employer is suddenly forcing me to work Saturdays

A reader writes:

Last year, after my having worked in this company’s IT department for 12 years of almost completely free weekends, we were told to start a Saturday help desk coverage rotation between April and August. I very reluctantly agreed to be part of the rotation, even though I am not a help desk person (not like I had a choice), in the belief that this was a seasonal thing. Fast forward to this year, and I see that the Saturday coverage has been expanded until the end of the year without any notice to us.

I value my free time very highly, and am usually not willing to sell it for time-and-a-half. This was fine with my supervisor for the first 12 years of my employment. The way I see it, forcing me to sell my Saturdays (with the implied threat of punishment if I do not agree to do so) for time-and-a-half when I did not offer them for sale is tantamount to theft.

Well, they can’t force you — you get to decide whether or not you want the job on these terms.

The way this works is this:  An employer can decide that they need to change the terms of your employment at any time, and you can decide whether you accept the job with those changes or not. They can add to or subtract from your job description, change your hours, change your boss, change your department, change your title, even change your location or your salary. At that point, you decide whether or not you want to work under those new terms. If you don’t, you can try to negotiate for something more to your liking (which you may or may not succeed at getting) or you can decide that you no longer want the job on these terms and go somewhere else instead.

Does it suck to have a job that you were perfectly happy with suddenly change in a significant way? Yes. But this is the reality of what happens sometimes.

That said, it sounds like they handled it badly, if they instituted it without any notice or discussion. If they’d come to you and said, “We’re sorry we have to do this, but here are the reasons why, and we know it’s an imposition and we really appreciate you pitching in,” you still might not have liked it but I bet it wouldn’t be as infuriating as it is now.

However, have you talked to your manager about how unhappy you are about this new schedule? If not, that’s where you should start. Explain that you never signed on for Saturdays, that you were willing to do it to help out when there was a short-term need but you’re not willing to do it long-term, and ask what can be worked out. If your manager is highly invested in keeping you happy (and keeping you on the job), she may be able to work out a different arrangement for you. Or she may not — but you won’t know until you ask.

If she says no, try asking for a compromise. On weeks when you work Saturdays, can you swap it for a different day off in that same week? (Note that you’ll probably be giving up overtime pay if doing this keeps your total hours at 40 or below that week.)

If that conversation doesn’t produce an arrangement you’re happy with, then you’ve got to decide if you’re willing to keep the job under these conditions or not.

In any situation like this, the general principle is this: If you don’t like what’s being offered, go out there and see what other offers the world has for you. You might find one you like a lot better — or you might decide that you’d rather stay put, despite the current terms. But you’ll be picking it deliberately, rather than feeling it’s being forced on you.

{ 104 comments… read them below }

  1. kristinyc*

    I don’t have any useful advice to add, but this made me want to watch Office Space.

    Yeaaaaaaaah, I’m going to need you to come in on Saturday….

  2. Colette*

    I’m intrigued by this statement:
    I very reluctantly agreed to be part of the rotation, even though I am not a help desk person

    Is the OP working on the help desk (since it’s a help desk rotation) even though that’s not something she normally does? If so, is there a shortage of people who do that job? If not, is the OP supporting the help desk and, if so, is the workload on Saturdays enough to justify someone being there?

    If the OP was running the company, would she think someone needed to be doing what she’s doing on Saturdays?

    Those are questions I’d be asking myself before going to talk with my manager. There may be a legitimate business need – or there may not be – but if I’m clear on why it’s happening, I would be better prepared to respond to any concerns my manager would have.

  3. ooloncoluphid*

    I realize the reality of the situation. If I don’t like it I can go somewhere else.

    I just think it’s awfully presumptuous of an employer to assume that what used to be your free time belongs to them, and if you don’t agree, well then too bad for you! Maybe I’m being naive.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s basically the employer making you a new offer: This is the job we have to offer, these are the terms, and — just like with any job offer — you can take it, leave it, or try to negotiate it.

