update: my manager is annoyed that I keep getting Saturdays off

Remember the letter-writer who had found a way to see in advance which Saturdays he’d be required to work and was requesting them all off before he could be scheduled, despite being required to work them? His manager knew something was going on but couldn’t figure out how he was getting the info in advance. Here’s the update.

I had the question about my supervisor being annoyed with me on how I seem to know when we are working a Saturday and I request vacation.

Reiterating what I said in my response after the question was posted: First, EVERYBODY in the daily work rotation has the same access to the information I have found. They just have not discovered how to use it or have not found the schedule like I have. Second, if I have the vacation time to use, and the time is available to use it, my supervisor would need a very good reason to deny it. HR would need to approve the reason. Her not liking that I happen to take the Friday off before a Saturday work day would not be a good reason.

But I did work a Saturday! The one for the 4th of July weekend. The vacation request log was filled up and I had to work. My wife was able to take the time off for child care.

The update. I went and talked to the plant manager. I mentioned that I didn’t know the correct term but it was like harassment or hostile work environment and bullying by my supervisor in the form of “over supervision” and questions about how and when I was using my vacation. (Note from Alison: Legally, it is not harassment nor hostile workplace.) He said “interesting” and that he, along with HR, would look into it. I also mentioned the (relatively) sudden increase in working Saturdays, going from one or two a year to many more now and seemingly increasing. He said they conducted an investigation/audit and found that the automated ordering program that was implemented a few years ago could not be fine-tuned enough or lacked common sense in ordering the different sub-components and the line would switch products more than needed, adding down time. If it saw one sub-component less than the inventory limit, it would schedule production even though the items were not going to be used for another five weeks. So they are now having a real person look over the suggestions of the program and then make a decision on what the production schedule will be. He said by the end of the year our schedules should be back to normal.

The following weeks, my supervisor said nary a word to me and seemed to be more withdrawn than normal, and other than our start-of-work meetings I didn’t see too much of her. I found out several other people had talked to management about her. One lady named Leslie got a really short haircut and my supervisor started caller her “Lester” or “Leslie the lesbian” behind her back. (Note from Alison: WTF.)  Another coworker has intermittent FMLA and she was demanding proof of his condition when she has no right to ask. I guess management had a talk with her about all this and said anything outside of the job at hand was not to be discussed.

I didn’t see her at all at the end of last week. I found out through my brother-in-law, who found out through the rumor mill at the office while together over the holiday, that she was fired. During the investigation/audit of why we working (and being paid) so much overtime, it was discovered that she was coding several of her work friends’ pay rate higher than the job they were doing. Instant termination. So the supervisor’s job is open at the moment. I have absolutely no interest in pursuing it.

Thanks for answering my question.

{ 794 comments… read them below }

  1. Chilipepper Attitude*

    All so interesting, but gosh, all the WTFs that got uncovered here!
    Thanks for the update!

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      No kidding. Stupid inventory management/process scheduling software was not on my bingo card.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        So, a know-it-all acquaintance was holding forth about how AI would soon be running things without humans being involved, and I said I’ve never seen a computer program that didn’t reach a point of needing a human to help it. This is a good example.
        It’s a simple and essential principle of successful work – always check what the computer did!

          1. DJ Abbott*

            At the risk of a tangent, this makes checking even more important. The program should have been checked at every step while it was being developed so it wouldn’t have unexpected results like this.
            And then when it’s in use, it should still be checked to make sure something hasn’t gone wrong with it.
            I don’t know what’s being taught out there, that people don’t know these basic principles of developing and using computer programs. Or any program or process that relies on machine results.

            1. Kal*

              My coding knowledge is limited to mostly a bit of HTML and CSS, and even I know that you have to test every possible iteration, cause sometimes a minor change will effect things well beyond what is ever expected – and sometimes its not even your change, its just some minor update in the OS or some dependant program that should effect your thing but does.

              And software being told to keep inventory at max so it schedules production as soon as you go under by one is a pretty basic setup screw-up (and its often a pretty basic fix to give it a margin before kicking in). The fact that no one even questioned what it was doing to catch it for years, especially with the amount of overtime it was creating, is quite a fail.

              1. The Price is Wrong Bob*

                I work on what I would consider to be the “low” level of automation sometimes, and you don’t need any coding/software knowledge or special AI skills to avoid this kind of thing because anyone telling a computer to do something would have indeed wanted to go through the possible pipelines/outcomes before they type one single character on a system or in a terminal. The risks/implications part was completely ignored here. The program is working perfectly to spec but the specs were bad!

            2. thebobmaster*

              The good thing about programs is t hat they’ll do exactly what you tell them to do. The bad thing about programs is that they’ll do EXACTLY what you tell them to do.

        1. Red 5*

          Whenever people start this argument with me, I point out that they probably aren’t _actually_ looking through their *incredibly popular and ubiquitous free email system* spam folder very often were they?

          Because I check mine every day since pretty much once or twice a week it has a legit email in it that I wanted to get, but it decided through whatever wisdom it’s machine learning devised, that obviously I didn’t actually want it.

          It’s constant, it’s been going on for years, no matter what I do to try to “train” the thing, it still just decides that something isn’t good enough for the inbox anymore. Whenever I mention this, people always say “oh really? Mine does just fine.” Does it? Do you know that? Or are you assuming because you don’t feel like looking in there?

          If the most popular email service on the planet, which also runs some of the most advanced research into machine learning, can’t figure out a spam filter, then do you really think automation is ready to go?

    2. Cat Tree*

      It’s hard to choose, but the weirdest thing to me is that LW’s direct supervisor got fired and they had to find out through the rumor mill.

      1. Amaranth*

        And then the presumably confidential circumstances are apparently part of the gossip train.

      2. MissBaudelaire*

        That didn’t shock me. I’ve worked places where being being let go was not made clear. They’d be there one day and gone the next, and if questioned, management would scowl and say they were no longer with the organization. You had to press to get that, though

    3. Momma Bear*

      What an update. Plus side, this woman is gone because of her own behavior. I had wondered if there was any other reason she was miffed about the Saturdays. Maybe she was trying to keep the trail off her own activities? Also, it is good to hear that the company took seriously the flaws in the SW and made changes to correct it. Computers are only as smart as they are coded to be. Sometimes you need human common sense.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      As we’ve seen a few times, the problem being written in about was just the tip of the dysfunctional iceberg.

      1. John Smith*

        Yep. And all those people in the original comments who were saying that the LW was the problem…..

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Well, the LW was sneakily gaming the system and lying when asked about it.

          But as so often here, the employee is only doing that because of something else that’s not fair.

        2. Boof*

          Well, what the LW was doing was pretty underhanded; it was clear the supervisor was also at least a little off kilter, but LW didn’t make it clear HOW off kilter until here! I am glad LW finally spoke up about getting saturdays under control in general though.

        3. Red 5*

          The Letter Writer still was part of the problem, and they still contributed in a way that was a little shady in this update (mentioning hostile workplaces and harassment when speaking about this manager when I’m fairly sure the original letters and many of the comments specifically stated that this was NOT harassment or a hostile workplace and the LW should NOT pursue that as part of the issue). That’s still dishonest at best.

          The manager just also was a few bricks shy of a load the entire time as well.

          There can be multiple issues at hand in anything, but especially when it comes to workplace issues.

        4. Rachel*

          In his story, the letter writer is the problem.

          In the additional stories of others at the company added above, the manager is the problem.

  2. BenAdminGeek*

    Holy cow. Glad things at work are moving in the right direction, but wow this is some wild behavior by your (former) supervisor.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      Yes! It always blows my mind to find people like that in supervisory positions (though I also like to send these to HR sometimes just to point out that, even with the crazy they have to deal with, our supervisory team doesn’t tend to do things like THAT). Our head of HR would have walked her out after her entirely inappropriate comments to Leslie, but timecard fraud is an instant termination here, too. Good riddance!

      1. Michelle Smith*

        Right?! I feel like even if what she was doing to OP wasn’t harassment under the law, surely attacking someone’s sexual orientation and gender identity over their haircut HAS to be. If that doesn’t qualify…

        1. Zelda*

          See, *that* might actually qualify as a ‘hostile environment.’ It’s meant to get around the rules-lawyering of those who would point out that referring to a person as a lesbian is not actually an insult (which, naturally, it is not), when their *intent* is indeed to insult and belittle someone on the basis of a (perceived) membership in a group. (I think whether sexual orientation is a protected class still depends on what state you’re in?)

  3. Rainy*

    Wow! Hoist with her own petard–if she hadn’t gotten obsessed with OP’s Saturday dodge, no one would have realized she was overpaying her pals.

    1. No more crappy coffee for me.*

      I wonder if supervisor was so nervous and confrontational because she thought OP had access to thing he shouldn’t – including, potentially, data pointing to her shenanigans.

      1. Iconic Bloomingdale*

        Excellent point. This is the likely explanation why she was so dogged in monitoring the LW’s activities – she didn’t want her own malfeasance to be discovered!

      2. BigBodyBill*

        Yes! This is exactly what I was thinking. Such odd behavior immediately made me think she was worried she was about to get caught, which, in hind sight, she did!

        1. TootsNYC*

          I thought she was worried she’d get caught doing a shitty job organizing people for Saturday workload, or perhaps for not managing well enough to avoid it.

          1. OhNo*

            That’s what I expected, too. Somehow it hadn’t occurred to me that she might be up to worse things than just being a bad manager!

      3. Jane*

        This. As Shakespeare put it: “So full of artless jealousy is guilt, it spills itself in fearing to be spilt.”

        What an update. Thanks for sending it in, OP. I’ve been wondering how your situation turned out.

      4. MissBaudelaire*

        Ohhh, I bet you’re onto something there! That supervisor was worried OP could see things that were meant to be kept secret. Including secrets that could get her in trouble. Instead of minding her own Ps and Qs she wanted to get him busted.

        1. TardyTardis*

          Note that the only thing more suspicious than a bookkeeper/accountant who takes too much vacation is the one who never takes vacation at all…

    2. Observer*

      Not necessarily. It looks to me like they started checking things before the OP went to the plant manager, and they were doing an audit to see why so much overtime was being paid out.

    1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      Well, just one nasty hornet really; not even a whole nest. The bad supervisor is ousted and the rest of the office seems fine.

      1. Mayor of Llamatown*

        A supervisor full of bees. Just…a person that is actually a bunch of bees in a trenchcoat.

  4. A Simple Narwhal*

    Well that escalated quickly!

    Thanks for the update OP, hope your new supervisor is delightful.

  5. Anononon*

    This update sits weird with me. Because, it’s clear from the update that the manager should have been fired for multiple reasons, but I’m still not sure that one of those reasons necessarily should have been how she responded to OP initially. I still disagree with OP’s initial actions (and their reiterations in the update don’t change my mind), but now it’s like they can use the manager’s firing as justification.

    (Also, it makes me thing of the Reddit AITA posts where, after a wave of comments saying YTA, an edit is added with all of this damning information that the poster now includes to try to change the tide.)

    1. Kittymommy*

      Same. (And in the same Reddit vein, ESH). The manager was (now we know) horrible but that doesn’t make LW right.

      1. BeautifulVoid*

        Heh, glad to know I wasn’t the only one thinking “ESH” while reading both the original post and the update.

        1. Julia*

          I’m really glad this is not AITA, though, and I hope we don’t turn it into that. An internet community organized around judgmentally crowing about whether people are “assholes” or not is… not the vibe AAM has, and not the vibe it ever should have. (It kind of even disheartens me how many AAM readers seem to frequent AITA. That place is a cesspool.)

          1. Rupert*

            I agree with this sentiment. I was a bit…put off at the number of references to that subreddit in the comments, which a perusal shows to be overwhelmingly negative and littered with poor advice. It makes me wonder what the mechanisms are that make something like that so popular.

            1. Rupert*

              Note: perusal of the subreddit in question; not of the comments on this site. Apologies for any confusion.

      2. Worldwalker*


        Two wrongs don’t make a right (though three lefts do); they just make twice as much wrong.

          1. Red 5*

            It only has that meaning in a particular subsection of the internet, specifically the AITA subreddit, which is being referenced here.

            It could definitely mean equal sides here in other contexts.

          1. just another anon*

            If it helps, the use of the abbreviation is pretty much confined to that one subreddit (and maybe other advice communities with a similar vibe); I haven’t encountered it “in the wild”.

    2. Data Analyst*

      Agreed. “Anyone could game the system, I just happen to be the only one who is” isn’t such a great defense!

      1. Forrest*

        Sure, but gaming the system is a reasonable response when the system is both bad and badly managed.

        1. pleaset cheap rolls*

          Are you gaming it in ways that transfers benefit to you from an exploitative company? Or are you gaming it in a way where your win is a loss to colleagues doing their jobs? The latter is shady if done a regularly.

          1. Forrest*

            Honestly, I just can’t get behind an ethics that expects people to put their co-workers over their children and family. Sure, ideally, solidarity between workers. But if your company’s bad systems mean you have a choice between inconveniencing your co-workers or taking on a significant personal expense and depriving your kids of time with their parents, I just wouldn’t take anyone seriously who thinks that you should put your coworkers’ and employers’ convenience first.

              1. publicallysparrow*

                Exactly! I don’t think OP is 100% wrong for taking advantage of the system, but I also think they’re more than a little selfish for taking advantage of it to the degree they were and putting the burden on their co-workers as if they don’t also deserve to have some Saturdays off.

                1. blerpblorp*

                  Indeed, it’s a case where some people have a viewpoint that’s very “I’m smart enough to take this advantage so anyone who doesn’t is a sucker and can work all my Saturdays” versus the view (which is the one I would take) that is more yeah, you CAN do it but wouldn’t it be more fair if you shared that information, at the very least with coworkers you like who might also enjoy some of these Saturdays off that you’ve been hording? The balance between how much you care about yourself versus how much you care about others is kind of the root of most choices in life!

              2. Forrest*

                Maybe they do! But OP is first and foremost responsible for their own kids. If they can’t find or afford childcare, it doesn’t matter how many theoretical children their coworkers have.

                1. Your Local Password Resetter*

                  Thats a really cutthroat way of looking at it though. And not a good basis for a healthy working relationship with anyone.
                  I’d rather work to push back against the system than backstab each other to decide who gets to suffer the hardest.

                2. Forrest*

                  Absolutely “working together to push back” would have been a good option if OP felt solidarity with their co-workers and felt it was safe to organise. But “you should take your fair share of Saturdays regardless of the impact on your family otherwise it’s not fair on your co-workers” isn’t pushing back, it’s working for the convenience of the company under the superficial rubric of solidarity. I think it’s really grim to turn what is effectively “do what your employer wants at the expense of your family” into a moral imperative under the guise of supporting colleagues.

                3. Worldwalker*

                  And if their co-workers can’t find or afford childcare, what about them? Instead of sharing the burden, they’re getting it all dumped on them by one person who is gaming the system for their own benefit.

                4. Forrest*

                  no, they’re getting dumped on by management who has changed the working conditions without consultation or care.

                5. Zillah*

                  yeah, i feel like this is a thing where “your lack of planning is not my responsibility.” what the op did definitely feels a little off, but i feel like the blame for other people being put in a shitty situation lies with a system scheduling them for 10-15 days of overtime a year, not the op. that’s consistently asking them to give up ~10-15% of their weekend days a year – that’s a lot even without adding logistical issues like childcare to the mix.

                6. Yorick*

                  Nope. OP didn’t have to screw over their coworkers in this way. Banding together and pushing back is an option. Talking to your manager about not working Saturdays or getting more advance notice is another option. Deciding that a job with occasional Saturday work without much notice isn’t for you and moving on is another really good option.

              3. Autumnheart*

                This is a lot of mental gymnastics for what was, in the end, a business problem.

                OP had the vacation time. The system allowed for them to request Saturdays. The primary issue here is that the workplace had a bad process that demanded more overtime from employees than was warranted. But OP is the bad guy for pushing back and finding a way to work their agreed-on hours? I don’t think so.

                Besides, if not for OP bringing attention to the issue, the business would have continued overworking their employees, producing parts they didn’t need, and spending money on OT while continuing to negatively impact morale. OP HELPED FIX ALL THIS. They should be commended.

                1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                  Yes. OP was being sneaky and lying, but only because the system was unfair. And now TPTB have realised it’s unfair and are tweaking it so nobody has to work as many Saturdays so it’s all good.

            1. Colette*

              Having a job deprives kids of time with their parents. That’s one of the reasons why you get paid for it. If he values his Saturday time with his kids, the solution is to find a different job that doesn’t involve Saturday work.

              1. Jay*

                Also, as far as anyone knew before the audit was mentioned, Saturdays were now just a part of the job. If there’s no actual agreement that you don’t work weekends, your employer has the right to change your schedule to include them. Of course, you can disagree and try to negotiate based on the originally communicated schedule, but companies… have the right to change shift hours (or other job details) if it wasn’t in writing. It’s then on the employees to decide if they’re willing to accept the change or start looking for a new job.

              2. Anoni*

                My favorite tone deaf response to these issues is “just get another job, then.”

                That’s not how it should work or does work.

                1. Colette*

                  Why not? He’s now in a job where the requirements don’t match the life he wants to live. He could ask to be exempted from Saturday work, pay for babysitting, or get a new job. Those are the choices.

                2. Forrest*

                  If manufacturing jobs are hard to come by, they can’t afford a full day’s babysitter 15 times a year and the employer’s position is that Saturdays are non-negotiable, would you think they’d done the right thing or would you think that they should go into poverty rather than avoid Saturdays using this method?

                  Cos I think that’s what this comes down to. Everyone assumes OP had plenty of other options, but for literally millions of people one of the choices is “lose your job, fall into poverty” and I just think there’s a real unwillingness to admit that that’s a real thing that can happen.

                3. CoffeePlease*

                  Agree. The “just get another job” response comes off as out of touch to me. It also seems to imply that worsening job situations (such as the schedule changes discussed here qualify) and a system that favors the employer over the employee is fine.

                4. Well...*

                  Yes, this. Absolutely.

                  Also all thing whining about what’s fair to the other workers… Isn’t that management’s job?

                5. Zillah*

                  i think it’s unreasonable to back people into corners and expect them to act like angels.

                  yes, employers can change working conditions – and employers have to enforce working conditions if they’re truly non-negotiable. op’s manager could have escalated this and chose not to – now we know why, but people don’t have the responsibility to proactively leave their jobs like this.

                  if my manager says “everyone needs to be here at 9,” i often get in at 10, and my manager doesn’t tell me that it’s not okay and i really need to be there by 9, i don’t need to choose to leave my job over it.

            2. BRR*

              I definitely get where you’re coming from in regards to the coworkers vs. children priority in the big picture. I think I would feel more generous to the LW if their attitude was more “it’s unfortunate but I was in a difficult position.” There’s a bit of smugness that makes it hard for me to thoroughly get behind the LW.

              1. SheLooksFamiliar*

                ‘There’s a bit of smugness that makes it hard for me to thoroughly get behind the LW.’

                That’s what got under my skin, too. OP seems rather proud, not only for finding but actively using this loophole.

                Also, I have no children but working on a Saturday would deprive me of valuable time spent with loved ones. Please, folks, stop the ‘what about the children?!’ rationales.

                1. Forrest*

                  The problem was literally that OP’s wife worked on Saturdays, their usual childcare wasn’t available on weekends, and the number of Saturdays had gone up from a couple of times a year (wife can take PTO) to 3-4 times a month.) Like, this isn’t, “oh, I would like to spend more time with my family”, it’s, “my options are for one parent to quit their job,

                  It’s easy to say, “oh, just get a different job,” or “just find and pay a babysitter for a 10 hour shift every other Saturday” — like, these are both massive things that might make the family finances totally unsustainable? Whether it’s caring for a child or a friend or a relative, the key part of “care responsibility” is that it’s a responsibility and you can’t just opt out. Someone has to mind those kids!

                2. SheLooksFamiliar*

                  ‘It’s easy to say, “oh, just get a different job,” or “just find and pay a babysitter for a 10 hour shift every other Saturday” — like, these are both massive things that might make the family finances totally unsustainable?’

                  I said none of those things because I don’t think it’s an easy process. But I also don’t think it’s helpful to talk about time off on the weekends from this perspective. Because…

                  ‘Someone has to mind those kids!’

                  Stop making it all about the kids, as if that automatically makes your time off nobler. We ALL have family and friends that need us – and we all need time with our family and friends. Your weekend childcare needs should not regularly impact/trump my family plans simply because I’m child-free.

                3. Rusty Shackelford*

                  We all have things we *want* to do on Saturdays, but this wasn’t an issue of how the OP prefers to spend their time. It’s a financial problem, because they need extra daycare when they work on Saturdays. So yes, in this case, “what about the children” actually is a legit complaint. Just as “what about my mother” would be for people who need to find elder care on those Saturdays, and “what about my dog” for people who need a dog walker, etc.

                4. Well...*

                  Uhm caretaking is a legitimate problem that needs to be solved. Equating it with moral panic is pretty misguided.

