I’m In Trouble for Working too Hard

by Evil HR Lady on February 24, 2016

I am being reviewed and just got written up by my supervisor/manager for insubordination. I have been working off the clock for months now because my workload has doubled, and I’ve trying to do what I can to get the job done, and my boss has not been much help. My supervisor /manager have seen me doing this but are now denying it and saying that I have been doing it without their knowledge or permission. They have requested that HR reviews my comings and goings so that they can compensate me for my time now but only because HR had become aware of the situation.  They never approached me about the issue until I began complaining about my workload and that is when they started to review my job and are now saying that I am not meeting job expectations.  This is their way of finding reasons to fire me.

My supervisor was aware of me staying late and coming in early. I only logged in my normal work times and my supervisor approved my time sheet knowing that I was working more than just those hours. My schedule is for a 37.5 hr work week.

What do you recommend I should do before I get fired?  My boss is trying to wipe her hands of all this like she didn’t know and  even claiming that I never told her I was overloaded with work. But I have witnesses, other coworkers who were present when I advised her I had to stay late because I had too much work and needed to meet deadlines.  She never replied or offered to provide me with help until I kept complaining and she finally realized that I was going to go over her head to her boss which, by the way, is now also taking her side on all this as well claiming she was not aware of any of this when she had seen me when they would leave the office and knew I was still at my desk working.

Well, there’s a whole bunch of stuff going on here with people doing things that they shouldn’t. Because you asked, I’ll start with what you did wrong.

The employee:  You should never, ever, not in a million years, work off the clock when you’re non-exempt. While your motives were pure, it’s caused a heck of a lot of trouble. First of all, it’s illegal for a company not to pay you for all hours worked, including overtime where appropriate. Now, you can’t be punished by the Department of Labor for this, but the business surely can.

You can also be fired (or disciplined) for working off the clock, which you’re finding out.

Legal violations aren’t the only problem with working off the clock here, though. Here are a few more problems.

  • It keeps your boss from understanding the impact of your current workload. You keep getting it done, so why should she make any changes?
  • It prevents the company from understanding the true financial impact of their decisions.
  • It places stress on you and your co-workers. You’re working crazy hours, not getting compensated, and becoming stressed out. But your co-workers also face problems. They aren’t accomplishing as much as you are, and since officially, you’re still working only 37.5 hours a week, they look like slackers.
  • If your boss didn’t know (which she may not have known the extent), she can’t adjust workloads accordingly.

As for not meeting job expectations, it’s probably true–you’re expected to do your work withing 37.5 hours per week and come to your manager if you have problems doing so.

The manager: Your manager should have objected to the very first time card where you didn’t record your total hours worked. Why didn’t she?

  • She’s getting free work. It doesn’t hit her budget if you aren’t getting paid.
  • She looks good because her department is producing at a super high level.
  • She’d have to confess to her boss her poor management skills if her employees need regular overtime. Or she’d have to get permission to authorize the overtime. Ignoring you is much easier.

She shouldn’t be talking here about you not meeting expectations and trying to come up with a reason to fire you. She should be smacking herself for ignoring the overtime, thinking she could get away with it.

The boss’s boss: Also a weenie, although not as much as your manager. Depending on how the company operates, she may not have known you were working uncompensated overtime. For instance, when I had non-exempt employees reporting to me, my boss would never, ever see their time cards. Sure, she could run an audit if she wanted to (I guess!), but otherwise, she wouldn’t know if an employee was working uncompensated overtime. Sure, she sees you working late hours, but didn’t necessarily know that you weren’t getting paid for it.

She is lying if she said she didn’t know you were working late, but she may be telling the truth if she didn’t know you were uncompensated.

HR: They are the heroes here. They saw a problem and a legal violation and they are working to fix it. Yay, HR! Perfect as always! </snark>

Now, what will happen to you? Well, it’s obvious that your boss is going to try to save herself by lying. She screwed up, and she knows it. So, you should calmly present your side of the story, including that she frequently saw you leaving late. HR should be highly skeptical that your manager was completely unaware of your work hours.

Is there a chance you’ll face a severe punishment? Yes, but I’d say that was pretty small. Your manager never told you directly to knock off the uncompensated overtime, so if I was giving out punishments, I’d be less inclined to punish you. The deal is, if your manager switches her story to say she told you repeatedly not to work overtime, then she has to admit that she knew about it. She’s not likely to do that.

My prediction? A strong talking to and a “don’t do that again.”

In the future, keep your manager in the loop when your workload is too high.

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