      1. ooloncoluphid*

        I already know the answer to this question, but I’ll ask anyway…

        So you’re basically saying that if an employee wants to keep working somewhere, then he must accept the fact that all of an employee’s free time is the property of the employer?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Nope. They’re not asking you to work 24/7 or at midnight or “all of your free time.” They’re telling you that the job now requires rotating Saturdays. You can try to negotiate that, or you can accept it’s become part of the job, or you can look for a different job.

          It sounds like you might be ready for a different job. It’s been 12 years, after all.

          But yes, they can indeed change your schedule.

          1. ooloncoluphid*

            I won’t disagree that I’m ready for a change. Maybe a change to something other than IT.

            1. Stells*

              My advice: I always keep track of every penny of OT I get paid for, and then spend it on something that’s a bit more extravagent than what I’d normally buy (designer clothes, an extra vacation, art piece…whatever floats your boat).

              It doesn’t really replace the time spent, but it does help me feel like that time is helping me save up for something I normally wouldn’t get so it’s less dreary and more exciting.

            2. Camellia*

              Yeah, I am in IT and my last non-contract job told us flat out that they owned us, 24/7.

              IT can just kind of suck like that.

      2. Anonymous*

        When does this cross over to the constructive discharge that came up on a couple questions earlier this week (or that I read earlier this week!) I recall one where the person didn’t have a car but needed to drive as part of changes to the position.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I’m not positive, but I suspect it wouldn’t. Partly because constructive discharge requires the employer to change the conditions so egregiously that continuing in the job would be “intolerable” to a reasonable employee, and partly because you usually need to leave very quickly after it happens (since if you stay, it shows that it was not in fact intolerable).

        2. Joey*

          If you’re asking if he quit and tried to draw unemployment would he qualify the answer depends on where he’s at and how much his schedule has changed. A lot of states use the “through no fault of his own” bar. I’ve seen employees qualify when the job location or the hours changed so significanty they could no longer continue in the job. But even then they look at how much of a burden the change placed on the individual.

    1. Cube Ninja*

      I do find that negotiating employment with Sith lords is rather hazardous to one’s health. Just like it’s best to let the Wookiee win in team-building games.

          1. Camellia*

            I have nothing to contribute here except to say, “I love this site!”. What a great end to a long, trying day!

            1. niceperson*

              Me too. I like this site.
              It makes me understand more about what reality is in the real world. And now I am much relax to face up what very soon will happen in my institution.

  4. ooloncoluphid*

    In answer to your question, Colette: No, there are usually between 0 and 2 calls on Saturdays, and all of the ones I’ve seen could’ve been addressed by someone working from home.

    The same job could be done by telling one of the people in the rotation that they are on call. This is a huge waste of time and money, as far as I’m concerned.

      1. ooloncoluphid*

        I have. My supervisor’s boss wants somebody on site for some reason. He’s not technically inclined, and does not know that everything short of hardware replacement can be done from anywhere.

    1. Anon2*

      That’s great information to talk to your manager about. It sounds like they can clearly see (if they look) that the traffic may not justify the cost (OT every Saturday all year?), but they may care more about being able to say “we’re available 6 days a week.” We’re becoming more and more of a 24/7 society, so it may be worth it to your employer to keep these expanded hours even if the traffic isn’t particularly significant – or, they may expect traffic to pick up with a new client or more work.

      Are you the only one covering every Saturday? Sounds like you could suggest having someone on call or having more people so that no one is working more than 1 Saturday a month. If that doesn’t work, perhaps you can negotiate covering these hours from home. If it’s a matter of carrying a phone and maintaining computer access, then you can feel less chained to work if you can still wander around your home, do chores, watch tv, etc.

        1. Sparky629*

          Maybe the boss doesn’t have a good understanding of telecommuting or on-call. Maybe he thinks that if you are on-call, he is paying you to sit around home on his dime.

          As someone who is regularly asked to log in/be available to do work on my off days, vacation, or sick days I can understand. What I did was negotiate with my employer for the time (I’m not salaried so I’m not sure if this will apply to you).
          If my employer contacts me for work, then I am happy to do it but I keep track of the time and flex it at my preference. During the holiday season, when my job is shut down (higher ed) and I am ‘on-call’, I only request payment/flex time for actual time that I had to work.
          Maybe if the boss’s boss knew there was a viable option then maybe he/she would be more open to telecommuting.
          As an aside, I do have to show what work I did so that they are sure I am being paid for actual work.
          Just a thought.

