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.

            3. meyer lemon*

              The thing is–if you set up a crappy system like this, this is the kind of behaviour you’re incentivizing. It’s truly the grifting manager who stuck people with years of unnecessary, last-minute Saturday work so she could line her friends’ pockets. Placing so much blame on the LW’s individual choices, when their impact on others is much more minimal, just enables the exploitation from above. It shouldn’t require workers making personal sacrifices for the workplace to be run fairly.

              1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

                I think it’s pretty easy to see the fault in both. It’s not exactly all or nothing, here. You can recognize the problems at the top, and also recognize jerky behavior at the bottom.

                1. meyer lemon*

                  I think they’re just two different spheres of problem–one is interpersonal, the other is systemic. When it comes to scenarios like this one where I don’t have a personal stake, I’m a lot less interested in judging the individual actors than looking at how the system is set up to exploit the workers with the least power and pit them against each other. And I do think it is very typical of capitalism to try to encourage us to get in the weeds of personal responsibility to the exclusion of examining how the larger systems often set us up to fail.

                2. Forrest*

                  Yes, I like this framing. There are various comments further up saying, “well OP isn’t sorry!” “OP is smug!” and I just — don’t care? The problem of “my employer has unilaterally changed my working hours in a way that caused my family hardship and I have no recourse except to use information I have access to in a way it wasn’t intended to be used” is so much bigger and more challenging a problem than, “is OP nice or nasty”.

                3. meyer lemon*

                  Also, for what it’s worth, I think trying to judge the interpersonal dynamics side is really difficult based on the limited scope of a letter like this. We have to bring in a lot of assumptions about the home lives and financial positions of the LW and his coworkers, and we’re bound to bring in a lot of our personal biases. Which I realize is kind of inevitable in an advice column, but it may not be very helpful to the LW or very grounded in the original situation at all.

              2. mf*

                Yeah, this is basically where I land: “The thing is–if you set up a crappy system like this, this is the kind of behaviour you’re incentivizing.”

                I don’t love the LW’s attitude towards his coworkers. He obviously doesn’t give a shit about anyone’s inconvenience other than this own. But when an employer creates a system like this that pits employees against each other, then this is logical outcome.

            4. Forrest*

              So all those people should take it up with the employer too!

              I don’t exactly know what you’re responding to here— I never said that people without children don’t have obligations, I said that it’s not OP “obliging” them to work on Saturdays, it’s the employer. If there’s a conflict between the requirement to work on a Saturday and their responsibilities outside work, that’s a conflict between the worker and the employer, not between one or more workers who have responsibilities outside work.

              1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

                You are literally responding in a thread under a comment wherein I address the specific people in the comment section arguing that “because childcare” trumps the needs and wants of other coworkers who don’t have to arrange childcare.

                1. Forrest*

                  It trumps their needs because “it’s childcare” and childcare is special, it trumps their needs *for OP* because he’s responsible f or *his children* and not for other people’s.

                  If my employer has to decide between giving me time off for childcare and Sue time off to go to the seaside, then yeah, my employer should act impartially and not privilege me because childcare is more important than going to the seaside. But if *I* have to decide whether to book time off for childcare, Sue’s desire to go to the seaside isn’t my problem! It’s not my job to manage all my coworkers’ time off for them, and even if I really liked Sue and *wanted* to facilitate her trip to the seaside, I can’t make childcare or $120 just appear if I don’t have it! The responsibilities that a coworker had to their coworker are not the same as the ones a company has to its workers.

                2. allathian*

                  With respect, they do. At least in this particular case. The OP works during the week so that his wife can work during the weekend, and she earns as much for a weekend shift as a nurse as he does for the full work week. Their children are young enough not to be in school yet during the week. At that rate, I can only suppose the OP is making minimum wage or slightly above, and childcare expenses, especially irregularly and at short notice, are high.

                  I’m not saying that childfree people don’t have any legitimate needs for time off, naturally they do. I’m just saying that in this particular case, I don’t blame the OP for looking after his family’s needs first.

                  That said, I’m coming out and saying that the needs of people who have obligations towards other people, whether they are children, elderly parents, a sick spouse, or whoever else, should trump those of single people who can arrange their time off as they wish and have nobody else to consider except themselves. Sorry, but that’s the way I feel.

                3. Forrest*

                  sorry, first sentence should be “It trumps their needs NOT because “it’s childcare” and childcare is special”

            5. Calliope*

              It sounds like everyone was supposed to work every Saturday. It doesn’t say or imply that other people worked more saturdays because the OP used his vacation time.

              Like, yeah, the OP was being pretty shady but I don’t think it had the particular effect you’re postulating here.

              1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

                I was under the impression that they rotated the people assigned Saturdays. If not, sure, then he isn’t a jerk for sticking coworkers with three years worth of Saturdays.

                1. Calliope*

                  I don’t think that’s the case because he figured out when his team was scheduled based on seeing the particular product they are responsible for being scheduled for shipment, not based on a rota system.

            6. allathian*

              Nope, this is a great take. The LW did what he could in a bad environment. It’s not the responsibility of individual coworkers to look after anyone else except themselves. It’s way above their pay grade. That said, in a non-toxic environment, the sudden increase in Saturday work would have been brought up earlier and solved sooner. It was a systemic failure more than anything else. I’m not blaming the LW the least for what they did. Everyone on the production line had access to the same system and could’ve come to the same conclusion.

              The LW did nothing to hurt his coworkers, management did. Surely you don’t expect him to give up a perk he’d discovered and endure considerable hardship just to ensure that either he or his wife didn’t have to quit their job? Or maybe you hate children and parents so much that you would expect him to do exactly that.

        2. Amy the Rev*

          OP did state that *everyone* had to work these Saturdays, wether or not OP was there, so it’s not like anyone was coming in just to cover OP’s absence as if it were a rota.

    5. Hogsmeade AirBNB*

      Also…. there is simply NO WAY that in *three years* that OP’s coworkers did not have equal needs, whether that’s childcare or seeing a sick friend or being a human being who needs a frickin break every once in a while. OP isn’t special and isn’t sorry, and that’s icky.

        1. Hogsmeade AirBNB*

          I didn’t say it is, but he is a jerk for helping CREATE that problem for his other coworkers.

    6. Emily*

      I WORKED on a Hellmouth: If I could insert The Office “thank you!” gif here I would. It is interesting to me that the “OP shouldn’t have to care about his co-workers” argument is only going one way and is being justified because OP has children. Having child care needs doesn’t justify OP’s unscrupulous behavior. Hopefully this audit and a new manager can greatly improve things at this workplace.

      1. Forrest*

        I totally think it goes both ways! I don’t think any of OP’s co-workers have a responsibility to care about his kids kids either. If any of them made a decision that worked for their families but exacerbated OP’s childcare issues, I think OP should take that up with management not blame the co-worker.

    7. Mockingjay*

      This isn’t about other employees having to cover someone with childcare issues. Everyone was supposed to go in on Saturdays. Cost and availability of childcare is OP’s particular reason for not wanting to work extra Saturdays. I’m sure the other employees had valid reasons not to want or be able to work extra Saturdays: eldercare, religious obligations, coaching local sports team, Netflix binge… All are valid.

      The OP found a solution for his own situation – he used his PTO. He is not obliged to find solutions for his fellow employees. They can do so themselves, or as his update shows, management can get their act together and provide an equitable working environment (which is what they were supposed to be doing all along).

