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Feeling forced into unpaid overtime

(25 Posts)
Jojogo Thu 16-Jan-14 10:27:56

Morning hope someone has some advice to give me!

I work in sales and my contract states the number of hours I work per week, it's says we work 5 days out of 7, and also says 'due to the nature of the job it may be necessary to adjust or exceed your hours to ensure your duties are properly performed'

I totally get that and am happy to stay late or work through lunch from time to time in order to deal with busy periods.

However, I am feeling under increased pressure to go beyond this. I feel that it is my choice to stay late and there should not be pressure from the company to feel forced into it.
Examples are:

-Email from senior management saying that it's likely we will have to work through our lunches in January as it is so busy! it says 'grab a banana'

- visit from uk sales director a cpl of weeks ago where she said we should come into work on our days off to deal with the extra demand.

-admin jobs are being delegated before we are due to start (I sometimes come in early to deal with stuff) or once we are meant to have left for the day, ie e manager will ask us to do something when really we are there of our own accord as should have left by then!

-habitually working through the day with no breaks at all, being made to feel awkward if you say you need to take a break.

-part time workers logging in from home on days they are not working and completing work, then management saying things like 'that us how you hit target'

As I said, I understand some level of unpaid overtime is normal and I'm happy to do it but I. Do feel we are bing taken the piss out of and that there is an obscene amount of pressure for us to work longer hours at the whim of the company, with little thought of the impact it has on the staffs health or 'work life balance'

Though it shouldn't matter, I am also 22 weeks pregnant and I felt physically ill last week after a Full 9.5 hrs at work with no break, I don't think i can physically do it. I have 11 weeks left before maternity leave and I am dreading every single morning.
Though I do also feel that even without me being pregnant this kind of pressure is not on.

To be clear, I am successful in my role and regularly exceed targets without having to work excessive hours, the company just wants us to make more and more money without paying us any extra salary, though we do earn bonus/commission
The company do not offer any paid overtime.

Can anyone advise me if I have any rights or what process I should follow as I very much want to make a complaint and try to make them change their ways.

Jojogo Thu 16-Jan-14 10:31:34

Eek, long -sorry!

calilark Thu 16-Jan-14 10:33:53

I know someone will be along soon with some proper advice, but I can tell you one thing - its illegal to work for more than 6 hours without a break.

have you had your pregnancy risk assessment done?
And no, I don't think it is usual or acceptable to expect a certain level of unpaid overtime, unless you are in a highly paid job where you work the hours required to do the job!

Jojogo Thu 16-Jan-14 10:46:07

I had a risk assessment done but nothing was mentioned about working hours as far as I can remember

calilark Thu 16-Jan-14 17:37:12

bumping this for someone to see!!

lekkerslaap Thu 16-Jan-14 22:21:28

Well, if you're above target without having to do ridiculous hours then continue doing what you've always done. You're pregnant and if you need a break you need a break. Request a health and safety assessment if they really start to put the pressure on.

To be honest, I'm surprised you haven't got a thicker skin if you work in sales.

Put yourself first at work because no one else will.

MillyRules Thu 16-Jan-14 22:26:03

Unfortunately it seems the way most companies and organisations are these days. More for less and all that. O hour contracts but expecting people to be a their beck and call. Something really needs to be done.

WorrySighWorrySigh Fri 17-Jan-14 01:14:56

I agree with Milly. I have just got in at 1am having been at work since before 8am in the morning. That is 17 hours - I get paid for 8 of them. The rest I do so that my boss can get a bonus for the love of the company.

A lot of the rights hard won in earlier times have been eroded during this recession.

Dromedary Fri 17-Jan-14 01:25:23

It sounds as though flexibility is being pushed too far. I would resist coming in on a non working day unless it is a one off, and if possible also resist losing all lunch breaks. I think you're supposed to have a 20 min break if you work more than 6 hours from a health and safety point of view anyway (Working Time Regulations). They are going against your contract. But it is difficult to resist this kind of thing unless colleagues do the same.
For the moment, you may find it easier to explain that you cannot work such long hours due to your pregnancy.

