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12/7 and Overtime on a Salary? 932

over-timeout! asks: A company I work for (in the U.S.A.) had submitted a statement of work to a client, who waited for a month before signing the work order. The work order explicitly stated a timeline which would start from the time the order is signed. However, the client is insisting on the project being completed by a fixed date, as discussed with our company's management, instead of the deadline that starts from the signing of the work order. Although our company representatives tried to push back on the date, the client refused. Because the client is among our company's biggest customers, our company's management caved in and agreed to their deadlines. Management has told us meeting deadlines means that for the next month to six weeks all of the developers involved will have to work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. The contractors involved are going to get compensated by being paid by the hour. But us salaried employees are going to get nothing in return for trading in what's left of our life so someone else in the company above us can make money. Obviously this isn't fair, but what are the alternatives in this down economy, where jobs are hard to find?" A related articles on this subject discusses suing for overtime, and California residents should find this companion article pertinent, as well. What can you do when management agrees to a timeline and a workload that may make your job, as a programmer, difficult-to-impossible?
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12/7 and Overtime on a Salary?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15, 2003 @05:42PM (#6206566)
    We pretend to work.
    • by rkz ( 667993 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @05:45PM (#6206587) Homepage Journal
      If only you lived in the EU!
      • by Dan-DAFC ( 545776 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @06:04PM (#6206759) Homepage

        To elaborate, in the EU you cannot be forced to work more than 48 hours per week. You may volunteer to work more than 48 hours, but your employer cannot insist that you do and may not punish you for refusing to.

        There was a minor fuss when this EU regulation was incorporated into UK law, but it seems to have had no negative effect and provides protection for workers.

        • No, you can't explicitly be fired.

          But when getting promotion in a corporation, or if your refusal to do something 'avove 48 hours' cost the team, then you could get a bad reference, a bad personal recommendation (not on paper, can't be audited), a bad rep, plain passed up.

          What bankers (yeah yeah yeah) in London don't do > 50 hours ALL of the time. Yes we'd like to do less, but we ALL know we'd lose our job if that were so, whatever the regulation says. Most I ever did was 400 hours/month, I didn't li
          • by canadian_right ( 410687 ) <alexander.russell@telus.net> on Monday June 16, 2003 @12:43AM (#6209224) Homepage
            You're all gutless to let your self be exploited like that. I was working hourly at a firm and was then put on salary - it was supposed to be a "promotion". Well I stopped working overtime. Did no OT at all. Management wasn't too happy, but not pissed off. I left a year later due to other unrelated problems.

            I NEVER work for free, and neither should you.

            PS - I must admit that while working as a contractor I have worked huge amounts of overtime - but I was getting paid for it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15, 2003 @05:42PM (#6206567)
    If a couple of you band together, and threaten to quit, and they need to get this done right away, they may simply not have time to hire new people. As a result, they may give in to your demands to be paid overtime.
    • by livio ( 583002 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @05:45PM (#6206588) Homepage
      ... And then fire all of you the minute the project is finshed :-)
    • I have a better idea. Show up for 40, but be extra polite, and do everything perfect. Don't call in or anything, just show up at the normal start time, leave at the normal day's end. If they call you into a meeting, don't say anything, just listen. Within 3 days time, you will be fired. But you've already got the lawyer on retainer for wrongful termination at that point.

      It may not work, but has a hell of a better chance than "let's all band together".

      • I have a better idea. Show up for 40, but be extra polite, and do everything perfect. Don't call in or anything, just show up at the normal start time, leave at the normal day's end. If they call you into a meeting, don't say anything, just listen. Within 3 days time, you will be fired. But you've already got the lawyer on retainer for wrongful termination at that point.

        Well, in the Netherlands this wouldn't happen.
        First of all, if you are on a one year contract they have to give you one month to find
  • Four letters (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NixterAg ( 198468 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @05:44PM (#6206582)

    If you cave on this, they might throw you a bone (they might give you a 3 day weekend or two). If you're succesful and you deliver a good product, your management won't have to think twice about doing this to you again. The fact that your management isn't willing to throw a carrot out there up front tells me they aren't going to make competent decisions in the future.

    I know its hard to quit when you have mouths to feed, etc., but if quitting is not an option, you're really at their mercy.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15, 2003 @05:50PM (#6206638)
    • Four more letters (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SweetAndSourJesus ( 555410 ) <JesusAndTheRobot@NosPaM.yahoo.com> on Sunday June 15, 2003 @05:56PM (#6206687)

      It's easy to say "oh, well just quit, then" when they situation is purely hypothetical to you. Unfortunately, not many of us are in a position where we can just tell our boss to get fucked, as much as we'd like to.

      In the last year my department has been whittled down from eight employees to me and another guy. It sucks ass, but I've got to pay the bills.
    • Re:Four letters (Score:5, Insightful)

      by C0deM0nkey ( 203681 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @06:10PM (#6206806)
      I know its hard to quit when you have mouths to feed, etc., but if quitting is not an option, you're really at their mercy.

      "hard to quit when you have mouths to feed, etc."? It's downright irresponsible in this economy. I'm all for the entrepreneurial spirit and I am certainly for the rights of the worker but to quit an IT job right now...without another job already lined up...is likely to spell 6+ months on unemployment and a lower paying job at the end.

      I realize you are not saying the parent poster should quit but it just strikes me as funny that so many posters to slashdot yell "Quit!" as if jobs are growing on a 1990's-esque tree somewhere.

      I think the better approach is to first ask yourself whether or not the employer has a history of doing this kind of thing. Do they treat you well when times are good and call on you to step up when times are bad?

      Case in point: I recently led a small team developing a web application. The completion date was set by the customer even before we were able to analyze the requirements and once I had a chance to look at the requirements I told my managers that it would be really difficult to meet the date without working alot of overtime for an extended period of time. Management replied that their hands were tied (they were) and that we had to hit the mark i.e. I walked in this geek's shoes.

      I had no choice. I wasn't going to walk out of my job on the off-chance that I might find another job. I'm salaried. I knew I was getting screwed, etc.