      I feel like a lot of commenters wanted OP to organize the factory floor and start yelling ‘Solidarity!’ He’s under no obligation to do so. All he wanted was a job in which he worked regular hours, M-F. Don’t most of us?

  40. Eh*

    Good job, OP. I’m super glad this worked out for you, especially with how some people were commenting in the last post. Some of these perspectives are why management is often allowed to get away with bad practices. Everyone is quick to say we employees must sacrifice for each other instead of holding management completely at fault.
    Illuminating too that we are still making lots of assumptions about what kind of resources people have or even what our families are like.

    Like, let’s break it down.
    – OP used public information to book PTO-
    Full stop. Please show me the fault or game in that (there isn’t any).

    – But by doing this when no one else is, that’s cheating. He shouldn’t get the time off-
    Okay well who approves that? Management. Look at that, the ball is back in their court. People are convinced his coworkers are suffering but either they aren’t or they are and thats the fault of the shoddy policy that’s allowing him off.

    – it’s not cheating but still a jerk move-
    ????? I don’t know about the rest of you but there have been several times I’ve wanted a day off and couldn’t get it because others took it. I’ve never thought they should rearrange their lives to suit me. They’re not responsible for me. At one of my jobs we had a calendar that went up first of the year and was first come first served. It was madness and there are popular days. I can’t be mad that someone got ahead of me or expect them to give it up for me.

    Irony is that you ultimately helped since some of this led to Saturdays being fixed.

    Anyway, as for the manager. Shocking that it went as far as it did! Like someone else said that might be why she was so sketchy. her attempt at espionage definitely rang alarm bells last time. Just got overshadowed by the schedule thing. I bet if you said she’d been hanging around you like this for something else that would be the post highlight !

  41. Not Buying It*

    While the manager’s behavior is terrible, the op is also not behaving well. Every Saturday op takes off is one where their coworkers have to pick up the slack. Either talk to the owner about your needs or do your Saturdays so you aren’t leaving your coworkers in the lurch!

    1. hors*

      Yes, I agree, let’s talk to our fraudulent, homophobic, creepy manager about fairness. I’m sure she will totally understand and not use the information against us! You go first, though

  42. Chilipepper Attitude*

    Hard disagree with the tone policing of those who think the OP was “too smug” and those who think the OP should not “game the [broken] system” for their own benefit.

    How many times have we seen folks try to address an issue like the excessive number of Saturdays caused by a flawed system only to bear the brunt of an unethical manager?

    You do you OP and more power to you!

    1. Mannequin*

      Right? And this is manufacturing, not an office. There’s a reason labor jobs unionize.

  43. Raida*

    Just a note:
    “Legally, it is not harassment” is only accurate in Allison’s region, and should not be taken as blanket definition if you don’t live in the US, always check the definitions in your location before thinking “oh that expert on the internet said it isn’t harassment I guess I can’t complain after all”
    Here in Aus for example harassment is not specifically required to be tied to religion, gender, etc.

  44. Forrest*

    I just want to know how far all the “OP was unethical” people would go.

    Say you’re a manufacturing worker at the only big plant in town. You make a decent salary, you’ve been there 15 years and you have good benefits. Your wife has a good job which means she’s only out on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Saturdays when you’re at home. Between you, you’re not wealthy, but if you’re careful you can afford the rent, food, all the basic school stuff and clothes for the kids and occasional treats.

    Your work starts scheduling you 1-2 Saturdays a month. Your wife clearly can’t take 15% of her working time off. Babysitting for two young kids for a day costs $120 and throws your entire budget out of whack. You don’t have friends or family who could take both kids on a Saturday whilst you both work a full 8 hour shift, plus the commute either way.

    You’re stuck. There are no other manufacturing jobs. There’s no subsidised childcare. There are no other jobs which offer your wife the same level of flexibility and fit around your work, so you’d have the same childcare problems if she changed job. There’s no union to push back on the change of hours. You’re seriously worried about what you’re going to do. There are no “other options”.

    Like, if you think there is “always another option” that means you can alway put loyalty to your co-workers [in a way that conveniently benefits the employer] above considerations like putting food on the table— have you liked around? There are literally millions of people living in poverty in the US and the UK because they can’t make childcare and work work, and raising their kids in poverty with all the stresses that means. Most of them do not have good options! Having to make decisions that screw over your co-workers or neighbours or service-users is a inevitable result of crappy systems that are totally cool with screwing people over on a massive scale.

    Is this OP’s situation? No idea! But it could be. Not being able to work because you can’t afford or find good childcare, or losing a job because they changed the working conditions in a way that’s impossible to fit around your caring responsibilities is not exactly a rare or implausible situation, and the, “I would simply Find Another Solution” is incredibly ignorant of the decisions and situations that literally millions of people find themselves in.

    1. VintageLydia*

      Seriously the moralizing in these comments is absurd. The chances of there being another solution than what the OP did that is both affordable and available is incredibly slim for the vast majority of the country, including up through middle classes. Most of us don’t even have parents that can help in that situation because we either moved away for work and/or they are also working and/or have their own obligations on Saturdays.

    2. Wisteria*

      The other option was asking why the Saturday work had increased and uncovering the flaws in the automated scheduling. OP could have done that years ago.

      1. Forrest*

        But then, so could any of the colleagues if they had problems with working on Saturdays.

      2. Amy the Rev*

        So could’ve management. I’d even argue that keeping up on trends in budgeting, overtime, etc, is part of management’s job, rather than floor workers.

      3. Autumnheart*

        So could the finance department, since it is literally their job to do precisely that.

      4. Bananrama*

        Why would some random worker do this when anyone above him would have way more reason to?

  45. SnappinTerrapin*

    All the moralizing about how unfair it is for LW to follow the rules imposed on him reminded me of the sore losers in the 2016 AND 2020 elections.

    No matter who is in charge, no matter what our political or economic system may be, now or in the future, it is impossible for everyone to have everything we want. We have to make choices, and those choices are constrained by the available options.

    Those choices also have costs, even if only the cost of choosing whether to enjoy what we have earned now, or at some other time.

    And it is also true that our choices affect others, sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly. Just as their choices may also affect us down the road.

  46. Susan Ivanova*

    Regarding the manager: You can be a jerk, or you can be a cheat. But you can’t be both.

  47. Krabby*

    I’m so glad to hear this update. If the whole team had access to the info, then what OP was doing feels a lot less problematic and it really shines a light on the problems with the manager. Glad OP is free of her.

  48. misspiggy*

    This whole debate is fascinating, I’m quite surprised people disagree so passionately. It would make a great case study in a business course or leadership training.

    FWIW, I think the ethical arguments depend on the environment. If OP could easily have found another job, he should have taken the risk of asking higher-ups about the increasing Saturdays years ago. If not, he was perfectly justified in what he did and said. Is OP a hero? No. But that doesn’t mean he should be expected to act any differently.

  49. HipsandMakers*

    I think that one can reasonably decry the system in which OP made this choice and still side-eye that the OP let the situation linger for three. years.

