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  • 20-02-2022 11:59am
    Registered Users Posts: 3

    Like many others I'm sure, I had a pretty terrible year at work last year - all remote and very long hours (I work for a law firm so this is the norm, although even allowing for that this was excessive). I had worked nearly 3,000 hours by the end of the year. To add to the hard work, there were a couple of "crunches", where jobs weighed against each other and I couldn't do both - this meant letting a very senior person down.

    Someone from HR caught me at the end of the year and asked what had happened (good question - not sure why one of the partners I work for hadn't asked it sooner). We agreed it wouldn't happen again - I would try to get my hours down and say no to work if necessary. I then had a couple of weeks off at Christmas.

    Fast forward a month and a half, and things go quiet for a week or so. I'm immediately offered some new work - despite everyone involved knowing my existing work will likely get busy again in a couple of weeks. I think (for whatever reason, timing wise) I'm starting to feel the effects of 2021 - have been struggling to sleep through the night and generally am very tired.

    I'm minded to push back against the new work, but also mindful that this is unlikely to be positively received. Interested to know what others would do in this situation. Part of me thinks they should be glad I'm not signed off/haven't resigned, but I know real life doesn't work that way. I am happy to keep doing my existing work - it is interesting - but just don't want to go back to a 2021 type situation where this new work means I'll have to work all the time/let someone down.

    Post edited by Big Bag of Chips on


  • Administrators Posts: 13,021 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭Big Bag of Chips

    Moved from Personal Issues Forum.

    Please read the local charter before replying.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,369 ✭✭✭JustJoe7240

    Surely speaking to your supervisor re. work load is the first port of call no?

  • Registered Users Posts: 3 KI2013

    It was actually 60 hrs per week averaged. I work in a law firm so we opt out of the Working Time directive.

    My current issue is that things are in a dip between being very busy and potentially getting busy again. I was hoping not to be assigned further work until it's clear how the existing work will pan out, but I have been assigned something new and am wondering whether to push back - mostly with a view to avoiding a disaster like last year. But I'm worried that if things don't get as busy as anticipated, it will look bad (and may be taken poorly anyway). The whole thing does feel like a. bit of a betrayal by my employer.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,585 ✭✭✭LLMMLL

    I don't know anything about the legal sector but could you take on the work with a proviso that someone else will take it over if your other project requires more attention?

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,168 ✭✭✭gameoverdude

    As Jim said, you won't be able to keep this up. Prioritise, or get your boss to do so. If everything is a priority, nothing gets done.

    You think you'll get kudos for all the hours? Results are the key. One person pissed off with you and two happy...better than three pissed off with you.

    Best thing I learned to do is say no (in a professional way) and go about my business. If asked to work an extra 20/40 hours a week, don't make excuses and explain what you're doing in your private life after hours. Just not available.

    In saying that, there will be occasions you will need to do extra, but this should be an exception and make sure they know this. Favours soon become the norm.

    I have been there and effected my health, both physically and mentally as well as relationships...don't be like a younger me!

  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators Posts: 9,416 Mod ✭✭✭✭Jim2007

    The more you do, the more that is expected. The OP has clocked up the best part of 6 month overtime last year, they have no capacity to take on anything else. That is no way to live and they need get some perspective and learn how to manage their working life because no one else will do it for them - every employer will take advantage of your good nature.

    Typical things they need to learn to say:

    • I appreciate your urgency, but I'm leaving in 15 minutes as it is now 17:00, had YOU come to me earlier today perhaps we could have done something like agreeing some overtime, as it is I will address it in the morning if YOU wish.
    • I'm sorry I have no capacity at present, however if YOU wish to change my priorities we can discuss this and I will work on it in favour of what I'm doing now.
    • I have three projects on the go right now, I only have capacity for two - which two would YOU like me to prioritise?

    You team lead is responsible for the groups work load, make sure it remains their problem - that is what they get paid the big bucks for.

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  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators Posts: 9,416 Mod ✭✭✭✭Jim2007

    Sadly too many of us end up there and it would be nice if some managed to avoid it with a bit of common sense. Don't leave it until you have been signed off with a burn out to learn perspective.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,168 ✭✭✭gameoverdude

    I agree with pretty much everything you said, but I think your first point could be put a bit better if in a discussion. But 99% agree.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,585 ✭✭✭LLMMLL

    I think we're actually agreeing with each other. OP does have capacity right now but believes he may not in the future. So your "I'm sorry I have no capacity as present..." Statement is what they can say to their manager at the point they have no capacity.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,671 ✭✭✭Alkers

    How much are you getting paid for this?

    It's a job seekers market at the moment, if you're good at your role you can probably move and get more money

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,168 ✭✭✭gameoverdude

    There is also an opportunity here. They are relying on them so much, so turn it into a positive for the OP.

    Can they co-op additional resources in to look after day to day stuff, so they can look after more important stuff. "Ki2013 is looking after a priority project, we need support for them so they add extra value to our customers"(you need your managers buy in on this). Sounds like bs and I don't know your seniority, but try it out. Make yourself look more important, not necessarily can't be replaced in your role.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,114 ✭✭✭Furze99

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,715 ✭✭✭C3PO

  • Registered Users Posts: 11 TimeToDance

    The problem is you've worked 3000 hours and yet you're left with a mind-set that you've let them down and you agreed with that. **** that and feck HR (has there ever a more useless department). Partners in big law firms get through it by everyone beneath them drowning with work, stress and questions that nobody has time to deal with.

    There's no such thing as giving people reduced workloads because it just isn't possible, you're either: (a) put on new work, (b) existing work expands hugely or (c) you're contacted about work you did previously and expected to jump at new things arising from that too. Nobody cares who does it so long as it gets done.

    So it sounds to me like they've let you down. If you're working these hours, they've a resourcing problem and they're either going to lose you (as usually happens) or you're going to snap under the pressure. 250 hours a month for a year is not sustainable. You're probably exhausted.

    The question you need to ask yourself is do you want to rise up through your company? If so I think you need to tell them in a polite way no or for them to come with a solution among themselves. If you're someone who say yes to everything, they'll be more than happy to pile it on and then when it comes to crunch time and you're being slaughtered with work and then evaluations they'll try and say you're not on top of your work or whatever.

    Companies don't respect people who go above and beyond. They just expect these people to be happy with their lot. Set your ground rules and say no. Or say I'm working on X Y and Z right now. If you want me to work on this, you need to speak with the people running XYZ and come to a solution because I can't commit to all of them.

    At the end of the day, if you're good enough or they're afraid you'll leave they'll make you partner or whatever to squeeze more from you. And if not they'll have ready baked reasons why it wasn't to be. Look after no. 1 because nobody else will.

    This is the way these places operate. Punishing work all year especially December and then they throw you a few euro in January to keep you sweet. That and your bonus won't mean much when the taxman takes half and your personal health and life is in a bad place.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,715 ✭✭✭C3PO

    I also work in financial services and at least two departments in the company I’m with routinely work 60 hour weeks.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,168 ✭✭✭gameoverdude

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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,715 ✭✭✭C3PO

    I can’t imagine too many people are happy to work 60 hour weeks but these guys are very well paid!

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,168 ✭✭✭gameoverdude

    Who are? Do we know what level is the OP at? What's well paid?

  • Registered Users Posts: 11 TimeToDance

    What good is a fat bank account if you've no life and high blood pressure. It's the same reason why finance and law is a man's game. It was never that women were overlooked, it's that they can't be kept. They won't tolerate the demands.

    Once children arrive, priorities become a lot clearer and women move on elsewhere for more balance. This notion of women being able to have it all is for me a big lie pedalled around to induce guilt.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3 KI2013

    I can't speak to finance, IT or self employment but 3k hours in a year is definitely not normal in a law firm - and I am in a top London law firm. 60 hours in this context means 60 chargeable hours - not 60 hours total. Even if that was 60 hours total, I would be shocked if people are routinely averaging that amount of time per week if a year. There are studies which show that people overestimate their working hours when they are not tracked, which I am inclined to believe.

    I am mid-level - heading towards (slightly more) senior status. Pay is good - 6 figures. I'm on the fence about push back - I can see the argument that it is career limiting - but is the lack of self respect that failure to push back not also limiting in some way?

  • Registered Users Posts: 11 TimeToDance

    This is it OP. I had a feeling you meant 3000 chargeable hours which is to say this doesn't include all the nonsense general work that you have to do that isn't billed. And there's always a lot of that.

    I think you need to look after yourself OP. 3000 chargeable is going to burn you out and all in all it's probably 4000 total which is insane. You need to have a chat, maybe a group call with your bosses and say look these are the projects I'm doing right now. If I also take this and this also on, there's a good chance I won't be able to prioritise my work in the way it needs to be done because I'm on these other deals.

    It's their problem then. They need to have a conversation among themselves. It doesn't fall on you to decide these things but it will if you accept everything and other works lapses. Ultimately, you have to realise you aren't special to these people. They burn through people year after year and they've seen you x100 times over the years.

    If you like the job give yourself a chance. It's a show of strength despite it seeming like a difficult conversation to have. If they aren't able to address these issues in a way in which you can then help them, that's on them and you should consider your options. But it's hard to accept that when you're doing the hours you're doing.

    If you get sick or unwell due to work they will toss you aside and forget about you. And you'll feel even worse then. Remember only the company and the £££ matters, nothing else.

    Its about being tactful in how you approach. It's not a push back, it's saying Nigel, this is what's on my plate. I'm doing this for Boris and this for Frederick. I can take this on for you but only if I'm taken off something else because I've committed to these projects and they will take ally capacity.

    Respect your time and you will get respect. Let them bury you and they will. And they'll make you feel bad in yourself doing do.

  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators Posts: 9,416 Mod ✭✭✭✭Jim2007

    There is little point in being self employed if it cost your health and your work live balance.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,603 ✭✭✭dennyk

    This is Ireland, not the UK; there is no provision to opt out of the weekly working hours regulations of the Organisation of Working Time Act. There are conditions under which it might be possible to use a different period than the standard four month one for calculating average weekly hours, but even with a Labour Court approved collective bargaining agreement, the maximum calculation period is still 12 months, and if you've worked 3000 hours in a year, you're well over the 48-hour limit even for a 12-month period. Unless they're going with the "Well, we're a big important LAW FIRM and therefore the LAW doesn't apply to us..." argument, in which case I'm sure the WRC will be happy to explain to them why that isn't the case.

    That is how it is because employees are allowing themselves to be exploited. The law is on your side and you shouldn't be afraid to stand up for your rights and push back on your employer's unreasonable demands.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,192 ✭✭✭NSAman

    Honestly, crazy stuff.

    i worked 60-80 hours a week to build a business(es), some weeks it was 100 hours a week. You will only last so long doing that.

    if it is for yourself then fine, if it is for someone else forget it. The days of corporate heads demanding more from workers is gone. My staff sometimes work extra, but they get time off in lieu, or extra pay… their choice. The work gets done, clients are happy and staff morale is superb.

    personally, I would be cutting back, telling your superiors that work is too much and demanding that new work go elsewhere. What’s the worst they can do? Fire you? I don’t think so.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,114 ✭✭✭Furze99

    :) It's how many people live you know. Better than sitting on yer ass on the dole or arguably expecting the state or some other business to fund your life :)

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  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators Posts: 9,416 Mod ✭✭✭✭Jim2007

    Really, your alternative to a reasonable work life balance is to go on the dole......