      What happened: every step of the way, my management team was there fighting to get the schedule extended, attempting to reduce the requirements, etc. In the end, the schedule was extended by about a month and a half and a particularly troublesome requirement was dropped. Now that the job is done things have slackened off some, my team is looked upon favorably, nobody gives us hassles if we are not busy 100% of the time or come in under 40 hours for the week because they know that when push comes to shove we will get the job done and leave the attitudes, etc. for the project's post-mortem review.

      So...if you are employed, like your job overall and management generally treats you well overall, etc. you might want to consider just biting the bullet for a the time it takes and go from there. The pendulum has swung from one extreme (the employee's market of the 1990's) to the other (employer's market of today) but it will eventually swing back towards center and, when it does, management will have, as Ricky Ricardo would say, "some 'splainin' to do". The fact that you stuck it out when times were hard can be leveraged into either a fat raise, new position or another job at a company that appreciates you more.

      • Re:Four letters (Score:5, Insightful)

        by NixterAg ( 198468 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @08:29PM (#6207715)
        Then maybe the situation the story submitter has found himself in should be a valuable lesson to the rest of us. Just because you make X dollars doesn't mean you should spend X dollars. You desperately need to have yourself some sort of savings or reserve capital just in case you do find yourself in a poor work situation. Then you can be your own master instead of being totally anchored down by your existing job.

        I said it before and I will say it again. If you don't have the latitude in your life to quit your job, you are at the mercy of your employer.
    • Nine letters (Score:5, Interesting)

      by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @06:16PM (#6206848)

      You help the company out of a hole, then they can give you some extra time/bonus/spare computer/whatever afterwards.

      If you can prove to be flexible and valuable, then the company will want to keep you around. The flip side is that you signed up for a reasonable workload, not 12/7. There is no need to be screwed.

      Therefore try to figure something out to keep it win-win.

  • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Sunday June 15, 2003 @05:44PM (#6206584) Journal
    The company will find out the hard way that working 12 hrs a day, 7 days a week writing code is a sure way to get poor quality code and make a project cost more and take longer than decent working hours.

    12 hrs/7 days in a thought-intensive job is fatiguing (I know, I've been there and done that). After about a 50 hour week, you start hitting diminishing returns. After about 60 hours, in my experience, you start getting negative returns (the project actually starts regressing) because more bugs than good code is put in.

    Is there a proper software process in the firm? I think not if they agreed to those sort of terms.
    • The more logical thing to do would be to hire some more temorary workers to create the needed man hours, but of course that'd cost the company money....
    • by no parity ( 448151 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @05:57PM (#6206695)
      There's always such a lot of non-programming, "administrative" work (read mails, write status updates, all the boring stuff), that working 60 instead of 40 hours can easily double your output, because the extra 20 hours tend to go into productive work entirely. BTDT, and for a limited time (like 6 months to a year, before people start quitting) it does actually work.
      • The most productive times for me at work are during the holidays between christmas and New Years- no one is in the office. Also, during Saturday and Sunday- again- no one is in the office.

        As long as your work product is not dependent upon others you can get a massive amoutn done when not going from meeting to meeting to conference call to meeting, etc.
      • by yintercept ( 517362 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @06:22PM (#6206894) Homepage Journal
        The long work hours is one of the catches of technology work. For that matter, it is one of the catches of most creative work. There is a great deal involved in getting a programmer to the point where they are totally primed for work. When they are, the extra twenty or so hours in the work week is magic.

        Of course, trying to keep employees primed at 60-80 weeks leads to burn out. The IT work load generally is cyclical as well. There is a killer deadline, people have to be give their all to meet the deadline...then there is a shallow period.

        In the ideal world, companies would realize this and allow IT workers much more time off with pay during slow times.
    • by dnoyeb ( 547705 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @06:02PM (#6206738) Homepage Journal
      I totally agree. Most of my coding strategy breakthroughs come when I am at home in the shower, or in the mall, or generally, elsewhere not thinking about code. If you burn me that hard, I will not think about code when I am not on the job because I will need a break from it.

      Thats when more equals less. Like having a car with the choke stuck. If you mash the gas, it will just stall...
    • by hackrobat ( 467625 ) <manish.jethaniNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday June 15, 2003 @06:25PM (#6206925) Homepage
      The company will find out the hard way that working 12 hrs a day, 7 days a week writing code is a sure way to get poor quality code and make a project cost more and take longer than decent working hours.
      That's not the way it works. The project could be just a prototype, or a poor version 1.0. Once the client/VC is convinced it can be done, the team goes back to coding 8/5 and produces a solid product. Well, that's the idea anyway.

      BTW has anyone noticed this trend with MSFT? They produce a poor 1.0, and by 5.0 (a few rewrites later?) it's robust, feature-rich, and popular.

      12 hrs/7 days in a thought-intensive job is fatiguing (I know, I've been there and done that). After about a 50 hour week, you start hitting diminishing returns. After about 60 hours, in my experience, you start getting negative returns (the project actually starts regressing) because more bugs than good code is put in.
      As I said, sometimes the "first version is meant to be thrown away", so it doesn't matter how many bugs. The time-to-market is more important in introducing a product. Moreover, the team can take a 2-5 day break, and come back to code version 2.0 at 8/5 pace.

      For projects, the more the no. of bugs, the better it is, because they can keep billing the client for the mythical man-hours put in for fixing them. Project-companies with hourly billing gain both ways (12/7 followed by bug-fixing cycles).

    • by bohoboho ( 301952 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @06:36PM (#6206985)
      I worked in a thought-intensive job 12/7 for months at a time without any apparant loss in quality. My entire shop did, as well (30 people). The day shift started work at 7am, and the night shift at 7pm. The only break was on Sunday where things moved back an hour to 8.

      The differences between my situation and the original posters were several:

      a) We were on an aircraft carrier, and had no say in our working hours. Frankly, they could have been much worse: some groups worked 5 hours on / 5 off, or 12 on / 6 off for months at a time.

      b) We had limited outside distractions. No commute, no having to mow the lawn or paint the house on weekends, no grocery shopping, no cooking. Our job was just to fix avionics boxes, and the system was optimized to keep us on task and productive.

      c) You have to get used to the hours. The 8/40 work week is a relativly modern invention - our bodies will work much longer, it's just that our brains aren't used to concentrating so long.