    1) The “some coworkers really wanted that sweet OT” line of reasoning is flawed. OP said that if the hack were commonly known, then other coworkers would use it and then it would no longer be available. Which heavily implies that most of the team did not want to work on Saturdays. And assuredly some of them had weekend obligations as well, even if they weren’t regular childcare coverage.
    2) “The supervisor was obviously too underhanded to reasonably respond to a complaint about the increased workload.” Perhaps, but the supervisor wasn’t the only person in authority. If OP could raise the concerns with the supervisor’s behavior to the plant manager AND the increased workload, then the OP could have raised the concerns about the increased Saturday scheduling to plant management at any time. Not only did they not bother, they didn’t even suggest it to other coworkers.
    3) “The information was available in the system, it was just that nobody else used it.” Well, it’s generally best practices in an organization not to go into parts of the system one doesn’t regularly use, even if one has access! I have some basic administrator rights to almost all our division files so that I can help my team access files and folders that they need. That level of access does not mean that I ever look into those files to review processes that are handled by the SMEs unless there is a problem. It’s obvious that the OP had regular work-related reasons to see that schedule and that other coworkers didn’t.
    4) Where I come down is that OP maybe didn’t have the “moral obligation” to share the hack, but the OP also didn’t encourage any of the coworkers to push back at all, or use relative seniority to put weight behind any suggestions to members of the management team to review the process. Is it a poorly run organization with bad management and was the coworkers primary complaint with that? Sure! But an employee who sees an exploit in the system for three years and simply…exploits it the entire time, without any concern about the welfare of the other workers, is basically asking for those other workers to quit. Which would end up meaning that PTO requests would be more likely to be rejected. If nothing else, the OP should have tried to make things better for everyone out of enlightened self-interest.

  50. JMP3*

    OP again-

    So am I supposed to be upset with the coworkers who “gamed” the system by taking Friday off to get an extra long holiday weekend?

    This is not an every Saturday occurrence. We went from basically zero Saturdays a year to now working one or two every month. If somebody has had an issue with my Saturdays off (other than the manager) they haven’t said anything. Plus I think most of my coworkers like the overtime money. Another benefit for my coworkers is I am burning up vacation time to get my Saturdays off, plus loosing out on the overtime which very well could be a wash for what I would need to pay in weekend daycare.

    So the casino was a bad example. If I found a quicker way to work bypassing the freeway by taking a dirt road through a park should I announce that to the whole team? I would be nice of me but the next thing I know the dirt road is clogged with traffic and my advantage is gone. In this case and my knowledge of how to read the schedule/database it is obviously in my best interest to keep quite about it.

    I think my supervisor could have kept on coding the pay rate for a long time. A few hours here and there on the people who would do the job as part of their rotation would probably not havebeen noticed. Also her comments were inappropriate but working in a factory the talk (right or wrong) on the production floor is much different than in an office setting. I think they gave her a stern warning that she needed to watch what she says in this day and age.

    1. Purple Cat*

      I find your “better example” very telling.
      The challenge isn’t that the “dirt road is clogged with traffic and my advantage is gone”. The concern should be driving through a park on a dirt road that is clearly not meant for commuting is ruining the environment/ambiance for my personal gain.

      But you do you.

        1. HipsandMakers*

          Dirt roads in parks are usually for hikers and bikers, not “commuting” per se.

          I know that Die Hard With A Vengeance was just on TV, but that was an action movie, not an urban planning documentary.

          1. Mannequin*

            This is some really bizarre nitpicking of definitions of “dirt road through a park” by @Purple Cat and @HipsandMakers. Like you are already so BEC you are going out of your way delving into their words to find ways to make them look bad.

            Obviously what they mean is “if I discovered a little known shortcut that got me to work faster” not “literally, a dirt trail for hiking in a recreational park where vehicles are prohibited” but keep on making those bad faith takes.

            1. HipsandMakers*

              It is not bad faith to point out that an analogy has connotations when someone makes arguments by analogy.

              My analogy for what OP did is more like:

              Corporate sets up a new timesheet that accidentally codes certain PTO hours at a lower rate of pay. Bad company! Poor oversight! Employees should rise up! But most employees don’t notice because they take that leave infrequently and apparently there’s a culture of occasional OT, so the “correct pay” is harder to calculate. So no one advocates for change.

              OP spends hours looking at the timesheet because OP has experience with it, and finds a little-used leave code to override it, so continues to take leave pay at the correct rate. OP is just looking out for self and family and getting paid what’s due, right? And other employees could also look at the timesheet and figure this out, right? So why should OP do anything to fix the issue or raise it with management?

              I find that ethically questionable. It’s not BEC.

              1. Rach*

                This is not remotely the same. In this scenario the pay discrepancy is illegal and OP would likely not face any consequences for raising the issue with management or letting his coworkers know (the company would probably be grateful as it is a huge legal liability). There is not a limited pool of resources when the payrate is what is legally required. In OP’s situation there is a limited pool of resources and a manager working against his interests in order to line the pockets of her cronies. Also, he isn’t preventing others from taking that day off, management is as they are purposefully not giving them enough notice. Whether or not there was more he could do is beyond the scope of this blog.

                1. HipsandMakers*

                  In the actual scenario, the only reason that there was a limited pool of resources was because the system was in error, and OP did not in fact face any consequences for raising the issue with the plant manager when that finally happened.

                  Again, the idea that OP was facing immediate consequences or termination for merely asking why OT had increased so much but not for reporting that his supervisor was bullying him just doesn’t make sense to me. It’s not beyond the scope of this blog to say that there were better ways to handle this situation.

      1. Lizy*

        So take out the “through a park”. If a dirt road gets OP there 2” minutes faster, why wouldn’t you use the dirt road?

      2. sequined histories*

        Well, first of all, for the “shortcut across the park” example to be truly analogous, taking the short cut would have to be perfectly legal and not against the rules of the park. In that case, the OP would be no more guilty of “ruining the environment/ambiance” than anyone else following the rules of the road and the rules of the park. By the logic you suggest, anyone and everyone who finds any kind of shortcut or workaround that is not against the rules has an affirmative obligation to either not use it or publicize it as widely as possible.

        Also, I think the casino example is actually an excellent one. Counting cards, for example, is difficult. Not everyone has the cognitive capacity and self-discipline to count cards, so card counters are availing themselves of an advantage that not everyone can share in. Card counting is NOT cheating in any way, even though casinos don’t like it and will ban suspected card counters.

        People may feel that card counting is different because that’s at the expense of the casino, whereas OP is avoiding Saturday OT at the expense of coworkers. But, in fact, whatever amount of card counting goes undetected is at the expense of other gamblers rather than the casino! Casinos are in striving to generate a certain profit margin. To the extent that they cannot detect all card counting–all “gaming” of their system–they are simply making it even harder for other people to win at their other games. They are certainly not forgoing their profits, so more money for the card counter means less money for the other gamblers. Does that make card counting unethical? I would say the ethics of the gambling industry as a whole are far more questionable than the ethics of the card counter.

        I would say factories have a lot more in common with casinos than most of us would like to admit. The purpose of a casino is to suck as much money out of the gamblers as possible. The purpose of a factory is to make as much money as possible from the capital investment and the labor of the workers while paying the workers as little as possible for their labor. Furthermore, most of us can choose not to enter a casino, but most factory workers really, really need their jobs to survive.

        There are a lot of things this factory could have done to make this Saturday overtime more fair and humane. They could ]have started by actively soliciting information about which workers really, really wanted the OT, and which workers really, really wanted to avoid it. If there weren’t enough of them eager to take on the OT to cover the factory’s needs, they could have offered incentives to make the OT more attractive–such as offering a slightly higher rate of overtime pay for a Saturday once a worker had already worked a certain number of Saturdays. They could, perhaps, offer free (or at least inexpensive and convenient) onsite childcare.