MillyRules Fri 17-Jan-14 01:31:21

Worry.....that is terrible.shock

K8Middleton Fri 17-Jan-14 01:34:06

There are legal requirements companies have to adhere to regarding working time regulations (this covers breaks and working hours), health and safety and also national minimum wage (if the extra hours mean that pay per hour becomes less than NMW). See here: and

It is one thing to need people to do extra now and then, but when it becomes business as usual that is not on and is not good for business. There are actually criminal penalties for failing to ensure the workplace complies with health and safety legislation, including employee well being.

Op, you absolutely should have breaks on your maternity risk assessment. Please do raise this with your employer. You should not be working for 9.5 hours without a break pregnant or not, but as you are that is very worrying. You need to be able to get up and move around, go to the loo and eat and drink. You should also be doing regular work station assessments as your pregnancy progresses. See here: (you need to scroll down a bit and on the risk assessment section there is a link to HSE but that is a bit wordy).

As for what you should do generally, do your colleagues feel the same as you? Do you have union representation that you could approach to speak to management? If not, you have two options: raise a grievance or if conditions are really so bad as to be dangerous you might be able to report your organisation to the health and safety executive or the local authority depending on what type of organisation it is. However, the latter option should only be used in extreme circumstances where there is a real risk of death or injury.

WallyBantersJunkBox Fri 17-Jan-14 01:37:44

If I were you I'd be making a back up copy of all these mails telling you not to have any statutory breaks and have a banana.

Where is the HR dept in all this? Do you have one?

As others have said - please be selfish. Take that from someone who has worked a 55 hour week for the last three years including 2-3months of traveling. I am now home with CFS, stress and exhaustion.

And the outcome being I had to take extended sickness and lost my job because if it.

You stand to risk a lot more.

WorrySighWorrySigh Fri 17-Jan-14 08:12:14

I agree about being selfish. Dont apologise and dont explain. Stick to the contract hours and only do extra if it works for you. IME senior managers are very good at bullying people into working longer hours. There is normally some bullshit explanation however you will generally find that it is the same people doing the extra time after time. Dont be that person.

Jojogo Fri 17-Jan-14 18:36:02

Thank you all so much for the helpful replies.

Today I raised a grievance with HR outlining the problems and pointing out the legal requirements that are not being adhered to.

Jojogo Fri 17-Jan-14 18:37:10

Oh and I've made copies of all the incriminating emails and attached these to my complaint, as well forwarded them on to my own, non work email.

WallyBantersJunkBox Fri 17-Jan-14 18:42:39

Good for you, hope the pregnancy is going well. All the best.

BrownSauceSandwich Fri 17-Jan-14 18:53:46

There's an absolute tonne of useful info on here:

Whirligiggle Fri 17-Jan-14 18:56:00

Good on you. Hope they don't decide to get difficult - my work tried to get difficult when I was pregnant & I called their bluff. They re-wrote a section of the relevant policy shortly after. I wonder how many other women they had bullied into unacceptable working practices before they tried it with me.

Stay strong, you are in the right.

NicknameIncomplete Fri 17-Jan-14 19:06:36

I am having a bit of trouble with my work with regards to working much more than my contract hours. However mine is not as bad as your situation, i get paid and get adequate breaks. Well done for making a complaint.

Whirligiggle Fri 17-Jan-14 19:48:48

I can't recommend ACAS highly enough. They were really helpful to me, they told me what to say (even told me exactly how to phrase things), that I should keep records of everything, how long to give my employer to sort it out, etc.

K8Middleton Fri 17-Jan-14 21:59:06

Hope it all gets sorted out quickly and professionally. Let us know how you get on.

Jojogo Fri 24-Jan-14 19:15:26

I've had a response and am having a meeting with our HR manager next week to discuss it further, he said he wanted to 'open communication with me about the issues I have raised'
The email I got was quite nice, saying thanks for bringing it to their attention etc so maybe they are taking it seriously. Who knows...

Now just need to get it all clear so I don't sound too emotional and like I'm going off on one!

kelpeed Sun 26-Jan-14 08:17:13

hope it goes ok.

can you take someone in with you for support, an advocate or someone to take notes on your behalf?

hobbjobb Sun 26-Jan-14 10:36:38

It seems pretty informal so I think I will just go on my own

hobbjobb Sun 26-Jan-14 10:37:09

name changed! OP here...

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