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Working Off the Clock, How Much Is Too Much? 582

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the volunteering-isn't-voluntary dept.
The Wall Street Journal has word of yet another suit against an employer who required an "always on" mentality to persist because of easily available communications. Most of us working in some sort of tech related job are working more than 40 hours per week (or at least lead the lifestyle of always working), but how much is too much? What methods have others used in the past to help an employer see the line between work and personal life without resorting to a legal attack? "Greg Rasin, a partner at Proskauer Rose LLP, a New York business law firm, said the recession may spawn wage-and-hour disputes as employers try to do the same amount of work with fewer people. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act says employees must be paid for work performed off the clock, even if the work was voluntary. When the law was passed in 1938, 'work' was easy to define for hourly employees, said Mr. McCoy. As the workplace changed, so did the rules for when workers should be paid."
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Working Off the Clock, How Much Is Too Much?

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  • Where do I begin (Score:5, Informative)

    by weave (48069) * on Monday August 10, 2009 @05:55PM (#29016717) Journal

    Oooo, an opportunity to whine! I'll start.

    I don't mind working in the middle of the night if nagios wakes me up because something went wrong. Sure beats having to deal with it first thing in the morning. But what ticks me off is when I roll into work 30 minutes "late" the next day and it's like "Oh look, weave is rolling in late again."

    But the big scam is comp time. Work after hours? Gotta take comp time. But then there's never an opportunity to use it, and if you do manage to use comp time, you don't get a chance to use all of your vacation time, and at the end of the year you lose unused vacation time. If you insist and take all of your comp time and vacation time, people are whining that you're always on leave and never around and then when projects don't get done, you get dinged on your performance eval.

    • Re:Where do I begin (Score:5, Interesting)

      by networkBoy (774728) on Monday August 10, 2009 @06:00PM (#29016765) Homepage Journal

      My simple solution?
      I refused my last promotion to an exempt position, instead staying a technician. I do engineering level work, with engineering responsibilities, but technician pay. Thing is, while my "per hour" may be lower, my total pay is nearly the same, because engineers are "always on" and I get OT.
      Further I can bail after 8 hours and no one can bitch about it. Overall it's a better deal than people realize. Once my kids get older I may take a promo, but not till then.
      -nB

      • Must be nice... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TheMCP (121589) on Monday August 10, 2009 @07:12PM (#29017555) Homepage

        Must be nice to be able to do that.

        Here in the Boston area, any computer job that pays enough to survive is exempt. And when I say "enough to survive" I mean "enough money to live indoors, have heat, hot water, electricity, and food".

        If you insist on being paid hourly instead of salaried, most employers will refuse, and the few that will oblige will then put it in writing that you're not allowed to work any overtime without being authorized in writing in advance, and then they'll use that to screw you - if you try to put in for overtime, they'll insist that it wasn't authorized, and if you insist they pay you for it, they'll terminate you for violating the overtime policy. Of course, if you refuse to work the overtime they ask for (which you know you won't be paid for because there's no written authorization) then in your next review they'll say you have a bad work ethic, and refuse to give you a raise.

        Personally, I'd like to see salary exemptions be eliminated.

        • by Jerry Smith (806480) on Monday August 10, 2009 @08:11PM (#29018073) Homepage Journal
          Come work in the EU: we understand what you say, pay overtime and have a acceptable climate.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by TooMuchToDo (882796)
            Where can a US citizen such as I sign up to do so? My wife has always wanted to live in France for 3 months (at least).
          • by kklein (900361) on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:51PM (#29018673)

            We know. But the EU doesn't hire Americans.

            And every time we try to make the US a livable place like Europe has become, inbred morons (aka Libertarians) start shouting "commie!" Just look at the hassle we're having trying to set up a relatively simple health insurance reform to be something akin to what Japan has (I live in Japan--it works!).

            Basically, the super-wealthy here have convinced the lower-middle class that they're on the same side, and that what is good for the new nobility is good for Joe the Plumber. This isn't too hard, because Joe the Plumber is a moron.

            Europe and Japan are run by the middle class. It's better that way.

            • by networkBoy (774728) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:26PM (#29018893) Homepage Journal

              Commie!

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by joocemann (1273720)

              I"m surprised that the truth you've spoken is tagged 'flamebait' at this moment.

              I'm guessing slashdot readers in the middle class are not immune to aristocratic influence...

              I mean... hell... we've politicized science in the US! people actually think global warming is a conspiracy among science! thats how easily manipulated people are here... what the fuck!

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by dunkelfalke (91624)

              Dude, European politicians are too eager to copy the worst of the USA.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by ErikZ (55491) *

              I have never heard the new health care bill described as "Just like what they have in Japan!"

              Maybe it's not the "Inbred Morons", maybe it's those who think they're mentally superior. In other words, it's you and your attitude that you're just too good to explain the health care bill to the populace.

              And citing platitudes is not explaining.

          • by daem0n1x (748565) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:09PM (#29018773)

            Not here in Portugal. We have European-grade labour laws that no company respects. They always count on you to work late and on weekends without any pay, which is illegal. And the corporate lobbies keep whining on TV about how hard our labour laws are...

            Not all is bad, though. At least about climate, you can't get much better than us :-)

            • When on of my previous UK companies asked me to opt out of the EU Working Time Directive I said no.

              I was told how my career would suffer, about not getting bonuses, etc.

              Then 2 months later the company reorganized personnel, several of the people that issued the "advice" were moved or let go, and I got my bonus and career progression continued as expected, but without ever killing myself (for the last 11 years I rarely have worked more than 35 hours per week).

              In another job I knew I was the person clocking t

            • by gmack (197796) <.gmack. .at. .innerfire.net.> on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @04:36AM (#29020727) Homepage Journal

              Could be worse. Try Spain. The wages in Spain suck badly compared to the cost of living and even though I get payed well above average if I wanted a decent place to live I would expect to spend 50% of my income on rent. My employers here keep going on about how much I'm making compared to Canada (I make $500 more per month than I did in Canada) but the cost of living means I actually have the spending power that someone that in Canada would consider below the poverty line.

              To top it off most Spanish companies work by seniority rather than skill and their culture seems to dictate that if they have a complaint they will tell everyone (including the boss) except you about it. And don't even get me started on how the average Spaniard would rather leave something partially working rather than fix it if it means putting in effort and if said fix has even the smallest chance of breaking something I am outright banned from doing it. I actually caught someone trying to disable my security update notifications on one of the servers.