        Obviously it was easier and cheaper for the factory to do what they did, which was nothing.

        So, yes, I agree that it is “selfish” of the OP to use reasoning and logic to figure out when OT was coming and then exercise the self-discipline to keep their mouth shut about it, but I don’t really think the OP is any more “selfish” than a card counter, and I have no ethical qualms about card counting.

        Yes, the OP is favoring meeting their family’s needs over the needs of their coworkers and the coworker’s families–that is true. But we don’t have a legal system that requires otherwise and the entirety of capitalism–of which this factory is a part–is premised on the idea of people ruthlessly pursuing their individual interests within a regulatory system that places certain legal limits on their behavior.

        Do I think capitalism as a whole is ethical? No, I do not. It is a deeply selfish ideology that incentivizes and promotes selfishness. I do find it ironic, though, that someone who is primarily the object rather than the subject of that systemic selfishness is being held to such a high ethical standard by this commentariat. Essentially, someone who is deriving relatively little benefit from a transparently ruthless system that exalts and rewards selfishness on principle is being condemned for a lack of self-sacrifice.

        1. Forrest*

          Capitalism: this works because everyone acts in their own best interest

          Subject: *acts in their own best interest*

          Capitalism: not like that!!!!

    2. Tali*

      It’s a classic tragedy of the commons issue.
      One person picks flowers from the public gardens for their home. Their home has nice flowers, and the gardens have plenty of flowers and are no worse off.
      But if everyone picks flowers from the public gardens, now there are no flowers left and no one can enjoy the gardens.

      You could have shared your advantage and you chose not to, because sharing it would lessen the advantage. This is an inherently selfish act. You know this.
      Also, the playing field was stacked against you–childcare needs, terrible management, poor planning, income and hierarchical inequality–and when the world is unequal, hussling to “get mine” is rewarded. You are incentivized to take advantages from the commons for yourself, because there might not be enough for all.

      Luckily it all worked out in the end. I hope with these changes the playing field is evened out more so you can act more generously and openly in the future.

      1. penny dreadful analyzer*

        Fun fact: The tragedy of the commons is actually fake; it was made up to justify privatizing the commons. Commons worked perfectly well for centuries. They were enclosed because rich people wanted to enclose them and the state backed them up in doing so, making up just-so stories about how the poor stupid peasants couldn’t sustain them was just an attempt to shift blame.

    3. Emily*

      JMP3: “So am I supposed to be upset with the coworkers who “gamed” the system by taking Friday off to get an extra long holiday weekend?” There is a big difference in doing something once and doing something every time and everyone presumably knew a holiday weekend was coming up. While you keep claiming everyone could have easily figured out what Saturdays they would be working, it was clearly not obvious. Holiday weekends are obvious. Someone taking one long holiday weekend is in no way comparable to you gaming the system so you didn’t have to work a single Saturday in *three years.* Your manager was clearly awful, but it’s concerning that you don’t at all recognize the fault in your own behavior.

      1. Mannequin*

        I’d be a LOT more annoyed by someone who took advantage of this to give themselves an extra long weekend just for funsies than someone who did it to survive.

        1. Emily*

          You’re ignoring the obvious differences I laid out. Also saying that OP did what he did “to survive” is rather over dramatic. OP did what he did to avoid having to get child care.

          1. Forrest*

            But do you get that childcare can be a matter of “survival”? Like, people totally lose jobs and incomes and (if you’re Black and poor enough) liberty because they can’t find suitable and affordable childcare.

            1. Emily*

              Forrest: Show me how that applies in OP’s case. I have seen no evidence that suggests it would more than an inconvenience/annoyance for OP to get child care. Some of the arguments being used to defend OP are becoming more and more over dramatic and absurd.

              1. I'm just here for the cats*

                He says that his wife makes just as much as he does while working the weekends. And that the cost of childcare on a Saturday would be what he made in OT. So basically he would be working for free.

                1. Emily*

                  I’m just here for the cats: That still does not make it a matter of “survival” which is what someone else was trying to claim, and it still does not justify OP’s shady behavior

              2. Forrest*

                I’m the other way around– from my point of view I find it really weird how quick people are to assume that organising and paying for childcare is easy/quick/convenient/good for your kids, and that the only reason for not doing it is some kind of laziness. I mean, all good if you’ve got grandparents or close friends or family who can have a fun day with the kids from 8-6pm once or twice a month, but if you haven’t and you’ve got to hire a babysitter, then the best case scenario is that you effectively work for no money and your kids don’t hate it, and the worst case scenario is that your kids are miserable and it takes a big chunk out of your family budget.

                Even if I knew that my colleagues didn’t want to work those Saturdays (which also isn’t assured!), I don’t really get the ethics that say my employer’s bad policy obliges me to put my colleagues over my family taking that kind of hit.

                1. Emily*

                  Forrest: You’re continuing to ignore the shady way OP went about things. If working Saturdays was going to cause child care issues for him, he should have brought it up directly (which is what Alison recommended in her reply to OP’s first letter). You’re clearly going to excuse OP’s behavior no matter what, so have at it, but that does not change the fact that what OP did was shady.

              3. MelonHelen*

                When was the last time you tried to hire a babysitter for a 10 hour day shift on a Saturday?

      2. I'm just here for the cats*

        But we don’t know if others found out about this and just didn’t use it like OP did. Since OP is not talking to his coworkers about this he is not asking them. And he probably doesn’t know who else took time off too because he is not there to see.

        and the OP says that most of his coworkers like the OT, and it doesnt sound like anyone was really complaining about it.

    4. HairApparent*

      Still 100% in your corner on this. You made a decision about your family’s needs using paid time off that you earned. Far as I can tell, none of your coworkers were put out (and it would be their responsibility to speak up for themselves if they were), and if the manager wasn’t so busy overpaying her work buddies, maybe she would have had time to sit down and really look at the system to figure things out without anybody having to show her the finer points. Your employer and family are lucky to have you.

    5. MissBaudelaire*

      This is part of what I think people are missing. You aren’t taking ‘more’ vacation than anyone else. You are using your already earned vacation because the scheduling was crappy and no one wanted to fix it for–reasons? I’m shocked, because when I worked somewhere with overtime, if we got too much overtime the business was all over it trying to find out ‘why’. That didn’t prevent management from lying through their teeth, of course.

      Some people are jazzed about overtime, and I get why. I’m sure there were plenty of people fine working all those Saturdays, and I’m sure there were plenty that were not. But even if one of them had come up to you and huffed and puffed about who did YOU always get those Saturdays off, I would have shrugged and said that’s the way it worked out. Because it was.

    6. Salty Librarian*

      OP, you’re 100% fine. I am perplexed at the weight you seem to give the opinions of people here. No offense, but a lot of people here have moralized their internalized capitalism to truly sad degrees, and can no longer understand how to prioritize their personal lives and familial obligations. You don’t stand to gain anything from further discussion with them. They just don’t get it. I’m also sensing a lot of class divide, in that I assume that many people who have been jumping down your throat are themselves rather wealthy and comfortable, and have no useful analogs to your work situation.

      You’re fine! Go and be free! Literally pay nobody attention if they think you were doing something wrong – You weren’t.

