Home Work & Volunteering
Come and join our Support Circle, every Tuesday, 8 - 9:30pm! Limited spaces available! Sign up here

Advice on overtime

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
Hello and thank you for reading.

I have problem in my current work role regarding working overtime. To put it simply, I'm the one who is always lumbered with it and it is affecting my overall life greatly. You may think it might be easy to just say 'no thanks' and that should be it, but please let me explain.

A bit of background. I was made redundant in 2011 in a job I had been in for 10 years, it was a job I enjoyed until the last few years where it all changed to a 'great place to work' mantra and it became anything but. I tried to keep in the same field, but it proved unsuccessful and I was unemployed for 2 years :-(. I started a small part-time distribution business Door to Door which gave me a little money, but nothing you could truly live in (shamefully had to ask my parents for help). Left me feeling low in confidence and self-esteem, but also desperate because I needed a job. Finally got a job in 2012 and thought I was finally back on track.

The job itself can be enjoyable and there are times are I do like working for it. But as all businesses go, changes were made and they had to be made. Perfectly fine for that to happen and I am happy to embrace change (and the important one reduced contracted hours). The problem is it seems, I am the only one who has in my current role. Changes meant the usual, making savings, cutting back staff, improving work processes, etc. This meant more work and fewer staff so overtime is readily available. I was at the time (and even now) I'm very happy to work overtime and help where needed to make sure work was clear and to help the company keep their promises to their customers (but also because I was afraid that if it didn't help, I would be unemployed again).

My offer of overtime was never meant to be indefinite and my expectations were that sometimes it needed to be done and I was more than happy to do that. Because of the changes made, it was expected their would be teething problems, more work and issues. So I continued hoping that once everything settled, I could adjust to my contracted hours and dig out when needed. Sadly things have become worse not better. Staff have become very apathetic and only willing to work their contracted and nothing more. This leaves a heck of a lot of work left over each day which needs to be completed. So of course, it is (supposed to be) offered as overtime to other staff - voluntary. However for me it has escalated to very long hours 60+ each week, double my contracted hours and the ante is being upped again as those who were helping on overtime are dropping off putting pressure on me to escalate my hours in overtime.

Basically now I work a lot of days as 12 hours six days a week on my feet struggling with work that others won't or can't do. Most get two days off a week, whilst I only get one (my off day is automatically put as a working day now) and every day it is calls of overtime which I have started to struggle to refuse out of fear that it will impact me in some way or when I have tried to refuse I get guilt trips. Sometimes I am so tired I feel I don't have the energy to refuse and just say yes so that I can the work out of the way. I'm not saying the company has breached any laws or regulations because they haven't, but it feels like I am the one who has to sort it all out which is well beyond my ability and needs more staff (something which they cannot afford to do at present). The last person who had to give up working over time because of health issues was met with - 'who's going to do the overtime now' rather than asking about their health or wellbeing.

Most of the managers now look upon me as their 'dumping station.' I get knowing smiles and smart comments which are in my auditory range along the lines of 'djm2015 will do it' or 'give it to djm2015 to do.' I can tell this is impacting my health because I am slowing down, my legs are getting heavy and I feel pressure on my chest and indigestion. I want to do something about it, but I get the feeling it has got too out of control now to stop. I am looking at new work and training, but the long hours and days make me so tired that I just want to collapse at the end of the day.

I'm not laying full blame at their feet, I know I should have said no, but fear of losing my job coupled with a strong work ethic and unrealistic example setter has guided this to. Plus struggling to say no when people impose has always been a life struggle. I know people have said they will cope, but I've already had complaints of difficultly during my week off a while back which shows they are reliant on people to do overtime.

What are your thoughts?