      All that being said, if my boss told me that my job depended on working 12/7 for months with no bonus, pay raise, or comp time then I'd walk.

      Difference (b) above is a big one - if I have to work 12/7 as well as commute, grocery shop, and maintain my house and car there is simply not enough time left in the day for everything. I didn't go to college for 6 years to work the hours of my great-grandfather the farmer, who got up before sunrise and slept after sunset.

      Difference (a) is the clincher, though. Once you enlist, they *own* your ass and you will work whatever hours your semi-literate boss dictates to you. If you tell him to fuck off, you can go to jail, be fed bread and water, or in wartime, be shot. After eight years of experiencing that environment, I'm fully aware that as a civilian I can quit at any time for any reason - this is a luxury that I've earned, and I see no reason not to use it when the conditions of my employment start being arbitrarily changed.
      • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Sunday June 15, 2003 @06:53PM (#6207116) Journal
        But were you writing *code* on an aircraft carrier?

        I've done non-code jobs where there were 12-hour shifts, and it wasn't a big deal - it *is* possible depending on the work. However, in my experience, writing code isn't one of those jobs where you get a linear increase in work done for each hour worked by an individual, and in my experience when you go past a certain amount of hours per day/days per week, you reach diminishing returns, then negative productivity.

        From what I've seen, 60 hours/week with code is about the most before negative productivity begins to creep in. Also, consider the fact when you joined the military, you expected the sort of work you were given. When you sign a contract saying the normal work week is 40 hrs, 5 days a week and then are told to work a 7 day, 84 hour week (over double the hours) for no extra pay because management were too spineless to negotiate a better deal, morale doesn't generally get boosted meaning a double blow to the worker's productivity.
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @05:45PM (#6206592)
    Depends on what state the original poster is in, but most states have labor laws strictly limit what can be expected of a salary employee... if this isn't an illegal thing to expect from an employee, it should be.
    • by pcwhalen ( 230935 ) <pcwhalen@nosPAM.gmail.com> on Sunday June 15, 2003 @05:56PM (#6206692) Journal
      Uh, yes.

      programmers are an exception to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 - 29 USCA Â 213(17) --

      Â 213. Exemption
      (17) any employee who is a computer systems analyst, computer programmer, software engineer, or other similarly skilled worker, whose primary duty is--
      (A) the application of systems analysis techniques and procedures, including consulting with users, to determine hardware, software, or system functional specifications;

      You can't get overtime as a salaried programmer. I am really sorry.
      • by Jerf ( 17166 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @06:22PM (#6206897) Journal
        programmers are an exception to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 - 29 USCA Â 213(17)

        I smelled BS on this but I was wrong: See the text of the FLSA, section 213 [cornell.edu], provision 17.

        Sorry for doubting you, pcwhalen. (Might want to link such things in the future, to help people like me who don't take Slashdot comments at face value. Which should be everyone...)

        That exemption really sticks out like a sore thumb, I think; take a look at the other exemptions and I think you'll agree this one doesn't fit in, except perhaps in the very limited domain of server operator (who may need to do something for 70 hours in a week, as a sailor might).
        • by Anonymous Coward
          If you read the entire section there is an hourly wage basis as well. (17) any employee who is a computer systems analyst, computer programmer, software engineer, or other similarly skilled worker, whose primary duty is - (A) the application of systems analysis techniques and procedures, including consulting with users, to determine hardware, software, or system functional specifications; (B) the design, development, documentation, analysis, creation, testing, or modification of computer systems or pr
      • by Darth_Burrito ( 227272 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @09:25PM (#6208074)
        Actually, I once contacted the department of labor on this to see if I was exempt, they referred me to my local columbus whose a ma call it. Long story short, that exemption only affects hourly individuals. If you are salaried, you are exempt from being payed overtime for an entirely different reason, provided you are a professional making more than $250 per week (I think it was 250). I think when that exemption was written, there might have been some debate over whether or not all/which IT workers were professionals, which could be part of the reason behind the exemption.

        Getting back on topic, the experience that lead me to contact the DOL was similar to that of the guy in question. My team was tasked with completing a project in an unreasonable timeframe. With months to go, we were told we had to put in 60+ hour weeks. This went on for about 10-12 weeks. There was a stretch where I worked something like 30 days in a row with just one day off. Productivity dropped sharply in those conditions and most everyone was talking about leaving (H1B's and all). After the project was finished, we were treated to strict 40 hour work weeks, and we had the appreciation and respect of most of the people in the company.

        However, our graphics designer quit (with no job lined up), our development manager quit as soon as he could find another job, I (developer) just quit after getting another job, and the dust hasn't settled yet. We had a 9 member MIS department that they were planning on growing to 11 this year and now we^H^H they are down to 6, and a few others could still go. It probably would have been a lot worse had 3 of the remaining 6 not been H1Bs.

        My advise to the poster would be, if you like your job and your management stick it out. If you don't and you have enough money to go it alone for a while, work a 40 hr week and see if they fire you (if you quit, you can't collect unemployment). If you can't afford to go it alone for a while, buckle down because unless you've got some good connections, you are going to be stuck at your job for a while. One thing I quickly discovered was that it is almost impossible to conduct a good strong job search while working 60-70 hours per week.

        If you want to try to reason with your management you might want to try to illustrate to them just how unreasonable those hours are. For example, if you are a rookie making 45,000/yr that boils down to $865/week. Now imagine you are a sophomore intern in college making $12/hr. If you work 60 hours a week, you will make $840/week (12*40 + 18*20). Of course there's benefits and a higher stable paycheck, but it's downright insulting to say that a bachelor's degree and year or two of experience is only worth an extra $25/week.
      • One small point (Score:5, Informative)

        by pherris ( 314792 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @11:15PM (#6208772) Homepage Journal
        The parent is correct (thanks for posting) with the addition that the employee needs to make $27.63 per hour (equal to $57,470.40 per year). If he makes less then they need to pay him overtime. See 29 USCA Â 213(17) D. His state may have other laws that offer further protection.

        A former employer pulled a similar stunt on a friend in a different department (5+ hours per week unpaid overtime). He quietly logged his hours on a daily basis with a brief description of what he did. After two years of this he quit (better job) and filed a law suit againt them. IIRC he just had to go to the state labor board and they got him his back pay and fined the company.