  51. Katherine*

    I see both sides, but for me OP loses me at doing this routinely for three years. If he’d done this once, or a few times, to make sure he didn’t have to work a particular Saturday, and didn’t tell his coworkers, I’d say “everyone does that kind of thing.” But he did it every time there was a chance he’d have to work Saturday. There wasn’t ONE of those Saturdays when his wife wasn’t working, his parents were visiting and could have babysat, or his kids had been invited to go to the beach with friends? He absolutely couldn’t work ANY of those Saturdays? Not once in those three years did he think “Maybe I should take one for the team and work this Saturday?” And he did actively hide it. Even though other people could have found the information, he clearly knew they didn’t have it, and he lied to his boss (Yes, “lucky guess” is a lie) and hid his behavior from her. He didn’t just neglect to volunteer the information, he hid it.

    1. Mannequin*

      LOL, you actually think he should have told his boss and messed it up for himself? Are you this Pearl clutchy over every white lie?

      1. Katherine*

        Well, the first thing I said was “I see both sides,” and I went on to say I wouldn’t think it was a big deal if OP did this a few times, so no. My point was that I disagree with all the people who are casting OP as Jean Valjean stealing a loaf of bread. This seems to me to have gone beyond “out of desperation” and into “for my convenience”- which is just harder to empathize with. And my point was not that he shouldn’t have lied, but that he absolutely did lie, in response to claims above that he didn’t lie to his boss.

        1. sequined histories*

          I think having to pay all the money you’re going to make working that extra shift for childcare is pretty Jean Valjean-y, especially if you don’t have much money in the first place.

          I think the supervisor asking what makes OP so good at predicting upcoming OT is at least as unrealistic as the boss who asks if you’re taking the morning off to interview. At a certain point, people’s right to manage their own lives trumps a manager’s right to a straight answer.

          If the manager had actually said that coworkers were complaining about the burden on them due to the OP’s use of PTO, or if the coworkers had said something like that to the OP directly, I might feel differently about it.

          But there’s zero evidence in either letter that that was actually the reason the manager asked in the first place. And it seems pretty clear that this particular manager was not a trustworthy, decent sort of person who would come across as if her main interest was just being as fair as possible to everyone.

          1. Katherine*

            Your boss is not entitled to know what you do with your accrued PTO. Your boss *is* entitled to know what you’re doing while you’re on the clock. While OP keeps saying everyone could have accessed this information, no one else did, and the manager couldn’t figure out how he was doing it, so it couldn’t have been super obvious. It would make sense for the manager to wonder, and she may have thought he was finding the information by, say, hacking into emails, or otherwise misusing company records (and company time). She asked him how he was predicting the Saturdays, and he gave an evasive answer. That would make most people even more suspicious.

  52. Katherine*

    Alison, being completely ignored must be one of your favorite parts of this job. “OP: Is this harassment? Alison: No. OP: So I told my boss it was harassment…”

    1. JMP3*

      I told the plant manager I “didn’t know the correct term but it is like harassment….”. I didn’t call it harassment specifically as Allison said I shouldn’t.

      1. FashionablyEvil*

        C’mon, that’s the same sort of fudge you’re making about the original situation. Basically, attempting to make yourself look good when you’re actually skating a morally dubious line.

        1. Forrest*

          What’s the morally dubious part here? Not taking Alison’s advice? Or not knowing the legal definition of harassment? Neither of these seems like moral issues to me!

          1. Katherine*

            He did know the legal definition of harassment, assuming he read Alison’s letter, so *pretending* not to know it is morally dubious. OP, Alison made it clear it wasn’t harassment unless it was based on your membership in a protected class, which you haven’t mentioned in either letter, so how is it that you thought this situation was “like” harassment?

            1. Autumnheart*

              So what? He wasn’t in a court, talking to a judge. He is not obligated to stick to the legal definition of workplace harassment. If he’d been a lawyer trying to prove that he was being subjected to the legal definition of workplace harassment, then someone would’ve said “It doesn’t fit the standard so you don’t have a case.” But he’s a line worker having a conversation about being micromanaged, to a plant manager. It’s not a moral failing to use a word differently than the strict legal interpretation!

              1. Katherine*

                I’m referring to the obligation not to deliberately mislead people with your words, which is my read on the letter and OP’s comment above.

                1. Forrest*

                  You think “I don’t know the correct term but it is like harassment” is “deliberately misleading” someone? Good heavens!

                2. Katherine*

                  Replying to Forrest: Most people are aware that “harassment” and “hostile work environment” are associated with very specific definitions, illegal acts, and potential lawsuits, when discussed in a workplace. My read on the letter is that OP knows this, and that the choice to allude to harassment and hostile work environment, when he knew the situation was neither, was deliberate- he believed that if he said the magic words, the boss would get scared of a lawsuit and tell the supervisor to back off. Couldn’t come out and call it harassment, because it wasn’t, but could find a way to say the word and raise the antennas. And that’s not a moral outrage, but it’s skating a morally dubious line, as FashionablyEvil said.

                3. Student Affairs Sally*

                  To Katherine:

                  “Most people are aware that “harassment” and “hostile work environment” are associated with very specific definitions, illegal acts, and potential lawsuits, when discussed in a workplace”

                  Are you new to this blog? I would argue that LWs asking Alison “Is this harassment?” and Alison saying something to the effect of “no, it’s not illegal to be a jerk, it’s only harassment in these specific situations” are easily one of the top 5 “themes” of the posts here. So no, “most” people don’t know what those terms mean in a work context.

                4. Katherine*

                  I didn’t say most people know exactly what it means. I said most people know that those terms (particularly “hostile work environment”) have legal connotations and are often mentioned in conjunction with lawsuits in work situations. Employee says “harassment,” boss thinks “lawsuit.” In my experience, most people know that. What we do know is that OP knew it was neither harassment, hostile work environment, nor anything resembling those things in a legal sense, and still chose to use those words. I think he did this in order to mislead his boss. I could be right, or I could be wrong. That’s why I said twice it was “my read.”

                5. Forrest*

                  I really think that if the manager is so ignorant of the law that they can be that easily manipulated by a worker saying, “I don’t know if this is harassment but—“, that is the manager’s problem and not the OP’sz

        2. Anon for Today*

          It doesn’t have to fit the legal definition of harassment for someone to feel as though they’re being harassed. Frankly, hiding behind a cube and spying on your workers is kind of harass-y and I would definitely want it to stop.

      2. Eva*

        “You know this isn’t fraud…” “Okay, I guess.”
        *ten minutes later*
        “Hey, I’d like to report a problem. I don’t know what it’s called, but it’s like fraud…”

        That’s calling it fraud but hedging just a touch so that you can’t get in as much trouble for it, while still getting all the reaction that would come with calling it a fraud. Bringing up the word harassment at all when you were told it was not harassment is exactly why everybody is questioning other parts of what you’ve done. The lack of understanding about that nuance is part of the issue.

  53. Lily of the field*

    All the people dogpiling on the OP because he is, in your opinion, “gaming the system”. You are just mad because you think “it’s not fair”! Life is not fair. Life is never going to be fair, that is the nature of life. Suck it up and move on. Good on him for finding a way to make his life easier.

      1. Katherine*

        “Life is not fair” doesn’t mean we should make it even less fair, or applaud those who do.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Eh, I gave up looking for fairness a long time ago. I concluded that the only fairness there is, is the fairness we give others. That’s all there is.

  54. Chc34*

    I don’t begrudge the OP for doing what he needed to do, but I really dislike the attitude of “I deserved this more than everyone else did,” which I think is what a lot of people are actually reacting to.