                5. Worldwalker*

                  Other people have children.
                  Other people have elderly parents.
                  Other people have disabled spouses.
                  Other people have … all sorts of reasons they need Saturdays off, too. And have needed them off for the past three years, when they were struggling to find someone to cover their responsibilities to others and pay for that care, while the OP was just manipulating the system to get all *their* Saturdays off.

                  Should the co-workers have to get different jobs because the OP is selfish? Should they have to pay for childcare every Saturday because the OP has them all off? “I could, so I did; you didn’t, so tough!” is the argument of the sociopath, not the responsible member of society.

                6. Worldwalker*

                  Other people have children.
                  Other people have elderly parents.
                  Other people have disabled spouses.
                  Other people have … all sorts of reasons they need Saturdays off, too. And have needed them off for the past three years, when they were struggling to find someone to cover their responsibilities to others and pay for that care, while the OP was just manipulating the system to get all *their* Saturdays off.

                  Should the co-workers have to get different jobs because the OP is selfish? Should they have to pay for childcare every Saturday because the OP has them all off? “I could, so I did; you didn’t, so tough!” is the argument of the sociopath, not the responsible member of society.

                7. Worldwalker*

                  Other people have children.
                  Other people have elderly parents.
                  Other people have disabled spouses.
                  Other people have … all sorts of reasons they need Saturdays off, too. And have needed them off for the past three years, when they were struggling to find someone to cover their responsibilities to others and pay for that care, while the OP was just manipulating the system to get all *their* Saturdays off.

                  Should the co-workers have to get different jobs because the OP is selfish? Should they have to pay for childcare every Saturday because the OP has them all off? “I could, so I did; you didn’t, so tough!” is the argument of the sociopath, not the responsible member of society.

                8. Yorick*

                  @Forrest: If OP had done this a couple of times while looking for a new job, I’d feel differently. Instead, OP is all proud of himself for figuring out this sneaky way around a new job requirement and isn’t willing to consider how he’s been impacting his coworkers by doing this long-term.

                9. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

                  They should be proud of it! It was a clever use of the resources available to everyone.

                10. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

                  And though it wasn’t their intention, it also ended up solving the problem for everyone. Ideal, really.

              2. Data Analyst*

                Right? The smugness, plus the assertion that being asked about it was akin to bullying, really leaves a bad taste.

                1. Rachel*

                  “the assertion that being asked about it was akin to bullying”

                  THANK YOU. That’s the part that bothers me the most: like, fine, run your scam but don’t be scandalized when someone is like “well this is obviously a scam”. While I am glad a shitty boss is out of a job, that boss was not shitty in this specific incidence.

              3. The Rules are Made Up*

                I respect the honesty of this, because I do think a lot of the issue is the smugness. It isn’t OP’s responsibility to manage their coworkers time off and isn’t reasonable to expect them to factor in everyone else’s possible hypothetical plans whenever they want to take time off. That’s ridiculous. It’s only their responsibility to manage their own family. I also don’t like when people assume they have some answer the OP hasn’t considered “Just get a new job” “Just find child care” pretty sure they’ve ruled out those very obvious solutions before they took the time to write this letter.

            3. Louise*

              If they can keep us looking sideways, then we won’t look up (and potentially hold management accountable)

              1. Well...*

                Yes! Why is it OP’s job to worry about his coworkers vacation time being fair? Sounds like a management problem.

          2. NotAnotherManager!*

            I don’t know, I can’t really ding OP for figuring this out and working it. It’s available to the other people on the job as well, and we have no idea if other coworkers have the same issue with Saturdays (maybe this lessens the childcare burden on some because the other parent works an office job and are already off Saturdays, maybe the like the OT, maybe they hate it as much as OP).

            This loophole could easily be closed in a number of ways – getting rid of the Friday/Saturday PTO coupling, management ensuring the Saturdays are equally distributed, etc. I have a hard time faulting OP for figuring out the way this works and doing what’s best for their family.

            1. Anonys*

              to be fair the whole system is just bad. The coupled PTO is the one that really gets me. It’s not a great system imo where if you take a Friday off, you (sometimes) essentially get 2 days off. This probably resulted from the fact that it was ordinarily meant to be a Monday to Friday job but they should have changed the policy once they started having so many working Saturdays

              1. NotAnotherManager!*

                Yeah, that’s the one that gets me, too. It seems like such an easy fix to modernize the policy with the current work. The way it’s set up now, it incentivizes what OP’s doing and puts the onus of “fairness” and load balancing on the employees. I don’t care for that at all.

          3. Anna Held*

            Other employees might have WANTED the overtime, or a chance to take other days off. I prefer weekdays!

        2. twocents*

          IDK, considering the other managers seem reasonable, rather than gaming the system, how would things have gone if someone had spoken up sooner and said “What’s happened that the number of Saturdays has skyrocketed?”

      2. Littorally*

        Agreed. While the supervisor was clearly bonkers in a lot of ways, I think the OP was still acting unfairly. Even if “everyone else” could access the request system, it would not be possible for everyone to take Fridays-therefore-Saturdays off. It is possible for more than one person in a situation to behave badly, and the supervisor being a total tire fire doesn’t absolve the OP of being kind of shady.

    3. NYC Taxi*

      Yes agree. I hope the new supervisor coming in with a fresh look at things gets to the bottom of OP’s gaming the system.

      1. MelonHelen*

        I think you missed something in the letter. The audit means fixing the glitch causing all those extra Saturdays are going to go away. There’ll only be one or two a year. No one is going to be overworked and the company will be saving money. There won’t be a reason for OP to game the system anymore.

      2. Eh*

        Read it again. OP didn’t game the system. OP looked at the calendar that everyone has access to and asked for PTO accordingly. It was approved. There’s no gaming here. Maybe he’ll have a supervisor that’s stops approving it and that’s up to them. But overall it’s gone back to once or twice.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          It was gaming because nobody else was aware that you could see the schedule far in advance and organise time off accordingly. OP kind of happened upon the info originally. I think the schedule was supplied so that the right parts could be ordered, and OP realised that it could also be used for scheduling time off.

    4. Lily Rowan*

      Totally — I still think the OP was, if not shady, at least taking advantage in a way that’s not collegial. That doesn’t make all the other stuff OK, though!!!

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Yeah, this. No “best coworker” awards for the OP here, but they certainly aren’t the biggest villain in the story either.

      2. Esmeralda*

        Eh. If everyone had access to the same information, but the OP is the only one doing anything about it, how is that being shady?

        Something similar happens with my students. I give them a ton of information on good classes, extra opportunities, and encourage them a LOT to talk with me if they are having issues or need help getting into the cool stuff. I email them, I tell them in class, I tell them in our one on one meetings. Many students do not follow up. Some students do. The students who do, get experiences and instructors and classes that can make college better and often can help them towards future opportunities (classes, experiences, recognition, money, career prep, grad school, etc). Truly, I’m a PITA about it — I follow up, “did you contact the fellowship advising office? did you meet with professor XYZ to talk about research? Did you look into that cool seminar that has only 20 students and focuses on exactly what you are interested in?”

        At some point, the ones who don’t follow up, don’t get the benefits. And that’s hardly unfair then, that students who do follow up, get the benefits.

        (And yes, I make a special effort to pitch these opportunities to under-resourced students, first gen, students of color, LGBTQ+ students, female students interested in STEM. Interestingly, students who are not from privileged backgrounds, who don’t have the cultural capital, are more likely to follow up — they recognize that I’m sharing some capital with them)

        1. raktajino*

          One person getting into the good classes doesn’t mean everyone else has to take the bad class. They might luck into the good class as well. One person getting a scholarship doesn’t mean other people have to pay more, they just don’t get to pay less. This is more of a zero sum situation.

          If a team of 4 has to have at least one person available every Saturday (making the math easy), then everyone is available once a weekend for a month, or ~13 Saturdays a year. To use your scholarship example, the OP would be volunteering only for Saturdays that he knows are going to be quiet. Obnoxious, not cool, but that’s not what he’s doing. He’s actively disappearing on weekends he knows they’re going to be busy. He’s not working 13 quiet Saturdays a year, he’s making everyone else work 17.

        2. Anononon*

          It’s really not similar at all. You’re explicitly giving your students information that is specifically designed to help them and give them opportunities. OP was able to detect a pattern in the data at their work that could be used to determine whether or not Saturday work was happening. They’re two different fact patterns.

          And, as someone said below, it’s not even necessarily that OP found and used that pattern for a benefit to them. Rather, it’s the overall tone of smugness, moral superiority, and the fact that OP lied about it to their supervisor when asked.

          1. Esmeralda*

            So, the OP’s ability to recognize a pattern = cheating? And in particular = cheating his co-workers? I just don’t see it. It’s hardly the OP’s fault that his coworkers didn’t spot the pattern.

            And if he’s been doing it for three years, they’ve had ample opportunity to observe him. Or even to say, Hey OP, how is it that you never work on Saturday?

            I agree my example is not exactly the same, but what IS the same is that everyone gets the same info, everyone gets the same opportunity, not everyone follows up. My pushing the info on the students is to make up for lack of critical thinking (observing the pattern, so to speak), as well as lack of cultural capital.

            And actually, with respect to things like research opportunities or fellowships or scholarships, there often is a limited amount of goodies to go around. Even with the good class: if there are only a few seats available, someone’s not going to get into that class. The student who follows up on the info has a better chance of getting in.

            1. Anononon*

              I never used the word “cheating.” I actually listed the three reasons why I’m not a fan of OP’s actions, but I don’t see that you responded to any of them. (And, in fact, as I said, the manager DID ask, “Hey OP, how is it that you never work on Saturday?” and the OP lied and said that they were just lucky.)

              1. anonymath*

                With this supervisor, why would the OP reveal the full story? This supervisor is clearly someone who cannot be trusted, in so many ways.

                I’m with Esmerelda on this one. (And I also taught, and did the same thing.)

            2. Littorally*

              Here’s the difference, Esmeralda: with the OP’s situation, not everyone has the same opportunity. There are only so many people who can take PTO at the same time. If everyone started doing what the OP was doing and requesting time off so that they would get their Saturdays free, only a few people would get it, and the others would not. So some people get to work less hard than others, get better perks, and the others are stuck picking up their slack. As it is, OP is the only one getting the benefit, but it requires a serious disconnect from the working world to think that this opportunity is there for all. This is in no way comparable to students making use of resources specifically offered to them for their own benefit.

              1. Forrest*

                You’ve just described all the conditions *created by the employer* as if they were natural laws that can’t be changed.

                1. ceiswyn*

                  They are if nobody tries to change them. And the OP actively lied in order to avoid rocking that boat.

                2. EchoGirl*

                  @ceiswyn (out of nesting)

                  What sealed it for me was that in the original post, OP said they didn’t want their coworkers to find out the trick because then they might try to use it too and then OP wouldn’t be able to use it freely every time. I’m not saying the system is blameless, but the whole “they could have done it too!” comes off disingenuous given OP’s original statements that they didn’t want the coworkers to learn about it.

            3. LunaLena*

              “It’s hardly the OP’s fault that his coworkers didn’t spot the pattern.”

              You’re assuming that this info was handed out to everyone on an equal basis, when in fact the OP simply said that everyone had access to it. It sounds like you are approaching this as a teacher who is teaching a class and distributing info equally, when in most industries many people get information in different ways or on a need-to-know basis. For example, I work in marketing and have the same access to all of my department’s social media accounts as my co-worker. So theoretically we should be able to spot the same engagement patterns, right? But my job is graphic design, and my co-worker’s is social media admin. I make the graphics, my co-worker uses them to create suitable posts, answers queries, and tracks engagement. I check our social media accounts maybe three times a month. My co-worker is on them all day every day. This may shock you, but it means he has much more opportunity to notice engagement patterns and determine what direction our social media should go in than I do, even though we have the same access. Our responsibilities are not the same, therefore our level of knowledge on certain subjects are not the same.

              In the original post, the OP mentioned that he spotted this pattern because he is responsible for ordering parts. Which implies that he is one of a few people who orders parts (I don’t think I’ve ever worked at a company where anyone was just allowed to order anything whenever), and therefore has more opportunity to notice patterns. We don’t know how often his co-workers look at the schedule. Maybe you’re right, and all the co-workers look at it just as much as he does. But maybe they don’t, and have little or no reason to do so.

              And that’s without even going into the fact that *someone* (admittedly, the horrible boss) DID in fact notice and ask, and OP lied to them.

        3. lost academic*

          Because your students are explicitly supposed to have access to this information and are supposed to use it as or if needed. In this situation, though, this was information that while available, wasn’t supposed to be used in this fashion and if management were aware that it were both available and being used in this way, they clearly would have made adjustments of some type and OP absolutely knows this. OP is taking advantage of the system. The reactions of the manager aren’t good, but we aren’t operating in a binary world where when one person is right the other is wrong. Here they are both wrong but the resolution of the issue really has nothing to do with the OP and their sketchy backdoor access.

        4. Yorick*

          This is much more like someone figuring out where your answer keys are and using them to make 100% on every exam – but even that’s not a good analogy because OP getting time off is actively reducing other people’s ability to take time off and making them do more work when they’re working on Saturdays. So the exam answer key analogy might work if you graded on an extreme curve and only 1-2 people could make an A on a given exam.

      3. Chris too*

        It might not be collegial, but then again it might be ok. The OP works on a production line. That could be a lot of other people working, but could also be as few as three. This site is, I think, mainly frequented by Monday to Friday workers who hold their weekends sacred, but for those of us who have worked a lot of non-traditional hours, Saturday is just another day. It could be he knows this about his co-workers.

        1. Mannequin*

          And some people like working extra hours for the overtime, and will take extra shifts on whatever days they pop up.

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            In which case seeing the schedule would be useful for them too because then they could avoid taking Fridays off when the Saturday is to be worked.
            (although if they were as aware as the supervisor that OP had tumbled to something, they could simply make sure they were working when OP wasn’t, if that info is available)

        2. GothicBee*

          I know I’m late to this, but I agree! I currently work a M-F job, but several jobs that included weekends and it really is just another day to a lot of people. It sounds like multiple people could request time off, and presumably everyone has the same vacation time available, so I just don’t see this as some egregious thing on the part of OP.

          If OP’s coworkers were all objecting to it and complaining that OP got Saturdays off, I could understand faulting OP for not at least pointing out how they knew ahead of time. But unless I missed something, I don’t see anything that suggests that was the case. Depending on how many people work there and how many people have to work each Saturday, I wouldn’t necessarily be surprised if no one else even noticed OP didn’t work Saturdays. I mean, it took a pretty long time for the supervisor to notice.

    5. Coco*

      I agree. Yeah he found a loophole, but it left his coworkers at a disadvantage. It was selfish, not smart.

    6. LKW*

      While I agree “anyone could have figured out this loophole” isn’t a great excuse, the company said one thing, did another and the cost wasn’t his weekend, it was potentially his wife’s job. Him taking Saturdays meant his wife wasn’t earning and eventually if she can’t work regularly, she’d be let go. And most people would be happy to take that extra OT from the OP – it was just the power-mad manager that had the biggest issue.

        1. Eh*

          “Everybody could’ve looked at the timetable” you mean. Calling it lowered to level is why bosses get away with bad policies. Comments like this back them up.

          1. Your Local Password Resetter*

            More like “everyone could have foisted their bad days onto others”.
            Except they couldn’t of course, because the LW had already done that and now there was no room for them.

      1. Chilly delta blues*

        Coming to say this too. The wife’s job May of ended up being a casualty of the company’s system. Hope they’re able to fix the computer issue causing the OT.

      2. Delta Delta*

        I’m still not 100% clear why, if he knew in advance because of his advance information, the family couldn’t schedule Saturday child care so they could both work. Yes, I know there may be external factors (no local family, dearth of local child care on Saturdays, etc), but it seems like, you know, other people also work on Saturdays and also need child care. It probably exists. It would be an occasional thing and would cost nobody their jobs.

        1. anonymath*

          Mmmm, paying at least $120 and jumping through plenty of scheduling hoops and the trouble of finding trusted childcare… to go to work on a Saturday….

          when instead you can just take the PTO you earned……

          You’re not wrong. But.

        2. Eh*

          Did you read the original? It increased so much it wasn’t occasional, OP already knew it wouldn’t work, and would cost wife her job, exactly as you assume it wouldn’t . It’s never wise to make huge assumptions about what people have available to them.

        3. Forrest*

          Can I ask why you assume 8-10 hours of childcare for at least two small children at least once a month is affordable? Like, I’m guessing you’d recognise that not everyone can afford a cleaner two hours a week— this is the same amount of hours per month, probably at a slightly higher rate. Do you get that that’s not just an expense that every budget can handle easily?

        4. LKW*

          Child care for an 8-10 hour shift is expensive. Like potentially more than you’re actually making that day. And you have a perfectly good way to prevent that happening… by checking the production schedule and taking a paid day off.

          While I don’t think exploiting a loophole is the most ethical thing… I also don’t think it’s actually unethical. Dude connected the dots and took off in accordance with the rule book. Other people were able to make up those shifts or they could have pushed production on that line. The business chose to not look into this issue for three years. Three years!

        5. joss*

          and if the company knows in advance based on its inventory system there is no reason why they (a) did not fix this problem prior to now, and (2) why they approved the days off requested, and (3) there is no reason why others could not have done exactly the same thing as OP did.
          We should not lay the blame with the person who avoids a situation he did not sign up for to begin with and put it straight where it belongs: the company with its lousy inventory and staffing, the boss who obviously was too dense to figure this out, and -if they were complaining which is unclear whether they did or not – the colleagues who did not look at all the resources available to them.

        6. Ori*

          Childcare costs money. And often isn’t available on weekends, or is significantly more expensive.

      3. Worldwalker*

        But isn’t the same true for the OP’s co-workers as well? He’s not the only one who might be married to someone who needs them to have Saturdays off. The OP is being selfish here.

        1. Esmeralda*

          Then the coworkers could have done what the OP did. But they didn’t. Hardly the OP’s fault that other people weren’t savvy or didn’t think about the big picture.

            1. Esmeralda*

              OP is not screwing over their co-workers, though. OP found a way to get out of working Saturday. Co-workers could have done the same as the OP, but didn’t, for whatever reason.

              When I want to go on vacation, I put in my leave request. I often put in a request for a desirable time block, such as spring break, or right after the end of the semester. My colleagues can do the same. It’s not my job, quite literally, nor is it my responsibility, nor my moral obligation, to go around and see if my colleagues also want that time and maybe they have a better reason for getting it. It’s my supervisor’s job to make sure there’s coverage, to make sure that choice times are not always given to the same people, that competing requests are balanced.

              My supervisor has asked me to wait on a request (I get them in early) so they can see if other people want the time and since I get a lot of my requests ok’d, it would be fairer (and less likely to cause resentment) if other people get a chance. That’s cool, I’m happy to wait. What wouldn’t be cool is people who don’t ask for that time, to get all butt-hurt because they didn’t ask in a reasonably timely manner, or at all, and then say Oh Esmeralda is gaming the system/taking something away from the rest of us.

              1. MissBaudelaire*

                That, and everyone is acting like no one could take the Saturday off because OP did. No one could take it off because the company *didn’t tell anyone in time*.

                They were being shady about letting people know, and that’s not OP’s fault.

            2. Eh*

              OP is not screwing them over. OP looked at a public calendar and booked accordingly. If anyone is responsible, it’s *surprise* management for approving it. The fact that they are says that OP is not leaving anyone uncovered.

              Are you in the habit of booking your PTO based on what would suit your coworkers? If you aren’t then this is the same.

              1. LunaLena*

                On the flip side, do you really think it’s good management to say “eh, we don’t feel like approving your PTO, so we won’t. We don’t have a good reason not to, we just don’t want to”? Because that’s what you seem to be advocating when you say it’s 100% management’s fault for approving OP’s time off. Management sure as hell was responsible for setting up a bad system, but approving OP’s time off was one thing they did not do wrong.

                OP may not have been leaving anyone uncovered, but he sure did make sure everyone else was covering for him instead.

                As for booking PTO to suit co-workers, no I don’t but that doesn’t mean I don’t consider them at all. If I have the option to, I don’t take time off for what I know to be busy times ahead (especially if it means they’ll have to work twice as hard to cover their own work in addition to mine), or ask them to do anything I wouldn’t do myself. It’s called being a team player.

                1. Zillah*

                  i don’t think that’s fair. this wouldn’t be randomly denying someone a requested day off, it would be saying “hey, this is an ongoing pattern and it needs to stop.”

                2. LunaLena*

                  @Zillah – but it *would* be randomly denying someone a requested day off, because the OP was requesting far enough in advance that even the manager didn’t know that that was why he was requesting the day off. The reason for denying would have been “I suspect you’re taking this day off because you somehow know that your team will be working on Saturday, so even though I have no proof or knowledge that Saturday will be a work day, and no real reason to deny you this day off, I’m going to do it.”

              2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                When I worked at the agency, I would consult with my colleague and make sure that one or other of us would be in the office the whole summer.

                (which earned us an accusation of collusion rather than thanks when the boss realised it but that’s another story)

            3. Autumnheart*

              Amazing that people are focusing on OP taking his ACCRUED VACATION according to policy as “screwing over their coworkers”, and not on OP’s manager who really was screwing over their coworkers. Someone actually committed real fraud! And it wasn’t the OP for not working Saturdays!