  5. Ask a Manager* Post author

    By the way, if you really want to test this, you can come up with another commitment that you have on Saturdays that you’re not able to break — such as child care (which is hard to tell you to abandon). They may still tell you that you have to do it, but a lot of times that can get you out of it.

    1. BCW*

      Hmm, as a non-parent, that would annoy me. If we all were supposed to take on this extra task and the parents were able to get out of it because of their kids. I think too often people think if you don’t have kids your time is somehow less valuable.

      1. Another Job Seeker*

        What are good strategies for people who do not have children? It annoys me to hear, “since you’re not a parent, you can handle Project Y. Thanks for being a team player and supporting Jim, who coaches football for his son every Saturday”. While I do not have children, I believe that family comes before work. However, I do not think that non-parents should be penalized for being reluctant to take on extra work.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          You can try any other commitment (caring for a family member, volunteer work, class, bible study, watching your nephews every Saturday). In practice, not every employer respects non-children commitments as much. I agree that’s BS.

          1. Joey*

            Are you really suggesting to make up some commitment to get out of it instead of being straightforward?

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              No, I’m saying think about other real commitments you might have in life. Maybe it’s something you didn’t think of as an unbreakable commitment, but it’s how you usually spend your Saturdays. I think that’s just as reasonable as what the employer is doing.

              1. Kristinyc*

                “Sorry, I have to sit around and watch ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ reruns for 6 hours on Saturday and catch up on my Google Reader. I couldn’t possibly work.”

                Even if that isn’t as valuable as having kids, if that’s how I choose to spend my Saturday, that’s how I choose to spend it.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I was just coming back here to say something similar! I was going to add, I regularly decline things (work and non-work) because “I have plans that day,” when my plans are in fact lounging on the couch with a book.

                2. Vicki*

                  I used “I have plans that day” as a reason to not attend a two day overnight department offsite meeting. (I would have happily attended the meeting; it was the overnight I wasn’t up for).

                  My plans were to spend the evening with hubby, cats, and a book.

        2. Andrea*

          My family comes before work. It just happens that my family consists of me, my husband, our dog, our three cats, and various very close friends, as well as my parents and my MIL. I don’t stand for the suggestion that my family is less than anyone else’s. When I say I have family obligations, it’s true, and I don’t go into more detail.

          1. Vicki*

            At one point, the company I worked for “gave” the team members a “reward” for putting in extra hours on a project. The “reward” for not seeing your family for extra unpaid hours was: a three-day weekend trip to Yosemite. Family members were not invited.

            Um. No.

        3. Anonymous*

          You lie. The excuse of childcare was also a lie. It doesn’t matter what the lie is, as long as it’s difficult for the employer to verify and socially difficult to object to. It’s the “soft” way of trying to avoid extra shifts.

          Personally, I prefer to be more direct with my employer. I’d handle this the same way I would for any other request/demand for extra work that I couldn’t take on. I cant’ do that, here’s an alternative to solve your problem. Treat it just as you would if your employer asked you to stay another 3 hours after work on short notice.

          1. Vicki*

            I don’t lie. I may not go into details but I do not lie. And I would never recommend lying. I hope Allison doesn’t either.

            Be honest. You truly do have something else to do. It’s private, it’s personal, and it’s important to you.

            1. Anonymous*

              I really agree with this concept. It is a brilliant strategy. The soapbox about lying (“I don’t lie”) is reminiscent of a like. I am pretty sure everyone lies. I am pretty sure that some people lie about lying. What every get’s you through the night and any port in a storm.

      2. Wilton Businessman*

        You could always try “Sorry I have to work that day because you don’t pay me enough to live on”.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      This is how I get out of Saturdays. I don’t tell them what it is (I actually do something every Saturday morning). It’s not their business. I do whatever I can to avoid working on the weekends because most of the things I need to do with others can only take place then, due to their work schedules.