    1. That's it for me*

      I don’t mind his actions at all, but the tone of voice bugs me, and I think you’re right, it’s a tone of entitlement that’s grating, not the actions. Hope this workplace gets better for everybody.

  55. Gabrielle*

    I love this so much, thank you OP/JMP3. It was hilarious, I’m glad your awful manager is gone, and I’m glad that your coworkers will not have to work so many Saturdays and you won’t have to use so much vacation to avoid them.

    Since we’re apparently all arguing about whether OP is a good coworker or not, I will only add that I hope the people criticizing OP in the name of fairness are factoring in:
    (1) OP very obviously had good reason to be afraid of retaliation for complaining: a manager that disliked OP and a job that was willing to set up this awful system in the first place. It makes sense that that wasn’t the first thing they thought of doing.
    (2) No-one should have to work 6 days in any week if they don’t want to, and in my opinion the more people resist that happening to them, the better off everyone is.
    (3) It’s even worse that anyone would have to work on a day they weren’t planning to, on a week’s notice, and had no way to get out of it. (I know it gets a lot worse than that, my partner worked in food service and would often be called in for shifts at the last minute. Doesn’t mean anyone should have to put up with this.)

    How much would that fuck up your life? I know when I had a job that made us work Saturdays sometimes, I hated it but at least I had advance warning and could have taken vacation. When I had a job that could make me work nights and weekends where the schedule could change, I had no control over it, and I’d either have to cancel my plans or beg a coworker to swap: that was even worse.

    1. Marnie*

      1-3 can be true, AND LW can be a horrible coworker. The manager was horrible, the company was clearly awful, and LW was a bad coworker. Doesn’t have to be either/or.

      1. Lobsterman*

        The manager was stealing, and harassing OP to cover it, and this board still wants to blame OP.

        1. Boof*

          NONE of the comments criticizing the OP are supporting the manager here (in the prior letter where it wasn’t clear how bad the manager was, different story, but the reasons to justify it weren’t “my manager is terrible and won’t give me any support” just “it’s not their business” which it really is?). The manager is clearly “the worst” party here. I just really don’t like OP’s justification of a) it’s not the workplace’s business how they got a leg up on everyone else (yes, yes it is exactly the workplace’s business and b) “it’s in my interest so why not” – that’s a terrible justification. That’s all. In the sum total of a toxic manager who doesn’t have OP’s back, yeah, sure, everyone for themselves, it makes more sense.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Almost all of the comments criticizing OP are supporting the company that randomly instituted 1-2 Saturday/month mandatory work based on nothing other than a faulty piece of software, then kept it going for years because, I suppose, the people in charge of the software and the scheduling did not care? As someone who did at one time write and support shop-floor applications, I’d be mortified to find out that my software was turning people’s – my end users’ that I had good working relationships with – lives upside down like that. Whereas a lot of the people here seem to look at it like “oh well them’s the breaks, have fun working those Saturdays, and listen, it was a good talk but I now need to leave for my weekend, seeya Monday”.

            1. Boof*

              Are we reading the same comments? No one supports the company’s system. They’re criticizing OP for taking advantage of a loophole in the system their coworkers don’t know about; which isn’t the worst thing in the world but they way it’s laid out “why shouldn’t I it’s my advantage” rubs me wrong.

              1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                Telling OP he should’ve sucked it up and worked Saturdays like everybody else, sounds a lot like supporting the company’s system to me. It doesn’t have to say “I support the company’s system” explicitly in a comment for it to be support.

                1. Red 5*

                  Most people aren’t saying he should have sucked it up and worked Saturdays, most people are saying that the solution that the OP chose was one that, while beneficial to the individual, was not ideal for other reasons, as they’ve written about in great detail. Their reasons for not finding this to be an ideal solution are varied, but none of them are “meh, the system is fine.”

                2. Salty Librarian*

                  It sounds that way because it is. Ultimately, they’re seeing their self-interest aligned with “the company’s” more than the OP does. That his self-interest lies elsewhere seems to be really rubbing people the wrong way.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      For real. I feel like I missed a good portion of my children’s milestones, because I was on an on-call rotation from when they were 4 and 7 to when they were 10 and 13. I had to say no to a lot of things they wanted to do together, school events they wanted me to attend, vacation plans, etc that fell on an on-call week. And I knew well in advance that this would be the week I’d be on call, and had been warned that I’d be on call when I interviewed for the job; which makes it a far better situation than LW’s. (Also, I realized very early on that I did not want to do this in the long term, started looking for a job that did not have night and weekend work responsibilities, and after a few years of searching, found one and left. But manufacturing jobs are a lot harder to come by than IT ones. It was a lot easier for me to get out than it would be for the LW.)

      That said, LW probably did not gain any new fans with comments like “I didn’t tell anyone, because if I had, everyone would be doing it” and? that’s a bad thing?

  56. Lizy*

    I think it’s very interesting how no one – either here in the comments or apparently any of OP’s coworkers – have asked OP flat out “hey – how’d you get all the Saturdays off?” I mean, if I noticed a coworker continually getting a Saturday (or day before holiday or whatever desired day) off when I had to work, I’d be asking them for their secret! Then if they didn’t tell me, I’d silently call them a jerk and then… figure out how to not work Saturdays. Would that involve talking to my supervisor? Probably.

    If I found some loophole that made me not work Saturdays, you bet I’d use it. Would I tell others? Eh. Depends on the situation. If they asked? Sure. Would I tell my supervisor? Not if I thought they’d be petty and take away my Saturdays.

    1. Emily*

      Lizy: Except in the original letter OP stated that his manager did ask him and OP said that he “was lucky”, which was not true.

        1. Emily*

          Lobsterman: We don’t know that none of OP’s co-workers cared. OP is trying to claim that now to make himself look better, but he was very blunt in the first letter that he was trying to keep what he figured out a secret. If OP really thought his co-workers wouldn’t care, why not share the information with them? He didn’t share it because he knew they would and the flimsy excuses he has made for his behavior further prove that.

  57. LH*

    I’m really surprised that the comments once again are so negative about OP. They looked at a publicly available schedule and took their allocated time off. They talked to a higher-up about a supervisor’s behaviour that was concerning them – and it turned out that supervisor was indeed behaving very badly in many ways. The villain here is the supervisor, committing fraud and being a homophobic jerk for employees! Also, the company which apparently allowed a glitch to mess up employees’ schedules for quite a while without catching it.

    I’m glad the terrible supervisor is no longer in charge of people and that the schedule will be fixed, and I hope OP and all of their coworkers are able to work on/use PTO for fewer Saturdays going forward.

    1. Xantar*

      This is one of those arguments that hinges on your definition of what a “publicly available schedule” is. OP said in the original letter that he noticed this pattern because of a system on the intranet that he uses to order parts for his line. In other words, it’s something he comes across in the course of his business. He also says, “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.”

      So apparently the production schedule that most people on the team see in the course of their ordinary business does not give them enough heads up that a Saturday shift is coming. They would be able to access that information if they looked on the same system that OP does. The question is do they? Do they have a reason to do that on a regular basis? And if they don’t, then is that still considered public information that everybody can use if they don’t even know it’s there?

      1. HipsandMakers*

        Exactly. In my organization, there are entirely separate teams that focus on the equivalent of “inbound” and “outbound” shipments. Nobody below management level will routinely look at the “other side” as part of their usual work. So the fact that his team is “encouraged” to use the “inbound” database pages doesn’t mean that they would have any reason to look at outbound.