        IMO I'd do the same. Mention once that you don't agree with unpaid overtime and log your work activities. BTW, judges/lawyers love to see hand written logs. Also check with your state's labor relations board. I wouldn't do anything big until you start work for someone else.

        On a side note: where does it stop? Is the next step to start working programers (et al) like MD residents (70 - 80 hours per week, sometimes 36 hours straight). How many hours over 40 per week is too much?

        Good Luck.

  • by Moofie ( 22272 ) <{lee} {at} {ringofsaturn.com}> on Sunday June 15, 2003 @05:46PM (#6206596) Homepage
    is enquire what the bonus structure is going to be like if you get the project done on time. Asking for things like extra vacation time or serious profit participation would be very appropriate.

    Is the company entitled to expect you to make this sacrifice? No. But then again, you're not entitled to expect that they will continue to employ you.

    Negotiate. If you resort to lawsuit, the only people who will make money are lawyers.
  • Strike (Score:3, Insightful)

    by moderators_are_w*nke ( 571920 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @05:47PM (#6206607) Journal
    Or at least threaten to hold a strike ballot. Thats what I'd do anyway.
  • by ScottGant ( 642590 ) <scott_gant.sbcglobal@netNOT> on Sunday June 15, 2003 @05:48PM (#6206612) Homepage
    Yeah, it really is! You go to work not even knowing what day it is, you walk around like a zombie, get less work done because you burn out much quicker. And the quality of work goes down the toilet, not to mention the moral of everyone involved.

    And if you're married, it puts such a strain on your home life.

    AND you're not being paid overtime either, which is icing on the cake!

  • Alternatives? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ProfMoriarty ( 518631 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @05:48PM (#6206613) Journal
    Ok ... so what are the alternatives here?

    Well .. you have several options:

    • Do the work like a good worker bee
    • Do the work, but piss and moan to /. about it
    • Do the work, but piss and moan to you supervisor about it
    • Start doing the work while looking for a new job
    • Quit immidately
    Summing it up ... there's your options. I see that number two is currently in the lead.

    The question to ask yourself is: "How much do I like my current job and position? ... and ... Is it worth the lack of a life?"

    Just $0.00232 (after taxes)

    • Re:Alternatives? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by scruffy ( 29773 )
      There is the alternative of doing a slowdown, i.e., showing up and looking busy, but not really doing much. Also, you should take advantage of every sick day and vacation day that you've got. You read Dilbert. don't you. Be like that guy who just drinks coffee all day.

      Also, because your company has committed to a fixed date, you and the other programmers might have quite a bit of leverage. Find out what the penalty is for being late and use that as a guideline of what your additional compensation sh

    • Re:Alternatives? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gbjbaanb ( 229885 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @06:11PM (#6206814)
      you missed one - go home after doing your regular hours.

      They cannot make you stay and work once your contracted hours are over. Sure, if just you go home and everyone else stays then that's a different matter.... but if enough go home, they can do nothing but negotiate with you.
      That goes double if you follow your boss out the door at 5:30 :-)

      I suppose you can start working poorly, but that's hardly constructive, and the managers won't see it even if you write 'all work and no play make johnny a very dull boy' over and over in the code.
    • Re:Alternatives? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by rossz ( 67331 ) <ogre@geekbiker.nFORTRANet minus language> on Sunday June 15, 2003 @07:24PM (#6207328) Homepage Journal
      You left out one option:
      • Do your work and submit your claim for overtime pay.
      If you are in California, they MUST pay it, nor can they get you to sign an agreement to waive overtime compensation. After submitting your overtime claim, if they fail to pay you the proper amount on the next paycheck, submit your claim to the Labor Board. If they fire you, great, now they also owe you big bucks for illegal termination. Oh, IANAL, so you might want to verify this information.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15, 2003 @05:49PM (#6206623)
    Your story seems to demonstrate the needs for techs to unionize. In fact this could be a good opportunity to start in some way at your firm. It is truly absurd that they are demanding something like this from you without compensation. Any action you could take on your own (including a law suit) will probably be quite ugly in the short term (judging by your employers tendencies). However if you and your fellow developers act collectively you stand a stronger chance (plus can they meet the deadline if everyone familiar with the project leaves?).

    I think if you act collectivel and keep the community informed you wil have a lot of support and could be the beginning of something.
    • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @06:16PM (#6206851) Journal
      "Your story seems to demonstrate the needs for techs to unionize. (...) I think if you act collectivel and keep the community informed you wil have a lot of support and could be the beginning of something."

      Acting collectively sounds good. If you all agree something needs to be done, send a spokesperson or two to talk to management about this issue. Make it clear that the current deal (working 12/7 without compensation) is unacceptable, and make it clear that you speak on behalf of the entire department or project team.

      I'd stay away from proper unions, though. Unions, like almost every other established organisation, primarily concern themselves with perpetuating its own interests... and those may not necessarily coincide with those of the membership or workers in general! For example: a few times unions here have called a strike even after managements conceded to every one of their demands. The reason? Membership was dropping, and a bunch of angry workers picketing in front of a blocked factory gate would look really good on the evening news, they figured.

      Our own firm has had some recent dealings with unions recently, none of it very pretty. We've had some layoffs, and unions were pushing for us to implement a 'last in, first out' rule. Managent didn't want that, and especially the employees didn't want that (they'd prefer the deadwood getting fired instead, on a merit basis). But, for, some reason, this rule is a big deal for unions. I'm happy to say they didn't have much influence, as they represent less than 5% of our workforce (mostly educated IT consultants).

      Some last thoughts: Be rational about this! Don't start off by banging your fist on the table, but strongly suggest that the proposed work schedule is unreasonable, especially without any compensation. If they keep refusing to remedy the situation flat out, it's fist-banging time... but only if you all are prepared to take it to the next level, up to and including quitting. Because in the end, that is the only leverage you really have.
      • "a few times unions here have called a strike even after managements conceded to every one of their demands. The reason? Membership was dropping, and a bunch of angry workers picketing in front of a blocked factory gate would look really good on the evening news, they figured."

        If you have decent union laws, this couldn't happen. In the UK, it's illegal for unions to strike without holding a ballot of members; in which case the members' interests are the deciding factors in what the union does.