              Throw in a huge government bureaucracy where the rules depend on who you talk to and you can spend weeks trying to get permits and never be quite sure if you will succeed and have to start over from the beginning.

        • Re:Must be nice... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by AK Marc (707885) on Monday August 10, 2009 @08:51PM (#29018333)
          Of course, if you refuse to work the overtime they ask for (which you know you won't be paid for because there's no written authorization) then in your next review they'll say you have a bad work ethic, and refuse to give you a raise.

          What, there's no company email? If they ask, respond "yes" in an email. "Sure, I'll work the requested overtime until I complete the project." Then follow it up the next day with "it took me 3 hours more to complete the task." Feel free to not actually put that on your OT card. Then, after 6 months to a year, do the same thing, but start putting it on your timecard. If they fire you, sue for millions. You will win, easily (and for about 10 times your yearly wage, give or take). If they don't fire you, then you'll either get lots of OT pay or never have to work OT again, also both being wins. I don't mind when companies break the law to harm me (presuming they are big enough to survive the judgement). I would just document it, then sue.
        • Re:Must be nice... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Shakrai (717556) on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:36PM (#29018587) Journal

          Here in the Boston area, any computer job that pays enough to survive is exempt

          So move somewhere with a cheaper cost of living. I have a friend who moved to Boston because she got tired of living in a small town and wanted to experience the big city lifestyle. Too bad she's too busy working 60 hours a week just to afford the crappy little apartment that she has to share with a roommate to enjoy much of anything.

          Try living in the sticks sometime. There may not be as much to do but you can actually afford to live out here. Combine that with lower crime, less traffic, better air quality and less stress overall and it's a win-win.

      • Re:Where do I begin (Score:5, Interesting)

        by antirelic (1030688) on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:28PM (#29018543) Journal

        I've given up treating myself as a traditional "employee". I refuse to work any amount of time uncompensated. Much like my employer refuses to do charity work for his/her customer. Every hour I work without getting paid is ultimately reduces my hourly rate.

        I treat myself as a business. If I am not getting paid, I am not showing up. All life long we trade time for money. If your not getting anything for your time, than you are losing out. Some could argue that money isnt worth time, but thats a load of horse crap (since you'll run out of time if you dont eat).

        Anyway. I've been able to do this because I stopped thinking like my parents trained me too as soon as I realized 1. corporations are going to do whatever it is they need to do to maximize profite, 2. i need to think EXACTLY like corporations, 3. that there are other companies out there that are willing to compensate me better than my current employer. All I have to do is provide the skills and expertise to entice them to give it to me. And thats one part training, and two parts marketing.

    • by AuMatar (183847) on Monday August 10, 2009 @06:04PM (#29016821)

      Solution: take it anyway, you've earned it. Don't give a fuck about evaluations. Realize that the best way to get a raise is to find a new employer. If you think you're being punished for using comp time, start interviewing.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 10, 2009 @06:21PM (#29016997)
        If you're getting screwed on evaluations for taking your comp time, chances are that you're going to get screwed on your evaluations one way or another. So listen to this guy. Screw'em and take it anyways.
      • by Grishnakh (216268) on Monday August 10, 2009 @07:06PM (#29017497)

        I'm going to second (third?) this one. In my 11 years of engineering, I've found that staying with the same employer too long is a good way to have your salary limited, as companies simply don't give raises if they don't have to. If you want more money, you need to get a new job. Remember, employers (like most companies these days) are extremely short-sighted. If you're already working for you, they'll never give you a substantial raise, and instead will just give you excuses about the economy being bad, budget cuts, etc. However, when they have a position that needs to be filled (or else work won't get done), they'll pay the market rate or else they won't fill it for 6 months or more. This means that people who hop around from job to job every 2-3 years end up making much more money than people who stay in the same place for 20 years.

        Because of all of this, evaluations are completely useless IMO. There's no point in "going the extra mile", or doing anything more than needed to keep your job. As long as your evaluation looks decent, or at least not bad enough to get you in trouble, don't worry about it. Stick around for 2-3 years, don't work too hard, don't stay late very often, and start looking for something new after that time. Repeat this cycle until you find yourself a more rewarding career (such as starting your own business, becoming a consultant, changing into an entirely different industry, etc.).

        • by Sandbags (964742) on Monday August 10, 2009 @08:49PM (#29018323) Journal

          I completly agree. I've worked in IT as a contractor or full time employee in one way or another since 1997, and had my own business since 1992 prior. I have not stayed in one job longer than 3.5 years. Most have been 18-24 months. I took the training I needed, learned the new job skills, and got a few certifications the company paid for. At some point, when I felt either I was not going to get a "fair market value" raise, I'd put out resume's, take 1-2 weeks off, and interview everywhere I could, and accept an offer somewhere with both a massive pay raise and new training opportunities. Usually by this point I'd still have 3-5 weeks vacation and comp time pent up, and I'd blow that while working on addsitional certifications. In 2 cases I convinced the employer to "lay me off" instead of another poor sap, and saved a buddy's job by putting my own head on the block. In both of those cases I got severance pay added on top of my unused vacation.

          I went from making less than $20K anually in 1995 trying to run a startup web publishing company, to 2000 where I was making 30K as a field technician and had about $8K in training budget access. By 2002 I was MS certified and took a job in IT analysys and helped a large firm rework their bench service and sales policy and develop a revenue model based on services making well over 40K. In 2005 I left them and joined a BVC working in DR. I quickly moved up the ladder there taking 3 promotions and leaving making over 60K, and received a massive amount of Linux/Unix training and DR planning experience in the process, and was exposed to hundreds of unique network systems in enterprise companies. In 2007 I worked for a regional reseller as a presales engineer working mostly on government bids in VoIP technology and major network systems, and learned Cisco networking as well as several other enterprise class systems and took in over 75K in just under a year. Now, I'm a contractor for a major firm in the state working in IT analytics and system architecture where we have near a dozen mainframes and about other 3,000 servers and should pull in close to 120K this year including my overtime pay, and I'm lined up to become a full time part of their group and within another year I should be on the management side of the systems architecture group and cross the 150K mark.

          At this point, I'm well into my 30s, and feel I'm nearing the top of the food chain without expanding into the executive IT market. The particular firm I'm with if offering a pension plan and a lot of nice benefits, and I have lots of systems I can get experience on, and my fingers on a nearly $100m IT budget. I experience new challenges daily, and the pace the company deploys systems at is nearly frightening. I have a dozen directions my career can go in, and many of thel lead into the mid six figures, and if I play my cards right, with my vast experience and ability to manage teams and projects, I have a good shot at making the leap into the executive arena, so I'm starting night classes and working on a business degree to supplement my IT degree and numerous certifications.