EDIT

Just a few bits to mention
- Contracted 30 hours a week
- I've opted in to working more than 48 hours a week
- Sent all over the place so travelling eats a lot of time
- Standard 20 minute break
- Paid overtime
- Work 60+ hours for nearly 2 years

Comments

  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    1. It sounds like you deserve a break
    2. No job is worth damaging your health for.
    3. If you continue, and burn out, everyone loses.
    I'd lead with that.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I agree with Mist - it sounds like you've got yourself into a situation where you feel somewhat powerless? However, you do have choices here. The difficult thing by the sounds of it, will be to start letting go of those reasons that hold you back from saying no or standing up for yourself. Putting yourself on the same playing field as everyone else. You mention that this has been a lifelong struggle for you.
    I'm not laying full blame at their feet, I know I should have said no, but fear of losing my job coupled with a strong work ethic and unrealistic example setter has guided this to. Plus struggling to say no when people impose has always been a life struggle. I know people have said they will cope, but I've already had complaints of difficultly during my week off a while back which shows they are reliant on people to do overtime.

    From what you have said you are valued and relied upon at work. If people say they will cope then that is something for them to own - they don't have to say that if they don't want to. It's not something you can be responsible for.

    Being the person that you are, it sounds like you're taking on a huge amount of responsibility for things getting done but remember, you are completely entitled to your time off - no one is superhuman and we all need a break.

    What would it be like for you to ask for a meeting with your manager and let them know how you're feeling about your hours and that you can't carry on at this level of output? Have a think about what you would be okay with and go in with some suggestions too as that can feel more proactive. If it is starting to impact on your health then they need to know.

    As Mist says, it sounds like you're heading towards burnout. Working 6 day weeks with 12 hour days just isn't sustainable and I feel really concerned to hear that's what you're doing. It also sounds like your past experience of being without work really impacted on you and your self-esteem so it's understandable that you have found it hard to take risks in standing up for yourself perhaps through fear of losing your job.

    However, stress is serious and can cause a great deal of health issues - physical and mental. You are important and your health and wellbeing is important.

    When you came here to post this thread - I wonder if you may have been hoping for replies that helped you to gain confidence? I get a sense that you know that what's happening for you now can't continue and that it's not fair?

    Let us know how you're getting on :yes:
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    P.s From a legal point of view the ACAS helpline can give you practical advice on your rights at work around your contract, hours, breaks etc. Here's the link: http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=4489

    They have an online advice service as well as a telephone helpline :)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Quick update on what is happening. It has taken me all week to get back because time has been limited.

    Done about 60 hours again this week and really feeling tired. Woke up with bad indigestion this morning so take a swig of Gaviscon which is becoming a daily medicinal aid to indigestion.

    Managers have become aware that I am unhappy travelling to far so have limited where I work which is a plus, but I feel guilty because I don't want to be that employee who makes life difficult. Plus if no one does the job, it is down to them to complete it which is a bit unfair on them. Not sure who told them, but I suspect my moaning has been passed over to them.

    I know I need to speak to them about this so I have noted some bullet points down

    - Requesting a 48 hour maximum working week (but not cancelling the opt-out - UK law states a max of 48 hours working, but people can opt out)
    - Occasionally going over 48 hour maximum if required, but within reason (say 15-30 mins depending)
    - Spreading 48 hours over 6 day week, 8 hours a day, or 10 hours + one 8 hour day over 5 days to ensure one day off, plus one rotating day off when needed
    - Limiting overtime destinations to a maximum of 20 minutes driving time (currently destinations are 40 minutes +)
    - Being open and honest to managers if overtime requests are overly imposed
    - Refusal or limitation of overtime if request goes beyond said measures allowed

    Christmas time is the busiest period for where I work. In that time, above list would be less stringent and more flexible if required. Christmas period lasts roughly for four weeks every year as a guess-timate.

    I feel 48 hours is about right for the work I do and it still ensures I am going above and beyond my actual contract hours which is currently set to 30 hours per week.

    I need to be pluck up the courage to do this, but won't be for a couple of weeks as the person I need to speak to will be away, plus a family member will be hospitalised for a while because of an operation so I will be needed at home for support at times.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    You need to stop feeling guilty. Your health comes first and you need a life away from work.
Sign In or Register to comment.