    • by Daniel Quinlan ( 153105 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @06:22PM (#6206901) Homepage
      Your story seems to demonstrate the needs for techs to unionize.

      Unions are just a plain bad idea for technical skilled people, especially the most skilled people. We're not just turning screwdrivers.

      I've been an individual contributor, a manager, and a team leader all within the same company, usually going where the need was greatest or my skills matched. About half of my managers were engineers (and some were good managers) and they too changed roles from time to time. Unions assume that it's management vs. the employees. In addition to being part of either group, I was also a part owner of the company (through stock options). When I got laid-off, I knew it was the only option for the company at the time. Yeah, I thought bad decisions had been made before that point (and obviously, I thought laying me off was a bad idea, but those are the breaks, I wasn't going to cry about it).

      In addition to all that, I'd rather be free to negotiate my own salary, schedule, etc. Being part of a union would not help.

      Anyway, please keep your unions to yourself. I like being independent and being judged and paid according to my own work. If I can avoid it, I'll never join a union. It's one of the worst things that could happen to my long-term career and compensation prospects.

    • by Andrew Lockhart ( 4470 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @06:43PM (#6207043) Homepage
      I fear if IT unions were to become common we'd see an acceleration of offshore white-collar job trend.
  • Bank it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nuggz ( 69912 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @05:49PM (#6206625) Homepage
    Simple, bank these hours
    6 weeks, 7 days, 12 hours = 504 hours
    at 40 hours/wk this is 12.6 weeks

    Yeah, you lose 6 rought weeks, but then almost 7 weeks of banked vacation to draw on, that's pretty sweet.

    Another alternative if they argue some OT is expected, bank the weekends and everything over 9 or 10 hours a day, that would still be a few weeks off.
  • by mekkab ( 133181 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @05:50PM (#6206639) Homepage Journal
    Listen- I hear you. "principles" of software engineering; you know, making estimates of work based upon metrics of past performance, and the idea of fully clarified requirements specification before starting a project? Yeah, its all BS. Doesn't happen where I work, and I work an enormous Software Engineering projects and my customers are the FAA and NATS (UK's equivalent). They throw tantrums, and they act like children. But they pay the bills.

    So 6 weeks? Is it limited to that? Because that's do-able. You work real hard, the end date comes and goes, and then its over- time to have a party.

    Can you hold this over your managers head for compensation during the next performance review? It is worth a shot to mention it to him/her in clear language- I am a team player. I am busting hump. I want this reflected in my performance evaluations.

    Also, are there any perks? Lunches provided on Sunday? Foosball table? Free movie tickets?
    Maybe this should be suggested to management- 12/7 does NOT improve morale, and with tight deadlines thats when you need morale the most.

    IF its only 6 weeks, this can be sustained. When it grows to 6 months, to a year plus, that is NOT sustainable. You break down. You wear out. Productivity goes down the tubes. And you break out into stress-related rashes. Its not a pretty sight.
    • Very true. And yet, it would be foolish to just let something like this slide, and suck it up like the good little employees that we all are. I have seen this a few times: sales manager shaves a few weeks of the proposed (and rationally planned) timeline, and closes the deal as a result. Meanwhile the implementation team bust their guts trying to get everything in on time. They fail, the sales guy gets the bonus for closing the deal while the project manager (and indirectly the team as well) get chewed
  • What state? (Score:5, Informative)

    by autopr0n ( 534291 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @05:52PM (#6206656) Homepage Journal
    This is a state issue, not a federal one. Look up your state laws and maybe talk to a lawyer.
    • Federal Pre-emption (Score:3, Informative)

      by pcwhalen ( 230935 )
      I am sorry to disagree with my learned colleague autopr0n.

      As I mentioned earlier, while wage issues are dealt with in state laws, they are pre-empted if a federal law exists, which in this case it does.

      Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 lays out who can get overtime and what maximum hours are - 29 USCA Â 213(17) is the kicker.

      Â 213. Exemption
      (17) any employee who is a computer systems analyst, computer programmer, software engineer, or other similarly skilled worker, whose primary duty is--
      (A) th
  • by Wakko Warner ( 324 ) * on Sunday June 15, 2003 @05:53PM (#6206660) Homepage Journal
    The other 4 hours (and all Saturday and Sunday), simply sit at your desk with the classifieds section open, or monster.com up. Make sure everyone in your department does this. The message should get across after a few days.

    - A.P.
  • by tomstdenis ( 446163 ) <tomstdenis@gm a i l.com> on Sunday June 15, 2003 @05:53PM (#6206665) Homepage
    If you can do part of the work from home I don't see what the huge issue is. 12/7 is a bit much but 8/6 is certainly doable if you can work some of it from home [which if you're a coder why not?]

    Why not ask for a compromise?

  • Labor Board (Score:5, Informative)

    by chimpo13 ( 471212 ) <slashdot@nokilli.com> on Sunday June 15, 2003 @06:00PM (#6206723) Homepage Journal
    The National Labor Board [nlrb.gov] has a page [nlrb.gov] where you can contact your local office.

    Ask them what you can do.
  • Alternatives (Score:5, Interesting)

    by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @06:01PM (#6206732) Journal
    but what are the alternatives in this down economy, where jobs are hard to find?

    1. Quit on principle and give your job to someone who doesn't have one.

    2. Keep your job and lower wages for everyone.

    You probably only have your job because you're salaried and cheaper than your hourly colleagues of equal skill. You made the concession long ago that you would take security over cash.

    During the boom, labor will rule. During the bust, management will rule. Them's the rules.

    I never follow the rules, but you're not me.
  • I am a contractor (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jack William Bell ( 84469 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @06:02PM (#6206740) Homepage Journal
    I am a contractor and yes I do get paid for overtime. Yes I do get more variety in my work. Yes I don't have to take crap from the boss if I really don't want to. Yes I am often hired specifically for my skills and therefore get some respect for them.

    The downside? I have worked for nearly a year away from my home in Seattle because there is no contracting work available there, and hundreds of qualified applicants for every full-time job. Health Insurance if far more expensive for me. I am not paid for holidays and the closest I come to vacation is the period between assignments that I must often spend frantically looking for the next contract.