        2. Eh*

          OP looked at a public calendar and booked accordingly.

          When you want a certain day off and your coworkers book it ahead of you, do you call them selfish? No, you don’t.

          1. Insert Clever Name Here*

            Stop acting like there was a calendar that said “Production Team Works Today.” That’s not what the situation was.

            From the original letter: I discovered three years ago that if I look at our company’s warehouse shipping/receiving database, which I have access to through the intranet to order parts for my line, I can see what Saturdays we are working weeks in advance. If I see an outbound shipment for the item my line makes on a Saturday, it means we will be scheduled for production that Saturday…The production schedule our team sees is only one week out, too late to request a vacation day if you see we are working a Saturday and want it off.

            1. Brandine*

              Right?!? “Everyone had access” does not mean “Everyone was aware this calendar existed and had useful information”. Dude was being sneaky. Doesn’t make him actively evil but he was definitely sneaky (and FWIW I agree his tone is unnecessarily smug and defensive for someone who thought he was entirely without blame).

        3. Forrest*

          Ok, but what if it was a choice between being selfish and doing something that put the family in severe financial jeopardy? If you had a choice between doing something selfish or uncollegial, or you or your partner having to leave a decently-paid and secure job or pay for ten hours childcare once or twice a month, genuinely what would you do?

          I feel like everyone is taking it as read that OP has plenty of options here, and it’s really really possible that they don’t? Lots of people are in manufacturing jobs with pretty precarious family finances who would be completely screwed if they lost that job because there aren’t alternatives.

          Like, collegiality and “unselfishness” to your colleagues are luxuries you get to have when the basics of childcare and your family expenses are covered. It would just be *nuts* for OP to prioritise their co-workers’ theoretical need for childcare over their actual real need for it. That’s a decision that a crappy system and a lack of workers’ rights has forced on them.

          1. Myrin*

            I mean, OP could’ve always spoken out openly against the increase in Saturday work. Heck, he could’ve talked to his coworkers and they could’ve banded together or found that there are people who prefer working Saturdays and some changing around could be arranged. The company might’ve found a way to work with him or, indeed, that there was a mistake somewhere in the system and that this many Saturdays shouldn’t have happened anyway.

            I still don’t understand why that wasn’t the first course of action.

            1. Forrest*

              I think the thing is that any of those things requires a lot of trust in your management, or in your colleagues. OP could presumably get fired for half of those things if management doesn’t like it. So yeah, in an ideal world with a decent amount of trust between employer and worker, all of those things would have been better first steps. But I don’t fault anyone for not doing them if they don’t think they’ll get a good outcome: precisely the reason that we have unions and worker protections I because workers doing any of that stuff by themselves are vulnerable to the much greater power of the employer.

              1. Tali*

                You can’t argue that OP was right to act selfishly because of their family/financial needs–others are probably in the same boat and they could band together–and then argue that OP was right to act selfishly because they couldn’t trust their employer/coworkers–they brought the issue to management and it was resolved, now they work fewer Saturdays.

                If OP was in such desperate straits then the morally good thing to do would be to push back actively and directly as a group. I understand why OP made the choice they did, but it’s not right to invent other circumstances that make OP’s choice the ONLY choice. They had other options and they chose this one.

                1. Ori*

                  The ‘morally good’ thing to do can often get you fired. Not really worth the risk with two small children.

                2. Forrest*

                  I don’t necessarily think they were *right*, I think they were *morally neutral*. I don’t think there is a moral obligation to do something that risks your family’s security, safety or wellbeing for the (assumed) benefit of your colleagues, or a responsibility to go to your employer with a suggestion for how to improve the business or improve things for your colleague. Good for you if you want to do those things, but I don’t think there is a *responsibility* to do that.

            2. Zillah*

              but by the same token, the op’s coworkers could also have banded together and pushed back.

              1. MissBaudelaire*

                I agree. Why is it somehow OP’s job to take up the mantle and lead the push back? If he’s found a way it is working for him, then it works. If the others don’t feel that way, they are more than welcome to take up the fight and sort it out.

      4. LTL*

        And most people would be happy to take that extra OT from the OP

        No, OP’s supervisor didn’t have the power to deny PTO requests. The reason OP lied when his supervisor asked about this wasn’t because she would stop him from taking PTO, but because his coworkers would discover this trick and then he’d be competing for time off on the same days (per the original letter).

    7. Colette*

      Agreed. I think the OP was a jerk; just because the manager was also terrible doesn’t make the OP’s behaviour OK.

      1. Lana Kane*

        I don’t think it’s ok to call OPs names like this. Let’s maybe tone it down?

      2. Eh*

        It’s out of line to call OP that, but also I recall from the previous post you made a lot of assumptions and made many comments about what options and childcare and finances OP had available to them based on nothing but your own predictions. Maybe reconsider that you can’t determine that without OP’s input.

        1. Colette*

          My assumptions are the following:
          – if you are hired to do a job, you should do your share of the work, including the unpleasant stuff
          – if you cannot afford childcare so you can go to work, you cannot afford to get fired
          – if your job changes so that it no longer first with your life (i.e. you need to work days you can’t work), you need to ask for an exception, find a way to work those days, or get a new job.

          It’s possible that changing jobs would be unpleasant for the OP (less pay? longer commute? require moving to another location?) – so the OP should balance the current requirements of the job and see which is worse, and choose the least-bad option.

          1. Forrest*

            What if there are no other jobs? Like, if OP is in a small town and there are no other manufacturing companies there and they aren’t qualified for anything else— really not an unheard-of situation! — are you going to say it’s more important for OP to play by the rules than stay on work and put food on the family’s table? I’m fascinated to know how far you’d take this.

              1. Louise*

                Like using his accrued PTO in accordance with company policy so that he and his wife can both keep their jobs?

              2. Forrest*

                So what decision would that be? Leave the kids at home alone? Spend money you don’t have on childcare? Let his wife lose her job and that income? Say it’s just those three, which would you personally pick as the best one?

                1. Colette*

                  Find another job, possibly moving to do so? Make arrangements with the company so he doesn’t have to work those days?

                  What is more valuable – his job, his wife’s job, or the childcare costs? Based on his comments below, it’s his wife’s job – so he could quit his job so she could work more., for example.

                2. Forrest*

                  Wow, you actually think moving away (so: changing the kids’ schools, moving away from any friends and support networks, his wife having to find another job, etc etc) is a better option? I am in awe.

                3. Your Local Password Resetter*

                  I mean if the childcare costs for these days are such a big deal, yes?
                  Nobody said they were great options, but you don’t deal aith problems by just dumping them on others like that.

                4. Forrest*

                  This blows my mind. I just can’t imagine thinking that that level of disruption to your community, family and children’s education was a better option than what the OP did, simply based on the theoretical idea that all his co-workers also don’t like working overtime and would be pissed off (when it’s totally possible that most of them are fine with getting paid overtime!), or that the same challenges of lack of childcare and flexibility wouldn’t exist elsewhere.

                5. Zillah*

                  i think that that isn’t even the point, though! forget about whether the op had other options – the manager had the power to escalate this pattern and tell the op that he would be fired if it continued, and did not do that. ymmv, but for me, the bottom line is that it’s the company’s job to enforce work conditions, and saying “how are you doing this” and telling him to break company policy doesn’t qualify. the company has agency here.

            1. LTL*

              I will acknowledge that it’s possible the OP didn’t have any other options. But there’s something about the letter and update that makes it feel unlikely that they looked into other options.

              – OP never spoke to his supervisor or manager about accommodations when the problem first came up
              – OP lied to prevent his coworkers from using the same trick (the supervisor can’t deny PTO and “I really don’t want to give up my “secret” as then everybody will do what I am doing and I will start working Saturdays.”)
              – OP has not shown any remorse for lying
              – When OP was faced with bad behavior from his supervisor, he did not resolve the situation by being upfront but instead reported his supervisor so that he could keep using his trick
              – OP hasn’t acknowledged his other coworkers, or that they may also be in sticky situations
              – To the contrary, OP seems proud of the hack he discovered

              It’s not the actions but the way he conveys the story that makes me wonder. Like if I had to absolutely keep my coworkers in the dark or put my family at risk, I would probably say something like “it’s a crummy situation but it’s the only way that’s financially feasible” or “I feel bad that my coworkers can never take the weekend off but my family is relying on me”. Perhaps if I didn’t want to be so sentimental, I would instead detail the other options I tried to exhaust because I understand how they are relevant to the letter. Specifics such as “I’ve been job hunting for a year now but I live in a small town and options are extremely limited.”

              The OP didn’t seem to understand that his letter could come across negatively at all. And there’s the concern.

              The one thing I will credit him with is eventually bringing up the increase in Saturday work to people who can make a change.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                I agree. The “I took care of me” attitude will not play out well for OP in the long run. It seemed to work this time as OP got the time off he needed. Unfortunately, in the process of not playing a transparent game, he stumbled across even more nonsense unwittingly and provoked the boss. (The boss thought he knew about her hijinks?)

                The thing about transparency is that when we keep our actions open and public, other people’s shenanigans bubbles to the surface quicker. It’s my theory that OP actually was a helping the situation with the boss’ fraud to go on longer. OP was so immersed in his own plan that he did not have time/brain space to see what else was going on.

                If OP had been loud and clear about questioning the overtime and rallied some troops into also questioning it, this problem might not have gone on for as long as it did.

                Personally, I ran into a situation with fake overtime. It was not necessary and no one wanted to do it. The way I was able to handle it was to work ahead such that it was overwhelmingly apparent that OT was not needed. In my case, the person causing the fake OT wanted the money for luxury items. When that person could not get the OT okayed, that person decided to make it rain in my life. I knew that would happen. I just kept my ducks in a row and stayed on top of my stuff. The rain passed and things settled down.

                That’s one method, there are other methods to handle this also. To say that OP had limited choices may not be accurate, we don’t know all the particulars of the setting.

                Having worked production, I know for a fact that there are other ways of handling this type of problem. And I also know that cohorts in production have verrrry long memories. OP will be remembered as someone who did not do his share of Saturdays. This is a huge no-no in a production setting. I am as certain as I can be that this one will bite OP later on. OP could end up in a very frosty and cold workplace. You can get ostracized for this. For those saying that telling OP to get a new job is bad advice for [reasons], OP may end up needing a new job anyway because of what happens next. Not pulling one’s weight is just not cool in a production environment, not if you want to keep the job.

                1. Kelly*

                  The OP’s attitude would also not win them too many friends in any team based workplace. People have only some much tolerance towards taking on extra work to cover for others. It’s not an unreasonable expectation that everyone does their fair share without any special exemptions made for people.

                  Also, 10 t0 15 extra Saturdays over a year works out to about 1 per month. Surely that’s enough time and frequency for the OP or their spouse to find some regular childcare arrangements. It’s telling that the OP views finding childcare for a routine work shift as an inconvenience but probably has no problem finding child care for a date night.

                2. Student Affairs Sally*

                  To Kelly –

                  Even if it’s only once per month, it’s not the same week every month – based on what was in the letters, it’s not on any kind of consistent schedule and staff only gets one week notice of when they will be expected to work. It would certainly be easier to say “Hey Potential Babysitter, I will need your services on the 3rd Saturday of every month” than to say “Hey Potential Babysitter, I will need your services one Saturday a month, but I won’t know which ones until the week before, so please don’t plan anything on any Saturdays until I’ve let you know if I’ll need you.” Not too many babysitters would jump on board for the latter arrangement, and the scheduling difficulties say nothing about the cost, which OP has already said would eat up his entire OT payment (so he’d effectively be working for free).

                  Also I find it “telling” that what you find “telling” is literally something you made up – there is no indication in either letter or any of OP’s comments that they are having regular “date nights”. And even if there was, date nights are something he can plan for *in advance* in order to better facilitate finding childcare – his job wasn’t giving sufficient advance notice (apart from the loophole he discovered) to make that happen. So you’re essentially comparing actual apples to imaginary oranges.

            2. Yorick*

              The idea that OP is in a small town and there are no other jobs is just as much an assumption as anything else.

          2. Lana Kane*

            I’m not sure how you can tell someone you have never met what they “need to” be doing regarding not just their livelihood, but their life. This approach you describe may work for some, but too many people in this country are not in a position to make dispassionate choices such as this about their employment. Not all industries or areas of the country give people the opportunity to choose their job based on what does and doesn’t work for them.

    8. Dust Bunny*

      Agreed: This feels like a lot of, “See, she was an awful person and I shouldn’t have been side-eyed for requesting all my required Saturdays off,” when, in reality, these are two different thing. Yes, the supervisor was awful, but that doesn’t mean the LW was in the right.

      1. Red Swedish Fish*

        This, I feel like the OP wanted to make it known that the boss was more awful than OP was.

    9. BRR*

      This is how I feel as well. The time off/Saturday thing is unrelated to the other incredibly awful things the former manager did (as far as we know from the letter). I stand by my original response of the LW probably isn’t the only person who would have liked Saturday off/had other obligations that made working Saturday difficult. And it turns out the best way to handle it would have been to ask about the increase in Saturdays (!).

      Also I don’t like how Alison specifically answered the question that it wasn’t “harassment” or a “hostile work environment” and the LW still brought that up.

    10. Gilmore67*

      Agreed. It certainly looks like the supervisor wasn’t very good and needed to be fired. No problem.

      But it does not negate the fact that OP is gaming the system to their advantage.

      Does make the OP any better than the Super in my opinion. OP, just because something looks like it is technically OK to do it doesn’t make it right.

      1. Worldwalker*

        If one person has a broken leg, and another person breaks their arm, the leg isn’t somehow less broken. The OP is selfish and the supervisor is corrupt, but they’re no more connected than the various people with broken bones are.

      2. Ori*

        Is a guy doing his best in difficult circumstances better than the homophobic supervisor who was fiddling the books in order to steal from the company? Yes, obviously.

    11. Oryx*

      Yeah, there is where I am. I also was reminded of AITA and want to just say ESH

      Clearly, this manager was behaving terribly and doing egregious things and needed to be fired. Using homophobic language against a colleague? Bad. Asking about FMLA when it’s really none of their business? Bad.

      But all of that is incidental to OP’s situation.

      Sniffing around OP when the manager knows the OP is doing something that doesn’t seem quite right? Not bad, but OP is lumping it in with the other things because it lets the OP justify what they were doing.

      It doesn’t sit right with me that OP is acting triumphant in this update because the manager who was doing bad things got fired when OP was also not acting entirely above board. If the information is freely available for anyone, why wouldn’t OP share that with friends to also help *them* get Saturdays off? Why, when asked directly, claim it was a “Lucky guess” rather than admit you were using information that apparently everyone has access to? Why go out of your way to only start looking up the schedule when you know the manager was in a meeting and wouldn’t be around? If what you were doing was all fine and dandy, why all the secrecy?

      1. Empress Matilda*

        For THREE YEARS, by the way. It’s not like OP discovered this handy loophole and kept it to himself for a month or two, and then decided to tell the others so they could get Saturdays off as well. He kept it to himself long enough to get out of Saturday shifts for three. entire. years.

        Just because something isn’t illegal, doesn’t make it right. Just because your manager sucks, doesn’t mean you don’t also suck. OP was sneaky and selfish, and it doesn’t seem that he’s learned anything at all from this experience, or from the comments on his first letter.

        1. Colette*

          Yeah, exactly. Three years is plenty of time to find childcare, or a new job, or for his wife to find a new job where Saturdays aren’t required, or to speak up and say “when I was hired, Saturdays weren’t required, and workign them is a hardship for me”.

          1. Worldwalker*

            And presumably everyone was hired under the same conditions, and the OP is not the only person who needs to be home for the kids on Saturdays, has a spouse who has to work Saturdays, etc. That’s why it’s selfish: the OP is getting a benefit for themselves at the expense of their co-workers.

            When you ask yourself “what would happen if everyone did this?” and the answer is “things would break” you know you’re being selfish. AITA? Yes. The fact that someone else is, too, doesn’t change that.

            1. Velawciraptor*

              I don’t know that when the answer to “what would happen if everyone did this” is “things would break,” that automatically means you’re being selfish. More often, it’s a sign of a dysfunctional underlying system.

              For example, the criminal trial system only works the way it does now because upwards of 90% of cases plead out. If every person charged with a crime were to demand their constitutional right to a trial, the system would break. There aren’t enough judges or lawyers, there aren’t enough courtrooms, there’s not enough money, there’s not enough time. Does that make those who insist on exercising their constitutional right to a trial selfish? Of course not.

              Likewise, it appears that here, the system was broken. Not only because the system would have broken down had everyone followed OP’s actions (a practical impossibility, given that it’s management’s job to ensure coverage for shifts, so that many PTO requests could not actually be granted). But also because an audit into the company’s systems showed that the system was literally broken and not working as it should.

              Yes, the ideal solution here would have been for OP and his coworkers to unionize and take collective action that would protect them all, but practically speaking, that’s been a harder and harder needle to thread in the US since the 1980s. OP did what he thought was most tenable for his family’s economic situation.

              OP may not be a saint, but when he wrote in, he didn’t ask for an ethical postion because this isn’t a moral philosophy forum or even AITA. He asked about whether a particular workplace situation constituted harassment. Alison told him no and pointed out it was bad management. Which, based on the follow-up, seems to have been the tip of a bad management iceberg.

              Perhaps we could all stand to be a little less judgmental of OP here and a bit more grateful that we haven’t been forced into the same position in our own lives.

        2. Birdie*

          Yeah, it’s gray area ethically, but I don’t think I would’ve minded him finding and exploiting this loophole if he was using it judiciously. As it is, I’m thinking about how incredibly annoyed I would be if a coworker ALWAYS wiggled out of working Saturdays.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            In the end, it really does not matter if it’s ethical or not. What matters is how his coworkers are reacting to his ability to escape all Saturdays. A strong negative reaction could ruin the job for OP.

      2. Well...*

        Also like OP isn’t writing into am I the asshole, they’re writing to an advice column?? OP is not asking to be labelled an asshole, so can we not?

      3. Your Local Password Resetter*

        Agreed. It would have been bad management not to look into these “coincidences”. And if their replacement is remotely competent, they will definitely notice and start investigating as well.

    12. Insert Clever Name Here*

      Yeah, me too. The boss is objectively terrible, but the LW doesn’t appear so rosy either.

    13. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      It’s too much like “I figured out how to steal from my bank’s other accounts without getting caught, it’s not my problem that other people didn’t figure it out too.” It’s a really sucky defense.

      1. Esmeralda*

        but how is it stealing? or the moral equivalent thereof?

        I’m sorry, but just because other people aren’t clever or observant doesn’t make the OP’s actions bad or shady or skeevy.

        1. Insert Clever Name Here*

          LW crossed the line to skeevy when he lied to his boss. From the original letter, boss asked how he was always getting Saturdays off and he responded “lucky guess.” At that point it’s not just quietly reading the schedule better than anyone, it’s lying.

          1. Anoni*

            Oh no. He gave a ridiculously thin answer and the supervisor didn’t question it. He’s totally at fault.

            1. Louise*

              If your boss asks whether you’re job searching (and you are), do you have to tell them that you are?

          2. sequined histories*

            I think the answer “lucky guess” is just a softened way of declining to answer.

        2. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

          You are correct! It is the bad shady skeeviness of OP’s behavior that makes OP bad, shady, and skeevy. The cleverness and observational level others doesn’t factor into OPs character. Good call.

        3. Your Local Password Resetter*

          Because they take other people’s valued possessions (free saturdays)? By exploiting oversights in the system to give themselves all the free weekends that were supposed to be a shared pool?

          1. Louise*

            He didn’t? Management was taking away Saturdays at the last minute due to a dumb system glitch. OP was using his PTO to avoid this problem. There are numerous policies and procedure changes management could have put in place to avoid this problem.

            1. English, not American*

              And if OP had questioned it 3+ years ago when the problem started instead of finding a secret workaround and actively hiding said workaround from everyone even when directly questioned, management could have fixed it 3+ years ago.

    14. Evad_mail*

      I am SO glad that I’m not the only one who feels this way. This LW hasn’t learned anything from Allison. She specifically told them that it wasn’t harassment and then afterwards spoke to their plant manager and just tried to use vague language “like harassment or hostile work environment or bullying” anyway. LW was being deceptive and selfish and it seems like they are now using “What about-ism” as a way to make themself come across better because they aren’t as bad as their manager. Unrelated issues. LW: Your manager is not a good manager or, it seems, a good person. But that doesn’t make what you were doing any better.

      1. MelonHelen*

        OP did not talk to their plant manager after asking Alison about this. He said in his update that he talked to the manager about it and Alison inserted her note for purposes of commenting. Why are you assuming he talked to Alison about this before talking to his manager??

        1. MoinMoin*

          This is an update. If you click on the link to the original question it asks about this and Alison’s response starts, “No, this isn’t harassment […].”

        2. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

          Because the original letter ends with the OP asking “Can I file a harassment claim against my boss for her actions? Other thoughts?” and Alison starts her reply by explaining how what the OP is describing is not harassment or hostile work environment.

