as her son home from college. It is a quality of life thing.

If the office has a separate cafeteria this is easy but this small mom/pop organization.

Many jobs let you have a guest in the work area. I doubt this person snuck in. They many have a policy of guest must be escorted. Even if the policy is guest must be escorted that is a pretty minor violation. If a guest is allowed to enter the work place then I would conclude they can enter the break room unless there is a policy stating other wise. If there is a policy a guest cannot enter the lounge then I would say that is silly policy. The lounge is where you take a break and eat - that is where you would have lunch with a friend.

OK I get a guest especially an un-escorted guest is a security risk. But it is also open to employees. They offer lockers but OP does not use them because the bag is too big. OP still has the option to store valuables in the locker.

First clarify policy with management. If this is indeed a violation of policy then report it. If the locker is not big enough for your bag then ask management if there are other options to secure you belongings.

As for sentimental conversation in the workplace. That is not appropriate.

  • 1
    I'm not sure that any of us have a clear enough idea of what the OP meant by "being sentimental" to know whether it was appropriate or not. – Carson63000 Aug 1 '15 at 2:56

I am fairly sure that the employee's significant other did not sneak in into the area but walked in through the front door of your workplace. I assume that your workplace is an "authorized personnel" only workplace, and this means that the employee must have secured prior permission from management to bring his significant other in as a visitor.

You can report anything you like to your supervisor and air your concern to them.

My attitude is that keeping an eye on your belongings is your problem, especially if you choose not to use the lockers for whatever reason. As a high school student long long ago, I've had my locker broken in several times. And not by visitors to the high school. You may complain about your colleagues' significant others but these significant others are no more and no less honest than the employees themselves.

At any rate, management supervises the lounge area and they are the final authority on the use of the lounge. You have the right to lobby for your favorite lounge use policies with them, just as every other employee does. If the displays of affection within the lounge area bother you, complain about them - the lounge area is considered part of the work area.

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    You are making a lot of assumptions - "must have secured" does not mean did secure. It is only reasonable for employee to expect that the workplace is soundly secure and managed - there is places you are expected to be f* with, like high school - and places you don't expect it to happen - like your workplace. And there is no such thing as "your problem" in adequate corporate relations - it is "our problem". – Matiss Jul 31 '15 at 11:34
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    @Matiss So says you. Keeping your eyes on your belongings is your problem not mine. As for your complaint that I am making a lot of assumptions, it takes about two minutes to verify that the employee secured prior permission from management to bring in their significant other, and chances are pretty good that the significant other was no ninja who managed to sneak past the reception area, so my assumption is pretty safe. As in 99% safe. – Vietnhi Phuvan Jul 31 '15 at 11:44
  • So says the OP by making it explicit those premises are for employees to place their belongings. This is the intent usually - place you leave your stuff while you are working. I think OP made it pretty clear. – Matiss Jul 31 '15 at 13:35
  • Also, by how op postured the question its clear that his field of work prevents "keeping an eye" on his belongings while working, hence the place where to store them for N reasons - safety, distractions etc. – Matiss Jul 31 '15 at 13:41
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    Your condescending comments aren't helping anyone or yourself for that matter. – Jack Aug 3 '15 at 11:18

I would rather see it not as strict as Matiss. Yes, formally your colleague has no right to bring someone to the workplace. But I would only talk to my supervisor if he brings other people regularly or those others have done something wrong.

Actually, I do not understand your worrying about your stuff. This foreign person was all the time with your colleague, so that he is taking something from your stuff would be very unlikely. My advise is: Don't make too much fuzz.

Maybe asking your colleague about his intentions will clear some concerns. Most likely this was a one time thing and shouldn't be taken too hard.

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    It's normally a company decision whether employees family or friends are allowed in workplaces. It's certainly not a given that "your colleague has no right to bring someone to the workplace". – DJClayworth Jul 31 '15 at 13:17
  • @DJClayworth: You may are right, I did not realize that. Actually it would be okay where I work, but I figured that this would not apply for other companies. Especially as the OP didn't ask about if it is allowed, but if he should act about it. – jwsc Jul 31 '15 at 14:12

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