  6. A Bug!*

    Man, wouldn’t it be a ton cheaper to just hire a permanent part-time person to cover Saturdays?

    Also, I’m surprised there’s not at least one person jumping at the opportunity to pull in overtime on a regular basis. I know work-life balance is important for most people, but for some people, the extra money would far outweigh the impact on leisure time. Especially if it’s as slow a shift as ooloncoluphid says; it seems like it would basically be getting paid to read a book or browse the Internet.

    1. Anon*

      This was my thought. Isn’t there some young employee who would be happy to get paid to work on his or her novel?

    2. Stells*

      This! When I was fresh out of college working for a law firm, the other legal assistants and I were assigned rotating Saturdays and Sundays (plus most holidays). We didn’t complain since it was 1.5x the pay (double time on holidays!) and we needed the cash. In fact, we were always trying to take more shifts if we could.

      We have employees who have families and such, but they still take as much overtime as they can get because the extra cash comes in handy.

  7. AnotherAlison*

    Other than the fact that there’s no real need to have someone on the helpdesk on Saturday, you’re employer’s change of terms doesn’t seem too outrageous. I’ve had friends sent to China for 4 months, and that turned into 4 yrs. My husband went from 5-8s weekdays to 3-12s weekend shift. (That worked better for us at the time, but now it would be a dealbreaker.) I completely understand your irritation, but one thing I’ve learned from reading AAM regularly is that my job is pretty great. Consider the rotating Saturday shift in the big scheme of things. If the job is otherwise good, maybe you suck it up. If not, it’s probably a sign that it’s time to move on, or you are at minimum willing to risk that possibility by discussing it with your manager.

  8. bemo12*

    This is not all that surprising. Happens all the time.

    You really should just talk with your manager/boss about not wanting to work on Saturdays and if that doesn’t do anything, you should look for a new job.

    The problem was that you let this go for too long. This really should have been a discussion when it became a permanent thing, rather than a temporary inconvenience.

    Regardless, try and work something out, but this is incredibly common in many different fields.

    1. Mike C.*

      You’re forgetting that the OP was told this would be a temporary measure and was lied to. Also the fact that there is an implicit threat of punishment for not participating. The OP is not to blame here.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        No one is blaming the OP here — just pointing out that it’s often more effective to raise this kind of thing as soon as it starts (which in this case would presumably be once it lasted beyond August). That’s not blame, that’s practical info for next time.

  9. Mike C.*

    But you’ll be picking it deliberately, rather than feeling it’s being forced on you.

    When your choice is to give up your free time or face not having a home, food or access to healthcare, it’s not a choice anymore. If the OP decides to quit, there is no safety net for to fall back on. Oh sure, they can try to find a new job, and that will work for some*. But it will take lots of time. And while you’re waiting for that, the original “choice” is still there.

    But let’s say the OP just quits. Future employers will look poorly upon someone who either leaves with less than two weeks notice (since if they aren’t working the weekend, they’re leaving before the weekend) or is fired for insubordination/attendance issues (didn’t show up for the weekend!). Even if that doesn’t happen, no way is the OP getting a good recommendation when future employers call them up.

    And for what? There is no business case for half of the days off to be taken from this employee. There is no emergency, no use for that time, just ignorant business owners who don’t understand technology and value face time over everything else.

    If I might paraphrase another regular poster here, “I hate the idea that just because an employer gives me a paycheck that s/he believes they own me.”

    *As an aside, I really, really hate this “solution”. It basically says that if you aren’t a desirable candidate then you deserve to suffer in any way your current employer sees fit. Even mediocre employees deserve to be treated well. Oh, and remember that there are plenty of non-business reasons for being undesirable like being too old or a woman of child bearing age.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yep, it sucks. It’s still the reality of how it works though.

      And there is some choice involved — you can choose to stay, choose to try to negotiate it (which often does work), or choose to look for another job (however long that might take). You’re not totally at a lone employer’s mercy. (And if you are, then you have real problems — an employer could go out of business or shut down your division, etc. at any time. You can’t be entirely dependent on one lone employer for your permanent livelihood.)