      2. Mental Lentil*

        OP has repeatedly stated that the information is available to everybody. He doesn’t have a crystal ball.

      3. Quantum Hall Effect*

        I believe “publically available” means 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.”

  58. MeowMixers*

    Eh, I don’t think it’s fair for OP to get dumped on. I came from a toxic workplace. Even people with high morals fudge things to get the heat off of themself to find another job. I don’t mean illegally either. Shoot, I knew a person who took off a certain day because of staff meetings every week. All of us made fun of him for it, but his boss never noticed in 2 years.

    As for people picking on OP for reporting it as potential harassment, there are many workplaces with policies that try to protect others from working in a difficult workplace. Just because it wasn’t illegal doesn’t mean that it was okay for his boss to do that to him. And seeing how his boss reacted to others shows that there is probably way more going on.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I came from a toxic workplace. Even people with high morals fudge things to get the heat off of themself to find another job. I don’t mean illegally either.

      I came from a whole country that was like that. It is not a normal situation. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.

  59. Jeff*

    Ultimately, the software problem wasn’t OP’s problem to fix.

    A competent manager/supervisor *should* have cottoned on to the strange surge in Saturdays a long time ago and went “Huh, what’s up with *that?* That’s not fair or reasonable, and not what was expected of our role.” and looked into it, leading to something being done about. But they didn’t, maybe because they weren’t personally affected by it enough, or because it risked ruffling feathers above them and they didn’t want to spend their personal capital on that or what have you.

    But… like, if OP had a bit more collective/solidarity-mindedness to them? Pushing back as a group against the unreasonable increase in Saturdays years ago, when this all started, with all of their coworkers, instead of smugly finding the clever trick to cover their own rear and washing their hands of things? That might have resolved that particular point of contention so much sooner and saved everyone so much grief.

    I mean, we don’t know that he didn’t try from what he’s told us in the two letters (I haven’t scoured the comments looking for more details, so it’s possible there’s more details I’m missing)… but I’m inclined to doubt his community-mindedness.

    Like, yeah, from everything else, he’s definitely not the biggest villain in this story – Not at all. But… yeah, he’s definitely not coming across as a hero, even with the benefit of HIM being the one that’s telling it. Still, it’s good that this manager, who clearly was not fit to manage is gone, and the issue that was forcing everyone to work unreasonable amounts of Saturdays is being fixed.

    This sort of thing is why unions are still very much important.

  60. row row row your boat*

    The opportunity cost of acting exclusively based on self interest and promoting that kind of culture is that the company (and OP) won’t get the benefit of speedily solving problems through collaboration. It’s not wrong to act with self interest, but there’s clearly huge opportunity cost that I think a good share of the commenters are picking up on. I just hope OP realizes that, if they switch jobs to another plant, that plant might have a culture that really conflicts with the one OP is currently in. I think this is why Alison is always warning LWs to be mindful of letting company culture define our own values and work habits.

    I just can’t shake the feeling that what we all actually want to talk about are the differences in work cultures that allow this sort of self-interested thinking to thrive and be rewarded, not debate whether LW was right for production-overflow-proofing his weekends. What is the culture of LW’s company, and does that culture create a sustainable work environment for the workers?

    If anything smells fishy here to me, it’s this company culture that allowed all of this to happen. I really hope that if LW ever looks for a new office, they come up with really good interview questions for ascertain exactly what about this culture they like so they can look for it again. I wouldn’t want to work for this sort of organization, though, because I know at my current org that if I am prioritizing the work, then my org with prioritize me. There’s trust and goodwill in my org, and I am not reading any of those values in either of LW’s letters.

    It’s important to remember that sometimes what works for us also tells on us. LW, in my org you’d be brought in for a serious talk about whether your work was a good fit for how our company operates, and I also work for a major manufacturer.

    1. sequined histories*

      The OP would not be brought in for “a serious talk” because nobody knows about their workaround because OP kept their mouth shut about it, and their creeptastic (and now fired) manager—the only person who seemed to notice and care—wasn’t able to figure it out.

      If your workplace is so vastly superior to OP’s, they presumably wouldn’t put people in this bind in the first place.

      I think the general tenor of a lot comments on this post is that the OP—someone at the very bottom of the workplace hierarchy—has a moral obligation to push back/manage up/take responsibility for fixing major problems, and that it’s “shady” for the OP to simply use their ability to analyze data and draw a conclusion from it to work within this craptastic system to take care of their family.

      Sure, a less toxic workplace would promote more collaborative behavior. Drawing negative conclusions about the OP’s personal character based on this survival strategy is blaming the victim.

      If your workplace DESERVES more collaboration and emotional investment from workers, it will get them, not by avoiding shady characters like OP, but by treating people better in the first place.

      1. row row row your boat*

        The opportunity cost of corporate altruism is that I don’t get my way. It’s a cost I am willing to pay. It appears based on your multiple comments in their thread that you feel differently.

        1. sequined histories*

          I believe very, very strongly in altruism.

          I am a public school teacher who has been working 80+ hours per week for the past school year to make remote instruction work as well as possible for my students in a high-poverty school district. I recently worked 8-14 hours every single day (no weekends) for a solid month in that effort. I definitely don’t get paid extra for extra effort, either. I am not focused on just looking out for # l.

          I am simply outraged and horrified that there are so many comments on this thread demanding so much altruism from a worker who is at the very bottom of the social hierarchy.

          My father grew up very poor. His mother was a factory worker with an 8th grade education. By all reports, she was very kind and altruistic. I am not saying people with fewer resources cannot or should not be altruistic.

          However, I am deeply troubled by the implication that great altruism is obligatory on the part of someone who may very well be struggling just to get by. I want a more altruistic society more than anything. But I don’t think lecturing workers on the economic system’s lowest rung on how they—as individuals—should be more self-sacrificing is the place to start.

      2. HipsandMakers*

        But OP wasn’t on the very bottom. OP worked at the place for 10 years. Presumably that meant that OP had at least a little capital or seniority on the team. We know this because OP *used it* to talk to the plant manager when the direct supervisor got particularly controlling. But OP decided not to invest any of that capital in the prior three years. It’s reasonable to ask if trying to collaborate with other team members would have gotten this problem addressed sooner, to the benefit of everyone. OP could have avoided taking PTO for regular Saturdays. Coworkers could have avoided excess OT. Obviously that’s management’s job, not OP’s. But “go in as a team and advocate for change” is a regular recommendation here for a reason.

        1. sequined histories*

          My grandmother worked on a factory floor for many years.

          People who work for an hourly wage on a factory floor only gain significant leverage as part of a large industrial union. On a class basis, they are in a very disadvantaged position. You don’t gain a lot of power or influence in the factory as a whole (much less in society) by achieving seniority in these jobs.

          No significant “capital”—of any kind—is accumulated by these workers.

          Indeed, that’s the whole point of the system.

          1. HipsandMakers*

            Ok, I’ll accept that as true. I still don’t get why OP was willing to speak up about direct supervisor’s behavior but not previously ask (or encourage other employees to ask) a general “so what caused the change in OT” question, which doesn’t target anyone directly. If the employee-employer relationship is that adversarial, the former seems like a greater risk.

      3. Forrest*

        I think this is another place where class matters. Generally speaking, people in professional and white-collar jobs have a more co-operative and collaborative approach to management, and people in manual and blue-collar jobs have a more oppositional one. There are workplace exceptions and individual exceptions, of course, but it holds fairly true across the board. I feel like a lot of this is finding a blue-collar worker culpable for not adopting a typical white-collar attitude to their employer.

