A reader writes:
I graduated in May 2015 and accepted an internship position in December. I work for a very large corporation and am part of a two-person team (me and my manager). After two weeks, our full-time, permanent recruitment coordinator (RC) gave her notice and officially left at the end of the year. My manager decided to just “give” me this role, while still expecting me to do my internship tasks. Of course I was excited about the opportunity. To clarify, my internship role and the RC role have completely different responsibilities – literally no overlap. Before the RC left, she trained me but also just threw everything to me. On her last day, she gave me things which should have been done before she left and which she could have easily done compared to me.
When she left, to catch up with work (her slack), I had to go to the office on a holiday, one weekend (Saturday and Sunday) and stay until 11 p.m. on a Monday (the first day I was officially taking over her role). Initially, I did this without my manager knowing because it could also look like I can’t manage my time, when in fact I’m just trying to catch up with things that should have been done by the previous person. However, I eventually told her that on Tuesday by saying “I was here on the weekends and stayed til 11 last night.” I wasn’t even complaining; she asked me how I was, so I answered it just to give info. I’m paid hourly but wasn’t even planning to put the extra hours in my timesheet. She was not pleased at all that I worked on the weekends and stayed that late, saying that “we don’t hire people to work overtime and work on the weekends here.”
After this, she would constantly check up on me, asking when I plan on doing certain things for her. Daily. She has also started making sure I leave no later than 6 p.m. (even if I’m not done work).
My manager also told me she will fire me if I don’t stop doing this (working long hours and weekends – I’ve only done this once). I want to clarify that the reason I’m working this much is because I care about what happens to the company. I handle the whole onboarding process for full-time experienced hires, and I want new hires to have good first impression of the company. I’m not doing this to get overtime pay. I never even thought of putting down the extra hours to get more money.
I’m frustrated that I’m being “punished” for doing work that needs to be done. I don’t go on breaks, don’t do chit chat, don’t even check my phone. Am I doing something wrong? I am completely lost. Would a company rather have someone go home right at 5 p.m. when there are strict deadlines to meet? Is it reasonable for her or anyone to expect someone to finish tasks for two people in eight hours per day?
She also keeps telling me that when she was younger, she used to the same things I did (two roles in one person). I feel she’s being passive aggressive and wants to imply that my situation is common. I feel she’s being unfair to quickly compare me to her when she’s not even clear what I do in this new role (I’ll be having a meeting with her about the RC role this week — she initiated). My compensation was not changed as well. I am really confused and I just want to do work. I really love my job, but it’s extremely frustrating to be expected to only have eight hours in a day. Again, I don’t ever plan on putting in the extra hours.
I’m thinking you might not realize that your company is required by law to pay you overtime (time and a half) for all hours over 40 that you work in a week!* You can’t waive that right; there’s no amount of “but I’m volunteering to do it” that gets them out of the legal requirement to pay you for that time. And you not recording the time on your timesheet can get them in trouble down the road; you’d legally be allowed to claim back pay and penalties from them later on if you change your mind.
That in itself is a reason for your manager not to let you work extra hours. But there are lots of other reasons too:
* People burn out if they work long hours over time, and good managers want to avoid that.
* By working all those extra hours, you’re potentially making it harder for your manager to get approval to fill the vacancy your coworker left — because if all the work is getting done, the company has left incentive to spend resources on a new hire.
* Good managers often want to limit people’s hours even if you’re willing to work more because they need to know what can reasonably be accomplished in 40 hours, so that when you leave, the person who replaces you doesn’t get stuck with an unrealistic workload or unrealistic expectations.
* Your manager probably knows more than you do about the priority level of the work that you’re staying late to tackle, and may know that it doesn’t warrant putting in extra hours.
* Your manager may know that the workload should be doable in 40 hours a week and, if that’s not happening, wants the chance to help you figure out how to approach it differently.
If you find that you can’t do everything assigned to you in eight hours a day, by all means talk to your manager about that. Find out if she wants to reprioritize or shift work around or even get rid of some projects altogether. Or, who knows, maybe once you lay it all out for her, she’ll authorize overtime. But that needs to go through her; you can’t circumvent her by just deciding on your own to work overtime after she’s told you not to.
* At least, assuming that you’re non-exempt — which, based on your description of your role, you almost certainly are.)