    2. Joey*

      Sorry mike I’m usually on board with your comments but you’re being unrealistic. Jobs, duties and company needs all change over time. It’s a given and it should be expected. An employee cannot realistically expect job conditions to never change.

      And even when it’s a dumb move sometimes you just have to make due as best as you can. Either that or test the free agency waters for a better deal.

      1. Mike C.*

        I’m not arguing against change in general – I’ve moved my desk five times in a year and my schedule has spanned from five in the morning to eleven at night.

        But with each change I’m asked about it, I’m made to understand the business case, and I’m never asked to give up all of my saturdays or anything like that.

        What I’m upset about is the fact that the changes to the OP are made for no business reason and with no consideration for the employee.

        1. Joey*

          Sorry mike there is a business reason – its just one that you don’t agree with. And there is at least some employee consideration if it’s a rotating deal, just not necessarily as much as you’d like.

  10. Ariancita*

    I had that happen in a past job. I negotiated trading my Saturday to Mondays, so I always had Sunday and Monday off (work week Tues-Sat). Turns out this was the best schedule ever. Having a week day off was so much more valuable than two weekend days off. Everything that is closed on weekends–the bank, the doctor’s, the vet, etc–is open on Mondays. Plus, Saturdays were really slow, so it was practically a half day. Take in the fact that everyone was happy in office on Fridays because it was a Friday, and well, it really began to feel like I was only really working 3 real full days. So maybe you can negotiate that and see if it works for you? (Of course, caveat being you don’t have children. That then is a completely different scenario.)

    1. ThatHRGirl*

      Completely agree! In my previous job we had multiple shifts, and my boss wanted me to make myself available to the employees on that shift once a week, which meant working 3pm-11:oopm for one day.
      I chose Mondays, because it was so nice to still have a “weekend night” on Sunday night where I could go out with friends or just stay up late and watch TV, and then use my Monday morning to run errands like you mentioned (bank/vet/doctors).
      Did it suck to come home at 11:30pm on Monday nights and go back in at 9am on Tuesdays? Yeah, kind of. But Monday nights were very quiet and usually allowed myself to get way ahead on my busy work for the week, so I considered that to be worth it.

      I don’t know why OP couldn’t negotiate something very similar – every time it’s her turn to work a Saturday, she gets to take the following Monday off…

      1. Stells*

        I wish I could work out a Tues – Sat type of schedule at my company. In our production department, there are some that work M-T and R-Sa with that Wednesday off. THAT would be the most awesome schedule, IMHO, because you’d never be working more than 3 days in a row!

        But, yeah, having a day off in the week is worth WAY more than a Saturday or Sunday – especially when on Friday nights I’m too tired from a week of work to stay out late anyway.

        1. Min*

          I used to work a schedule like that and, for me at least, the plus of only working 3 days in a row was completely overshadowed by the drag never having 2 days off in a row.

    2. Lils*

      Agreed. There is a big difference between being forced to work overtime and getting to choose a different day off. Days off during the week rock, and days at work when you’re the only one there? It’s heaven. I hope the OP can see this change in a positive light.

  11. Vicki*

    > An employer can decide that they need to change the terms of your employment at any time, and you can decide whether you accept the job with those changes or not. They can add to or subtract from your job description, change your hours, change your boss, change your department, change your title, even change your location or your salary. At that point, you decide whether or not you want to work under those new terms.

    This has happend to me _so many times_. In fact, this sort of change has been The Reason I have left every job I ave ever left. Not for a new oportunity. Not for more money. Because the Job has Changed out from under me and it’s not what I signed up for.

    OP – It’s been 12 years. You had a good run. You were very lucky. Most people don’t get 12 years. It’s time to move on.

  12. Anon*

    I remember hearing the news on Employees vs Pacific Bell years ago. PacBell was working their staff double time – two full shifts, 80 hours a week for most people – with no end in sight. The employees banded together on a class action lawsuit. The court’s decision was that PacBell was paying them legally and could continue to demand double time for as long as they wanted. Anyone who didn’t like it could vote with their feet. It seems just wrong but legally it isn’t.

      1. Stells*

        Dear companies,

        If you don’t like unions, then stop treating your employees like slaves. I don’t understand why this is difficult to grasp. Happy employees have no desire to pay union dues….miserable ones (especially in bad economies) are more than willing to pay them if it’ll get them a realistic work environment.

        Every HR person ever

  13. Kimberley*

    I’m curious to know how many Saturdays we’re actually talking about. The OP has stated that it’s in rotation, so does that mean he’s working 1 Saturday a month? One Saturday every 6 weeks? 6 Saturdays a year? If I were the employer and my employees were complaining about working 1 Saturday every 6 – 8 weeks I’d be less inclined to make any changes compared to them working 1 Saturday every 3 – 4 weeks.

    1. Jamie*

      I’m really curious about this, too. How many are we talking about?

      I get that even if it’s one a year and it’s something you don’t want to do it can be resented – but how often you are up in the rotation is relevant regarding the impact.

      Everything is relative – and that’s something we all have to keep in mind – and some things are a bigger deal than other things.

      I have my own office and half of it is covered in odd wall-paper. People comment on it, the best remark I’ve heard is to ask if it was left over from Opie Taylor’s room. If I were to complain about it as if it impacted my life, I would fully understand if someone in a too small cubicle with migraine inducing glare who had a loud chewing/stinky food eating co-worker in the next cubicle wanted to kill me with their tape dispenser for whining about it.

      Because it’s all relative. If I have a migraine telling me that I’m lucky it’s not cancer isn’t helpful – I can feel sorry for people who are worse off than me and myself at the same time…I am a genius at multi-tasking self-pity.

      I have no idea where I was even going with this – but seriously – how many times a year are we talking about?

      And yes, even though I totally understand that it’s all relative considering the amount of hours over 40 I put in as IT without one dime of OT …I’m trying to remember that just because I have a worse deal doesn’t mean you shouldn’t feel bad about yours. :)

  14. Wilton Businessman*

    OT for IT, I wish.

    I think if this is going to be a long-term thing, it is more than reasonable to do the Saturday schedule on a rotating basis. In other words, maybe 1/4 of the staff covers the first Saturday and then they don’t have to work it again until the first Saturday of the next month.

    But AAM outlined your options perfectly; accept it, ask to change it, or leave.

  15. Anonymous*

    To me, this doesn’t add up. You “reluctantly agreed to be part of the rotation” yet there is an “implied threat of punishment”. If there was to be punishment for not working Saturdays they would have said I need you to come in Saturday. The fact that you “agreed to be part of the rotation” makes it sound more like they came around looking for volunteers and you signed up. It is possible the implied threat was just a misconception. It is also possible they still have enough legitimate volunteers without you. In my office, the 2 of us that enjoy travel often save all those that have no interest from having to go on the road.

    If you really are opposed to Saturdays, talk to your boss and see if you can get taken out of the rotation. But realistically, how many Saturdays are we talking here? Even at 1 a month, you’re giving up half of 12 weekends a year (and being paid overtime for almost no work). That leaves you 40 weekends completely free and half of 12 weekends also free, and as rotation implies scheduled and not random, you’ll know in advance and can plan around them.

    Another thought, the more people in the rotation, the less Saturdays each individual gives up. So if everyone else in the office is begrudgingly picking up a few Saturdays a year, don’t be that guy that gets himself taken off the rotation and never does a Saturday. Your coworkers will notice and will silently resent the fact that you not wanting to pitch in once in a while causes them to miss more Saturdays with family regardless of if you have a good reason.

    1. anonymous*

      I think we have all worked somewhere where “optional” is technically just that, but we don’t feel like it really is, because opting out can put you on the wrong person’s you-know-what-list, or the next layoff list, but I do agree that the OP didn’t provide much info on specifics.

    2. ooloncoluphid*

      I reluctantly agreed to the seasonal, April to August thing. It’s now been extended to the entire year. They have not even talked to us about it, or asked us what we thought about it.

  16. Kimberlee, Esq.*

    I agree with everything that Alison says, but wanted to add something based on this part:

    “The way I see it, forcing me to sell my Saturdays (with the implied threat of punishment if I do not agree to do so) for time-and-a-half when I did not offer them for sale is tantamount to theft.”

    I’m sorry. Look, it sucks to have your job change, but an employer paying you time and a half in exchange for work is NOT theft. This just bothers me so much… middle class problems! Gasp, I’m being paid for my work!

    Have you never had anything actually stolen from you? Did you not read the AAM question just a few days ago about the people who work at Wal-Mart who were being forced to work overtime with no pay? Or been an exempt employee expected to work Saturdays for absolutely no additional pay?

    Again. Totally sucks to have your cushy job become less cushy, and finding yourself having to decide if you need to embark on a possibly long and crappy job search. But the sense of entitlement expressed in that letter really grinds my gears, as Homer Simpson might say.

    1. Anonymous*

      Seriously, I work every Saturday at my job, but I don’t get time and a half for it! That would make a crappy schedule so much better.

    2. Anonymous*

      Yeah, as an exempt employee who averages about 50 hours a week, (and increasing due to my department of two being cut in half with no plan on how to deal with the extra workload besides me doing it all) this made me chuckle a bit. I would love to sell my time over 40 hours at time and half! Sounds like a good deal. Anybody buying? LOL. I’m sure it must be an adjustment after 12 years, but it still doesn’t sound that bad!

    3. ooloncoluphid*

      OK Kimberly, here’s $25. I’m taking your car. Wait! Why are you complaining? I paid for it!

        1. ooloncoluphid*

          OK, but if she chooses not to sell, she’ll lose her current source of income until she can find another source.

            1. ooloncoluphid*

              I’m glad we’ve all arrived at the same conclusion:

              Unless you’re ready to lose your primary source of income and end up jobless and possibly homeless, an employer can coerce you into putting up with almost anything.

              I understand that that’s life, and life’s not fair. I’m really just venting.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Here’s the thing though: You can look at it that way or you can look at it the way I’ve laid out here. One will make you miserable and the other will help you feel some semblance of control and be better for your quality of life. It’s your call — but you will be happier with the latter.

  17. Editor*

    There are a lot of businesses where people don’t have control over their schedules — health care and veterinary care, journalism, retail, some kinds of sales jobs and more. IT has always involved weekend work at many places and sometimes the rules are bizarre.

    My husband was in IT, and when we moved into our first house, he got middle-of-the-night and weekend calls all the time. Turns out the computer operators had been told to call the staff member who lived closest first and by moving he became the closest person. If the closest staff member couldn’t help, then the operators could call someone else. After a while the managers changed the policy so people were called based on their responsibility for the specific problem area.

    But I am baffled by management’s unwillingness to allow telecommuting in this situation. It sounds like they really don’t understand IT or telecommuting. (They don’t understand that if there’s a bad snowstorm and the roads are closed, telecommuting will be the way things get done? Or do the phones go out when the weather’s bad?)

  18. Carl*

    The second paragraph of this response should be required reading for everyone entering the working world.

  19. Job Seeker*

    I am probably the odd duck here, but I would just work the Saturday. At my last part-time job, I had to work every Saturday. I loved my job so it was fun for me, it did not seem like work. I am married with a family, but we still worked around this. It was required for the job and I am a very dependable person, so I just did what was expected. You can adapt much easier if you put your mind to it.

    1. Anonymous*

      If you’re an odd duck, then I’m in the Odd Flock. As someone whose husband has been out of work for most of three years, thanks to the miserable state of the construction industry, and would love to have the opportunity to work a whole lot of Saturdays given the chance, all I can say is: I don’t have a lot of sympathy, but if you leave this job at least it will open up a spot for someone who appreciates it.

      I consulted in my field for nine years, and all I ever wanted out of any day was the knowledge that I was going to be able to bill eight whole hours. The pipeline was not predictable, you see, so I welcomed every danged hour I could squirrel up. That experience really changed me. Now, when I am working at a regular job and I find myself working late or on a weekend, it is impossible for me to think anything other than: I have a job, when many don’t. I have a job where the work is abundant enough that I’m am assured right now that I’ll still have a job for the foreseeable future. If the load gets too heavy, I can look for another job. And I am so danged grateful for that.

  20. Anonymous*

    I just want to know what kind of IT job you have that didn’t include weekend work for 12 years? In 30+ years in IT, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one. The 24×7 world of IT can be a harsh mistress.

  21. Ashley*

    Pardon me, but all I hear is “whine whine whine”. I just had a baby but I’m still required to work every third Saturday and Sunday. Most of the working world works weekends, sorry to inform you.

    My mother has to drive 90 miles one way every 3rd weekend and I pay for some day care days I won’t even use. No pity is given to mothers of small children. If you don’t like your job, just stop whining and go somewhere else. It’s really THAT simple. SMH

  22. courtney*

    can you manager give a bartending shift to someone that is not a bartender without offering it to you first

  23. patrick*

    On my job application they asked am I willing to work swing shift and I said no….I work 5pm to 3am….they told me I have to come in Sunday at 7am..I said no and they said they may Wright me up….doesn’t my job app protect me since they accepted my app and hired me ?

  24. Marisa*

    In Florida there is slavery, the Plant Nurseries and agricultural businesses obligate workers to labor 70 hrs a week, minimum or less than mini mun wages. And everybody knows this and nobody cares, if you complaint you’re called lazy and sure you have no job. I work for a non-profit and yes, people have to work in Saturdays there. And they do not pay overtime, they fired two people in my department, now I have to work double doing so many things that I am getting sick, from the stress and the overload of work…the worst thing is that my husband has no job and I cannot find another job. It’s very sad that in United States people is treated this way just because we are in need and because nobody cares, not even the church, I wonder what is next.

  25. Anon*

    My philosophy is that you need your job to live, but what kind of a life is your job? That said, if I need off I do whatever it takes. I am honest to everyone I meet, but I lie like a rug to my bosses. I have no kids, but say that I do. I say I have to go 200 miles south every weekend to care for a sick grandfather. I say I have a wedding, I say that I have to take someone to a doctor’s appointment. None of it is true. I don’t think there has been an employer I have ever been completely honest with. That’s because once you are honest with an employer, that’s when they take advantage of you. I can’t work overtime because I have to pick up my kids from soccer practice since my wife has to drop them off to go to work. Not true, but it’ll work. If they fired you for that then they would be in for more trouble than it would be worth to just schedule someone else. If you need off, and you think they won’t budge, lie. I don’t care what you think of me, I’m getting my time off, even if I have to change my day off to next Friday. “I was able to work out a possible arrangement, but I have to take off Friday to watch my friend’s kids. She’s a single mother.” Nice guys finish last for a reason, and this society reflects that .

  26. MARY*


  27. worried guy*

    What about a boss who decides we should suddenly rotate emergency call – a role of a manager or director – above our salaried commitment? This call is above my pay grade, so to speak.

  28. boris*

    I work 12 hours a week i aready work one day of every weekend friday and saturday swapping weekly now they want me to work both friday and saturday night can they do this just a note this business
    Has a large number of employees and causal

  29. Tornado*

    We have two mechanics working for us , both MOT testers who have rented a workshop on a local farm.
    They are now quite often ringing in either sick or some other excuse and we suspect they are working at the farm premises.
    If i can catch them out with photos or video on one of these days are we within our rights to dismiss them instantly .

    1. Asashii Fustazi*

      Depends on your State, here where i live you can be fired, dont even have to give a reason, no right to work, is what it is called, and even so just say they are not performing their duties. if they come in late—Tardy then fire them and have that reason!!!!

  30. Asashii Fustazi*

    Well, to my understanding alot of it depends on the State of which you live, but of course they cant trump federal laws, and those laws state that they could, if you are over age and adult, could make you work 24 hour days and there is nothing you can do about, my brother sometimes works almost 35 hours straight, i would imagine that after say 16 to 20 hours i wouldnt want that person to do a operation on me, doctors kill just as much as they heal!!!

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