        1. row row row your boat*

          This is another excellent point of view/lense that I hadn’t considered! Opportunity cost is a neutral concept, but it doesn’t account for that fact that work is not a neutral act to the employee. People work because they need the myriad of support systems that working usually provides.

        2. Forrest*

          (And I think it’s *super* interesting that many people are arguing that you should adopt a co-operative and collaborative attitude to management *because it will help you in the long-run*. I would be really interested to know if there’s any research to back that up! People really have that as an axiom and a truth about how the world works and they really want it to apply here.)

          1. row row row your boat*

            I’ve worked in environments like the OPs where, as I see it, I could do anything I wanted as long as it didn’t hurt the company or someone else and I got my job done well.

            I’ve also worked in environments where a much more collaborative approach was taken and I was coached for acting selfishly in an org where work just wasn’t done that way, and I’m much happier in the later, and I’ve been thinking a lot about how to find that culture again if and when I move on. My suggestion to OP was that they go through the same exercise since their current work culture is once in which they thrive. My intent was NEVER to claim that one is better for everyone, only what is better for me and how I arrived or am trying to arrive that those conclusions.

              1. row row row your boat*

                And I want to thank you for kindly pointing out the inherent classism in my analysis. It’s helping me refine even further how I am thinking about work-cultures and how they feed or deplete employees.

        3. penny dreadful analyzer*

          honestly, even in more white-collar workplaces, i have absolutely seen people – usually well-educated but younger workers – approach problems with an expectation that communicating clearly and honestly is the responsible and adult thing to do, and then be unpleasantly surprised when the company decides to just squish them like a bug.

  61. anne*

    maybe I’m a terrible person, but I can’t find it in myself to be judgy towards OP.

    At the end of the day, work is work, even in jobs we love, and at the end of the day, family (whether a wife and child or some sort of found family) are the most important, not coworkers. Sure, it would’ve been nice to share with coworkers, but I’m having trouble imagining a risk free scenario where you spread the word to all coworkers. On the other hand, this certainly would’ve again, been nice, and the fact OP likely felt that they couldn’t do this without risk (even a personal more “selfish” risk of losing their own Saturdays) shows the need for unions.

    I think whether OP did right or wrong or neither is down to personal perspective and views, and I get all takes, but I do think the ultimate blame is with the company for not taking better care of their workers in the first place

  62. My cat is the employee of the month*

    I originally thought OP was kind of a hero for figuring out the scheduling quirk, and stand by that even more so now. I worked someplace that expected uncompensated weekend overtime from salaried employees, and it was a change from what I was originally hired for. We originally got comp time, but that was abruptly discontinued with no notice. It was the toxic tip of a toxic iceberg, but I was able to find a new job. Our manager also used to swing by our desks to see what we were working on, so I identified with a LOT of the original post. I salute OP for their creative problem solving, and for bringing it to management.

  63. no phone calls, please*

    Okayyyy, but OP reads as being even more ridiculously smug and unapologetic for screwing over all of the co-workers. OP has learned nothing – ??

    1. Firecat*

      You’re driving on the highway and are listening to am radio. Available in all cars. You hear there is a wreck ahead, using the knowledge you sought out you take an alternate route to avoid the traffic.

      Are you screwing over everyone stuck in traffic? Because I don’t see it.

  64. That One Person*

    Its interesting seeing the comments go one way or the other. Some of it feels like people who’ve had to work Saturdays before and hated it, and so are salty about the advantage not being shared for that reason – to which I can sympathize since I hated those dreadful retail Saturday shifts (the only upside being they went so fast, but could be so awful). I’ve even had a coworker back at that old job who, towards the end of their time there, started ritualistically calling off and then swapped to attending funerals when management was becoming unhappy (and the rest of us were saltier about it since a coworker could see on their social media the party pics they were taking instead). Being salty about a working Saturday while knowing someone didn’t have to I can get, so I’m happy that it was a case of OP at least requesting time off rather than consistently calling off (as has been pointed out this means less paid time off for other reasons compared to those who apparently enjoyed the overtime pay they received).

    The point also still stands that the working Saturdays should’ve been the exception rather than the norm as they were becoming. In some ways it could also be seen that those being paid the overtime pay were taking advantage by not speaking up about the oddity of the changing schedule because they were getting more money out of it in the long run. Maybe they were being taken “advantage of” by losing their weekends, but maybe they were taking “advantage” of the business by working hours they didn’t realistically need to work. Granted I don’t think people are going to feel bad for the business compared to the people though on that front.

    However I can’t help but feel like the information was ultimately “extra” – like it wasn’t pertinent to getting their job done. It’d be like teaching someone how to request time off or fix a punch – sure you “can” walk a person through the process, but you don’t have to either. It’s nice if you do, but it’s not an obligation either if you’re not the trainer/HR/manager/etc. either. We also never hear of the other coworkers reactions to OP rarely being present for the Saturday shifts so I’d be curious whether people genuinely asked how, if they sounded upset/salty over the matter, or maybe just gave him a jokingly hard time about it.

  65. Anonymous Today*

    What if a lot of the OP’s coworkers actually liked working Saturdays for the extra money? Is he now the “bad guy” for bringing this to the attention of management, which means they will now go back to the way it was before and people will only work on a Saturday every once in awhile?

    I don’t think that what the OP did originally is any worse than what some people do who put in for vacation time towards the beginning of the year because they know when they will need the time off. Later in the year, people who want that same time slot may not be able to get it because there are already too many people who will be out of the office during that week.

  66. One Yike Please*

    Look, I’m glad a bad boss was discovered and dealt with. I am NOT glad that OP continues to say “well anyone could have done this” to explain why he didn’t share the information or bring up the issue earlier. Also “I worked ONE Saturday over the Fourth of July” really isn’t comparable to three years of “getting lucky” and avoiding working Saturdays. Everyone knows they can request off before a three-day weekend. That’s not a shady practice, it’s a really common thing to do. Not everyone knows how to interpret data to foresee a Saturday OT day.

    Also, OP has now used two analogies to explain his mindset, both of which are telling. One is basically card counting, which sure, everyone could do but it’s pretty frowned upon. The other, he actually admits that if he shared his knowledge, he’s be screwing himself out of his nice thing and he just wants to look out for himself.

    The amount of fiction people are adding to this story to justify OP being a bad coworker and unfair is amazing.

  67. Mac*

    I didn’t comment on the original post, but I sided with the OP then. I don’t care for his tone in the updates/comments here, but I can see why his attitude hardened with so many people coming down hard on him for what I think are completely reasonable actions. I think the reason I feel this way is that I have a similar situation at work.

    One of my coworkers requests all the holidays off a year in advance. We usually do not get those days off unless we work the weekend before or after the holiday. I have never seen this coworker work weekends or holidays. I do not resent him for this.

    I think our boss forgot about Christmas last year. So our only option to get the day off was to work the weekend after, and most people already had plans. That’s how we ended up in the office on Christmas morning. One of my coworkers was in a mood, and went on and on about how our CEO didn’t care about us. Not once did I hear her complain about our coworker who requested Christmas off in advance. Why would any of us blame him? He wasn’t the one making us work on Christmas. He does what he has to to protect his weekends and holidays. The rest of us save our PTO for family emergencies.

    So after all this reflection on my own biases, I still don’t think OP did anything wrong.

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