          If I had stayed with one of the original firms I was with (I still know some people there), I;d say I'd have a good job and a good life, but I'd be lucky to be taking in more than 60K, and that only if I was one of the top managers. Work tyour way in from the bottom, basic system services for a small retailer, move on to larger fish and consulting firms. Get into pre-sales and buff up your speaking and presentation skills, learn EVERYTHING about any system you come across. When you're coming up on your anual reviews and expecting a raise, ver WELL AWARE of what your market value is, and if possible, have an offer in your pocket to throw back at them if the raise/promotion is not at your value level. Do not let the fact that you grew up somewhere keep you from moving to a good job market area, and don't be afraid to take a job working with systems you don't know how to operate if there's training involved. Do not settle for a job that

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Grishnakh (216268)

            Sounds good. I'm a little different because I'm an embedded software engineer, and I have no desire to manage any people at all, but most of your advice works for both professions. Be careful which positions you get into, because each one is like a stepping stone to the position after that, and while you should have no loyalty to any company and as I said before, don't put in a lot of extra work, you do need to make sure that the experience you gain at each job is worthwhile, and looks good on your resume

        • by Lumpy (12016) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:09PM (#29018771) Homepage

          Yup. I've got a RAFT of glass awards and "excellence" plaques from my 8 years at Comcast. yet every time I had a review I was "satisfactory".

          My last year there I went ballistic. "I received 4 awards THIS YEAR and Single handed saved the company millions with my personal custom project that none of you approved until I demoed it and you saw what it could do."

          I refused to sign my review. The divisional manager came to "talk" to me, I reamed him a good one as well. I did not have a review that year. Which is ok. I got the same raise as everyone else did. I left the company for a better job and a promotion 2 months later. when asked why at the exit interview I gave them a sanitized bullshit reason about family to be nice and PC with them. Everyone in the department knew I was leaving for a very different reason.

          There are three things I tell everyone.
          1 -NEVER EVER trust your employer. they will screw you any chance they get.
          2 -Never EVER trust a manager, even if you are friends. They will NOT go to bat for you.

          3 -The fastest way to higher pay and promotions is to quit your job. Breaking an employment contract silently and working for the competition is a very good way to get even higher fast, going to a different state to work for the competition will keep you from getting caught.

          Honestly, you are doing your employer a favor, You aregiving them your talents for cheap, they are NOT doing you any favors. Keep that in your mind at all times.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

            Your advice is a little overly-cynical.

            There are still good companies out there, worth building a career within the company. They are few and far between, but they are gems and you don't want to miss them because you follow some blanked idea that "All companies are evil, all managers are bad, and the only way to get a raise is to quit."

            I am a contractor with an engineering group of a large company, so I essentially have two managers. One who I work for, and one who actually determines my pay and employmen

          • Re:Where do I begin (Score:5, Informative)

            by Alpha830RulZ (939527) on Monday August 10, 2009 @11:27PM (#29019271)

            Never EVER trust a manager, even if you are friends. They will NOT go to bat for you.

            Wow. Just wow. Is this, and the other manager-loathing screeds here just a measure of your own collective self distrust? If you were a manager, would you shed your character and cease to ever go to bat for a member of your team? Would you shed your humanity as if it were a lizard skin?

            I think it's smart to have some perspective about the counter incentives in a corporate structure that operate against your own self interest. But if you go through life treating everyone in a management position as a thief and a cheat, you may create a self fulfilling prophesy. If you don't trust, you don't earn the basis for trust.

            Says a manager who has:

            1) gone to the house of a depressive employee who didn't show up for three days to see if he was OK and get him to a doctor,

            2) gone head to head with a VP of HR who was hell bent on firing a junior kid for perceived sexual harrassment (poor choice of a password that someone read over his shoulder)

            3) Helped an employee change divisions and towns to elude a stalker.

            We're not all compulsively evil.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Leareth (25555)

              I'm glad you are not. However, in my experience, you are the minority.

              1st Job: Retail IT: 1.5 years - My Manager was actively committing fraud. The Store, District, and Regional Managers didn't care because he wasn't defrauding the company but instead our vendors and it made their bottom lines look good. A head hunter shopped my resume to a potential employer without my knowledge. When they called to followup references the got my manager. In spite of my being on contract, with 5 months to go, my Manage

      • Bingo. (Score:3, Informative)

        by coryking (104614) *

        I'll work overtime or after hours if the team really needs it, but I always expect to get paid. If they don't pay overtime, then I'll either arrive late the next few days, or leave early.

        If they raise a huge stink about it, I'll start looking elseware. Even in todays job market, I can be gone in 3 or 4 months max. Never in a million years would I *not* be actively looking to bai.

        I dont work for free and I suggest nobody else should. Nobody makes you work unpaid. You let yourself work unpaid and if you

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by PCM2 (4486)

      But then there's never an opportunity to use it, and if you do manage to use comp time, you don't get a chance to use all of your vacation time, and at the end of the year you lose unused vacation time.

      Not in California. You lose sick time, but vacation time is essentially money in the bank. Either they have to give you the time off or else give you the balance in cash.

      • by dave562 (969951)
        Can you offer some links to back up your assertions? Where I work my employer caps our vacation time. After we've accumulated a certain amount of time we either have to use the excess before the end of the year, or lose it. I'd like to see something in writing that says the practice is illegal.
        • Re:Where do I begin (Score:5, Informative)

          by Chyeld (713439) <chyeld@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Monday August 10, 2009 @06:31PM (#29017101)

          I'll save you some time, there is no such law. Accrual rates can be capped even in employee friendly California.

          On the other hand, Californians are protected from "use it or lose it" plans.

          See here [ca.gov].

        • by PCM2 (4486) on Monday August 10, 2009 @07:18PM (#29017601) Homepage

          As someone below posted, they can cap your accrual. As in, they can't take away vacation time that you've already accrued, but once you accrue a certain amount, they can say you stop accruing until you use what you already have. Which is almost the same thing as taking your vacation away ... but only almost. People act like the company is cheating you, but what this really is is an incentive to take your vacation time.

          The GP seems to be complaining that his employer is giving him all this comp time but then there's never time to take his vacation. "Sorry, boss-man, but at this company, taking my vacation time is HR policy. I don't have any choice. If I fail to take the vacation time, they reprimand me by restricting my compensation." (In this scenario, notice the emphasis on growing a pair.)

