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12/7 and Overtime on a Salary?

Cliff posted more than 11 years ago | from the when-management-isn't-on-your-side dept.

Businesses 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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fp!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6206552)

fp for lunix fagz...

Re:fp!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6206604)

Sorry I've been out of town for a while. Anyway, here's...


[Walmart Security] Episode 10: Situation Report (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6206560)

The aroma of premium Samâ(TM)s Choice coffee infiltrated my nose as I sipped a cup delicately. Robert would be arriving momentarily, and I would request a situation report. He and I are, of course, the guardians of a Walmart Supercenter located inside of the prosperous community of Jasper, Texas.

Weâ(TM)ve encountered Paul Cryer, who initiated litigation after his SUV impacted my elite patrol vehicle, and miscellaneous other members of the nefarious Three Pointed Conspiracy. Our integrity, however, is the origin of our strength. We will never abdicate our store. I digress.

"Peter!" exclaimed Robert, emerging from the door leading to the lawn and garden center.

"Robert," I smiled, "youâ(TM)re fifty seconds late. I will not accept such unpunctual behavior. What if a situation occurred in your absence?"

My protégé said nothing, instead walking to the vending counter and drawing a cup of coffee. I wouldnâ(TM)t punish him this evening. "How was your day?" I asked.

"It was fine," said Robert, "but you need to listen to this. There was a situation today at the restaurant!" You see, Robert is also employed by the prestigious Catfish Diner restaurant, which is regarded by many as the most elegant dining establishment in Jasper! Their all-you-can-eat seafood buffet, although expensive, is quite exquisite. I recommend it. Once again, however, I digress.

I turned to Robert. "What was the situation?"

"Well, this man came in," he said, "a man from Houston. It was strange, though, as the emblem on his car wasnâ(TM)t" â" Robert paused â" "I mean, he didnâ(TM)t seem to be a member of the Three Pointed Conspiracy. But, as we both know from experience, such terrible people are unable to conceal their true nature!"

"What happened?" I inquired, attempting to suppress my concern. Robertâ(TM)s safety was of an imperative nature.

"Well, it didnâ(TM)t become physical," he said, "so I didnâ(TM)t need to thrash him. People were obviously intimidated, though. I walked to his table.

"âWhat would you like this evening, sir?â(TM) I asked.

"âLook, man, is there any way you can get me some Starbucks coffee?â(TM)

"âStarbucks coffee? I donâ(TM)t believe we serve that, sir. Would you like some Community Coffee instead?â(TM)

"âI donâ(TM)t drink anything that gives me running diarrhea!â(TM) he said, raising his voice as if he were insulted. âI guess Iâ(TM)ll have some Coke. Anything to keep me awake so that I can get out of this anus of a city tonight.â(TM)

"I must admit that he was beginning to offend me. However, like an experienced waiter, I suppressed my anger. âYes, sir,â(TM) I said, and returned with his drink.

"âLook, man, Iâ(TM)m sure that all of your food sucks anyway, and you only serve a buffet. Itâ(TM)s probably something that I wouldnâ(TM)t even feed my dogs, but Iâ(TM)m desperate. So, Iâ(TM)ll have that.â(TM)

"âYes, sir,â(TM) I responded, âbut our food is excellent. In fact, it is superlative. Our seafood is delivered fresh once every week!â(TM)

"âThatâ(TM)s great,â(TM) he said, laughing, âbut tell your master chef not to screw me over too badly, aâ(TM)ight?â(TM)

"I must concede that I ignored the manâ(TM)s request. I returned with a plate and some silverware, which he snatched promptly from my hands. Fifteen minutes later, I returned with his tab. âHere, sir,â(TM) I said, âthank you for dining with us this evening.â(TM)

"âMy displeasure,â(TM) said the man, handing me a car key, âthis food was terrible, by the way. If this happened at any other restaurant, I would probably shoot the chef. My Lexus is parked outside. Bring it to the front door, please, and donâ(TM)t forget: there are two towels inside of the glove box. Use the smaller one to grip the steering wheel. Place the larger towel between yourself and the seat. I wouldnâ(TM)t want some incompetent like you to contaminate my vehicle.â(TM)

"Quite desperately, I stepped outside and located the manâ(TM)s automobile. I drove it to the front door. I was just being hospitable, you know. Then he stepped outside.

"âI see the grease on my steering wheel from here, you little bastard!â(TM) he exclaimed. I began to anticipate a quarrel. âYou didnâ(TM)t use the towels, did you?â(TM)

"âNo,â(TM) I quipped, âI didnâ(TM)t use the towels. Where are you from, anyway?â(TM)

"âIâ(TM)m from Houston,â(TM) the man replied as he entered the vehicle, âan excellent city, where everybody is just like me!â(TM)"

Comment [slashdot.org] without sacrificing karma.

They pretend to pay us... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6206566)

We pretend to work.

Re:They pretend to pay us... (4, Insightful)

rkz (667993) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206587)

If only you lived in the EU!

Re:They pretend to pay us... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6206745)

What idiot marked the above "if only you lived in the EU" comment as offtopic? It's as ontopic as you can get and that guy's comment was fucking INSIGHTFUL.

I work at a big company and the european employees are always on fucking vacation and they (though salaried) have an absolute "it's 5pm, I'm gone" attitude. It's left to their american counterparts to put in all the extra effort and time and work to compensate for their attitudes. Not to mention, the french ones work like 35 hours a week and are really uptight and uncooperative. They like to paint Americans as crazy loneshark cowboys but as long as we work as a team in the company as opposed to them.

GRRR... touched a nerve.

Re:They pretend to pay us... (5, Informative)

Dan-DAFC (545776) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206759)

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.

Jobs are hard to find, but... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#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.

Re:Jobs are hard to find, but... (5, Interesting)

livio (583002) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206588)

... And then fire all of you the minute the project is finshed :-)

Re:Jobs are hard to find, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6206600)

But you get paid your overtime, which you can then use while you look for a new job.

Re:Jobs are hard to find, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6206590)

Yes, and then he would simply be fired afterwards.

The cheapest and most effective solution possible: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6206716)

Or they could outsource to India. Whatever works best for them.

WOOHOO! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6206568)

Just quit you slag!


Support the democrats (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6206575)

Hire a trial lawyer and sue the pants off of them.

Grin and bare it... (1)

aluminumtulips (598188) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206578)

...Sometimes that is all you can really do. Be thankful you are employed and have steady income.

change professions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6206579)

life's just too short for that stuff. or, become one of the parasite managers?

Four letters (5, Interesting)

NixterAg (198468) | more than 11 years ago | (#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.

Five letters (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6206638)


Re:more letters (1)

rkz (667993) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206675)


Start corrupting the employee database when :

SELECT Employee.Name From Employes WHERE Employee.Name='{YOUR NAME}'

returns no records.

Four more letters (5, Insightful)

SweetAndSourJesus (555410) | more than 11 years ago | (#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 more letters (1)

NixterAg (198468) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206722)

That's great that you are so concerned about paying your rent and that's why, if you had actually read my post, you'd have seen this line:

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.

Fair enough...it's worth it to you to pay your bills and take what your boss gives you. I completely respect that, but if its not an option for you then you are really at their mercy.

Law of diminishing returns. (4, Insightful)

Alioth (221270) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206584)

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.

Re:Law of diminishing returns. (2, Interesting)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206683)

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....

We all would love that to be true, but it isn't (5, Insightful)

no parity (448151) | more than 11 years ago | (#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.

MOD Parent up- he's got a good point. (2, Insightful)

mekkab (133181) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206728)

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.

Re:Law of diminishing returns. (4, Interesting)

dnoyeb (547705) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206738)

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...

sue them (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6206585)

cause i didnt get frosty piss bitch

SUCKERS! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6206586)

So, you still think going to university to study computer shit was a smart move? The plumber down the street with a bigger car than yours and more free time is looking smarter every day, isn't he?

Is this even legal? (4, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 11 years ago | (#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.

Re:Is this even legal? (5, Informative)

pcwhalen (230935) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206692)

Uh, yes.

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

 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.

Re:Is this even legal? (1)

EvilAlien (133134) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206699)

I think this is the key. Find out what the labor laws are in your area. Give the National Labor Relations Board [nlrb.gov] a call.

From what I understand about this stuff in the US, you can be fired with no notice and no severance pay so be careful. No matter what, be prepared to look for another job. I'd think you should do that anyways if management isn't willing to let you bank the time or even hint that they recognize that you are making a special contribution.

Re:Is this even legal? (1)

pcwhalen (230935) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206760)

Federal law pre-empts state law in the Labor Law area. It doesn't matter what the state says if Congress passed a law that says it will pre-empt state law. That's what it did in 1938 with the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Like I said earlier, it would truly appear that you have no legal remedy. Sorry.

go the Nancy Reagan route (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6206593)

just say no

For good senior developers... (1)

jabbadabbadoo (599681) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206594)

...jobs are not hard to find.

Re:For good senior developers... (1)

SocietyoftheFist (316444) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206693)

For good CS and EE people jobs aren't hard to find... they may not be what you want but they are there. New EE grads are getting hired and so are CS, though not nearly as quickly as EE grads. Right now companies can figure out whether or not you really know what you are talking about or if you are blowing smoke up people's asses. The biggest barrier though is getting noticed. Everybody that I know that has been laid off and found work again pretty much had inside help in getting noticed. It's hard to be noticed in a stack of 3000 resumes.

Seems like the first thing to do... (5, Insightful)

Moofie (22272) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206596)

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.

Move to a country like canada... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6206598)

... where we have laws that prevent this sort of thing.

Re:Move to a country like canada... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6206616)

Why do you need laws? People aren't slaves. They have the freedom to quit and take a new job if they want.

Re:Move to a country like canada... (1)

Wakko Warner (324) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206640)

Yes. And quitting and taking a new job is simple. You do it all the time, right? Why not prevent this kind of egregious abuse of the labor system to begin with?

- A.P.

Re:Move to a country like canada... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6206681)

Because capitalism is self-regulating. People leave bad jobs and get jobs that make them happier. The less desirable jobs go unfilled, which raises the rate of pay or alters them to make them more desirable. Companies that don't treat their employees right also have a tendency to produce bad products/services, and end up with short lives.

Re:Move to a country like canada... (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206771)

The less desirable jobs go unfilled, which raises the rate of pay or alters them to make them more desirable.
Sure it is. All the people I know with lower salaries than I have have much more enjoyable jobs. And at my company, like all US employers, the best paid workers are the toilet cleaners.

What drivel. This is why I hope very much that the pseudo-libertarians never, ever, get anywhere close to government.

Re:Move to a country like canada... (1)

Requiem (12551) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206641)

Ah, but the problem is, what if there are so few jobs that the employee can't really quit? Should the employee grin and take the abuse, or are there basic protections that the employee should enjoy?

Re:Move to a country like canada... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6206701)

You have to make these decisions for yourself. Is what you have better than your other alternatives. Some people might not mind working 12/7 for a few weeks if other parts of the job (coworkers, the actual work, pay) make up for it.

Re:Move to a country like canada... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6206761)

But what if all the other employers do this? You wouldn't be able to find a job where you wouldn't be overworked. All or nothing, baby! Seriously, overtime laws are good. I am not a socialist, but there is something to be said for getting payed for the work you do.

Re:Move to a country like canada... (3, Informative)

Jason1729 (561790) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206714)

I don't know about the rest of Canada, but in Ontario, the provincial government modified the Employment Standards Act in 2001 to explicitly make this kind of exploitation legal for IT workers and several other categories.

ProfQuotes [profquotes.com]

A steady paycheck (1, Insightful)

hajo (74449) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206603)

You have a steady paycheck and are complaining about what your reward is? It is the STEADY paycheck. Otherwise go contracting and start worrying about what to do once this gig is finished.
As someone with unsteady income and two children in private school I must tell you: STEADy is nice sometimes

Re:A steady paycheck (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6206654)

That's like saying our reward for being alive is breathing. It's a fucked thing to say.

Re:A steady paycheck (1)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206658)

Yeah, but this is the thing: it's not a steady income, at least from the perspective of being guarenteed. Sure, when cuts come it's always the contractors that get nailed first, but this company could bring the axe down on this guy for little or no reason at all, at any time (assuming it's a private company, which it sounds like).

Making people salaried doesn't give a company the right to treat those people in this manner.

This is not normal (1, Interesting)

ObviousGuy (578567) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206606)

And yet, it is quite normal.

Perhaps it is time to think about 'organizing'.

Strike (3, Insightful)

moderators_are_w*nke (571920) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206607)

Or at least threaten to hold a strike ballot. Thats what I'd do anyway.

Re:Strike (1)

rkz (667993) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206706)

But YOU live in the UK, American's take the piss out of our leftist socialism then they winge when they have no fucking rights and can't afford a lawyer anyway.

Two words: (1)

Greyjack (24290) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206608)

Wildcat strike. Band together with a sufficient number of your colleagues, and everyone spontaneously call in "sick" the same day. Then, without overtly threatening, point out that while y'all are more than willing to put in the time, some measure of additional compensation would be appreciated.

Hire Me... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6206611)

I'd be thrilled to work 72 hours a week. I'll kiss some clients butt while I'm at it. Just let me work...

12/7 is the best! (3, Funny)

ScottGant (642590) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206612)

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? (5, Insightful)

ProfMoriarty (518631) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206613)

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? (2, Insightful)

scruffy (29773) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206719)

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 should be.

As always, the company might fire you for not being a good slave, so be prepared.

demand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6206614)

tell them you are coming in 8/5 or whatever your normal hours are until they decide to compensate you properly.

SCO is hiring... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6206618)

I heard SCO is hiring in their legal department

Demonstrating the need for IT Unionization. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#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.

Re:Demonstrating the need for IT Unionization. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6206770)

On one hand, I agree with the idea of a technical union (not just for IT but all across the board). I see companies doing things to us and even behind our backs that most other groups would never tolerate, but we have no choice if we want to stay employed.

But on the other hand, I really despise the idea of a union. Next thing you know, we'll be fucking france and working 20 hours a week and be legally penalized if we put in overtime and get paid a rat's salary.

Bank it (2, Interesting)

nuggz (69912) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206625)

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.

Re:Bank it (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206662)

Yeah, but that assumes that the company who reqired this schedule is willing to honor the vacation time...

Re:Bank it (1)

slashdot_commentator (444053) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206764)

If they're not total pricks and agree to it, make sure to get it in writing.

scientists already works this + more (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6206634)

this is nothing compared to people in science (academics)

if we kept a time card and 'complaining' about the 'hours' they work (quantity and actual time during the day) ... it would be 3.4x the argument this person is complaining about

(note: we don't keep time cards, and we work all hours of the day, all week long)

Re:scientists already works this + more (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6206694)

Yea. But, since you don't produce anything you have nothing to bargain with. He on the other hand is a developer who will be actively creating his company's product. This gives him far more power than you have and his complaints might provide some benefit if they are directed at his managers. On Slashdot though, he only gets verbally abused because Slashdot hasn't anymore power than you do.

i am really confused about the US (1)

skymester (323871) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206635)

when you start a job, dont you sign a contract in which is stated how much you have to work, what youll get for it?

Re:i am really confused about the US (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206748)

Job contracts are atypical. Most are verbal agreements, with policies outlined by the company and whatever government oversees the employer.

'Right to work' is the term for it.

Re:i am really confused about the US (1)

Eternal Cynic (665062) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206752)

Not normally, if you're a salaried employee -- at least not at smaller shops. You'll typically sign something that says how much they'll pay you per year, but how much you'll work is assumed to be something along the lines of "until the work is done."

How long for, future promotions, and any Perks? (5, Insightful)

mekkab (133181) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206639)

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.

Isn't that illegal? (1)

yalla (102708) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206644)

I'm not familiar with the laws in the US, but working more than 10 hours without a very good reason is illegal - at least in Germany.

A good reason would be something like solving emergency situation - if you are on call for instance. Or if life or property is in danger. Medical doctors for instance are used to more than 24 hour shifts. But hey, you're a coder.

If there isn't any law against it, quit or sue them for compensation.

Before ranting: I know, that 10 hour law is not always a good idea[TM]. I work in the telco business and i know that this 10 hour border is sometimes hard for projects. But come on, 12/7 for half a year... You're going to _burn out_, believe me.


Down economy not much of a factor in this scenario (1)

marcmac (105570) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206646)

Sure, the down economy is a macro-environmental factor in the IT field, but in this particular situation, it doesn't count as much - if you're employer really needs this done in 6 weeks, then they cannot afford to alienate their team.

The bottom line is, they can't force you to work 12/7, they can only ask - so start a discussion about bonuses, time off, goals, etc - and get their promises in writing, without generating too much animosity (you don't want to get fired after the project, either). If your PHBs are even remotely cool, then you should walk away from the project feeling adequately compensated for your lost summer.

Perfect Solution (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6206651)

Demand 6 weeks paid vacation after the project has ended. Where I work we work 12+ hours a day for either 7 or 14 day periods. When the work period is up we are compensated with an equal amount of offtime. The $ math comes out the same, the project gets done on time, and you get a sweet vacation to enjoy!

What state? (4, Informative)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206656)

This is a state issue, not a federal one. Look up your state laws and maybe talk to a lawyer.

Work 8 hours a day. (4, Funny)

Wakko Warner (324) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206660)

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.

work from home option (4, Interesting)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206665)

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?


Sundays (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6206667)

Convert to Christianity and take sundays off. If you get fired I am sure some anti-discrimination law will let you sue.

Re:Sundays (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206769)

Better still, be one of the Jewish sects (?) that believe that Christ was the messiah: get Saturday AND Sunday off.

move (1)

jas79 (196511) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206669)

Move to a country or state with decent labour laws.

You are insane if you do accept it. what worth is money if you don't have time to spend it or share it with anybody.

And don't think it will only take 6 weeks. if you accept it, they will demand the same thing from you on the next project.

Get a new job.... (1)

jjh37997 (456473) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206673)

Find a new job and when you leave make sure they know why you quit.

If you can't find a new job then try to gather as many fellow employes into a work slowdown. It is of the upmost important that management be made to understand that their behavior will not result in increased productivity at no additional cost.

Trust me.... if they see that they can get away with using the stick without the added incentive of the carrot they will continue to do so. Why should they pay you more if they can get additional work from you for free?

Bite your tongue, swallow your pride. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6206676)

I suggest that you do nothing litigation wise. Just do the work and keep in mind the bigger picture.

This may be an extraordinary one time situation that will pay larger dividends later, in the form of sustained business or higher pay rates. If it's a particularly successful project, then its successful completion will be something extra to put on your resume. Give in to their demands now, and you will have a stronger bargaining position in the future. But do communicate to them (in a friendly manner) and let them know that you are making an exception in this case only. Your client could quit his job at that company, and take a similar position at a similar company -- and know to call you guys and he might have more flexibility in paying you higher rates. No guarantees, but don't shut the door.

When an important client makes a mistake like this, let it go once. But if they subsequently abuse your kindness on a consistent basis on future projects, you have a higher moral authority to move to the next level, either by dropping the client or litigating, or both.

Some bridges should be burned, but it sounds premature to burn this one at this stage of the game.

Management contribution... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6206691)

What can you do when management agrees to a timeline and a workload that may make your job, as a programmer, difficult-to-impossible?

Isn't this the primary, if not exclusive, role of management?

Seriously, Ed Yourdon wrote a book about your predicament, titled "Death March". Read it and survive.


Recipe for failure (1)

tjansen (2845) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206696)

I can't give you any legal advice... just that this won't work, especially for programming work. After 2 weeks weeks your productivity will probably be lower than with a 40h week.

Stand up or bend over (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6206697)

You really have a very simple choice:

1) Stand up for your rights
2) bend over and take it

I was in a situation, not so drastic, but similar. We were salaried, and the management decided to demand an extra 8 hours per week during the holiday season. This was at a "computer superstore". My small department (3 of us, of which I was the supervisor, as if 3 people need a supervisor) got together and decided that we just couldn't take that. We (I) went to management and told them they would literally have to double our salary to get us to give them another entire working-day (in terms of working hours) per week, that we had families and lives and that was that.

They fired all three of us on the spot and I remained homeless after for almost four years.

No, just kidding. It worked just fine, we continued to work 40 hour weeks, but we were supposed to "keep quiet" about it since, apparently, none of the other departments had enough backbone to stand up for their rights, and they management didn't want them to get any ideas :-)

Horse trading (1)

The Bungi (221687) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206704)

It's simple - if you don't do it, you're out of a job. In this economy that's not a very good idea.

Be a team player and suck it up. BUT, demand something in return. More vacation, a raise, whatever. ANYTHING. I've been in this type of situation and let me tell you - in the long run it pays off. But asking something extra in return from the PHBs makes it feel like you're using better quality vaseline.

The part about the consultants - well, being one I can't really sympathize with you. Them's the dregs. You should've become one if you want to work more and get paid more as well. Employees are always whining about how we make so much more money, but they're rarely up to the challenge, both in terms of time and technical ability.

So, suck it up, play nice and demand something in return. You'll thank yourself in a few years, especially if you've decided to stick around the company for the long run.

Not being ignorant...but, (1)

rindeee (530084) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206705)

if you don't quit (or sincerely threaten to) then you are caving in to your employer for the very same reasons that they caved into their "biggest customer". Sum'n other rolls downhill. If you have a family, they'll be feeling toward you just as you feel toward your employer just as they feel about the customer. We need Dr. Phil on this.

and you were expecting what? (0, Flamebait)

PhreakOfTime (588141) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206707)

This is what happens when people with an absolute love for what they do go into a situation expecting everyone to see things the way they do. Bottom line is you joined a company whos ONLY purpose is to make money. They could give a shit that you find a deep sense of satisfaction in being able to do what you love for a living. It not a pleasant way to live, but you thought it was worth the good money and could deal with the circumstances, well the 'good-life' pendulum is swinging the other way, now what are you going to do?

I think there are other groups of people like this...oh yea, they are called TEACHERS! Now either face the music or not, but dont complain about it over and over again. Nobody else makes your choices for you, and your treating it like they are supposed to.

Maybe you will think twice next time you look down on the person with a smile on their face but who makes half as much as you...it seems they DO know something that you dont.

Mod me flamebait because it pisses you off that you cant change your life by yourself.

I have experienced this.. (2, Insightful)

octothorpe99 (34654) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206708)

Some time back, I faced a similar situation, where my team of about 30 or so developers was told (very politely and in a sickeningly sweet way), that for the next 5 weeks we were to work 12 hours a day etc. Needless to say, we did..

result? extremely poor code, things like code reviews and so-called "processes" chucked out the window (primarily by managers who insisted that we could make an exception this one time)

in fact, the client got so pissed at the amount of difficulty we had to stabilize our release that we (the company) got booted off their list of "IT consultants" (amid muted hoorays from us developers)

what did i and most of us developers get from all of this? a $50 gift card for some clothing store and about 3 months after that.. the pink slip, as the company needed to cut down on personnel costs.. hmmm.. i wonder why they weren't doing so well..

anyways, i changed tracks and got into academia and swore of "consulting"

what I do (1)

weorthe (666189) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206720)

Is delegate more work to the people below me who are getting paid to do it. If you don't have that authority then you shouldn't be salary anyway.

Labor Board (5, Informative)

chimpo13 (471212) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206723)

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 (4, Interesting)

blair1q (305137) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206732)

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.

Hen-hearted numbskulls (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6206733)

"Damn you! You are a squeaking puppy, and so are all those who will submit to be governed by laws which rich men have made for their own security. For the cowardly whelps have not the courage otherwise to defend what they get by their knavery. But damn ye, altogether! Damn them for a pack of crafty rascals, and you, who serve them, for a parcel of hen-hearted numbskulls! They villify us, the scoundrels do, when there is only this difference: they rob the poor under the cover of law, forsooth, and we plunder the rich under the protection of our own courage; had ye not better make one of us, than sneak after the arses of those villains for employment?" --- Samuel Bellamy

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. ... I rest my case ...

Out source it to the hale family! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6206737)

They could do with more than count cows all day [wikipedia.org]

AND this article IS true, please knock sense into notheruser and the anome

I am a contractor (3, Interesting)

Jack William Bell (84469) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206740)

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...

My two cents (1)

Stalus (646102) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206744)

If you do 12/7 for four weeks, that's 176 hours of overtime, so they seem to think at normal schedule would take about 8-9 weeks to do. Therefore, after completion in 4 weeks, there shouldn't be anything scheduled for 4-5 weeks after that. I would think any reasonable manager would exchange the 12/7 work for the next 4-5 weeks as paid vacation, if not 6-7 for time&half. And if they're really nice, allow you to defer that vacation for when you're ready to take it. I think you need to sit down with your manager and have a chat about alternative compensation instead of instantly threatening lawsuits.

Quit (2, Insightful)

node 3 (115640) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206747)

If they need you 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, it sounds like they need you more than you need them. We live in a free market, and everyone who complains about being a slave-wage is wasting that very freedom.

If you can't quit and if they are screwing you over, then you've had it easy this whole time, and they should have screwed you over long ago. If you just give in, there's nothing to stop them from doing the same to you again later on.

Here's what you do, tell them, "Hey, this isn't right. You need to pay me overtime. This is going to be a big job and you need me. This goes above and beyond, and I'm here for you, but you need to be here for me to make this work."

I know, I'm going to hear, "but the job market is so tough right now!" Well, if it is, then either stick with the long hours and be thankful you have a job (if the long hours is better than trying to find a new job), or start typing up that resume.

You're an engineer, this is a simple problem. I think you are just afraid of what the solution is telling you. If they aren't going to pay you extra, they aren't going to pay you extra. The next move's yours. It's your life, take charge.

Do the math (4, Insightful)

cgenman (325138) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206751)

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.

Somewhere along the line... (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206754)

Either you signed a contract with your employer which states that you might have to work 12 hour days 7 days a week or you didn't.

If you did. Shut up.

If you didn't. Sue for breach of contract.

That is life (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206757)

These days, either you have a job that works your ass off, or you have no job.

Software people are a dime-a-dozen, and are viewed as interchangable from management (regardless of whether it is true or not). I am just the messenger.

This aint France: no cushy protections from greedy capitalists.

You won't be able to take the strain (1)

BlackHawk-666 (560896) | more than 11 years ago | (#6206768)

or you'll simply resent it for the rest of your term of employment. Refer the management drones to "The Mythical Man Month" (IIRC) where it shows how running a team like this will not work. If that doesn't cover it the "Extreme Programming" book should.

I used to work 6 days a week, 10 hours mon-fri and 4-6 on sat. It was a strain, and I didn't even have a girlfriend, and I was working from home so I could wear my pajamas, swim in my pool, and eat at convenient times.

You can probably sustain yourself for 6 days at 10 hours, maybe even 12, but you will burn out for sure if you attempt 7 days.

Tell the retarded management they need to meet you halfway and bulk the team up with contractors. That's what contractors are for. You can hire and fire them lightening fast and if you get the right sort they will provide the wedge you need to force your way through this unreasonable target. You will need to hire this week to really get value from them, and only hire 1 per team leader or you may spend too much time training them.

Day of rest? (4, Informative)

Velox_SwiftFox (57902) | more than 11 years ago | (#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.
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