    Plus contractors always get the worst desk / cubes / equipment because they are not part of the headcount (which determines space, equipment and office furniture allocations). I have literally worked at a table in a hallway before.

    I have been on both sides of the fence and you know what? Freelancing and/or working through a pimp is better in one respect: We know the customer is going to dump us sooner or later. While you full-timers labor under the mistaken belief you actually have job security...
  • Do the math (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @06:03PM (#6206751) Homepage
    Let's see. Twelve times seven is Eighty-Four.

    Employees are generally useless after 60 hours. After 80 hours, I can only recommend bringing a videocamera and selling it to "America's Funniest Home Videos."

    Negotiate with your boss for A: two weeks of paid vacation starting as soon as the ludicrous crunch time is over, and B: two extra weeks of paid vacation to be taken sometime in the future. If that doesn't work, look for another job. It's unprofessional to demand such hours with no reward, and it is unprofessional to give in to such demands.

    It would also help morale if the managers who made this mistake also stayed 12/7, though I don't know if it will help your position of you pointed that out to them.
    • Re:Do the math (Score:4, Insightful)

      by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @06:50PM (#6207100) Journal
      It would also help morale if the managers who made this mistake also stayed 12/7, though I don't know if it will help your position of you pointed that out to them.

      I had a great manager while working on a difficult project: launching a new service for a mobile phone provider. The service was already heavily advertised and the delivery date was set in stone as a result. We had to work some nights and weekends (though nothing as bad as 12x7 for 6 weeks). The manager was around when we were... not getting in the way and being a pain, but checking if we needed anything like extra help or equipment specialists or the like. And in the morning, she'd come round with coffee and breakfast.

      In the military I learned: "One leads from the front, not from above". This applies to management as well, and in general the managers who share their team's hardships become part of the team rather than standing above it. They are also the manager who will get the best results and rarely miss a deadline, because the team knows that the manager will be on their side, and that their pay rise and performance reviews will reflect their success. Sadly, such managers are far and few between.
  • Day of rest? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Velox_SwiftFox ( 57902 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @06:05PM (#6206772)
    IANAL, but as for the "if you are in California" part, I do recall reading of a California labor regulation that requires giving a person at least one day off a week, and specifically a day off after each six days working (the last presumably to prevent an employer on Sunday telling a worker his day off has been moved from Monday to Saturday). The law states the employer is otherwise guilty of a misdemeanor.
  • by Ronin Developer ( 67677 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @06:05PM (#6206773)
    At least in Pennsylvania, IT workers are considered "exempt from overtime. Thus, you have three options:

    1) Threaten to quit and hope they don't call your bluff. If they call your bluff, you'll like like an idiot of you don't quit. See #2.

    2) Just quit "in-force" and watch them panic. With any luck (and hoping your other team members do the same), they'll do what they can to retain you. Make sure you have something else lined up or you won't be able to collect unemployment.

    3) Suck it up and look really hard for a new job and pray the fire you for poor performance (that way, you get out of any non-competes and can collect unemployement).

    Well, there's a fourth option, that's to quit and join the consulting firm your company has hired. Of course, that may not work either as they may have a non-compete/non-hiring agreement with your company.

    If you choose #3, be sure to do the absolute minimal amount of work, call in sick a lot. Complain of illnessess like carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, dizziness, back pain. And, be sure to visit doctors to get these "illnessess" on record. Then, when they let you go, you nail them for creating an unhealthy work environment and take them to the cleaners.

    Baring that...a measure of last recourse...be sure to mutter to yourself and yell "grenade" or some other war time saying whenever your boss walks in. And, cover yourself with water so it looks like your sweating profusely and having some sort of stress attack. It helps, of course, to have some real legitimate combat experience to pull this one off effectively. Alternatively, you can come to work wearing trench coats and talk alot about your cache of weapons you've been collecting with your other, less stable, coworkers (who also wear trench coats). Make sure your supervisors overhear you. When they let you go, sue for creating a hostile work environment as, I assume, you don't truly have a cache of weapons.

  • Get even (Score:5, Funny)

    by nother_nix_hacker ( 596961 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @06:07PM (#6206787)
    Put some god aweful easter egg in the software so the client never uses your company again and your company will have to lay you all off, that'll teach them!.... oh hold on
  • by ChangeOnInstall ( 589099 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @06:08PM (#6206795)
    In the past six years, I've owned two small (~8 developer) software development shops. In both shops I've played the role of the "technical" partner, who leads the development team for the software projects we create. I've bitten off more than I (and my team) can chew on multiple occassions in the interest of delivering a big-dollar project for a big-name client, and as a result spent absolutely every waking moment possible trying to complete projects. I've really tried to push my limits as hard as I can, and in my situation, I WAS DIRECTLY REWARDED for my work.

    Let me offer these idiots (the people requesting a 12/7 schedule) a piece of advice: 84 hours per week is f---ing insane. You wind up with diminishing returns after about 50-60 hours/week. While 84 (or more) hours is very possible for a week or two, such a schedule will QUICKLY become ineffective immediately thereafter. You might be at work for 84 hours, but your mind won't. Whoever is running this company doesn't know that, which means they don't know how to run a company, which therefore means that the company (or your department) isn't likely to be successful, which you should take as an indicator of its expected lifespan. Get out now.
  • by just someone ( 13587 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @06:21PM (#6206892)
    Ask the boss to cancel the contract, and to restart the negotiation.

    They need to look at any penalities that will incur for not delivering on time, or delivering a poor quality product that would incur a lawsuit for delivering a poor quality product, and the loss of bussiness from this and other companies when you get a reputation for delivering poor quality products.

    There is no way you will make the deadline, so be sure that they know the potiential for them to LOSE MONEY is greater than the possibility of EARNING A PROFIT on the contract.

    The timeline unrealistic. Any bonus for being on time will not be awarded.

    Expectation of quality from overworked employees is unrealistic. They will be spending money on fixing this thing, even if they don't get thier ass sued for a poor quality product.

    Large potiential to lose any reputation you have for delivering on the above two.
  • by puzzled ( 12525 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @06:38PM (#6207005) Journal

    You've been invited to participate in a "Death March" project - if it fails, the company fails, if it succeeds, you ensure they're going to have you do the same thing again as soon as they find the right opportunity.