          Let me throw another one out there: Everybody hates the office martyr. You know the one. She seems to be there every night until long after everybody leaves, but she never seems to get anything done. Whenever more work lands on her plate, she complains, "OMG, can I possibly get any more work? I never have time to get anything done as it is!" You suggest that maybe she's burning out and should take some vacation time. "I caiiinnn't! Have you seen how much work they pile on me? This place would fall apart if I took three days off." Eventually everybody else starts picking up work from this employee's plate "as a favor," because she never gets anything done, and still she won't take vacation, and still she keeps complaining. Encountered one of those before?

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Sandbags (964742)

            At our firm, the max you can carry over year to year is 800 hours... aka 20 weeks.

            Once you've built up 20 weeks vacation, additioally accrued vacation is paid out in the last pay check of the month automatically. You can't earn more vacation, but they have to pay it to you.

            Also, Vacation accual is also subjec tto overtime. If you make time and a half, vacation accual is at time and a half too. If you would earn 8 hours vacation for working "one month", so that's typically 2 hours per 40 hour week, and y

        • Re:Where do I begin (Score:5, Informative)

          by Falconhell (1289630) on Monday August 10, 2009 @07:33PM (#29017755) Journal

          I cant believe any of this is legal, you really do get totally screwed in the US with working conditions.

          In Australia, all annual leave is cumulative, that is all untaken leave adds up. If you leave the employer it must be paid out in full.

          Sick leave is cumulative too.

          Annual leave is a minimum of 4 weeks and 2 weeks sick leave.

          Why are such pathetic working condidtions tolerated?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by DocHoncho (1198543) *

            Why are such pathetic working condidtions tolerated?

            'Cause Americans are Hard Workers goldurnit and only a Socialist would mandate minimum vacation time! If you don't like getting treated like shit at your current employer, roll the dice and see if you can't get treated slightly less shitty at the next one!

            We're still shackled by the Puritans and their lunacy. Who knows when we'll finally cast off THAT baggage. And then it's socialism city baby!!! Yeeee-haw!

            • Begin here (Score:4, Interesting)

              by fnj (64210) on Monday August 10, 2009 @08:31PM (#29018211)

              The U.S. is neither genuine socialist nor fascist, but a perverted development of what USED to be rampant free market. In both socialism and fascism, the state controls/directs the engine of production, either cooperatively (fascism) or by seizing it (socialism). In the U.S., the engine of production has run wild and seized control of the state, mostly through rampant corruption. To the extent the U.S. flirts with socialism, it is a distorted, perverted kind of socialism. In the real thing, the state operates with the welfare of the people at heart. In the U.S. form, the state has only the welfare of special interests at heart: narrow constituency blocks, filthy rich operators who have the goods on the pols and their appointees, and the like. Simply put, the hard working middle class is robbed to support an essentially valueless, parasitic bottom layer and top layer. All the real people get is a kick in the ass by a fat, smug, self satisfied system. And there is a similar perversion of the real thing when the U.S. flirts with fascism.

              The U.S. is an inbred, self perpetuating corruptocracy, plain and simple. Uncontrolled free markets cannot exist stably. This is what they degenerate into.

              • Re:Begin here (Score:5, Interesting)

                by kklein (900361) on Monday August 10, 2009 @10:24PM (#29018879)

                Wow! Out of the park.

                The death of the middle class in America is cause for real terror. You are either moving up, and therefore fodder for the future guillotine, or moving down, and looking at barely surviving.

                What you are describing is what I mean when I refer to Libertarians as "neo-feudalists." An uncontrolled market leads to serfdom.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      How it is legal to lose vacation time that is stated in contract I'll never understand. If they force you to use it, fine. If they mandate that you will lose it, then they should pay you at your equivalent hourly/daily rate for any amount over what can be carried over.
      For example, if I make 100,000 but can only carry over 5 days of vacation but have 5.5 hours saved up, then I should be paid for half a day, or 4 hours. My equivalent hourly rate would be my (salary)*(1 year/2000 hours), or $50 an hour * 4 hou

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by phantomfive (622387)
      I don't know how your job is, but I usually try to get my work scheduled by deadlines, not by hours in the office. I say, 'this job will take X number of days.' And then I finish it by that time. If I finish it faster, then I leave early on some days. If it takes longer than I expected (rare these days, now that I've gotten good at predicting how long things will take), then I work extra hours, or as soon as possible let people know that the deadline needs to be moved back. Most programmers have troubl
      • by MarcoAtWork (28889) on Monday August 10, 2009 @06:53PM (#29017381)

        let me know how well you focus when you are scheduled to work 100% on 'task X' and 4-5 unscheduled tasks come up at the same time 'oh, we just need this one thing for this customer urgently' and you can't change the deadline for 'task X' because marketing is already going and selling it

        In my experience programmers are quite good at predicting how long something would take them to code if they could code in uninterrupted chunks of time, pity that rarely happens, and the problem is that when it does happen then you end up overachieving the schedule, and next time that will be the yardstick that will be used (only next time you'll have all the other additional tasks coming in, thus making sure you won't hit the scheduled target unless you do gobs of overtime).

        Then you end up with coders padding their schedules, and managers assuming the schedules are padded and cutting them, it is really a no-win situation that is allowed to fester because the companies do not pay for overtime at time-and-a-half, if they did you can bet that they would majorly increase the efficiency allowing people to work better and so taking less time. If you have the power to basically tell people 'you either work 80 hours week, of which 40 are unpaid, or you get fired' then what incentive do you have in making schedules and working conditions better?

        It's the same deal as why in most places you have cubes or open spaces, crappy monitors/chairs, etc. etc. etc.

        • Re:Where do I begin (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Stiletto (12066) on Monday August 10, 2009 @09:24PM (#29018525)

          Stop estimating completion date and start delivering your estimates measured in "uninterrupted hours". The boss will push back but hold firm. If he insists on a calendar date, tell him "10-Oct without any other interrupting assignments." NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER unconditionally commit to a calendar date. EVER. You're guaranteeing failure.

    • by hattig (47930) on Monday August 10, 2009 @06:33PM (#29017135) Journal

      Firstly, get the nagios emails sent to your team at work as well as yourself.

      Secondly, when you start to deal with the nagios error at 2am, send an email saying "I am looking into this now", and when you're done at 3am, send an email saying "All done now, see you at 10, I need my sleep more than ever now!". Screw what other people say, make sure your boss knows every single time you work out of hours via the aforementioned email. Bosses like reading emails that says "Problem fixed." anyway. Also make a note in a log book so you can demonstrate your out of hours company-saving efforts at review time.

      Secondly, you only get one life, and within that life you only get one chance to be 20/30/40/50. Don't waste that time on work, unless you're working for yourself and doing well enough to retire well earlier than you would have otherwise. Take that time off, and be anal about it.

      Thirdly, look for another job once the market picks up. If you're good, and willing to be on call, then you're valuable, and you can go somewhere where working hours aren't set in concrete, bound with leather and chained to the ground because the boss is ex-military and gets up at 6am everyday and expects everyone else to.

    • Re:Where do I begin (Score:5, Interesting)

      by lymond01 (314120) on Monday August 10, 2009 @06:40PM (#29017211)

      But what ticks me off is when I roll into work 30 minutes "late" the next day and it's like "Oh look, weave is rolling in late again."

      I've had this same problem, though they didn't call me weave. The truth of the matter is, when you're in an 8-5 support job (and admin may include support) people expect you to be there from 8-5. If something goes wrong at 8 AM, and they page you or call your desk or stop by your cubicle, and can't find you...it's a problem. Solution is easy: communicate. Call and email your work POC (boss, administrative person, etc) when you leave the office at 2 AM and tell them you'll be rolling in late.

      As to the less powerful people who remark on your apparent tardiness, simply start a numbers game:

      "Oh, look who just woke up!"
      "2"
      "2 what?"
      "I left the office at 2 AM."
      "Oh..."

      "Hah...rolling in late again, weave?"
      "3"
      "Geez, dude. Glad I don't have your job."

      etc, etc

    • by Moof123 (1292134) on Monday August 10, 2009 @06:45PM (#29017279)

      Yeah, comp time is a scam. At a previous job my boss insisted I track all the hours of comp time I was racking up since he was sort of an idealist. When it totalled up to 4 months during a brutal stretch (80-100 hour weeks, working 30+ days straight) it just depressed me and I stopped counting any additional comp time hours. Shortly later I got promoted ($0 raise though) and moved to a new manager who asked what the deal was with the comp time hours my prior manager mentioned. When I told him it was 4+ months I was told "No". Later a week long vacation was offered up in lieu.

      I quit and lived out of my truck for 10 months instead.

      Now I work my 8 hours and go home. It's a job, no more, no less. I'm not working my butt off for 1-2% raises.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by maz2331 (1104901)

      After too many complaints about being 10 minutes late after the previous day having been a "long" one, combined with two consecutive Fridays becoming 24-hour shifts, I finally had enough and just quit.

      Funny how the employer who complained about $20 per hour now has no problem with $75 per hour. And I actually have a little liesure time.

      Incorporate.

  • Depends of course (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Monday August 10, 2009 @05:57PM (#29016733) Homepage Journal

    If you aren't exempt I'd say any is too much. You are screwing yourself and your fellow employees.
     
        If you are exempt, as TFA says it get's a little murkier. I've happily put in extra time when needed but I expect my employer to be flexible when the heat is off. Otherwise my tendency is to then lean towards voting with my feet. Right now that is easier to say than do for a lot of people. But what is acceptable varies so much from person to person that it is impossible to come up with any kind of general rule to fit all those different cases.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Clever7Devil (985356)

      "You are screwing yourself and your fellow employees."

      If you're not exempt, and especially if you have a job that logs time, this has to be reiterated. You may be willing to trade your free time to help yourself, your team, or your company. A world where nothing ever goes wrong could accept this kind of behavior. Unfortunately, we live in a world with lawyers (apologies Ray if you're reading, you're my hero). If you're off the clock and anything that needs to be "official" (read: "documented") happens, y

    • by Chyeld (713439) <chyeld@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Monday August 10, 2009 @06:40PM (#29017213)

      I'd argue the reverse. If you aren't exempt (i.e. you receive overtime pay) then take be on the clock as much as you want, as long as you are actually getting paid for it (and if you aren't then you damn well better be talking to the DOL).

      If you are exempt however, you are part of the problem by putting in so much time and not kicking up a fuss. America is full of 'idiots' who aim for that mythical salary wage thinking that they are going to get a fair shake from their boss (i.e. you put in 60 hours a week for a while, you should be able to cut back some in compensation afterwards).

      Here's the facts of life, the more work you put in as a salaried employee, the less labor they have to pay out. Even the bosses that are honest have to budget and are going to base it on what's getting done now and what's not getting done vs. "Well things are going ok right now but that's only because Tim is putting in 50 hours a week..." things just don't work that way in real life. Trust me.

      You are NEVER going to get a fair shake as a salaried worker in America without fighting for it. Frankly, if you are salaried, and you aren't looking to be the CEO some day, then letting yourself be put into a situation where you are putting in more than 40 hours a week on a regular bases is both foolish and harmful for the rest of your peers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Grishnakh (216268)

        Screw the rest of your peers, just worry about yourself. Working more than 40 hours is wasting your own valuable time, which could be spent with your family, personal hobbies, relaxing so you don't have a heart attack, etc.

  • by barnyjr (1259608) on Monday August 10, 2009 @05:58PM (#29016743)

    I make my time back by slacking off at least 75% of my time at work.

    The key is to *look* busy... and leave the cursor on the minimize icon.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Yvan256 (722131)

      George: Right now, I sit around pretending that I'm busy.
      Jerry: How do you pull that off?
      George: I always look annoyed. Yeah, when you look annoyed all the time, people think that you're busy. Think about it... [puts on an annoyed face]
      Elaine: Yeah, you do! He looks very busy!
      Jerry: Yeah, he looks busy! Yeah!
      George: I know what I'm doin.' In fact Mr. Wilhelm gave me one of those little stress dolls. All right, back to work. [puts on the annoyed face]

    • by ArsonSmith (13997) on Monday August 10, 2009 @06:12PM (#29016911) Journal

      I had such a hair trigger on my alt-tab that one time I was doing actual work when my boss walked up and bam I popped up slashdot from pure reflex. Any more I care very little.

      • Re:That's OK... (Score:5, Informative)

        by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Monday August 10, 2009 @06:24PM (#29017039)

        4t Tray Minimizer Free is the best piece of software ever.

        So far my keys are mapped as such:
        Alt-Control-H. Hide application. Not minimize or to the tray, but completely gone.
        Alt-Control-R. Pop up the dialog to return an application.
        (Shift-Control-* minimizes to the tray).

        Not just useful for hiding slashdot, but for getting "mandatory" windows out of the way.

        That plus my middle button (or is mapped to "Show Desktop") anytime I hear those footsteps, quick tap to the middle button and all that's up is my desktop.

    • Re:That's OK... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ksatyr (1118789) on Monday August 10, 2009 @07:26PM (#29017677)

      I make my time back by slacking off at least 75% of my time at work.

      A 40 hour week is far too much time to spend in a workplace; it does lead to slacking off, simply because most people can't maintain a high level of concentration for such long periods. And in reality we're talking about a minimum of a 45 hours a week, not 40, as most of us eat lunch at at our keyboards instead of leaving the office and taking the mandated break. This 40 hour work week minimum seems to be mostly an American tradition (misfortune?) too. Britain's typically have 35 or 37.5 hour weeks, often including lunch. I expect other European countries have similar or even shorter work weeks.

      We should also not discount the effect long commutes have on our performance, either. I recently swapped a two hour daily round-trip commute for a 10 minute one and feel so much more capable each morning and much less dead at the end of the day.

      I'm also unhappy about the insanity of the two weeks of vacation a year that most of us get starting new jobs, that just isn't enough to relax and recuperate, especially as it tends to be spread over a year and not taken as a single chunk. We should be aiming for a minimum of 4 weeks to start.

      So to answer the original question - not a minute more and leave your work behind at the end of the day. Tell your employer that time spent outside of work with family and friends (and actually living life) will ultimately improve performance and productivity in work.

  • Besides the effect of unrelaxed stress, there is a clear point of diminishing returns when you do a single thing overlong. For me it's a 10 hour limit. I also obey the 4pm Friday rule. To work beyond this point is stupid. But when you're always available, these limits are not communicated to the people who can reach you, generally, so you lose.

    Answer? Turn the bloody things off at night.

  • Hate to break this to you, but especially in IT, this is just the way it is. My boss, like many others, seems to think that by being my employer, he dictates what I work... even if that means I neglect my family and health. Don't like it? Leave and don't come back.

    The laws in place too to protect against such things are way too mild and useless. Someone can fire you for being sick or taking off because your kid was in a car crash... sure it isn't legal, but the trouble you have to go through to fight it, t
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The only solution is to find another job. It may not be right. It may not be fair. That IS how it is.

      Not how it is for me. Fortunately, I'm not a pussy who will walked all over. It's all fun and games until I fuck you over with extortion and blackmail. 1 primary goal of mine in any job is to infect my superior with a nice trojan. I call it "Job insurance". Any and all dirt i can get on them I will proceed to use in the event of a a legitamate excuse about family and health. I've ruined a couple of marriages

    • by AuMatar (183847) on Monday August 10, 2009 @06:08PM (#29016873)

      No, it isn't. Retraining and hiring new people is expensive- they really do need you more than you need them. Just work your 40 and leave. They aren't going to fire you, they'll just bitch. If this is a problem across the company, organize. If your entire team refuses as a group, then they're completely up shit creek.

      • by baegucb (18706) on Monday August 10, 2009 @06:30PM (#29017091)

        When I worked at a large studio in west LA, the VP, a recently retired Army Colonel, asked how long a project would take a group of programmers. He was given an estimate, but cut it in half, saying that people always lied about how long it would take. The project took months, and came in one week late. The entire group was fired. (They found out about it accidently when someone saw the termination notice for a friend and went and asked why they were all being terminated).

        When I had the start of a similar thing with my staff, I had a meeting with him in which I pointed out the studio could be sued. He said he didn't care, the legal department was down the hall and would handle it. I left shortly after, having a standing offer at another company. In today's economy, some people may not have that option.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          When I worked at a large studio in west LA, the VP, a recently retired Army Colonel, asked how long a project would take a group of programmers. He was given an estimate, but cut it in half, saying that people always lied about how long it would take. The project took months, and came in one week late.

          So what in fact he should have done was take a third off, not half?

          The VP was/is an asshole (not at all surprising for a Hollywood exec).

          But if the project took "months" (let's say 4) and was a week late, t

    • by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Monday August 10, 2009 @06:37PM (#29017179)

      Maybe "that's just the way it is" where YOU work. I've had my boss' boss standing in my door tapping his watch at 5 minutes after. "It's Friday. What the Hell are you still doing here?"

      Of course, that can burn the other way. There have been several occasions when shit just plain needed to get done and it didn't because my boss did the end-of-day "road runner". Sure, he takes the heat for those situations but I'd much rather spend 15-20 minutes fixing something after hours than have to spend an hour or two cleaning up the mess the next morning. It feels unprofessional to leave a simple job incomplete just to avoid working a few extra minutes.

    • by staeiou (839695) * <(staeiou) (at) (gmail.com)> on Monday August 10, 2009 @06:49PM (#29017335) Homepage
      Hate to break this to you little girl, but especially in the textile industry during this new Industrial Age, this is just the way it is. My boss, like many others, seems to think that by being my employer, he dictates what I work, where I live, what I eat, who I can associate with... even if that means I neglect my family and health. In fact, I lost an arm in one of the factory machines a few years ago - didn't see me trying to fight the system, because I know how hard it is. Don't like it? Leave and don't come back.

      The laws in place to protect against such things are way too mild and useless. Someone can fire you for being maimed in their own machinery or assaulted by their own managers... you can even get fired for refusing to have sex with your manager... and then get fired for getting pregnant if you do! Sure it isn't legal, but the trouble you have to go through to fight it, then what you get in return for doing so is horribly skewed.

      The only solution, my dear child worker, is to find another job. Don't bother forming a union with others - strikes have never worked and never will. Don't bother protesting, or trying to raise awareness by getting your story out. Don't try the courts - they are just a horrific waste of time stacked against you. And especially don't bother voting - except with your feet to another employer. What? You can't leave because nobody will hire a child who has already run away from a factory? You can't leave because you don't have the money to go looking for another job because you're employed 17 hours a day just to eat? Well child, the best you can do is be resigned to your life of virtual slavery, complaining to yourself that the system just doesn't work for you. It may not be right. It may not be fair. That IS how it is.
  • Definition of work (Score:5, Informative)

    by Xemu (50595) on Monday August 10, 2009 @06:00PM (#29016761) Homepage

    when the law was passed in 1938, 'work' was easy to define for hourly employees, said Mr. McCoy.

    It is quite easy to define 'work' for employees in any field in 2009. If management don't want perform the task themselves and someone e, then it's work.

  • Jiu-Jitsu (Score:5, Funny)

    by j_kenpo (571930) on Monday August 10, 2009 @06:00PM (#29016769)

    I informed my boss that my personal life involves me choking people and applying pressure to joints, and clarify that if my work life enters my personal life, then my personal life will enter my work life. Haven't had a problem since. You can't just let people walk all over you just because they have the title of "boss".

  • Any at all (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 10, 2009 @06:03PM (#29016797)

    Employers are always willing to make a push and demand you come in weekends or work late. But when slow times come around, do you get free time off? No, you do not. In fact, do you get anything at all for putting in the extra effort, besides the dubious benefit of retaining your job? No, you do not. So any at all is unacceptable, because there's no quid for that quo.

  • Weapon (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This is best used as a weapon. If you want me to be "on call" then you're going to pay me half time to be sober. If I'm not "on call" then I'll answer the phone if I answer the phone. We don't do "comp time"; that shit has never worked in the history of PHB's. What we do it double time from when the phone rings, and that burns enough that I can leave when I want on friday (generally) because "I've got to leave, I'm over 40 this week." That and in your contract, put in that you won't return to work until 12

  • by SoupGuru (723634) on Monday August 10, 2009 @06:07PM (#29016861)

    Weren't we all sold on the idea that these devices were going to allow us to get so much more work done quicker that we'd have more free time to take little Timmy to the zoo more often?

    Not that many of us didn't see this coming. I personally love the commercials showing a dude checking his work email or routing a package right from his phone while on vacation. Yeah, uh, blow me. This is supposed to make me want to buy your product?

    Since I'm lazy, I won't even go down the road of how the socialist Europeans can get more work done than us USians and still take a month off each year....

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Asking employees to work extra for free is akin to stealing. If a worker needs some extra income, they can't just dip into the company coffers because it is convenient. It's a shame that so many people are willing to give up their free time so easily because their employer won't do the right thing and hire more help.

    Employees tend to believe the employer has all the power, and as a result this is pretty much the case. It's hard for an employee in the tech sector to demand a reasonable 40-45 hour workweek wh

  • The greatest trick that Milton Friedman ever pulled was convincing the world unions don't exist.

  • Get Clear First (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jekler (626699) on Monday August 10, 2009 @06:12PM (#29016907)

    Before you even take a job, get clear on how often you'll be expected to work overtime and exactly how you're going to be compensated. If I need to have an "always on" mentality, the company needs to have an "always paying" mentality.

    I realize that crunch time is the thing to do in the IT industry, but get clear up front so that kind of work cycle is something you understand when you accept the company's offer. If I need to put in an extra 10 hours every week or be on-call, I'm going to factor that into my salary negotiations. Once the deal is brokered, I'm left with a sense of satisfaction because I have the peace of mind in knowing I'm not being taken advantage of, I'm doing exactly what I signed up for.

    • Re:Get Clear First (Score:5, Insightful)

      by avandesande (143899) on Monday August 10, 2009 @06:26PM (#29017055) Journal

      Actually I believe that constant fire fighting is the mark of a poorly run organization. I would run from a company like this even if I was compensated.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by staeiou (839695) *
      This is the piece of advice that is always thrown around in these kinds of discussions - and for good reason - but it doesn't get you anything more than peace of mind. Yes, you should obviously ask that question in the interview, but that doesn't guarantee you anything. First, it is incredibly easy and tempting for the employer to simply 'underestimate' on such a question, and you will rarely get anything in writing to bind that spoken assurance. Another situation in bigger companies is that the person w
  • by mrsam (12205) on Monday August 10, 2009 @06:16PM (#29016951) Homepage

    In what I consider my best career move, more than fifteen years ago I resigned as an employee, and I've worked as a contract IT consultant ever since. Really, made not much of a difference in the kind of work I do, except that I now get paid hourly, rather than on a salary.

    Funny how once you start getting paid by the hour, all the demands to work 40+ hours a week disappear all by themselves. When I was an employee, and worked together with consultants, the difference in how we were treated, even though, for all practical matters, we did the same kind of a job -- the difference was quite an eye opener.

    But rather than bitch and whine about the raw deal I was supposedly getting, I figured, well, if that's where the wind is blowing, I'll just come along for a ride. So I became a consultant. I do not remember the last time I had to work +40 hours a week. Must've been well over ten years ago. Although I still get the same calls that wake me up in the middle of the night, I now keep track of my time, and make sure that, at the end of the week, I put in, more or less, the same 40 hours.

    It's nice having my life back.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Matheus (586080)

      I would have to addenda this. Up until a couple years ago I had that life and that job. I got paid, and well, for the hours I worked and still was able to live my own life (which is WHY I work)

      Unfortunately, that only works if the hours keep coming. At some point you reach a critical mass which keeps your hours full and so your bank account but when the hours stopped coming I was hurting bad.. enough so that I eventually had to get a "day job"

      Yes, there are bunches of trade-offs but as long as I maintain

  • The Choice is Simple (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ohio Calvinist (895750) on Monday August 10, 2009 @06:16PM (#29016957)
    For me, the choice is simple, I'll do what it takes to get the job done so long as management's expectations and goals assume a 40 hour week. I'll work after my 40 hours if to help out as needs so long as their expection and goal hits that mark. If they every give me grief about being a few minutes late due to traffic, etc... but don't pay me for the 20-30 minutes I worked over the day before, we'll have a problem and I'll never work another second over 5o'clock ever again.

    Aside from that, they know the law and if they want something done bad enough to tap over 40 hours, they can pay time and a half, or decide that it can wait until tomorrow.

    What I cannot imagine is how an employer can reasonably expect someone to work extra without pay except as part of a "lets keep it friendly and I might need you a little late every now and again and you'll want to ditch out a little early now and again and lets not make a federal case over it" mentality. If you had to contract out work to a plumber, per-se you'd instantly assume they would get paid hourly... period. What I understand even less is geeks who work insane hours knowing their company probably considers them at best, a necessary evil, full well knowing that it is the (legal) responsibility of the employer to either fund enough positions to get the hours of service they feel they need to cover, or fully expect to pay when they use the workers post 40 hour free-time.

    I feel that if you are setting the employer's expectation that a technician (or whatever) is willing to work 60 hours' for 40's pay, you're harming all the technicans who do want to pursue outside interests on their own time, and when the day comes that you're ready to scale back to 40... you could have painted yourself into a corner.
  • by Tryfen (216209) on Monday August 10, 2009 @06:17PM (#29016971) Homepage

    ... How many Post-It Notes can I steal before I'm fired?
    One? A pack? A crate?

    Working overtime and not being paid is the equivalent of the company stealing your time.

    Now, I'm a reasonable guy. I'll go home half an our late and not put in for overtime / TOIL. But you better believe that I'm taking some Post-Its with me.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by QuantumG (50515) *

      And by "post-its" you mean 500gb external hard drives right? no-one follows the backup policy anyway.. They're just going to waste!

  • The federal Fair Labor Standards Act says employees must be paid for work performed off the clock, even if the work was voluntary.

    At my employer many of the IT staff are expected to work "on the weekends" with no additional compensation. Especially if they are claimed to be managers. So in essence, my management claims that we're always "on the clock."

  • by ZX-3 (745525) on Monday August 10, 2009 @06:50PM (#29017351)
    I'm a software developer on a federal contract. My hours are _capped_ at 80hrs/2wks.

    If I have to stay late early in the pay period, I have to leave early later in the pay period. Working extra hours requires advance approval and enough paperwork that it is almost never done. My contracting company faces penalties if they let/force us to work "off the clock". I have been told that this is to prevent preferential treatment in future contract bids (it would not be fair if a company had a reputation for working more than they bill), but I don't know if that's the actual reason. I have also heard that it is because we are at a client site, and cannot work unless government people are there to babysit us, and they rarely work extra hours. Either way, I have a lot more free time, and better pay, compared to when I was in dot-coms.
  • Been okay for me (Score:4, Insightful)

    by seebs (15766) on Monday August 10, 2009 @07:28PM (#29017709) Homepage

    I pretty much aim for about 40 hours. I'll do maybe closer to 50 during busy times. Anything past that, I expect them to make it up to me somehow -- and they usually do just fine about that. The management know that if we are working much longer hours, it means something is probably wrong, and they regard it as evidence that they need to fix the schedule. Sometimes, they really do ask for more work, but at least so far, comp time has been real and has actually worked out pretty well. I would not stay someplace that expected me to do 50+ hours regularly; that would indicate to me that they didn't understand basic facts about engineer capabilities. So I work a reasonable amount, put in a bit of extra time when it seems like it'll make a big difference, and sometimes slack a bit when things are slower and/or I'm a bit burned out. We make deadlines, the code's decent, and everybody's happy.

    I've seen people whose managers wanted a lot more than that, and I've also seen people leave and go to other jobs, and I think that's pretty closely related. It is not healthy to try to work 60-hour weeks all the time, and since it's bad for developers, it ends up being bad for companies -- it produces worse code.

  • by protocoldroid (633203) on Monday August 10, 2009 @07:50PM (#29017905) Homepage
    Let me get my Tony Robbins on and say: You have the power to make it how you want it -- your employment is a business deal between you and your employer. And you don't have to be a slave, make it better for yourself, because no one else can do it quite like you, and no one else will do it for you, but you.

    I'm hired as a "web developer" by title, and last November, my team lost our sysadmin (he quit -- well actually got a job that paid twice as much or so he claimed). We work with production systems which must serve our customers 24/7, so that guy played a pretty critical role in our department. The company decided to not hire another one, and use a consultant. Seeing I was the only guy on the team who had experience with both production systems and linux, I became the de facto guy to look after the systems. That meant carrying a pager and being called on to work on systems at their beck and call, not to mention I'm still around available as a developer. In other words: I have written enough crappy code that half my life is dedicated to maintaining it, and that world doesn't stop spinning. (that and I work for a smaller company so, having tasks bleed is part for a course)

    My job description didn't include anything about carrying a pager sending me dreaded Nagios messages in the middle of the night, nor did I intend for it to... When I had started the job 2.5 years before I made sure to critically evaluate what the other developers on the team had to say about their hours, and made it clear with my boss what my role would be. At first, I was pretty steamed, my hire letter specifically said that I "could schedule no appointment to discuss compensation", and I was expected to do it. I felt punished for competence: You are able to do this, so you must do this as well -- without recompense.

    But I turned it around. I started saving extra money to sock away for a rainy day -- specifically to save up to the point where I could tell my boss with authority: to make a deal or I have to hit the road. You can do the same thing: save money, or find another job offer.

    Then I broke my contract, asked directly for a raise, and said that my job description had gone severely out of bounds from where it started and that I needed to be justly compensated for it and would like to have my job title, job description and financial compensation adjusted to match. It took 3 months for the company to come back to me. I had to reiterate this to my boss 3 times as well, once a month I did. I had formulated my plans for negotiating, but, I had no chance to negotiate. They came back to me and said "congratulations you got the biggest raise, percent wise in company history! but our HR consulting firm shows that web developers don't make a lot of money..." hand shake, end of story -- I wasn't satisfied.

    I went home, did my homework, compared what the HR consulting firm had to say with what the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( www.bls.gov ) had to say compared, and compared my roles with what they had listed (and stats work the same way they always do: I have my biases and clearly I saw that I was worth more than they said!). I went back to my boss the next morning and told him straight up: "Your HR consulting firm, and my HR consulting firm, don't match up... The thing is: I do actually want my job, and I do want to help and I want the deal to be good for both parties. I think I can offer you a better deal as a consultant". Maybe you can't afford to do that, but, I am a single guy and I would've wanted to.

    There was no way they wanted that, I had proved my worth, AND I had shown that I put a value on myself and my time. They wanted to have me as a regular salaried employee -- I can only guess their reasons, but I'm sure it has to do with being ready and able to take on new tasks instead of getting a bill for everything they ask you to do [however a power negotiating tool, no?].

    So in short: I got what I wanted, more money and now I flex my time and my place at my job (what he couldn'
  • by Brian_Ellenberger (308720) on Monday August 10, 2009 @08:09PM (#29018057)
    I find it funny that the same group of people that encourages everyone to donate their time and labor for free has such a hard problem giving a couple extra hours to the company that is actually paying them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Qwell (684661)
      I think you're missing a key difference. I can stop working on my pet project at any time I want (just like I can choose to stop flying RC planes if I want). If I choose to spend 80 hours a week writing software I enjoy doing for free - great. But if an employer is going to dictate how I'm going to spend my "free time", they're going to pay me for it.

"And do you think (fop that I am) that I could be the Scarlet Pumpernickel?" -- Looney Tunes, The Scarlet Pumpernickel (1950, Chuck Jones)

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