          1. Autumnheart*

            Although ironically, the manager WAS still guilty of harassment and a hostile work environment! It just wasn’t directed at OP.

    15. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Agreed. What OP is doing, while perhaps technically within the rules, is also a pretty crappy thing to do overall, and I am giving some serious side eye to them for their ethics.

    16. Emily*

      Agreed, Anononon. OP’s manager was clearly terrible, but it concerns me that OP doesn’t see how they were in the wrong at all. Even if OP’s next manager is much better, they may still (rightfully) take issue with the way OP is manipulating things so they don’t have to work any Saturdays.

      1. Eh*

        Because OP wasn’t wrong and hasn’t manipulated anything. OP looked at a public calendar that’s part of everyone’s job and booked accordingly. If management wants this to stop they just have to not approve it. But it sounds like it won’t be needed because the bad Saturdays have been fixed.

        1. Emily*

          Eh: OP was clearly manipulating things and trying to keep it a secret and lied about it when asked. I agree that OP’s manager did not handle things effectively and was clearly terrible in multiple ways. I agree that OP’s manager should have just not approved the time off every time (if that was in OP’s manager’s power to do), but it still does not make OP’s behavior okay. Hopefully OP’s next manager will be much better and will be a much better manager.

          1. NovaGirl*

            It’s not OP’s job to worry about the schedules of their coworkers, that is management’s job. They have every right to request time off whenever they’d like, it’s their manager’s job to balance requests and make sure it works for the entire staff. They didn’t do that, so oh well, it’s on them. And management doesn’t have the right to know the blow-by-blow account of why an employee wants a particular day off, they can ask but OP doesn’t have to give any details. It’s their time, their life, their schedule, and if they want to meta-game the company, more power to ’em.

            1. Emily*

              NovaGirl: It appears there is a fundemental difference in how OP’s behavior is viewed. A lot of people have pointed out how OP’s behavior is problematic, so I’m not going to re-hash points already made, as the people oddly fixated on defending OP’s behavior are clearly going to do that no matter what points are made, but I would not want to work with someone who had OP’s attitude.

              1. NovaGirl*

                Fair enough. I think people are fixated on defending OP’s actions because having to consider your coworker’s feelings, personal lives, schedules, childcare arrangements, feelings about working on Saturdays, and basically do management’s job for them by ensuring the work schedule is equitable before just requesting time off is the sort of mindset that many people are kicking against right now. It feels like an unreasonable, invasive expectation to me. I would not want to work with someone who thought they had any say in me requesting a Saturday or two or three off. We own our time, not our employers, and certainly not our coworkers. But I generally do not ask for permission for time off, I inform my managers of my intentional to take time off and work with them to coordinate it.

                1. Emily*

                  NovaGirl: You said you work with your managers to coordinate your time off and I think that is the big difference. I don’t think being considerate of others is “doing management’s job for them.” OP was not being considerate and was going about things in a rather underhanded way. I do hope that most of these problems will be solved by having a better manager.

              2. Well...*

                I think people are pushing back on the idea that it’s unethical to not be an enthusiastic team player at an obviously shit workplace that has systemic top-down issues.

                Many people work jobs where they are inherently being taken advantage of. In those jobs, society benefits from a more adversarial worker-management relationship. Y’all didn’t get weekends from unions sitting down and working things out nicely with management.

                Now OP isn’t engaging in direct action (though in the end they did solve the problem for everyone) but i still think OP is within their rights not to be super open with management. Painting that as unethical and putting the problem of OPs coworkers working on weekends on OP is exactly the kind of attitude that favors taking advantage of workers.

                That’s why people are pushing back.

              3. Ori*

                I’m mostly just pushing back on the idea some people seem to have that he’s *as bad* as his supervisor. The idea that what he did is morally equivalent to what the supervisor did is mind boggling to me. She literally broke the law.

                1. Emily*

                  Ori: I have not seen anyone argue that OP is as bad as his manager. Everyone pretty much seems to be in agreement that OP’s manager was terrible. Even people saying ESH (Everyone Sucks Here) does not mean that everyone sucks equally. The main argument I see being made is that OP’s manager’s terrible behavior doesn’t excuse OP’s own shady behavior, basically “two wrongs don’t make a right.”

                2. Yorick*

                  I don’t think that OP is nearly as morally bad, either as a human or as a worker. But the fact that the manager is doing terrible stuff to other employees is irrelevant. OP asked for advice about the manager’s questioning and suspicion of the time off scheme, and that was not inappropriate in any way. Now OP seems to be focusing on the manager’s other bad behavior to justify what OP was doing wrong.

    17. Sloan Kittering*

      Kinda agree – BUT, I’m glad OP pushed for systematic change that benefits everyone (trying to figure out why there were suddenly so many Saturdays that had to be worked) – which was the root cause of OP’s attitude about the shift scheduling anyway.

      1. Calliope*

        The weird thing about this is if someone had gone to HR 5 years ago and just said “we are now having to work weekends,” it could have all been fixed with an audit? Seems kind of unlikely that an obvious glitch affecting so many people so drastically wouldn’t have been raised earlier.

        1. Wisteria*

          Yup, that’s where I am. Everyone is acting like OP had two choices: 1) game the system so he could stay home or 2) jeopardize his children’s well being or his wife’s employment by working on Saturdays (there’s a little hyperbole in the comment section today). No, there was a third option that he eventually took: push back on the increased Saturday work and ask the question about what prompted it.

          1. Sloan Kittering*

            I can certainly appreciate that in many jobs, they’d be indifferent to the worker’s plight and tell them they could take it or leave it. Glad there was a different outcome here.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Generally speaking, if a company is experiencing increased costs in any area an employee can probably find in-roads in discussing concerns over the increased costs. This can be as simple as, “I am concerned that all the OT is an unnecessary expense for the company and driving up labor costs for no reason.”
              It does matter who you say that to, though. And it is wise to say it in front of more than one person. BTDT.

            2. MissBaudelaire*

              I recall going to a manager, with my coworkers, about the sudden working of weekends. We were told too bad so sad, we weren’t management and obviously didn’t understand.

              Take it or leave it was there in the air. Same manager was shocked in a one month period when five people left.

    18. Kivrin*

      I think the most likely outcome here long term is that the rule that you don’t have to work Saturday if you had Friday off is discarded. In other words, this is why we can’t have nice things.

      1. zinzarin*

        This is a super-common rule that’s in place in most manufacturing environments. It’s a common-sense rule that absolutely needs to remain in place. (If I schedule a Friday off 2 months in advance so my family can take a three-day weekend vacation out of state, that’s entirely broken if the company can all of a sudden require me to come in the Saturday even though I have Friday off.)

        1. Kivrin*

          Another solution would be to allow you to not show up on Saturday, but to charge you two PTO days instead of one, since you’re missing two “required” work days. I don’t know if that’s legal, but I could certainly see it as a proposed solution.

      2. MRV*

        I disagree.

        I think the reason we can’t have nice things is because of the reaction towards the OP. If you don’t want behavior like this from workers then don’t create the incentives or the need for it. You need a job to live. Why should a person have to search really hard to find a job with decent and humane management? Shouldn’t that be a baseline?

        And this management sucks. Note what got the immediate manager fired: enriching friends. Not bigotry. Not incompetence. Upper management didn’t care that they were wasting money for years while making their employees mad. They didn’t even notice it. But some worker having some power, can’t have that.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          All you need is one solid, well-based reason to fire someone. Using the one reason method makes everything very cut and dry. From what I have seen though, people don’t start talking about firing someone UNLESS there are several problems running concurrently. I am sure complaints started flying in this place.

          So while the company may have known about these other things, they just wanted the person out of there. It’s too late to reform this individual, the only answer is to get them out the door as efficiently as possible.
          And they did that.

      3. Forrest*

        I think if you view the ability to book time off as a “nice thing” rather than a basic working right, that’s the problem right there.

        1. English, not American*

          The saturdays were never booked off, so that’s completely irrelevant.

    19. Sarah*

      Have to disagree. Management could have made a rule that said, we are going to cover Saturdays by rotating through a list of all employees, regardless of vacation requests. Or a rule you had to work X many Saturdays a year. Instead they made a rule that you don’t work Saturdays if you took Friday off. He took advantage of the system in place to best meet his needs. If it doesn’t meet the company’s needs, they should change the rules.

    20. NovaGirl*

      I get the pushback, but I don’t think it’s OP’s responsibility. People have the right to request days off, the reasoning doesn’t need to be more complex than “I don’t want to work that day.” So, OP is well within their rights to request days off when they don’t want to work those days. If OP’s requests end up creating an unfair burden for other employees, their employer could have just declined the requests or had a conversation with the employee. But, they didn’t do that.

      I just bristle at the suggestion that anyone needs to consider the needs/wants/desires of their coworkers when requesting time off. That’s management’s job to worry about. I’m not going to NOT take a vacation because that’s an inconvenient week for a colleague, or not request a day off that I want off just because a coworker would also like that day off. Ideally, yeah, it’s nice to be considerate of your coworkers, but if OP was requesting the days off and management was approving them… that’s on management, no? If that’s how OP wants to use their PTO or scheduling requests, that’s how they want to use it and “I want this Saturday off because I can’t find childcare and want to spend it with my family” is just as valid as “I have dinner plans” or “I am going to visit my grandma” or any other reason someone might want a day off. If OP isn’t being paid to manage their coworker’s schedules, it’s not their problem, why would they do unpaid labor in their head to figure out if their Saturday off is convenient and acceptable to everyone else? Especially given that OP never agreed to work Saturdays in the first place? It’s their time, they can do what they want with it. I get where this is coming from but I just don’t agree that this is rude or shady or whatever.

    21. TootsNYC*

      well, I don’t think anyone thought she should be FIRED for that; but that she should be spoken to, especially since the Letter Writer said that challenging someone’s reason for taking a vacation day is against the company ethos.

      And she seemed to have been spoken to, because she got quiet. (though that could have been anticipatory dread, now that they were evaluating all the overtime, which she might have known about)

    22. MCMonkeyBean*

      I fully agree.

      Especially since if Saturdays were really an issue they could have brought it up sooner–and it sounds like now maybe if they had then no one would have to work a bunch of Saturdays, rather than using a loophole no one else had discovered to shift it all off onto everyone else for years.


  6. Nicki Name*

    Whoa, what a wild ride at the end there! Glad to hear your work environment is improving, though!

  7. Butterfly Counter*

    What a great update!

    I really liked that you requested they look into why so much overtime was being scheduled and that 1) it’s something they’re solving as a result and 2) that them looking into it stopped your supervisor from taking advantage of the company!

    Solutions all around!

    1. NoviceManagerGuy*

      I also like how the LW figured out a bug that was costing the company huge money. In an organization with trust going both ways he could have brought up noticing this and it would have been solved earlier.

      1. quill*

        Yeah, there are a lot of things that should have been done better on the company side and hopefully LW won’t be in an environment where they feel they need to game the system going forward.

        1. Worldwalker*

          The OP didn’t *need* to game the system — they chose to, to selfishly put all the Saturday work on their co-workers instead of sharing it equally. That was a personal choice, not a necessity.

          1. quill*

            Hence why I said “feel the need” because there were many ways to resolve this (including asking somebody higher up what the problem was) but sometimes what we think we have to do to fix a situation is not actually what will fix it.

            1. LTL*

              The OP could have tried to find other solutions rather than lying to their supervisor to prevent the “secret” from becoming well-known on the team.

              1. Observer*

                You’re making a lot of assumptions here.

                Beyond that, the company had a LOT more information, and was *choosing* not to do anything about it. We KNOW that they knew about the increase. We KNOW that they knew about how much it was costing, about the new software, and even the OP’s schedule. But it took them 3 years to actually look at what is going on. Dinging the OP for not being selfless enough, and ASSUMING *they* could have done something and are therefore somehow culpable, while exonerating the company that had all of the information and all of the power to rectify the situation is what does not sit right with me.

                1. LTL*

                  The company was in the wrong but that’s irrelevant to whether the OP was in the right.

          2. meyer lemon*

            I don’t think the LW’s actions were necessarily ideal, but he may have just been doing the best he could in a clearly messed-up work environment. I don’t see why more commenters aren’t acknowledging the environmental factors here that were primarily responsible for any hardship faced by the coworkers, instead of piling on the LW, who sounds like he was in a tough spot.

      2. BRR*

        I’m not certain but it sounds like the company already knew of the issue before the LW asked, they just didn’t bother to communicate “hey we know a lot of Saturdays are being scheduled, there’s a bug that’s causing it and we’re doing X and your schedules should be fixed by the end of the year.”

        1. MelonHelen*

          Reread the letter. The bug causing the glitch was not discovered until the audit was performed, which did not happen until after LW spoke to the manager about it.

          1. Observer*

            The OP says that the Plant Manager told him about the audit in response to his complaint. It’s pretty clear that the audit had already been done.

      3. Insert Clever Name Here*

        No, the plant manager figured that out, not the LW. Hind sight is always 20/20 but goodness what a lot of trouble for EVERYONE that would have been saved if someone on LW’s team had mentioned the increase in Saturday work years ago.

    2. RC Rascal*

      Not to mention all the excess overtime that was paid out! Somewhere a finance team and GM are cringing over this.

      1. pbnj*

        It’s surprising to me that accounting or management didn’t notice the sudden increase in overtime expenses. It sounds like a sizeable amount.

    3. OlympiasEpiriot*


      Way back when the concept of time and half or double time came to be, it was intended as a punishment for management not having hired enough workers. In this case it looks like it was a punishment for not checking an algorithm.

      1. Observer*

        And they deserve it!

        But at least that seems to be what finally got them to figure out what was going on.

    1. Mental Lentil*

      Yep. (I also love it when Alison says “WTF?” When Alison says WTF, you know there is some effed up shit going on here.)

  8. Canadian Valkyrie*

    Woooooow… this work place sounds like a bit of a shit show. Glad it’s getting better.

  9. The Tin Man*

    Wow. From the laundry list of crappy behavior from the supervisor to the fact that both peoples’ personal schedules and the payroll budget were gradually up-ended by adding more weekend shifts solely because of unsophisticated scheduling software.

    I have to say I still don’t love the “Everyone else has access to the info I’m just the only one who figured it out” defense. I’ll give OP the benefit of the doubt that the supervisor’s obvious horrible behavior warped their sense of normalcy. I’m also a minor hypocrite because if I had this info I wouldn’t use it every Saturday shift but I’d probably keep it in mind if I knew an event was coming up on a Saturday.

    1. WellRed*

      Yes to your second paragraph. How disappointing that op took away nothing from that.

        1. pope suburban*

          I agree. Just because the company and the manager were wrong, doesn’t mean OP is by default totally in the right.

    2. voyager1*

      That is where I landed too. I get the manager was sketchy and making slurs… but that doesn’t really mean much when the LW found a loophole.

    3. hbc*

      Yeah, a decent supervisor might come in who won’t appreciate the game playing, and OP might be in the same “harassment” situation again.

      And really, it looks the complaints about the supervisor did nothing, but the observation about the increased Saturdays was what spurred change. Assuming they fix the system, he actually comes out way ahead not having to burn so many vacation days trying to dodge Saturday work and instigating an improvement. That’s before you get to the benefit of the company and coworkers.

      1. PT*

        A decent supervisor might have empathy about the wife’s job/childcare situation, though, and be willing to accommodate him without resorting to game playing in the first place.

        1. hbc*

          True, though it’s possible that there are a lot of people in the same boat. I’ve got two single dads of young kids here in my production crew of 10 people as well as someone who is responsible for caring for her sick sister, so the guy who needs to work around his wife’s work schedule will not always be accommodated.

          Frankly, OP is lucky that the previous supervisor flamed out spectacularly, because if I heard from my predecessor that an employee was managing to avoid 95% of Saturday work and claiming it was just luck, he’d be starting under the microscope.

          1. Observer*

            True, though it’s possible that there are a lot of people in the same boat.

            In which case a decent supervisor actually goes to management and points out that this is creating a significant problem. In fact, even without this, a decent supervisor should have been going to management and asking what’s the deal and why are people who weren’t supposed to be working weekends suddenly being scheduled on weekends once or twice a month.

            1. hbc*

              Obviously this is a bad supervisor and a badly-implemented system. But a good supervisor who hasn’t figured out that there’s an easy fix to a systemic problem (maybe because there are other fires to put out, who knows) would be wise not to ignore how an employee reacts to a systemic problem. “Hey, boss, any chance we can look into why we’re doing so many more Saturdays, or at least use the system to give better notice about the work?” Or “It’s just good luck that I get 1/10th the Saturdays that my coworkers do, try proving otherwise.”

    4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      OP is not using their Saturdays for events and cookouts though. Their wife works Saturdays, and has to take a Saturday off or hire a babysitter anytime OP is scheduled to work on Saturday. I never had that situation and would’ve therefore been okay to work Saturdays even when my children were young, but OP is backed into a corner here. I bet that, if OP had been told of this Saturday situation ten years ago, they wouldn’t have taken the job.

      1. Mental Lentil*

        I agree 100%

        There’s a saying “play stupid games, win stupid prizes”. If the company puts this information out there and somebody figures out how to predict in advance when to take a Friday off, that’s on the company.

        There’s no point in blaming the one mouse who is smarter than the rest and gets through the maze faster as a result.

      2. Archaeopteryx*

        I think the lesson from all this resolution is that if OP or anyone else had gone higher up the chain when all the Saturdays first started being requested, the bug could’ve been fixed a lot sooner and no one would’ve been inconvenienced so badly, instead of pursuing an individual solution and gaming the system.

        1. LKW*

          I think had the OP gone right away, he would have been brushed off. Having more than a year of bad scheduling actually gave the company the evidence they needed that, their orders hadn’t increased but the amount of shifts had increased and when they took an even closer look they found the mis-coded OT. Had he gone after three or six months, they might have figured out the first problem, but the second might have not yet occured or slipped by.

          In this case, the company realized they had spent a ton of money, but had not increased demand at the same pace.

          1. Insert Clever Name Here*

            This hadn’t been happening for a year, though. The original letter said that LW had been there 10 years, over several years the Saturdays increased, and LW found and had been using the loophole for 3 years.

      3. Dust Bunny*

        Well, no: The OP and wife could get childcare. Because that’s what you do when you have to work.

        Sticking your coworkers will all your work days because you’re not managing your personal life is craptastic.

        1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

          This! What makes the OP more special than his co-workers who have to arrange childcare? And this update just sounds smug about that part.

        2. LTL*

          This. I’m sure the OP isn’t the only one who was in a bind with the weekend work.

          I’m not buying that it was impossible for OP to make other arrangements or to find another job. Neither of those things are easy but the OP is so unapologetic about his deception* that I would be surprised if he’s put much effort into either.

          * Regardless of what you think of his trick, I will remind everyone that he lied directly to his supervisor.

          1. Jay*

            LTL, great point. I re-read the original letter and you’re right!

            “She asked (several times) how I know when we are working a Saturday and I say “lucky guess.” I can tell that this REALLY irritates her.”

            If it’s not wrong, why do you have to lie?

            1. Observer*

              If it’s not wrong, why do you have to lie?

              Because he was dealing with a jerk of a supervisor.

        3. Pyjamas*

          Well, no. Parents with young children figure out how to care for children while paying other expenses (rent, groceries) and childcare can be prohibitively expensive. Moreover, quality of childcare varies widely; why not give OP the benefit of the doubt when he says it isn’t feasible?

              1. Insert Clever Name Here*

                From the original letter: She asked (several times) how I know when we are working a Saturday and I say “lucky guess.” I can tell that this REALLY irritates her.

                1. Eh*

                  Okay, we’re going to have to agree to disagree on that lucky guess answer being signs of a dishonest person. IMO, not only was it something he luckily worked out, but the person he was speaking to had shown themselves to be untrustworthy. I see that there is a divide over whether one considers that a lie or not and I suppose that determines where you fall on this.

              2. MissBaudelaire*

                Because people think when the OP learned the pattern, he should have told the supervisor when she asked. Even though he didn’t know positively, because the company didn’t put out the schedules with enough for everyone to request that Saturday off work. So when he did the request, it was an educated guess based on those patterns.

                He didn’t lie. He just didn’t tell her how he was using the information available to him.

            1. meyer lemon*

              This is an example of some really harsh black and white thinking that I’m seeing all over this post. Just because the LW gamed the system to his advantage doesn’t make him an irredeemable liar and cheat. Most behaviour is situational, and his situation was a difficult one with wildly unethical management. I think management really deserves the condemnation the LW is receiving here.

              1. Yorick*

                This went on for THREE YEARS, and OP used this information to not work a single Saturday. What if OP hadn’t figured out how the ordering calendar matches up with production? He would’ve used one or a combination of the many other options: find childcare, talk to his manager about the hardship, ask other coworkers to cover, find another job, talk to his wife about possibly finding another job, and probably many others that I haven’t thought of. THREE YEARS is plenty of time for that.

                If OP had figured this out and done it a couple of times while job searching, I’d think it wasn’t great but not too big a deal. But OP seems to have been happy to sneak around and not do their fair share of weekend work FOREVER.

                And other people have kids. Childcare is just as expensive for them as it is for OP.

                Should we consider other people when we take time off? To a degree. We’ve seen many questions where somebody books every day around Christmas on January 2 so you don’t get any time to visit family around the holidays. Ultimately that’s a problem with the system and management needs to figure it out. But also, that guy knows that there can only be 1 person off at a time and he would be a better coworker if he asked for fewer days off around Christmas, or traded off, or whatever.

              2. Eh*

                Well said. This is what I was trying to articulate regarding the way opinion has divided over “lucky guess”

        4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Full-time childcare on Saturdays, on arbitrary weeks with one-week notice sounds both difficult to find, and prohibitively expensive. I imagine that OP’s family’s income might be on the lower side for this to be even possible. I cannot in good conscience sit here going “but why can’t they just get a live-in nanny” or “eat cake” or whatever.

          Personally I would’ve stepped up my job search and left if I’d found myself caught in a bait-and-switch job like this. But that could be also me speaking from a place of privilege, because I don’t know what the job market in OP’s field looks like.

        5. anonymath*

          Or like many others, your childcare falls through at the last minute and so you get fired, and you have a hard time finding another job, and you fall behind on your rent, and your family falls through the cracks and you end up in a cousin’s basement or in your car, and so on and so forth. That is why homelessness for families is so high in the US. It’s not exactly a ridiculously uncommon issue.

        6. Observer*

          The OP and wife could get childcare. Because that’s what you do when you have to work.

          No. Sometimes people get stuck without child care and are forced into the choice of leaving their kids unwatched or leaving their job. The OP found a third way. Of course it was only an issue because the company was suddenly demanding work time out of the normal workweek.

          Sticking your coworkers will all your work days because you’re not managing your personal life is craptastic.

          Except that that’s not what was happening. He was sticking them with the EXTRA workdays that the company was piling on them because they were too sloppy to pay attention to what was going on.

          I would understand if his coworkers would be ticked off. But that doesn’t make him dishonest.

          1. Yorick*

            OP had plenty of time to figure out childcare. OP did this for 3 years. And in fact, they had more advance notice each individual time they needed childcare than any of their coworkers, who probably found this super difficult too.

        7. Forrest*

          You know that lots of people have to leave work or can’t work because they can’t get childcare, right? Like, not being able to work because of childcare is absolutely a thing.

          1. Tali*

            I wonder how many of OP’s coworkers had to leave work because they couldn’t find childcare for the Saturday shifts they were covering instead of OP.

            1. WellRed*

              Yeah this. Every excuse folks are throwing out to excuse OP apply across the board for coworkers.

              1. Observer*

                But none of this is the OP’s fault. It is 100 % the fault of the company for making changes without any sort of process to assess and address the effects of the change. Telling the OP that he needs to put his job at risk so that other people don’t have to put their job at risk is a problem. Would it have been nice? Yes. Does it make him morally deficient and dishonest that he didn’t? No.

            2. Eh*

              They aren’t covering shifts OP has bailed on though. And if they were and it went on for 3 years, that’s poor management.
              OP is using PTO. If these hypothetical coworkers had to leave work, the blame is still with management. For scheduling this inconvenient and unplanned extra work, or for approving OP’s PTO. If you took every single holiday off and I noticed, that’s still managements fault for letting it go.

      4. learnedthehardway*

        This – and not working the Saturdays was the ORIGINAL agreement between the OP and the company. The company unilaterally changed that, and made it impossible for the OP to say “NO” outright, without risking his job. At the same time, he couldn’t work the Saturdays without either incurring expenses that weren’t in the family budget or causing his wife to quit working.

        I don’t blame the OP for using what resources he could to get around the issue.

      5. Worldwalker*

        And co-workers’ wives don’t work Saturdays?
        And co-workers don’t need to hire babysitters when they have to work Saturdays?
        And co-workers don’t need to have Saturdays off?

        1. NovaGirl*

          Not OP’s problem. It’s wild how much people are expecting OP to juggle when requesting days off! It is literally not their job to consider the personal lives of their coworkers and factor their wives and childcare arrangements when deciding to request time off. That is management’s job, and they screwed it up. It’s their time, their Saturday, their life, and their absolute right to request off whatever time off they want.

          1. Autumnheart*

            Right? I feel like I’ve clicked on Goatee-Wearing Alternate Universe AAM, where everyone’s like “Employees should just be grateful they get anything for their labor!” and “Unemployment just makes people lazy and not want to work!”

            Because OP committed the crime of using his granted PTO to take the days off where his wife worked, so he could be home with the kids. Like WOW. I see no criticism *at all* toward the company that was making its employees work 6-day weeks with mandatory overtime because they wasted 3 years of people’s lives not looking at their production schedule. No, just on the OP for finding a way to not take the bullet. As if it were his moral responsibility to allow the company to exploit him! Incredible!

            This is how we know anti-labor propaganda works. Even a supposedly pro-labor work blog is full of comments blaming the worker for acting in his own interests instead of the company’s.

            1. Tali*

              I would think the pro-labor stance would be to encourage OP to share their discontent about working Saturdays with their coworkers, and then to go to management as a group about the issue?

              1. Forrest*

                Yeah, but that is not without risk, and never has been. Unionising is a protected right (which is often violated) *because* of the massive power differential between workers and employers.

                I think unions are brilliant and I wish everyone had one. But I just don’t think you can create a moral responsibility for people to organise when it comes with serious personal risk, especially if there isn’t already a recognised union. And, of course, you’re literally asking people to do unpaid labour. People get to decide whether or not that’s where they want to put their effort.

        2. MsSolo (UK)*

          It almost feels as though better and more honest communication could have solved the problem with, say, a babysitting pool amongst the working parents so they can take working Saturdays on a rota and watching kids on a rota (and even getting some kid-free Saturdays on a rota!).

    5. Roscoe*

      You know, I didn’t mind the “everyone else has access” thing at the time, and I still don’t. If everyone gets the same info, but aren’t able to recognize a pattern, I don’t necessarily feel its the fault of the person who did figure it out to spread the knowledge around.

        1. Pyjamas*

          Surely more of a sin by omission than commission; if OP is Catholic, he can discuss it with his priest, but in the meantime we can check our privilege

          1. hbc*

            Are you seriously telling people to check their privilege because they’re objecting to people *at exactly OP’s level* having to figure out how to work *more* Saturdays because he’s manipulating the system to get out of an equal share of weekend work?

        2. Roscoe*

          I mean, calling it intentionally hid I don’t think is valid. To me intentionally hiding it is literally trying to hide it and there being actions to make it harder to find. He more just didn’t tell everyone what he figured out. Not quite the same. He kept information to himself, but he didn’t hide anything.

          1. Oryx*

            From the original letter:

            “She asked (several times) how I know when we are working a Saturday and I say “lucky guess.” I can tell that this REALLY irritates her.”

            “I now access the outbound page when I know she is at a staff meeting.”

            That’s more than just keeping information to himself. That is deliberate.

            1. mlem*

              That does not in any way block the same-level coworkers from using the same information; it’s just safeguarding information from a supervisor who would shut it down — and she wouldn’t be doing that “to benefit the coworkers” but to prevent the OP from using his own PTO in a way that works for him.

              1. LTL*

                OP did not directly block his coworkers from accessing the information. But the original post reflected his intent to keep the information hidden from everyone else. This is different from having information and just happening to not share it. From the letter:

                I really don’t want to give up my “secret” as then everybody will do what I am doing and I will start working Saturdays.

                While in practical terms, the result is the same (him getting time off while his coworkers work), the difference is the reflection on OP’s character. I understand where commentators are coming from with “no harm, no foul” and his lack of obligation to fix his company’s wrongs, but I’m skeptical that his self-focus doesn’t play out in other ways as well.

                1. LTL*

                  Something I just noticed. LW didn’t lie to prevent the supervisor from shutting down his use of PTO. Like they say in the update, the supervisor can’t deny PTO without very good reason. Rereading the letter with this information, keeping this information from his coworkers is exactly the reason he cites for lying.

            2. Roscoe*

              Yes, he didn’t tell his manager who was harassing him about it. So I’m willing to say he did lie to her, but in no way did he hide something from his coworkers. If they didn’t ask or look, thats on them.

              1. Yorick*

                He lied to her so his coworkers wouldn’t find out. If everybody was doing this, OP wouldn’t be able to avoid working every single time there was Saturday work. He’d only be able to avoid working some of the Saturdays.

            3. meyer lemon*

              In retrospect, we know that the reason she was asking was because she was trying to cover up her deeply unethical behaviour (which, by the way, was ultimately responsible for putting the LW and his colleagues in such a bind). Shouldn’t that knowledge colour our sense of why the LW didn’t want to be more open with her? I’m sure that environment is dysfunctional in more ways than one.

            4. Observer*

              He hid if from his SUPERVISOR – someone who he had good reason to not trust. Do you think for one minute that she would have shared this information with the rest of the staff?

        3. Eh*

          He didn’t. If you read OP’s original letter, comment on original post, and letter here, you’ll see that OP used a publicly available sheet to book. If you and I have access to the same info then it’s not being hidden. It’s not OPs job to encourage others to book Saturdays off. People are being very armchair generous about how they treat coworkers in this post

          1. Louise*

            LW also mentioned in the original comments that management told them to take Fridays off if they had a Saturday they absolutely couldn’t work.

          2. LTL*

            LW lied to their supervisor (who cannot their PTO requests) in order to prevent the information “leaking” to his colleagues.

          3. MissBaudelaire*

            It feels a bit like people claiming OP should have set themselves on fire to keep their coworkers warm.

            In all actuality, if they were doing this many Saturdays a month, there was nothing preventing a coworker from flipping a coin and using their PTO to ensure they had a Saturday they really needed off. Even several weeks in advance!

            1. Eh*

              Exactly this. You put my thoughts into better words.
              Decent coworker rapport is important, but this is something else. It’s just not realistic that people are generally going to put their wife and children in a difficult situation if they don’t have to.

              There really was nothing preventing it because OP said 4 people can be off on a Saturday and always have been. He’s just taken the coin flip further.

      1. Smithy*

        Honestly – the OP was using vacation days every time this happened. Ergo, not being able to use vacation time at other times of the year. So this idea that the OP was somehow depriving to taking away from others truly baffles me.

        Additionally, the OP was using vacation time and forgoing overtime. The idea that somehow everyone wanted to be blowing through their vacation time for random long weekends in lieu of overtime simply doesn’t compute to me. This is simply not the same as gaming the system to take time off around every major holiday understood to be celebrated by a majority of coworkers.

        1. Threeve*

          The vacation days piece adds an interesting layer to the sort of gray morality of it, IMO–essentially, OP had discovered a way to double his vacation days by knowing when a 2-for-1 was coming up when nobody else did–getting out of two days of work but only using one day of vacation (over and over again.)

          1. meyer lemon*

            Well, not really. He wasn’t getting paid for the Saturdays, he just wasn’t being scheduled for them. And if the manager wasn’t running a grift, he wouldn’t have been scheduled for them in the first place. Not having to pay exorbitant amounts of money for weekend childcare at the price of not being able to use the vacation time for a real vacation doesn’t seem like a great prize to me.

      2. Kes*

        I don’t think everyone necessarily gets the same info though. Everyone has access to the database, but OP uses it in his job to order parts, which it’s not clear if the others do as well (sounds like not since he says they have not discovered how to use it), which may give him additional context others may not have and also makes him more likely to be looking in the database to see and notice that it includes information that relates to their scheduling. It’s entirely likely that many of the others never look at the database if they don’t need to for their jobs, or are only looking at the parts that are relevant to their job, which may not include the information OP is leveraging.

  10. Deb*

    Wait wait wait. So in the three years your team has been working tons of Saturdays, and your company has been paying out untold amounts of overtime….they never thought to audit their process until YOU brought it up? And your supervisor just happened to be conveniently sexually harassing someone AND fudging hours for a coworker? This does not pass the smell test.

    1. Jay*

      I read it as when he asked about all the sudden overtime, the explanation was that the company had found an inefficiency and that the short-term solution (while they work on a long-term one) is to have human oversight. Thus resulting in a need for overtime to have those humans working.

        1. Jay*

          True. But LW did say “(relatively) sudden” in the update so I used that language here. I also realize on re-reading the update that the error seems to have made the system schedule the production stuff, which made the overtime schedules necessary. However, the fact that it’s been several years kind of adds to the fact that this could’ve been in the works already (see replies below regarding automated systems); as common as it is for a big company to just not notice issues with automated systems, especially issues that aren’t of the world-ending variety, it’s also common for fixes to take a while (and for a lack of communication to the little guys about said fixes).

          Company: “Hey, there’s a problem with this new system we got a few years ago. Let’s fix it.”
          LW: “Hey, there’s a (relatively) sudden increase in our overtime.”
          Company: “Yep, we did an audit and are working on it. You shouldn’t have to worry about it for much longer.”

          1. MelonHelen*

            But the audit didn’t occur until after the LW raised the issue of working Saturdays excessively with the plant manager. The bug wasn’t known about before then.

            1. Jay*

              “I went and talked to the plant manager. I mentioned that I didn’t know the correct term but it was like harassment or hostile work environment and bullying by my supervisor in the form of ‘over supervision’ and questions about how and when I was using my vacation. He said ‘interesting’ and that he, along with HR, would look into it. I also mentioned the (relatively) sudden increase in working Saturdays, going from one or two a year to many more now and seemingly increasing. He said they conducted an investigation/audit…”

              I’ll admit it doesn’t say this conversation all happened at once, but he also doesn’t say the guy came back to tell him about the audit. Just like we read that first part and assume that the manager didn’t come back and say “interesting” later on, it makes sense that’s also how the second part went. Same language choices seem to support that.

        2. Salyan*

          He said sudden, not recent. If they implemented new software 3-ish years ago, there may have been a sudden increase at that point when the dumb software took effect.

    2. SMH*

      While this manager clearly needed to go I forgot to ask during the first letter how LW team mates felt about him never having to work a Saturday. I’ve worked in manufacturing and I can tell you the pay back would have been huge at the places I’ve worked if they found it he’d figured out a way not to work Saturday’s while they still had to.

      There are red flags here for sure.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Right on. Payback on this one is new levels of misery that have never before been seen.
        On a serious note, I am concerned as to what will happen to OP next. You are totally correct, you just don’t do this in a manufacturing plant. The bosses cannot protect you from what happens next.

      2. Rach*

        I currently work in high volume manufacturing and I think this fallout with coworkers is a little overstated. One of my techs often uses his PTO to call in on Sundays (first day of our work week), another one has intermittent leave and often calls out on Wednesdays (part overtime day) and, yeah, sometimes there’s grumbling but they mostly joke about it and they get on well with each other.

    3. OyHiOh*

      It’s surprising how often companies don’t stop to question the information their automated systems give them, especially if a flashy salesperson has promised that the computer system will audit itself.

      It’s a wild read but shows the power of making a simple observation – hey, seems like we’re working a lot more Saturdays now compared to three years ago – to the right person.

    4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      It passes mine. To the first item, it looks like the Saturdays gradually built up over ten years, so to anyone that started working there recently, they are “just the way we’ve always done things around here”. To the second, the supervisor sounded quite lovely (not) in the original letter (hiding behind a machine to watch OP? requesting to work on OP’s computer while logged in as OP to “fill in” for them?) so I’m hardly surprised that more antics have come out.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Sure, it would look that way to the employees. But to the people looking at the numbers, it should have been obvious that overtime was going up but production as a whole was not.

        1. LKW*

          This – someone should have seen that the line item for wages was x% higher but the line item for orders processed was relatively the same as previous years.

          1. JB*

            I have been responsible for internal financial KPI reporting before.

            Frequently they only look back one period and have a threshold, so if costs were going up, say, $500k/year and the threshold was $1M, it’d never tick over to where an explanation was required, even if over 3 years it went up $1.5M.

            Well-designed KPIs will prevent this, but many many businesses are managed far worse than “our KPIs could be improved.”

            1. Susan Calvin*

              Dollars to donuts some galaxy-brain type sat down and said, what is the worst thing that can happen? Stock shortage, because every Widget we don’t have is a Widget we can’t sell! We need to reduce stock shortage. To zero. Every other KPI is meaningless if we can’t do that, so get to it!

      2. Excel Jedi*

        This. This kind of bad behavior from a manager usually clusters – when you lack integrity in one area, you often lack it in others.

        I’m not surprised that the manager was (1) not bringing up the fact that they were paying people for more overtime, (2) was using their privileges to overpay their friends, (3) felt safe bullying their staff, and (4) felt paranoid about OP AND safe enough in their power to try to catch them. It fits the pattern of a petty, shortsighted person who lets power get to their heads.

        It’s super dissatisfying that the OP didn’t learn anything about gaming systems from this – but it’s easy to fly under the radar when there’s so much mismanagement going on anyway. Hopefully OP cleans up their act before a new supervisor comes in and the ship is righted.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Actually, what OP did not learn was how to effectively and transparently handle this matter from the get-go.

          If OP’s continued response to a problem is to game a system, OP will never learn the skills of effectively standing up for one’s self and will have to continually resort to finding a game.

          I saw early on that the people who were able to articulate a problem well and paid attention to who would be the correct person to talk with are the people who made out better in the long run. Yes, the immediate period was awkward, painful, etc. But the long term was much, much better.

    5. I'm just here for the cats*

      I can see this being legit, especially if it was a larger company.

    6. Archaeopteryx*

      Trust me, there are definitely organizations that end up paying tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on something that just no one is checking on or auditing. My organization is guilty of this as we discovered recently, though under very different circumstances. Sometimes just no one is watching the watchers

    7. Lacey*

      You have a blessed life that you’ve never worked somewhere this dysfunctional. I have.
      And I have a friend who still works and often shares about the continuing disfunction.

      It’s also the kind of place I’d expect to have someone like the OP exploiting loopholes to his own benefit and his coworkers detriment and it being the least problematic thing that’s going on.

    1. Insert Clever Name Here*

      Nah, LW uncovered a loophole that enabled them to not work a Saturday in 3 years. There was no indication in this update or the original letter that anyone ever raised a question about additional Saturdays (and certainly not LW because, hey, loophole!). LW’s (objectively terrible) boss is suspicious about the days off and LW still does not tell anyone about the loophole or raise a question about additional Saturdays. LW finally goes to the plant manager to complain about their (objectively terrible) boss and as an aside mentions the increase in Saturday work. The PLANT MANAGER does an audit because of that aside and discovers the inefficiency and the thieving boss.

    2. Susie Q*

      LW didn’t uncover anything. He just lied for 3 years then complained to the branch manager who figured it out.

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        He played the game by the rules his employer wrote. By definition, following the rules is not cheating.

        There are a lot of moralistic holier than thou judges today.

        No need for analogies. LW simply followed the rules of the game. If the rules had been different, LW would have faced different options.

        1. Kes*

          I don’t think lying to your boss is following the rules. Nor is abusing the access given to you to do a job task in order to game the system for your personal benefit. In fact there are many situations where using your access in such a way for your personal purposes is explicitly forbidden: see insider trading and HIPAA. Just because you have access to information to do your job doesn’t mean you’re okay to use it for other purposes

          1. Can Can Cannot*

            He had no obligation to give any more details to the boss than “good guess.” He didn’t abuse the access he, and his colleagues, were given. He did not share that information with anyone else.

          2. Mannequin*

            I just about choked with laughter over the idea that not handing over the reins to be exploited by an ACTUALLY dishonest (falsifying pay rates) & abusive (remarks about the coworker’s hair) corporate stooge is “lying to your manager.”

        2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Yep, I am absolutely dumbfounded by today’s comment section. It is not usually this bootstrappy.

          I’m sure everyone that commented today about how LW is a lying liar, would have no problem whatsoever with being randomly scheduled to work this coming Saturday, and on a random Saturday once a month going forward; when their job had previously been M-F.

  11. I'm just here for the cats*

    I love this update! So glad that everything seemed to work out.

    And really, it wasn’t the supervisors business to know why you were taking fridays off. For all she knew you had a doctor appointment but didn’t want to go through the hassle of FMLA. Which sounds like she wouldn’t have understood anyways. So glad she is out of there and that the system is going to work so you wont be working so many saturdays.

  12. Florp*

    What a wild ride! Honestly, this was a reminder for me not to go off of first impressions and always try to get more info! Every one is entitled to their time off, but I read the first letter as an employee gaming the system while technically staying within the rules, and a supervisor who knew something was up and couldn’t catch them red-handed, Principal Rooney-style. My apologies, OP! You probably earned some capital both by working July 3rd and by helping to pinpoint an inefficiency in their system that was probably costing your company a lot of money in labor and raw material costs, not to mention improperly paying a chosen few for work they weren’t really doing. And to think the supervisor’s payroll shenanigans could have gone unnoticed if she hadn’t drawn so much attention to herself by harassing people.

    1. Mainly Lurking (UK)*

      I’m glad I wasn’t the only one getting Ferris Bueller vibes from the original letter.

    2. Wisteria*

      I’m going with ESH. OP *was* gaming the system while technically staying within the rules, and in addition, the supervisor was a homophobe who abused the system and deserved to be fired for cause.

  13. Dr. Rebecca*

    Excellent results all round! My only quibble is one that was previously brought up–even if you found a way to game the system, and even if everyone else could *also* have gamed the system had they found it, gaming the system isn’t cool. Requiring you to work the same hours as other workers unless you have a formal arrangement, including requiring taking weekends as leave less frequently, is well within the bounds of a normal work/worker relationship.

    1. SnappinTerrapin*

      In what game is following the rules deemed to be an unfair advantage or cheating?

      I really don’t understand how anyone can justify saying that it is unfair to anyone for LW to follow the rules.

      1. Beany*

        LW found a loophole in the system, and kept it to themself. It’s a zero-sum game — if other people knew about the loophole, LW wouldn’t be able to avoid working at least some Saturdays.

        Not cheating perhaps, but not exactly laudable either.

    2. Can Can Cannot*

      We don’t know if anyone else gamed the system. Maybe others did, but they just didn’t send in a letter to AAM.

  14. Phony Genius*

    Regarding that last bit about the boss coding pay rates too high, couldn’t that be considered criminal? Not only for the boss, but any of the recipients (“work friends”) who knew they were getting too much?

    1. LifeBeforeCorona*

      Worst case scenario is they have to pay back the unearned pay. Even worst is the friends getting fired for knowingly taking pay they didn’t earn.

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      If there was a big conspiracy that the recipients were in on, I guess it could be criminal. The company may not be interested in taking it that far though. Depends how much money we’re talking about. If it was in the thousands, they may just want to fire the supervisor and let the rest go. Imagine the hassle involved with clawing back some of those wages, let alone calling the police to open a criminal investigation.

  15. hellohello*

    I’m surprised at the number of people who have a problem with the LW taking Fridays off to avoid Saturday work. If the company wants a fair weekend work schedule they should have a fair weekend work schedule and figure out how to plan ahead and schedule accordingly, not rely on people not realizing how the schedule works in the hopes that’ll even out to fair weekend coverage.

    1. Lynn Whitehat*

      Same. It sounds like a lot of people actively enjoyed the OT, especially the boss’s buddies who were getting paid a higher rate than they should.

      1. Can Can Cannot*

        Early in my career I took all the OT I could get. I practically begged my boss for more. Helped me pay for college, and if I hadn’t gotten the OT it would have put my ability to pay my tuition bill at risk.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Exactly. I’d probably be okay with once-a-month OT now. My children are grown and living on their own, and I am in saving mode right now for a big expense that I plan to have in the next couple of years. Every one of us is at our own stage in life. LW is at the one where they cannot work OT, *which is why they made a point of taking a job that specified no OT* *for the love of dog, people!* (screams internally)*

          *the screaming is directed to everyone coming down on LW on this thread. Not at you, you’re good!

    2. hbc*

      The company is wrong for having a flawed schedule. OP is wrong for exploiting that flaw at the expense of his coworkers.

      I mean, if this was done to you, are you saying you wouldn’t be ticked off? That it’s cool that a coworker rifled through the employee files because it’s only HR’s fault that they forgot to lock the cabinet? You’re not mad at the coworker who sent emails pretending to be you because he found a bug in the system that IT should have shut down?

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        Your analogy is fundamentally flawed. LW didn’t accept confidential information.

        LW followed the rules of the game to the letter, and the rules applied evenly to all.

        It doesn’t matter whether I would have resented his success. If I had resented it, then I would have simply been jealous of someone else who was more successful than I was.

        In other words, I would have been a sore loser, and he would not have been guilty of cheating just because I was disappointed in the outcome.

        1. hbc*

          An email flaw is not necessarily confidential information, but fine: How about the coworker who takes the first-come-first-served policy about snacks in the break room and takes everything? The company should have a better policy, sure, but that person is still a jerk for walking out to their car with an armload of food simply because no one prevented it. That goes double if they’ve figured out the snack delivery schedule, conveniently scheduled their break to intercept the delivery person, and shrug about where the food goes when asked.

          1. Eh*

            Still flawed. OP didn’t take all the snacks, he took one snack and it’s his favourite.

            He said that 3 other people can take time off on these Saturdays and they do. Him being off didn’t actually prevent others from taking off. He just made sure the ones he took really worked for him.

  16. Jay*

    I don’t know if I’m just reading this differently than a lot of other commenters, but this doesn’t change my opinion from the first post.

    LW found a way to game the system. Sure, technically, everyone else has access to this same info regarding when they’ll have to work a Saturday, but it’s not a button that says, “UPCOMING SATURDAY SHIFTS.” It was that LW figured out how to extrapolate the data of outgoing shipments. Not everyone is going to notice that/be able to figure that out. So it’s still a loophole that’s being exploited, regardless of if it’s “legal” or “allowed” or not, that isn’t exactly common knowledge. The fact that LW’s SUPERVISOR didn’t know how this was happening illustrates this fact quite well.

    Also, the whole “my supervisor did these other bad things” details don’t really help LW’s case. Sure, the supervisor did bad things and deserved to be fired. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that LW was still being a little slimy and unethical with the loophole exploitation. (Even if it wasn’t technically “wrong,” I’m pretty sure everyone else on their shift would feel like this was unfair. And, if management is trying to figure out how someone’s gaming the system, it sounds like it might be closer to “wrong” territory than LW paints it to seem.)

    And finally, I read the explanation of the extra shifts not as “LW raised the overtime issue and prompted an audit” but rather as “the company had already audited the automated ordering program, realized it was erroneously scheduling things, and fixed it – and then they explained that to LW when the issue was raised and assured LW the overtime shifts would be ending soon.” Which does help LW’s case in that he won’t have to figure out Saturday shifts/childcare forever, but it doesn’t paint him in the light a lot of other commenters here seem to be taking it as. (If I totally misread that, it’s on me, but I don’t see it as “wow, look at what LW did to help the company!”)

    Sorry, but I’m still not very impressed with this LW, tbh.

    1. Anoni*

      Honestly, I don’t care. The OP had family reasons not to work Saturdays and figured out a way around it. The problem wasn’t actually with the OP or the OP knowing how to work the loophole, the problem was a systemic issue that needed fixing and without the OP doing their thing, that issue would not have been exposed. Sometimes it really doesn’t matter and, really, our approval or disapproval is ultimately beside the point.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        And other workers with families may have had to pay more childcare on those Saturdays because OP thinks s/he is special. Ick.

        1. Louise*

          Wouldn’t they have to pay more for childcare because the company couldn’t get its scheduling act together? Ick. From the original letter, the coworkers wouldn’t have had time to schedule PTO because the OT notification from management was coming so late.

        2. Seacalliope*

          Because the company has no respect for the employees or their time. That’s why. You may not like LW, but the blame should be placed FIRMLY on the company that refuses to schedule appropriately or inform employees so they can make timely arrangements.

        3. Eh*

          Other people’s childcare has nothing to do with OP. Additionally, OP is using PTO for this, which those coworkers can use at other times or for whole weeks. No one is special. OP is just using his time differently.
          If you are saying OP shouldn’t be using his PTO when he is then that’s on his manager not him.
          What I’m saying is that if people are paying more on Saturdays that is managements fault not OP

      2. Jay*

        I still have yet to read this and think any of the revelations can be credited to LW.

        Also, ethics is a whole thing that’s separate from the technical definitions of right and wrong. Just because something isn’t necessarily banned (which, perhaps it wasn’t explicitly banned in the employee handbook because no one else realized it was possible, not because the company condoned it) doesn’t always make it okay.

        1. Well...*

          Yea but I don’t think we can sit here and say workers not cooperating fully with companies actually counts as unethical. That is a pretty dangerous ethical system that bans all kinds of subversive behavior that benefits workers. Not cool.

          If this worker was on even footing with management, then everyone working openly together to solve the problem in a way that’s fair to all is ethical. Obviously those are not the power dynamics at play here.

    2. Insert Clever Name Here*

      I read it that when the LW went to Plant Manager about Boss, LW made an aside about how much the Saturday work had increased and Plant Manager took that information and did an audit — the timeline isn’t clear. Regardless, I agree that while Boss was objectively terrible, I don’t think LW deserves any “employee of the month” accolades.

    3. Sara without an H*

      Nobody comes out looking good here. Admittedly the whole company sounds like a clusterfudge, but if the OP worked for me, I’d be watching them like a hawk.

      1. sequined histories*

        If anything, I would be interested in seeing if the OP could use their analytical skills in other ways to benefit the company. I don’t think using freely available information to deduce something and then making use of that knowledge is a sign of bad character. If anything, it’s an ability that is actively cultivated and rewarded in higher-status occupations.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Someone who noticed that one too! yea!
          OP is definitely smart and on the ball. So instead of helping the company and his cohorts, he just helped himself. It’s too bad. If OP had shown the flaw to someone with say/power early on the last three years could have been different. And OP could have earned a few points for figuring it out and reporting it.

          1. Rach*

            The company was screwing over OP and his coworkers by purposefully withholding the dates of working Saturdays, dates the company had earlier. OP going to the company with his workaround wouldn’t have solved anything as they were the ones purposefully withholding this info.

            1. sequined histories*

              Exactly! Had the company shown a minimum of consideration for its workers by announcing the upcoming OT far enough in advance for everyone to have a shot at asking for that day off, the OP’s workaround wouldn’t have even been possible.

              But the company either doesn’t even think about how the obligatory OT affects the workers and their families, are they actually want to prevent even a handful of workers from using their PTO on any given weekend to mitigate the harm caused by the obligatory OT.

  17. mrs__peel*

    Wild stuff! But I still don’t really get why you wouldn’t go to your boss and say “Hey, I have childcare issues with working Saturdays, is there any way to sort this out?” as a first step….?

    1. Observer*

      It’s pretty clear that the boss was not a decent person. Think about the issues that the OP says she was spoken to about. I have zero doubt that if the OP had gone to her with the childcare issues she would have absolutely tried to penalize him for this.

  18. lcsa99*

    I feel kinda bad for the “work friends” who are likely to be getting a pay cut. I doubt they asked the shady supervisor to do this for them.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I felt bad, too, because she probably told them it was OK. Or told them she gave them a raise. I think there’s a bigger chance they have no idea that she LIED to their faces and made them complicit in a crime.*

      But one thing I learned from AAM is if the company over pays you, they can require you to pay it back. Even in one lump sum. Hopefully the company accepts some responsibility for letting Mama Doc run loose for so long and works with the staff members.

      *No, if they really didn’t know, I agree that they are legally or morally guilty of nothing.

    2. STG*

      Eh, I wouldn’t be so quick to assume that they were unaware. I know that I would absolutely bring up if I was overpaid for something.

  19. Susan Calvin*

    I’m not even gonna touch most of this, but since it is literally my job to customize and roll out software in this general vein to other companies, so I’m *dying* to know what kind of system they were using – one of our competitors? One of ours where they shelled out for the out-of-the-box optimizer licenses, but not the consultancy hours to correctly configure or train it?

    Most likely, based on what I’ve seen in the wild, it was VBA script coded by someone’s nephew though.

  20. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    LW, I’m glad you’re happy and things appear to have ended well, but it’s hard to read this and not think I’m reading a case study in how many wrongs it takes to make a right…

  21. Annony*

    I’m glad they found a way to decrease the number of Saturdays that are needed. Everybody wins!

        1. Mental Lentil*

          It never is in a production environment. Which is why some people will always sign up for every overtime shift they can get.

          Good lord, I guess 98% of the people commenting here have never had to depend on factory work to put a roof over their heads.

          1. STG*

            Oh, I haven’t worked in a factory myself so I am ignorant on that topic. I’m just saying that the overtime isn’t guaranteed although it may very well be welcome to some. I don’t think workers have a ‘right to overtime’ though if those shifts options are no longer available.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Yeah, you have to spend some time in a production environment to understand just how much hot water OP is in with his cohorts if they figure this out.
            I will say that this column tends toward the office environment. Things that would fly in an office would never fly on a production floor and visa versa.

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        OT is never guaranteed. If you are relying on OT to pay your bills you need to either find a higher paid job or get a second job.

        1. Rach*

          Yes, those higher paying jobs are just lying around for the taking. All those poorly paid factory workers (like my husband) truly thank you for your deep insight.

  22. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    I had a flash from the Ray Charles biopic with Jamie Foxx.
    “Scratch a lie, find a thief.”
    She did seem pretty sure that OP was cheating, in the way that a true cheater would think. Because HOW could there be a non-nefarious way to do something?

  23. TotesMaGoats*

    In all the possible scenarios that I came up with for how this would get updated…this was not it. At all.

    Great that the awful manager got ousted and shenanigans uncovered. Still not 100% on board with the ethics involved by LW.

    1. Ray Gillette*

      My read is that LW gamed a flawed system that incentivized underhanded behavior. They don’t come out smelling like a rose, but it sounds like the kind of thing that happens when otherwise decent employees stay in a bad place for too long. With a fair schedule and an honest supervisor, there’s no reason to think this will keep happening.

      1. TotesMaGoats*

        I do agree with you assessment. I’m not bashing OP but it still feels a little squishy to me.

      2. HA2*

        I absolutely agree.

        This is a great example of how a bad workplace ends up teaching the employees there bad behaviors.

        In a heathy environment, if you find a flaw in the scheduling system that lets you get Saturdays off when nobody else in your team can, you report the bug and they fix it. Of course, in a heathy environment the company would have listened a lot earlier and made sure people weren’t constantly being scheduled on Saturdays. Or at the very least acknowledged that this was an issue and found some equitable way to assign Saturday work.

        But when management proves itself untrustworthy, then all the reasonable approaches are closed off… well, then shady stuff starts seeming very normal and reasonable.

  24. OutOfOffice*

    “ First, EVERYBODY in the daily work rotation has the same access to the information I have found. They just have not discovered how to use it or have not found the schedule like I have.”

    Actually, plenty of people may have found this and can use it, but choose not to. This isn’t equitable, anyway – if everyone had equal access and knew how to do it, the trick wouldn’t work. It DEPENDS on OP being the only one who knows to be successful, which is why it reads as super sneaky and underhanded.

    So, good on mismanagement being dealt with, but that doesn’t excuse underhandedness!

    1. Jay*

      And, as someone pointed out in a previous comment, LW admits to explicitly lying to the supervisor about it more than once (a bit gleefully, too). Which adds to the “sneaky and underhanded” vibes.

      1. sequined histories*

        I mean, I understand that saying “lucky guess” is the not the informative, detailed response the manager was hoping for, but I took that as a softened way of saying, “Yeah, no, I’m not gonna explain my hack to you.” I would say that reply was more along the lines of intentionally evasive/nonresponsive rather than “explicitly lying.”

          1. Can Can Cannot*

            Actually it was a guess. Unless he saw the details about how the system was coded, all he could do was draw a conclusion from the data he was able to see. He built a mental model, sometimes called a “guess,” and used it to make a prediction. The fact that his prediction was pretty accurate doesn’t make it not a guess.

            1. Beany*

              The first couple of times LW tried it, perhaps it could count as a guess (though I’d say “educated” rather than “lucky”).

              But once the LW had ascertained that it worked every time, they were convinced it was a dependable phenomenon rather than random chance. Calling it a “lucky guess” — after you’re certain there’s no luck involved — is a lie, whether or not you can prove it without access to the underlying source code.

    2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I think finding out that the manager was actually stealing from the company (not just being a cruel homophobe) does indicate to me that the system was rigged by an abusive person. And people who are under or responsible to abusive people learn tricks like subterfuge, obfuscation and misdirection.
      In a healthy company, OP could say, “hey, when I was hired, I was told no Saturdays and planned accordingly.”
      And boss would say, “our business needs have changed, let’s see what we can do.”
      And that boss may have found the glitch in the system and become a hero instead of being perp walked out for verbal abuse and theft.

  25. Bookworm*

    I feel like the only sufficient response here from me is that “Boy, that escalated quickly” meme.

    That was an update. Glad she’s gone, OP!

  26. HelloMulligan*

    PTO is to be used when you want to use it – so the fact that the OP managed to figure out when to use PTO to their advantage – good for them! Take care of yourself and your family – its like the whiner who did not get to the kitchen in time because no one told them someone brought in donuts. You want the Friday off – book it off. You only want the Friday off when you have to work on Saturdays then figure it out.

    1. Lana Kane*

      I land here too. OP had to use PTO days for this, which impacts his total amount of available PTO to use for other, better reasons than having to work Saturdays.

      Dysfunctional organizations like this one, where the onus always lands on the lower ranked employees’ backs, will see these employees trying to figure out a loophole. I’m not surprised and I don’t think OP should be called names, as I’m seeing in other posts. When management can’t fulfill basic functions, people will do what they can to protect themselves.

    2. STG*

      This is exactly how I feel about it as well.

      He used a PTO benefit that was approved and followed the policies of the company to take that time off when he wanted. If you want to be angry at someone in this situation for not working Saturdays, get angry with the company.

    3. Seacalliope*

      Exactly. He paid a pretty hefty price to secure these days off — both using PTO unnecessarily and essentially at random to cover childcare, and missing out on overtime. The company sucks for putting him in this position and disregarding the basic humanity of the workers as a whole.

    4. Threeve*

      Do you pass someone sitting at their desk on the way to get your donut, infer that they haven’t gotten the announcement, refrain from telling them that there are donuts, and then take two donuts for yourself?

  27. Admin 4 life*

    That update was a whole unexpected journey! I’m glad things are turning around in a good way.

  28. Kay*

    Definitely an ESH situation. The manager was horrible, and OP is someone I would absolutely not like to work with. Sure, there was nothing illegal or clearly rule-breaking going on, but it was shady. There’s a reason OP was keen to keep their “system” a secret. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

    1. Mental Lentil*

      They’re only less desirable from the point of view of LW, though. Some of his coworkers may have been happy for the overtime.

      Again, your experience ≠ LW’s experience.

    2. Gabrielle*

      This isn’t actually r/AmITheAsshole. And if OP hadn’t spoken up their coworkers would still be working more Saturdays.

      1. Kay*

        OP only spoke up when they were worried they’d have to work Saturdays themselves. They were fine to have their coworkers work the Saturdays for years. Though this isn’t r/AITA, the acronym sure fits – everyone sucks here.

  29. MicroManagered*

    Yeah, it still sucks that you manipulated the scheduling system system in a way that left your coworkers with ALL of the less desirable shifts, OP. It’s a crappy thing to do and I think deep down you know it.

    1. Mental Lentil*

      But why are YOU assuming that they are less desirable? Because you work in an office M-F? If so, that’s pretty classist to assume that.

      Having worked plenty of production jobs, there are ALWAYS those people who are happy to work whatever overtime is available.

      1. Just sayin'*

        In the original letter OP said, “I really don’t want to give up my “secret” as then everybody will do what I am doing and I will start working Saturdays.”

      2. LunaLena*

        I’ve worked for production companies before, and while there are certainly people who are happy to work whatever overtime is available, I also knew plenty of people who were not. The OP himself is an example of this, that’s why he started gaming the system to begin with. So I’m not sure why you’re so insistent on pushing this narrative that what OP did was okay because maybe some of his co-workers welcomed it?

        And in this particular case, even if you wanted to work overtime, the company policy – those who worked on the Friday before had to work the Saturday too – meant that you couldn’t choose to do so. That issue is 100% on management and their crappy system, but that doesn’t make OP’s lack of sympathy for his co-workers who were in the same boat as himself any less crappy.

      3. MicroManagered*

        It’s in the original letter. OP doesn’t want to work Saturdays. He doesn’t want his supervisor or coworkers to discover his “secret” and do the same thing. It has nothing to do with *my* work schedule.

  30. Pikachu*

    Interesting how OP didn’t raise concerns about the increasing number of Saturdays worked until it became personally inconvenient for him by way of an annoying supervisor.

    1. Roscoe*

      I mean, isn’t that what most people do. I don’t really care if something is inconvenient to others in my company unless I’m personally affected. I think its great if you are that empathetic to never want others to be inconvenienced. But in a work enviornment people usually care about themselves

    2. Mental Lentil*

      And how many times have you walked past something that was wrong and did nothing about it because it didn’t affect you personally?

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        I’m not Pikachu, but rarely. If something is wrong, it should be fixed and I’ll try to figure out who should be told about it if it’s not in my power to fix it. If I find information that might help other people, I share it. I do that because I actually think everyone should treat other people the way they want to be treated, and a funny thing happens when you act that way — people look out for you, respect you, and listen to you. Those things are highly beneficial both at work and outside of work.

        1. Marnie*

          Yeah, I love this idea that everyone would act like OP if they could. Uhhh, nope! Some of us try our best to treat people well, even when it doesn’t benefit us personally. We might even inconvenience ourselves in the process if it’s the right thing to do!

    3. I'm just here for the cats*

      well if the manager wasn’t such a jerk they may have gone to the manager and said, Hey, when I was hired I was told no saturdays, now we are working at least 1 Saturday a month. I can’t do this because of childcare.” But this boss wouldn’t have been nice and worked with them. Plus, someone said that the OP in the original post said that management told them all that if saturdays don’t work to take the Friday off. Therefore it must be known that you can look at the schedule and ahead of time.

  31. Louise*

    This reminds me of some tech company’s hiring AI (Amazon, maybe) that was perpetuating discrimination against women because of the data it was being fed. Artificial intelligence – not always intelligent!

      1. Louise*

        I don’t know how to link in comments, but if you Google “Amazon hiring ai” the first result is a Reuters article that gives a pretty good overview! It’s a fascinating issue imo.

      2. Can Can Cannot*

        Check out the book “Weapons of Math Destruction” by Cathy O’Neil. Great discussion about how algorithms and analytics can be biased by bad coding and/or bad data.

        1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

          Relatedly, “Invisible Women” is a great (well, rather depressing, but excellently-written) book about the gender bias in all kinds of data collection.

  32. WingNWing*

    Going back to the original letter it’s less clear that everyone has access to the same info. This is a direct quote from that letter “… if I look at our company’s warehouse shipping/receiving database, which I have access to through the intranet to order parts for my line, I can see what Saturdays we are working weeks in advance. If I see an outbound shipment for the item my line makes on a Saturday…” (I read it as LW has unique access and reason to examine this because of their position.) Doesn’t matter; LW’s ethics still seem slushy to me and Boss is a cluster fudge.

    1. Roscoe*

      I wouldn’t question his ethics. He found a “life hack” and just didn’t share it.

      But the first time I read it, I figured they all had the access, just maybe didn’t use it. I have access to a ton of info for my company that I never actually NEED to look at. But I definitely can get to it. So he may have been the only one with a reason to look at that info, but that doesn’t mean everyone didn’t have it.

    2. Mental Lentil*

      Read closer. Everybody has access to this information. They just haven’t figured out how to put two and two together.

      1. Kes*

        Everyone has access to the database but OP’s role gives them reason to use it. The others, very reasonably, aren’t poking around in things they have no reason to use because they might happen to find an unintended loophole that would give them advantageous information.

        1. Can Can Cannot*

          And thus they missed out on some useful information. Maybe they didn’t care, maybe they weren’t bright enough to figure it out, maybe they did figure it out and used the information without telling anyone else (including Alison).

          1. English, not American*

            Not delving into a system that has nothing to do with their job doesn’t make a person less bright, that’s a ridiculous conclusion.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Or they figured it out and realized they are not the only ones with at-home stuff that needs to be taken care of.

  33. Apparently unpopular opinion*

    I have no problem with the LW using the system to their benefit. I’d do the same in their position or if I had any other reason to want that Saturday off; and I have lots of reasons to not want to work certain Saturdays, especially as the company gives less than a week warning. The things I do on weekends require sometimes reservations months in advance and are non-refundable. If I had a way to guarantee I had those weekends free, you can bet your sweet patootie I’d use it.

  34. JMP3*

    OP here.

    My wife is a nurse working the weekend shift. She makes almost as much money as I do working my 40 hours during the week and we are saving a bunch of money on childcare, why would one of us quit our jobs? To be “fair” to my coworkers? Let them find a different job.

    The Saturdays started out as a few a year and have increased recently. Management was obviously aware something was going on or else they would not have done the investigation/audit. When I talked to the plant manager the solution was in the process of being implemented.

    I still question why people are upset with using the information available to my advantage. I am not “gaming “ the system. The information is out there for anyone to use. I didn’t lie to my supervisor about how I was using the information available to me because it was none of her business. If I am sitting at the casino and noticed some pattern with the slot machine and use it to my advantage do I tell the whole world? No! Just like the pattern I discovered with the database/shipping schedule.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      If your manager hadn’t been a criminal, so sure you were gathering information in an underhanded/quesitonable/illegal way, she could have thought clearly of the ways the info was available. She’s the damn manager. She should be able to see all that her staff sees and more. Even if she doesn’t have the same permissions that you do, she can think, “I bet OP uses that XYZ database.”
      But she was too much of a scumbag to see it.

    2. a*

      So you would be totally okay with your colleages using your fair trick and request all their Saturdays off leaving you to work more Saturdays than your fair share?

      1. Bananarama*

        Commenter ‘a’, the point is that it’s nobody’s fair share. OP’s working 40 hours per week already. Nobody should be mandated to work extra 10-15 days a year if management can avoid it, and guess what? Turns out they could have avoided this this entire time if they went back and analyzed their own scheduling mechanism. You are too focused on the individual, not the system.

        1. a*

          I am genuinely interested in the LW’s reply. How would he feel and react if one or more of his colleages noticed the pattern and used it to their own advantage?

          1. Bananarama*

            I won’t say anything else in this thread, but you’re again bringing this back to an individual response to a systemic problem management should have realized a while ago.

        2. Amy the Rev*

          YES this. I know this isn’t what “a” is implying, but it reminds me of this question I keep coming back to lately: when did wanting to only work 40 hrs/week become seen as slacking or somehow less-than? I have so many feelings about business/stress as status. And I fall victim to this allll the time, working more hours than I’m supposed to per my contract (I’m exempt, though, so it’s not abusing overtime), instead of talking to my senior pastor about my workload.

          1. MissBaudelaire*


            I also don’t like that people seem to think OP should be more worried about his coworkers than the company is.

            If it’s a miserable, avoidable situation, it isn’t ‘fair’ for everyone to be miserable. It’s fair for the powers that be to resolve the situation. Which should have been done long ago.

        3. Red 5*

          While I agree with you on the whole, at the same time it is an individual’s general responsibility to approach a solution to the systemic problem that does not increase the imbalance. You have to judge if it actually hurts the system that created it, or hurts other people who are already being hurt by the same system. And if it’s the later, then you’re actually part of the harmful system, not just being harmed by it, and bear some responsibility for that harm.

          What the OP was doing did not harm the employer or even really cause them an inconvenience (aside from the one manager being super strange about it). What it DID do was negatively effect the lives of their co-workers, who for whatever reason had not found and exploited the same loophole.

          Take the slot machine example. If you notice a slot machine pattern and start winning, you are taking money from the establishment who set up the slot machines. You are not taking money from your fellow gamblers, or even necessarily lowering their chances of winning. You’re simply taking more money from the house than they are.

          Looking at available information and figuring out how to take the burden of working Saturdays (a systemic unfairness that is distributed, in theory, equally among workers) and gaming it so that you no longer work ANY Saturdays means that your coworkers are required to work more Saturdays. They individually could have similar childcare issues or other challenges that were equal to or greater than the OP, we don’t know. But it’s increasing the burden of that systemic flaw onto others, not pushing it back to the company.

          Yes, the company was at fault for creating the system. The individual action could have been to bring it to their attention and perhaps collectively insist on change. Saying “I’ve got mine, it’s their fault for not getting theirs,” is an individual choice that affects individual coworkers at their same level, an action which should be judged with an individual focus.

          Both the system and the individual’s choice of how to deal with it can be wrong, it’s not an either/or.

          1. Amy the Rev*

            However, OP stated that the whole team was required to work all the Saturdays, regardless of whether or not he took them off, as opposed to a rota system. So it didn’t negatively impact his co-workers since they’d be working those days anyway.

          2. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

            That’s all well and good, but harmful systems use their frontline employees as human shields (in your example, well gosh if you take from the casino they’ll just fire waitresses or the floor manager, it won’t actually hurt the big bosses anyway).

      2. STG*

        If a coworker requests an extra day for every holiday weekend off (and preventing others from doing it), is it the fellow coworker’s jobs to put a halt to that or management?

    3. MelonHelen*

      Well, despite all the Sour Sallies in the commetariat, I don’t have an issue with what you did at all. It’s not like you went all Ferris Bueller and hacked the computer to give you more PTO days. You used the same pto everyone else had, in a way that gave you less opportunity to use it at other desirable times. I also think all the people saying you should have sucked it up and hired a babysitter for regular 10 hour Saturday shifts are living in La La Land if they think that’s something that it’s so easy and reasonable to do.

      Kudos to you for figuring it out. I hope your company’s Saturdays go away pdq.

      1. Ocean of Ramen*

        For real. I can’t even get a babysitter for a 2 hour date night! I can’t imagine trying to find 10 hours of weekend childcare. Also, that would cost me $250 at the going rate around here. I can’t afford that.

      2. MissBaudelaire*

        Exactly. He didn’t take something he wasn’t entitled to. He didn’t ‘steal’ from anyone. He had the same information available to everyone else and used it.

        If management didn’t like it, they should have put a stop to it. If they were unable to because of their own policies.. that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Fix the policies, or, quit being sketchy and sneaky with announcing to the staff when a Saturday to work would be, or fix the ding dang system that’s assigning it. Over the past several years, no one in management went “We’re scheduling way more Saturdays than we should. We should work on that.”?

    4. BigHairNoHeart*

      Your casino example is actually very odd. Because if you were truly in that situation, the casino would eventually notice you always hitting it big on a certain slot machine–assuming you did it for several years, as you did at work–and look into what you were doing. Best case scenario, you’d be banned from the casino. Worst case, they could accuse you of cheating and hit you with a lawsuit. (And that would hurt you! Even if you weren’t actually “cheating”).

      It sounds like you’re more focused on the fact that you’re justified in your decision to take advantage of the situation than if the action you took was ultimately beneficial. Sure it turned out okay this time, but it very easily might not have!

      It sounds like your workplace is a mess, so I’m not too surprised by your outlook here, and don’t blame you for it. But I’d suggest you think less about if you are morally just in your actions and more about how helpful they’ll be in the long run. As others said in this and the last post, if you’d used your knowledge to work even just a few Saturday shifts over the years, it would have certainly taken some of the heat off of you, for example.

      1. Kes*

        Yeah the casino example is pretty odd because the casino is really not likely to be okay with you doing this. And if your work gave you access to casino machine algorithms and you used that knowledge to win consistently, they’d probably be even less okay with that. Just because you can access information (in your case, for a specific job function) doesn’t actually mean it’s okay to use that information for any purpose you want.

        1. Can Can Cannot*

          He didn’t have access to the algorithms, he had access to the data. BIG difference. People spend a lot of time looking for patterns in casino data, but rarely find it. But when they do they can make a lot of money.

        2. penny dreadful analyzer*

          if your work gives you access to casino algorithms you are in all likelihood already not allowed to gamble at that casino. many if not most casino employees are banned from gambling at their place of employment.

          also the casino industry manages to be both hyper-regulated and shady as hell, so i’m not sure the fact that casinos will try to sue players that notice that e.g. a keno machine runs the same numbers every day instead of randomizing properly means that it’s actually fine and reasonable for them to do so. casino operators also think it’s somehow inherently unfair for people to play less of a game if the payback is lowered; it’s an industry that is both entirely dependent on solid math and statistics skills and yet continually budgets on the assumption that it is unthinkably out of line for consumers to ever try to spend less money.

      2. Unfettered scientist*

        I actually think the casino example is a good one. You could be banned from the casino (they do that for card counting too) but that wouldn’t make your behavior unethical or cheating. Just observant. It doesn’t matter if the casino would or would not be ok with it because in LWs case, they didn’t notice! Card counting isn’t illegal and casinos only ‘ban’ it because they were dumb enough to introduce a game that can be won. The casino isn’t the good guy; they’re never the good guy. They don’t determine what is ethical.

        1. BigHairNoHeart*

          Right, but I’m saying, it doesn’t matter who is “in the right” what matters is if the OP can actually get away with what he’s doing. We both agreed, OP would eventually be banned from the casino if he kept doing that hypothetical thing (just like he would have probably been fired from his job eventually if there hadn’t been a lot of other stuff going on with is manager that caused them to be fired first). Who cares about if it’s ethical, it’s just not smart behavior.

    5. Mental Lentil*

      OP, I have no issue with what you did here, either. The system sucked and you found a way to make it suck less for you.

      Let them find a different job.

      This is actually the response that corporate America always has when workers don’t like their jobs. Well, millions of workers are now quitting their jobs and corporate America is saying “whoa, not like that, though.” And I see plenty of people in the comments here who are all “OP should have found a different job.” Well, why? If the only solution to a situation you don’t like at work is to find a new job, the purpose behind Alison and this web site completely disappears.

      This is why we need unions, and why I am a socialist.

      1. Koala Bare*

        @mentil Lentil, pretty sure socialism is all about collective action and solidarity with your fellow workers, rather than applauding individualist, “I’m all right, Jack” actions like the OP’s

        1. Amy the Rev*

          If OP only requested vacation time on days that are convenient for his manager out of ‘solidarity’ with his fellow workers, I don’t think that’s not really solidarity, it’s giving into the capitalist structure on the backs of the workers. I think the ultimate goal would be that the job doesn’t require anyone to work on Saturdays, for example, and has a production/employee ratio that ensures that. Using collective actions/unionization, for example, would be a socialism-informed route to achieve that.

        2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          I would say that helping uncover a major bug in the scheduling that led people to be forced to work 10-15 Saturdays a year, is one hell of a collective action.

            1. Red 5*

              Exactly. What OP did was only beneficial to the OP. It didn’t help anybody else, since they point out that the problem had already been investigated and the fix was already being put in place before they actually mentioned the issue to management at all.

              It is likely, though, that the reason management looked into it was another coworker (or coworkers) who complained about the problem and THAT was a collective action worth applauding.

        3. sequined histories*

          Socialism argues that workers as a group are being massively, systematically exploited by capital. It calls out the huge advantages that the wealthy and powerful accrue at the expense of workers, not tiny advantages individual workers manage to seize for themselves, as is the case in this example. I think committed Socialists would be far less likely to cast aspersions on OP than is the commentariat here today.

        4. Forrest*

          The point of collective action is to resist exploitation, not to make it easier for your employer to exploit you. You put the good of the many above your personal good in order to confront power, not to make it life easier for your boss.

        5. Mental Lentil*

          And this is completely my point. We are in a capitalist system, not a socialist one. OP acted like a capitalist and everybody is on his shit about. These people need to get over their damn selves.

    6. Moose*

      My question is if it really was readily available to everyone. Do all your coworkers have the ability to order parts and thus access that portion of the system? And why did you lie to your supervisor more than once about it if everyone should be able to do it? (She clearly didn’t know how, so it stands to reason not everyone else did either.)

    7. Insert Clever Name Here*

      I mean, no few words have been written in this post and the original post about why people think your actions weren’t entirely above board. You’re as welcome to your interpretation of those comments as I am to my interpretation of you as someone I’m very glad I don’t work with.

    8. HairApparent*

      You advocated for yourself (and your family) using the same info and resources readily available to your coworkers and found a solution using vacation time that you earned. There’s no wrongdoing here, and I for one admire your attention to detail!

    9. Pyjamas*

      Imho, the negative reactions here (and in the last post) are two parts knee jerk impulse to join a pile-on and three parts total cluelessness about childcare expenses. I’m so glad things worked out for you

      1. Alternative Person*

        Same. It’s not the nicest thing to do to your co-workers, but in some work situations keeping a juicy detail to yourself is what you have to do to survive.

        A manager of mine way back was caught in a similar situation and had to pay for childcare. The company mandated all managers work five weekends out of eight, with no exceptions, and their partner (in a different company) was also expected to work four weekends out of eight. They were spending so much money on childcare and that was two days every couple of months.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, but there’s a huge difference between a couple of managers paying for childcare and a manufacturing employee, who makes as much money in a 40-hour week as his wife makes in a weekend shift as a nurse, and nurses aren’t exactly well paid given the responsibilities and education requirements of the job. The two cases are far from equivalent.

          1. SpaceySteph*

            Probably varies by location, type of nursing, but I’m a decently paid white collar worker and a friend who is a manager here (so paid a lot more than me) said his wife makes more money in a 3 day weekend as a night nurse than he does for a salaried week. At one point he was furloughed and said they actually came out ahead because she was able to pick up more shifts since he was able to be home with the kids more.
            Nursing is hard work and they deserve their pay, but its not peanuts.

    10. ronda*

      Because many others are putting you down for it, I want to say I don’t see it being wrong for you to schedule this way and the people moralizing that you lied to your manager are a little off the deep end. If we all were not avoiding telling the truth to our managers…….. a lot more of us would be fired.
      I even see the answer of “Lucky I guess” as being true (if incomplete)… Lucky that you were able to figure out a system and others did not. We don’t owe other people information that we don’t want to give to them.

    11. mf*

      “I didn’t lie to my supervisor about how I was using the information available to me because it was none of her business.”

      Uhhh, no. The information you have access to at work is absolutely 100% your manager’s business.

      I think the majority of the fault here lies with your employer for having a scheduling system that has changed over time–obviously that change is going to trigger frustration in some employees. They should have dealt with it head-on and not let the problem coalesce.

      I will say, however, that open and honest communication is part of acting with integrity at work. I’d be a lot more impressed if you’d have addressed the situation directly with your manager rather than taking PTO and dodging her questions about it.

      1. misspiggy*

        Supervisor, not full line manager. OP has said that supervisors don’t have leeway to use their own judgement when processing leave requests.

      2. sequined histories*

        I think the OP would risk quite a lot by doing otherwise.

        I think a lot of today’s comments vastly underestimate the power disparity that people at lower echelons of society are subjected to in the workplace.

        In the United States, we offer very little to most workers in terms job security or rights at work. See: the many things Alison says are “not illegal.” But, still, many commenters today seem outraged the OP is relying on a coping technique doesn’t break any rules but that strikes them as less than perfectly fair to everyone.

        This person–who works for an hourly wage in a factory under at least some management that seems not that great–is supposed to behave as if things can be worked out with open and honest communication.

        I don’t think it’s fair to expect someone in OP’s situation to forgo using a perfectly legal survival strategy. I would wish for a better world, but OP being slightly more altruistic in this one regard is unlikely to change our society, or even this one workplace. More revolutionary change would be necessary. And, in terms of the morality of the situation, I think the more money, power, and status you have, the more responsibility you bear for changing our society so that people aren’t driven to exigencies. I don’t think it’s fair to judge this person as some are doing.

        1. Krabby*

          I totally agree with this. In the first letter I got the impression that the info OP had was not available to everyone and that he was therefore likely in some sort of tenured/senior position that gave him an advantage. Knowing that’s not the case… I have to agree that his position was not one of power and therefore, you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.

          Also, if his coworkers were getting overtime and had to work regardless of his schedule… this just doesn’t seem like a big issue. The problem is with management.

        2. mf*

          I have been that employee. I’ve had employers straight-up violate my employment rights and had essentially no recourse. So yeah, I totally understand the power disparity. And like I said, I do primarily blame the employer for designing a shitty scheduling system.

          I still think this guy could’ve gone to his manager and “Hey, I noticed we’re all being asked to work a lot more Saturdays. What’s up with that? Would you be open to making some changes to the scheduling process? I have kids, and it’s really, really tough and expensive to get last-minute childcare on the weekends. If we could work together to make this less burdensome, that’d mean a lot to me.”

          If he’d done and the supervisor/manager shot him down, I’d be 100% onboard with his “gaming the system” as a survival strategy.

        3. Amy the Rev*

          @sequined histories, this is what I was trying to get at in an earlier reply- you phrased it perfectly!

    12. Beany*

      From the original letter: She asked (several times) how I know when we are working a Saturday and I say “lucky guess.”

      To me, that sounds like a lie — even if it was none of her business.

      1. Can Can Cannot*

        Unless he had access to the internal algorithms of the system, it was a guess. A very accurate guess, but still a guess.

    13. Donna*

      If it’s NBD, why hide it? You know why.

      “I got mine, so screw everyone else!”

      You’ve shown a lot about your character, or lack thereof.

      1. Avi*

        Why hide it? Because he was working with a snake of a supervisor who was clearly gunning for some way to take op’s ability to dodge Saturday shifts away from them, maybe?

      1. Forrest*

        I hope most of the commenters here never land in one where an understanding of power relations are central!

    14. Not So NewReader*

      That casino would kick a person out so fast, it would make their head spin. They have cameras and they watch for systems players.

      I have worked in production settings. I know first hand that whatever popular opinion is on ethics here does not matter. In the end the cohorts in the situation decide. Hopefully, no one ever pieces it together, because if they do the description they will use is, “does not pull his weight, does not do his share.” And this is not good… at all…

    15. Boof*

      Sorry OP, it’s maybe hard to see because your supervisor was bad in a lot of ways instead of sticking up for you and pushing back on the weekend creep the way they should have, but it was ABSOLUTELY their business and the fact that you feel you needed to hide it /couldn’t disclose it even though it was 100% related to work and scheduling makes me wonder at the twists of logic to justify this.
      If your found a drawer of money at work you could freely take from, would you start helping yourself because “why not it’s in my interest”, and then start saying it’s none of their business if someone from work started asking around about why the money is missing???

    16. Quantum Hall Effect*

      The information is out there for anyone to use in the way that the demolition plans for Arthur Dent’s house were on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying “Beware of the Leopard.”

      You are being disingenuous. Your criminal former supervisor does not mean you were acting in an above board and good faith manner. You absolutely were not.

  35. crawfish*

    listen, capitalism is awful and everyone should do what they need to do to get by. the OP is doing right by his family and i have no issue with that. it’s not like he was crossing a picket line or something. live and let live.

      1. Mental Lentil*

        Indeed. The conditioning we have experienced under capitalism to blame fellow workers for crappy systems, rather than the management that put those systems into place, is so pervasive. It needs to stop.

        1. Insert Clever Name Here*

          Oh my God, seriously — literally no one is blaming OP for the system being crappy. If anything, they’re blaming him for saying “SUCK IT” to his *fellow workers* instead of bringing up to the company either 1) “there’s been a major increase in Saturdays, ‘sup with that?” or 2) “if there was a way to predict Saturday work earlier, any chance we could do that so people don’t have to do the schedule scramble for their Saturday plans?”

          1. Roscoe*

            I mean, they aren’t blaming him for the system being crappy, but they are saying it was somehow his responsibility to help fix it by either working in solidarity with everyone else, or elevating it. I just don’t think any of that was on him to deal with. Basically, he acted in his own self interest. Is that selfish, I suppose you could call it that (though I’d argue in a work situation, most people act in their own best interest). But that is it. He isn’t a bad, or unethical person because he didn’t want to take one for the team. If everyone was mad about the saturdays, then there are plenty of others who could’ve gone to management about it.

          2. Forrest*

            I think these would be good things to do *if* you have that kind of relationship with your employer, and you trust them to value your active participation in improving the workplace. But I don’t think anyone has a responsibility to do that. Hundreds of millions of manual workers especially don’t have that kind of relationship with their employer and they’re not wrong just because it’s not the relationship that most professionals have with their work.

          3. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

            Right? Like, thinking the OP isn’t the greatest here doesn’t mean I’m a big fan of capitalism or I have a boot shoved down my throat. I don’t get the wild assumption that everyone here who isn’t praising OP is also all “Tonight we dine on BOOT, my capitalist friends!”

            1. Student Affairs Sally*

              Arguing that an individual employee is equally or more responsible for ensuring “fairness” at work than the company is, or that an individual employee should be looking out for their coworker’s needs and well-being above all, AND more than the company is looking out for their staff’s needs . . . that’s pretty boot-flavored, imo

              1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

                But that’s NOT what every commenter here who disagrees with or just finds the OP’s actions slightly questionable is arguing. If you aren’t one of the people saying that everyone who disagrees with or just finds the OP’s actions slightly questionable, then my comment doesn’t apply to you. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

                1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

                  Er, that everyone who disagrees with or just finds the OP’s actions slightly questionable is a bootlicker, I mean.

            2. Forrest*

              I think for me there’s a massive difference between “acting in solidarity with others to confront power” and “acting in solidarity with others on a way that allows power to keep exploiting all of us”. I don’t think there is anything good or ethical about putting your coworkers’ needs ahead of your family’s needs if the net result is that you’re all easier for your employer to exploit. You only accept risk to your family or put your family second to resist power.

              1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

                And again, if you aren’t one of the people saying that everyone who disagrees with or just finds the OP’s actions slightly questionable is a bootlicker, then my comment doesn’t apply to you.

      2. Xantar*

        People disagree with you in the comments. I can’t tell if it’s a majority, but it’s at least enough of them that it seems like something reasonable people will disagree on in good faith.

        Calling them “bootlickers” isn’t exactly being kind and collegial.

        1. Mannequin*

          So many people have self righteously classified OP evading a toxic managers invasive question as full on moral boundary crossing “lying” that I’m actually revolted.

          I’d say “bootlickers” is pretty accurate.

    1. Hogsmeade AirBNB*

      Call me crazy, but if your solidarity is “sucks for you, I got mine,” then your solidarity sucks.

  36. Roscoe*

    When this was posted, and even now, I think this is one of the more polarizing stories in a while.

    I do think a lot of people are really overestimating their own behavior here. Everyone calling him unethical and stuff when he used PTO and didn’t come across any information in an underhanded way, I feel like there are certain things that they would also do that could fall under this. AS would most people IMO. I just don’t really believe that this comment section is so much more selfless than the average person.

    As I said in the first time, I’m not necessarily “celebrating” what he did, but I also don’t find it wrong. Everyone being mad at OP instead of the management to enacted this horrible policy. Don’t that the person who figured out how to “game” the system, blame the people who put a system in place that needs to be gamed because its so bad.

    1. Mental Lentil*

      a lot of people are really overestimating their own behavior here

      I think there’s a fair amount of jealousy that either a) the systems they work with don’t provide similar information, or b) they wouldn’t be smart enough to figure it out if it did.

      1. Louise*

        Yeah, to be fair to my own behavior, I bet if I learned that a coworker had figured out how to reliably get out of last minute overtime using information I hadn’t figured out, I’d probably be pretty annoyed at everything and some of that would probably end up on coworker! I still don’t think it’s wrong, but I think it’s pretty common to get socialized into blaming coworkers over management/lack of worker protections.

    2. Admin Lackey*

      Yeah, I just think it’s not LW’s job to look after their coworkers. I understand some of the negativity because it’s not the most collegial thing to do but the LW gets to look out for themselves in the working world and it’s on management to deal with systemic things like this
      I’ve also told small lies to unpleasant supervisors and I’m sure many others have as well, so that really is not something worth moralizing over

    3. Kes*

      I mean I think most of the people who are unimpressed with OP’s behaviour are in fact blaming both. This isn’t actually an either or, they can both suck.

      1. Roscoe*

        But I don’t even think OP sucks, and I don’t think a lot of others do either. I don’t see it as his responsibility to worry about when other people work or don’t work. I don’t think its his responsibility to go to management about a bad system if he found a way around it. I think he is using his PO in an approved way. He looked out for his own best interest, which is what most of us do at work. I won’t actively try to harm someone else, but I’m also not putting their needs above my own.

        1. allathian*

          Absolutely this. I’m also not putting anyone else’s needs above my own family’s. Although I’m lucky to work in an environment where I work FT but less than 40 hours per week and have lots of vacation/PTO that I can use as I see fit, so I don’t have to resort to subterfuge to get a decent work/life balance or my childcare needs accommodated.

          1. Forrest*

            I have no idea what people think “childcare” is but it’s like they think your kids losing time with their parents and being looked after by a babysitter for a fay or two a month is totally neutral! Like, you don’t just switch your kids off when you get a babysitter— they’re spending the day with a babysitter who may be lovely and fantastic or may be someone your kids HATE. Nothing wrong with doing that when you need to to earn money or have some adult time or whatever, but why should anyone do that to do a day’s work on top of their regular 40 hour week when it turns out it’s actually just a software error the company doesn’t even need?

    4. Lunchtime caller*

      ABSOLUTELY agreed. So many people then and now are acting like they are weighing his soul in the afterlife and they just HAVE to make sure this person doesn’t get into heaven because it might take their spot. The obsession with making sure THIS LW shows perfect morally good behavior when we rarely if ever expect that from other LWs is annoying and tbh a little unwell, go touch grass comment section.

    5. penny dreadful analyzer*

      even the folks who are trying to put a left-wing spin on it like “well he should have just organized his workplace then” seem to have a pretty glib view of what it takes to organize a workplace. organizing is powerful but it is also hard and risky, i do personally know folks who have gotten fired for it. it’s really not all that shocking or out of line when individuals in a bad situation look out for themselves and try to navigate the situation instead of overthrowing it; it is kind of the default thing people do. folks who think the assumed reaction is to be A Big Damn Principled Hero At Significant Personal Cost have been watching too many movies.

  37. Bananarama*

    Why is everyone laying into the OP and calling them shady and saying ESH, which means “everyone sucks here”? The OP sucks because management and those who should be analyzing the numbers didn’t care that they were shelling out tons of overtime and scheduling people for nonstandard work days (which we know they are because the OP already works five freaking days a week, which isn’t enough for you people, I guess)? This OP works on a production line, not some office job (disclaimer – I work in some office job) and their wife works a Saturday and they obviously can’t afford semi-random childcare situations on Saturdays. They’re presumably using PTO to take this time off, a benefit that they have accrued fairly. Instead of blaming the company or a manager who has clearly been a problem for some time, you blame… somebody who was never hired to work Saturdays in the first place.
    If you worked M-F at a good job for several years, then you randomly started also having to work 10-15 Saturdays a year with minimal notice, how would you feel?
    The responses here seem somewhat blinkered.

    1. Mental Lentil*

      I couldn’t agree more. The only thing I can think of is some serious Stockholm Syndrome going down here in relation to capitalism itself. It’s almost as if people are expecting to get screwed by the system, and really hate/intensely dislike the person who figures out a way to not get screw by said system.

      1. crawfish*

        +1. this was also my thought. the whole system has “being unfair and exploitative” baked into its very foundation. you cannot blame one person for “making things unfair.”

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*


        I’ll be honest, I’ve never seen this on this site before. My mind is blown. What the hell happened?

        1. Louise*

          A manufacturing employee figured out how to deal with a management issue without being sufficiently deferential. I guess we’re all supposed to be thrilled about working extra late notice Saturdays?

      3. SpaceySteph*

        I think people are identifying with the coworkers who have been getting shafted for years, not the management.

        In my line of work with minimum mandatory coverage it would be different, as we do have to have X number of people working at a time and if someone was always managing to avoid high demand times it would mean others were working more than their fair share and it would rankle me.

        But it doesn’t seem like it really matters– the OP taking off wasn’t causing someone else to have to work Saturday, they would have all had to work anyway so he wasn’t really shafting anyone. And bad management definitely created this toxic environment in the first place so its hardly on him.

    2. STG*

      Yep. Using PTO to take off the days that they want off. Seems rather normal.

      Don’t get angry at your coworkers for bad policies.

    3. Ray Gillette*

      There’s a sense of unfairness when one person finds a way to circumvent the system, even if the system is fundamentally flawed. But now that the LW is back to having a fair schedule and a trustworthy supervisor, there’s no reason to believe they’ll continue gaming the system.

      1. Bananarama*

        OP was only ‘gaming the system’ to get back to the agreement they originally had, which was to work a 40-hour M-F week. The company gamed the system of capitalism by making their workers do all this extra work that some of them obviously never originally agreed to and that the company apparently doesn’t even need people to do if they rearrange their system more efficiently. And commenters here are agreeing, saying this person needs to just find another job when the manager didn’t do her job well and was actually fraudulent + discriminatory!

        But I mean… company wants you to give up 10-15 Saturdays? Hey, why not? OP says they don’t wanna do it? Whoa hey, who do you think you are, somebody important, somebody with dignity who deserves time with their child? Don’t get any big ideas, buddy – instead, you better care about alllllll these other people the company is exploiting first. The system is unfortunate, but it’s not like we can change it, and fair is fair, after all. ;)

        1. Ray Gillette*

          Agreed the situation is bullshit, but I’m trying to answer the question you asked, which is why people are bothered by it. Gaming a broken system makes sense, and the solution is to fix the broken system.

            1. Wisteria*

              But OP did have power–they had the power to question the increased Saturday work, and their questioning uncovered a systemic problem with the automated software.

              1. Autumnheart*

                But it was only management that had the power to actually change the problem with the software. OP had no power to implement a change in any way.

      1. Bananarama*

        They do indeed keep saying “ESH” even though it makes them sound like Javert.

    4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Also the comments about OP making people “work his Saturday” really get me. There are no “his Saturdays”. There never were. People were not supposed to work Saturdays at all, then started getting pulled in due to a glitch in the system, and now won’t be anymore. The comments about “his Saturdays” almost sound like the people making it would’ve been okay with the glitch if it were them. Except they wouldn’t be. They’d be looking for a root cause of why there is suddenly so much OT required where there previously was none. They would not be “okay, guess these are my Saturdays now, time to go work my Saturday, that’s just the way things are.”

    5. PersephoneUnderground*

      Yeah, I think a lot of it is people from more white-collar or more functional workplaces assuming good communication could have solved this. But given the behavior of the LW’s supervisor and the stakes, and the power differential (which is bigger in lower paid fields or fields where it’s harder to get another job), he couldn’t risk doing what we would see as the “right thing” if this were our offices.

      If he asked permission not forgiveness, then permission wasn’t given, he would be in a serious bind! Like asking for a vacation day, getting denied, then calling out sick- asking would have made his coping strategy not work anymore. Best case, he’d be on the hook for a lot of money for childcare. Worst case, he or his wife might have to just call off work at the last minute if they can’t get short notice child care, risking being fired! That’s a big risk in an environment where you can’t be sure management will be reasonable and work with you.

      Sure, at my office I’d just tell my manager it’s a big burden for me and ask if there’s a way to work around it. But I’m a software developer and my office is big on keeping us happy because we’re hard to replace. And I can afford to lose my job- most people can’t. It’s just not cool to say LW is morally obligated to take that big a risk when he’s found a way to just deal with a crappy situation and survive.

      Also, my office just unionized! I feel even better about raising concerns going forward than I have before. But again, it’s easier for us to unionize than lots of other workers. I hope more places that can do it continue to do so in order to normalize it in the US more and more though.

      1. penny dreadful analyzer*

        Congratulations on your unionization! Even an “easy” unionization is such a lift; I’m proud of your office for doing it!

  38. sequined histories*

    I don’t understand the harsh judgment of this OP. The OP found a way to predict Saturday work by analyzing data that is freely available to everyone. The OP strategically uses vacation time to avoid that Saturday work as much as possible.

    There are trade-offs here for the OP. The OP forgoes earning overtime pay and probably has to forgo taking more than 3 consecutive days off as well.

    Yes, it would be more altruistic to share this same information with everyone, but not every good deed is a moral obligation. In fact, there is a term from ethics that describes something that is a good deed but not a moral obligation: supererogatory.

    To me, it makes no sense to look down on someone to the extent many of my follow commenters are doing for forgoing a supererogatory action. Most human beings do not do every good deed we could possibly do. For example, I could never eat in a restaurant again and give the money saved to a food pantry. I’m a teacher, so I could be tutoring someone for free right now rather than typing this AAM comment. Forgoing those good deeds is not someone for which, I think, most commenters would condemn someone.

    This person is prioritizing their family’s need for a stable affordable childcare situation above sharing this perfectly legal (and I would argue, morally acceptable) “hack” with the entire factory so that everyone working at the factory would have the option of avoiding . . . I don’t know . . . one undesired work Saturday per year? Yes, that’s “selfish,” but not selfish in a particularly extreme or pernicious way. IMHO, it’s no more selfish than paying for your own child’s school tuition and not volunteering to help pay the school tuition for someone else’s child.

    The biggest irony in all this is that the factory itself could be more transparent about letting people know about upcoming Saturdays so that the opportunity to avoid them could be equally distributed to everyone. If anything deserves judgment in this situation, it is management’s apparent lack of interest in helping ordinary workers plan ahead!

    I don’t know if the OP is in the United States, but as someone who lives in the US, I feel like we often apply higher moral standards to people with less money, power, and status than we do to people are better off, and this, to me, seems like one tiny example of that mindset.

    The OP is just trying to make this–not especially great–factory job work for OP’s family situation. There’s a difference between being resourceful and unethical, and I think the OP falls in the former category.

    1. Mental Lentil*

      I agree completely.

      There are trade-offs here for the OP.

      This is so true. Most people are only looking at as office workers who would hate to work Saturdays. I’ve worked in plenty of production positions, and when you are hourly, a lot of people are happy for the overtime. There is some serious classism/positionism going on here in the comments.

    2. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

      I am pretty sure the coworkers stuck covering every single one of OPs Saturdays for 3 years would disagree, but hey, maybe they love being saddled with extra Saturdays.

      1. Roscoe*

        They weren’t extra. This wasn’t a rotation OP was getting out of. They were making everyone do it. So whether OP was there or not, they’d still have to be there. And why? Management.

      2. Mental Lentil*

        Having worked in factories before, I can assure you that there are some people who absolutely WILL work every Saturday shift that is available.

        Y’all need to quit looking at this from the point of view of office workers who work 9-5 M-F in an air-conditioned office.

        1. Bananarama*

          Seriously. I used to work in a hospital where people worked 60-hour weeks because they wanted to and it was allowed. Sweet, sweet OT money!
          Still, it’s obvious to the workers when the company has things set up in a way that doesn’t use their labor efficiently. People loved that OT, but they burned out earlier than ones who stuck to a more standard 40ish hours. The hospital created its own staff shortage due to a hiring freeze they never should’ve implemented. And it seems similar here, where the company just didn’t bother to ever ask if these Saturdays are necessary in the first place.

          No one has even thought to ask why the company never implemented a system like this themselves, why they couldn’t have analyzed the orders and realized they could give their workers slightly more advance notice. Is it because they didn’t know how? Quite possibly! They seem disorganized. Or maybe they realized that they wouldn’t have enough people if they announced these days early because workers don’t want to do this when they’re already working their standard hours. Now that’s a problem.

        2. PT*

          I think this letter is valuable for this very reason. This letter is a bit of a mess compared to the other letters we see here. BUT…this letter is an excellent example of the sorts of workplaces most people actually work in. Not the “I make six figures and have a graduate degree” like most of the commenters here who filled out Alison’s salary survey.

          People who post here are very, very privileged. They make up a very narrow subset of the economy, and they tend to get upset when they’re confronted with the idea that they are the exception rather than the rule, and think that the majority of the economy should conform to their minority preferences and customs and learn to do things their way.

          It is always worthwhile when an LW writes in and represents a viewpoint that is underrepresented on this blog. Because chances are, that viewpoint is what the average person’s work experience is like.

        3. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

          And there are also people who would really resent it. Your insistence that this is all kosher and great behavior doesn’t mean that everyone else is just “looking at this from the point of view of office workers who work 9-5 M-F in an air-conditioned office.” Weird detour, dude.

        4. Mannequin*

          I once worked a job where my shifts were literally nights, weekends, and holidays- and I still got overtime pay for holidays despite being mandatory. Not all of us mind missing that stuff.

    3. kaymh*

      I agree with you. I find it so interesting that commenters here seem so invested in policing the morals of the LW to the point that it’s all they can focus on in their multiple comments up and down this page. Like if you’re not 100% a Good One, you don’t deserve their help or community. There’s no room for moral gray areas on the internet, I guess. Was the LW selfish? Sure. But the “worker solidarity” move is NOT to silently submit to the same crap circumstances as everyone else. Who does that help, except management? The “good coworker” move would be to gather the coworkers together and talk to management about the Saturdays. But that’s a really big ask that comes with the risk of blowing up in your face, and I don’t blame the LW for taking the easy route. I’m flabbergasted at the regular readers, who see story after story on this site about how the system is stacked against workers especially in the US, express such moral outrage over a worker finding a small advantage to make their working life better in a clearly unfair system.

  39. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

    I see a LOT of people in the comments defending OP’s loophole usage with “because childcare” arguments and… I just want to take a moment to remind folks that, loophole usage aside, they do realize that people don’t deserve to be saddled with a coworker’s every single working Saturday because they don’t have children? Like… gross, y’all. Come on.

    1. Louise*

      I agree! That’s why stuff like fair scheduling laws and notification for overtime in CBAs are great. Management (or an algorithm that no one audited) preventing people from enjoying their Saturdays at the last minute really stinks!

    2. Roscoe*

      I’m a big proponent of parents not getting any perks just because they are parents. But he isn’t getting anything free. He is using the PTO to do this. And from the first post, there had only been one time it was an issue with others requesting that time off.

      1. Rach*

        Odd, it works really well at my very large, international manufacturing company and in many non-US countries. Parents get 8 weeks bounding leave for, gasp, just being parents. They get x-amount of emergency childcare days and a host of other perks because a company (and society) that values working parents, the company (and society) benefit. The key is to also have equitable perks for all employees in their different life stages, not to not have them for parents.

    3. Mental Lentil*

      Yeah, you try to schedule the occasional weekend child care with less than a week’s notice and get back to us with how that goes for you.

    4. Forrest*

      Ok, but you literally can’t opt out of childcare or other caring responsibilities! There’s a very hard limit on that! This isn’t “i like being at home with my kids and my wife, don’t make me go to work”, it’s “they take your kids away if you leave them at home for 10 hours without an adult, and two extra days babysitting a month may well be beyond the means of a manufacturing worker”. Not because children are the bestest lifestyle choice, but because you cannot leave them unattended and childcare infrastructure sucks.

      1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

        Sure. But that doesn’t mean that the people without children are obligated to work every single one of your Saturdays for 3 years just because they don’t have to coordinate childcare. That’s just not how it works.

        1. Forrest*

          They’re obligated *because the employer obliges them*. Not because OP does.

          OP was not acting in solidarity with their colleagues, I agree. And generally I think solidarity is good. But I think it’s wildly unethical to demand solidarity between workers *which benefits the employer* at the expense of their own family. That’s not real solidarity, it’s just convenient for the employer.

          1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

            Oof, this is a really terrible take. People without children have obligations, loved ones, and just as much right to their Saturdays. YOU don’t get to dictate that your need is greater and stick others with three years worth of your Saturdays, and doing so makes you a total jerk.

            1. Bananarama*

              Yes, everyone has a right to their Saturdays (or their standard days off), and no one should be obligated to work them by a company that can’t get its act together.

            2. STG*

              The coworker DIDN’T strap them for 3 years of Saturdays though. The company’s management did that.