    If you want to do something about it collective action is the only route and you're leaving yourself wide open to being replaced by contractors. I've been in this place before but I was a one man band ... we negotiated in *my* office, with me wearing cut offs, flip flops, and a Dilbert T shirt, and this happened after I cleaned out every single thing and vacuumed the carpet. I doubled my salary :-) YMMV, however.

    I don't see anyone posting who is looking at the bigger picture here. Software jobs are getting exported to places like India, where someone younger/sharper than you works for 25% of what you make. Are you nervous yet? This is the same thing that happened to manufacturing in the US in the 1980s and its going to happen to white collar jobs over the first twenty years of the twenty first century.

    Globalization got you cheap tennis shoes and you didn't understand that they were going to end up on someone's foot planted in your behind, did you?

    Don't be too hard on them, they're getting the same treatment from the management above them, who is getting it from the CEO, who is getting it from the board, who is getting it from Wall Street.

  • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) ( 193358 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @06:54PM (#6207125) Homepage Journal
    If management is paying attention, you could get a reputation as a miracle worker by hitting this deadline.

    The way to do that is not, of course, to work 84 hours a week. Read Yourdon's book _Death March_. It's about the tactics that allow pulling off a project with preposterous resource constraints.

    In a nutshell, put all the coders in their own offices, unplug the phones, put up barricades against all bureaucrats, compromise quality and ruthlessly, viciously prune features.

    If your management thinks that working 12x7 will get the contract done, they don't understand project management. If they're willing to learn, you can show them and make yourself look great.
  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @07:25PM (#6207330) Journal

    Is The Company Publicly Traded? Is the project going to form a major percentage of their revenue?

    Short the company's stock.

    One thing is certain: The contractors will figure out a way to keep the contract going, wasting more money, and all the code written by your group will look something like this:

    void main()
    { fprintf("hwlla wirld;jkkldddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd dddddddddddddddd... oh... I fell asleeep on the d key again... hope this compiles.");
  • by lobsterGun ( 415085 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @07:28PM (#6207348)
    I want to start by saying that this project is on a deathmarch and it hasn't even started yet. I doubt there is anything you can do to save it. When the project fails, there will be a lot of pissed off people and a big pile of shit will be heading for that fan at the end of the hall. Your number one priority should be to cover your own ass. Document everything. Keep copious notes. Print everything out and take it home.

    That said the FIRST thing you should do Monday morning is to call your State Department of Labor. What you are being asked to do may be illegal.

    NEXT, if you work at a big enough company, mention the situiation to your boss's boss or boss's boss's boss (aka Senior of Corporate Management ). They might not be in the loop about what is going on. This may be in violation of company policy. Or they may be smart enough to know the signs of a death march and take steps to stop it before it gets started.

    But, if they can't help you you have a couple of options...

    - Work the hours and don't complain.

    - Explain to your management that it is not possible for you to put in those hours on such short notice. Explain the outside of work commitments that you have in your life. Apologise for not being able to work the extra hours, and then don't work them.

    - Say nothing to them, just don't work the hours.

    - Keep a log of when you and everyone else on the team comes in and goes home. Next time your review comes up show them what a good resource you are.

    - Do the same as above, but put a packet sniffer on your managers PC. Next time you have a review, show them what a hard worker you are and what porn sites they have been surfing during business

    - Start coming to work in a Star Trek uniform. demand that everyone refer to you as 'Commander'.

    - Every day at 5pm hit the emergency power off in the server room and pull the fire alarm.

    - Make generous use of the rm -rf * command.
  • by The_Real_MrRabbit ( 541342 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @07:34PM (#6207383)
    Doesn't matter whether you are considered salary or not - everyone is paid an hourly wage - whether it is stated up front or is derived from a yearly salary broken down into 52 weeks at 40 hours a week.

    Don't let anyone tell you otherwise...

    At both the Fed level and in CA, 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week is the non-overtime cut-off. CA goes further by breaking hours down using a 1/40 fraction. And you must have 1 day off for every 7 days...before continuing work unless (yep, there are usually exceptions) an emergency exists that threatens property or life.

    Now here is where folks who fall into "professional" fields (not doctors or teachers in this example) get confused. Especially in CA.

    If you for example as an IT person get loosely labelled a "computer professional" here in CA you pretty much can't duck it so long as you are not a trainee or paid less than 41.00/hr. The label sticks in most courts and Labor offices.

    So what happens when you work overtime as a "computer professional"? Well, you don't get 1.5 or 2.0 multiplied to your hourly wage. Nor do you get minimum wage or a multiple of the minimum. What you really get is straight-overtime. In other words, you continue to get paid just your hourly wage. No more, no less.

    This law under Section 510.00 onward under the CA labor code was obviously passed to keep companies from getting killed by mutiplier overtime on employees who are very expensive to being with. It was a break given to companies and the state as well for teachers, doctors, etc under different professional classifications and schedules.

    Each state and the Feds have differences on professions and the minimum that professionals must be paid to be declared as such...do your research.

    Keep records, and get ready to push the issue. Nice thing about the Fair Labor Standards Act is that if you keep track and provide a bill for overtime - and your employer hasn't done the same using a certified time piece or tracking system - they get stuck with the bill. Have an attorney ready too who if familiar with that act and other relevant labor info.

    On the other hand, if you can't stand on your own two feet - you are better off quitting. My experience has been that companies or managers who try to claim salaried employees are not entitled to overtime are operating under questionable leadership and headed for recognition on Fucked Company.


  • by Slurpee ( 4012 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @07:35PM (#6207384) Homepage Journal
    Companies go through tough times, and sometimes extra work needs to be put in. But you need to be compensated for your time.

    I have been put in simular situations many times (though not as severe), and have never ever been refused compensation. Of course, I've had to negotiate compensation, often the management don't realise how much this will cost them. And when you do negotiate, do it up front, before starting the work. Oh, and make sure they know it is *not* negotiable. You need some sort of compensation.

    Just remember, a normal day is 8 hours, so a normal week is 40 hours.

    They want you to work 84 hours a week. Thats double. IE, in those 6 weeks you will be working an equiv of 12 weeks.

    A few ideas:
    * Get paid a bonus equivelent to 6 week wages.
    * Get 6 weeks of paid leave.
    * Some sort of combination.
    * Be pepared to compromise a little...work 10 hour days, and get 12 days holidays (IE get back your weekend time, and work 2 free hours a day)

    A few no-nos:
    * a long weekend is not fair compensation.
    * Providing you lunch on Sunday is not a "fair exhange" (How much are you worth?)
    * Tickets to your favourite sporting match is not compensation.

    I prefer the holiday option (time in luei), as I can spend time with family and friends.

    Just remember...the managers are human too, and they do care. They are more likely to offer you the holiday option, as it doesn't cost them more. And they do understand that it is fair they compensate you for your time.

    The thing to remember is to be firm. Don't offer or threaten to quit. Just tell them...yes, I will work the extra hours, but I expect to be fairly compensated for those hours. If they won't budge, work 8 hour days. They can't fire you for working what you were hired to do.

    At the end of the day though, its your decision. Not the companies. If this is the life you choose to live, and you want to work for this company. Then do it.
  • I dont get it... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jafiwam ( 310805 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @07:41PM (#6207431) Homepage Journal
    One thing I do not understand about these work-issue articles on Slashdot;

    Why the obvious political weight of the place is not applied to this situation.

    Is the demand for work wrong? (I think it is.) Then name the damn company! (and the client) Better yet, put a link to their web site so they friggin notice.

    The cat will be out of the proverbial bag then and all sorts of things might happen;

    - the client realizes they are being dumb and backs off
    - the company realizes a huge list of potential employees just decided not to work for them, and backs off
    - potential purchasers of stuff from this client or company can avoid this product. I can tell already it's going to suck. What if it's the control system for the new Nuke plant... or computes YOUR salary or something, think about it.
    - people can dig up facts about the laws in the state, county and city, forcing the company to back off
    - they gotta pay for bandwidth, and the programmers can sit back and watch the smoke billow from under the server room door knowing something they did made a difference

    Remember, it's not slander if they don't catch who said it, and it's not slander if it is true.
  • Get compensated. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bluelan ( 534976 ) on Sunday June 15, 2003 @07:50PM (#6207482)
    Get a group together and talk to your boss about compensation up front. Don't threaten to quit, don't threaten to walk out. Just talk about what's fair.

    Say you'll be putting in 5 months of work in 4 months. Ask for 4 weeks vacation to be added to your personal leave.

    If they say no, don't threaten to quit. Just interview elsewhere, get a job, and leave.

  • I would leave (Score:4, Insightful)

    by darthtuttle ( 448989 ) <meconlen@obfuscated.net> on Sunday June 15, 2003 @09:17PM (#6208031) Homepage
    I would leave this position. I would make my reasons clear, and I would leave in such a way that a reaonable person would consider hiring me again (as opposed to burning bridges).

    I think we have our selves to blame when we can't afford to do this, and I've been guilty of it in the past, which is why I changed my habits. You see, I generally can afford to quit a job, and I've done it before. By having saved for more than just those days when I stop working for good I was able to quit. By being sucked in to the consumer machine we spend and spend without thought to consequences. While many of us save for retirement and a rainy day, not to many save six months to a year of living expenses so that we can be in control of our work day.

    This company believes they have you. For most of the poeple there they probably do. You can't afford to quit long enough to find a new job, so they will do to you what they can. If you can't afford to leave the job, at least use it as a reminder next time your looking at that new CD or adding 20 new cable channels you will never watch, or upgrading that computer you bought last year. There's a deeper price to pay than the money. That money is your freedom. Freedom from control.

    When you shop, when you buy things, when you use the credit card, think about it. Think about what you could do if you could afford to take a year off to find the perfect job. Think about what you could do if you could take a year off to get a consulting business off the ground. Think about what you could do if you have the choice to do it. Money gives you that choice. When I'm working my goals are to get one year salary saved, seperate from retirement and savings for other things like a new car or home, and it's worked. When a previous company was going the wrong direction I was able to simply walk in to my managers office and hand him a polite letter saying that I was leaving for personal reasons and planned to take some time off.
  • by geekotourist ( 80163 ) on Monday June 16, 2003 @02:47AM (#6209796) Journal
    Because you're going to need them. 12/7 for two weeks I could see, or 12/6 for 6 weeks... but 12/7 for 6 weeks is a good way to schedule a failure. The very act of assuming and requiring 100% uptime in the people just about guarantees that it can't happen. The problem is a combination of physiology and human factors analysis:

    • Physiology: increased stress = decreased function of your immune system. Insufficient sleep = increased stress.
    • Human factors: if you're on a team, you don't want to appear to be doing less work than the others.
    • and the numbers: 168 hours in a week. 84 for work, 56 for healthy sleep...28 for everything else
    Assume all developers find a way to work 12/7: they cancel all vacations, classes, conferences, workshops, ceremonies, weddings and funerals; they telnet into religous services (and never mind all the caselaw protecting rights of religious expression when, for example, it includes having a day of rest); they suspend all taking care of children or parents (nevermind the family medical leave act)...

    So what happens the first time one developer gets exposed to a cold or the flu? Under regular 9/5 circumstances you might just say "Look, I'm coming down with something. I'll head out early today to sleep it off": you make up the time later, and everyone appreciates that you didn't expose them to the bug. Instead, under the 12/7 situation you're going to try to tough it out. You won't get the extra sleep you need, so the illness just gets worse. Because everyone else is sleep deprived, more people are likely to catch the cold from you. Because there is no room for errors / illness / humanity in the schedule, anyone who falls behind will be aware of how they're holding everything up. This causes stress. Stress causes illnesses to last a lot longer. Interesting negative feedback loops ensue.

    And this is assuming everyone is gung-ho for the 12/7 plan. What happens when one developer gets creeped out over having to skip a funeral and decides the only choice is to quit? There won't be time to train a replacement: those 84 hours'll have to be absorbed by everyone else.

    And that's just the people: that 12/7 schedule doesn't have wiggle room for all the standard crashes, viruses, connectivity failures, power outages, traffic jams, major news events, and other standard slowdowns in modern office life. Someone in management there needs to buy a spine and give the client an honest timeline.

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel