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Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

(OP)
Just started as an intermediate field engineer in a construction project in the USA.

during the offer negotiation, I was told there will be some overtime work and I will only get paid for 40 hours.

In the job offer letter, it states, 6 days per week and work up to 10 hours a day.
As the salary seems ok(based on MAX. 60 hours) and I don't have other better choices in Canada, I accepted it.

We start at 6:30am. The 1st day in this project, one of my coworkers asked the site manager what is the regular working hour, site managers didn't answer but only said, I work 12 hours each day.

Since then, everyone (2 site engineers+ 3 superintendents + safety officer + site manager) left work ~6:30pm everyday.

It means 6 x 12=72 hours per week.

Another engineer (senior level) complained about it with me privately (he has the same term in the offer letter), but nobody say anything publicly.

I can not survive in the current schedule. What should I do?

Should I talk to someone, like HR or site manager? The site manager knows my contract term. The HR is not here and I don't think he can really help.

Or I just leave earlier quietly everyday by myself? I also feel a little isolated if I am the only one leaves earlier.

I think the site manager just want to create an environment to force people work overtime (as it is a lump sump project). I don't want to challenge his management, but I can't work 12 hours everyday.

What other good ideas or solutions?

Thank you.

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

If you really CANT work 12 hours per day , hand in two weeks notice. If the real problem is you don't WANT to work 12 hours per day without overtime, suck it up. In this economy, especially seeing as you are a relative junior , you need to be willing to pay your dues.

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

4
More and more employers are using "the economy" (more like the economy of 3 years ago) as an excuse for abuse. There's "suck it up", and there's life-sucking abuse. This is the latter. It may be the norm in the industry, but it ain't right.

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

First of all, ouch!!

Second of all, read the thread below:

http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=406077

Lastly, you are not obligated to provide anything more than you signed up for. DO NOT feel isolated for leaving "on time."

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

(OP)
To miningman (Mining)

I don't want for now and I can't if it last for a few weeks/months.

why should I quit as I have already full filled my commitment if I work 10 hours per day?

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

I am not sure of the logistics, but can you get time off during the day? Like longer lunches of a couple of hours every few days. Perhaps they want all for be around for Start and Close of Business, that may be important for the culture.

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

billbusy, leaving after your 10 hours per day may eventually lead to the same end result as quitting.

However, I'm not saying don't do it, just pointing out that in the US it can be fairly easy for an employer to get rid of you (varies a little by state) compared to some other places, but I'm not familiar with Canadian employment law.

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

(OP)
nickelkid (Mechanical)

I can. Like go to the town for a full hour lunch.

I don't want that but I need some times for my personal life after work, like go to ymca or watch tv at home.

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

(OP)
To KENAT (Mechanical)

That is why I feel isolated.

The management just want to create a culture and force everyone work 12 hours.

my bottom line is go back home to receive unemployment insurance OR work 10 hours efficiently and happily.

How can I make the 10-hours schedule as normal as possible?

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

72 hrs per week is ridiculous. Unless you will starve without the job, you need to either a) renegotiate or b) quit.

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

2
Talk with the other disgruntled engineer and go to management together. Be friendly but firm, lay out that you were hired for 60 hours a week and you're getting forced into working 72. This is no different then if they took 16% of your paycheck for themselves. Don't stand for it. If they say no then spend two hours a day working on your own projects (or applying to other jobs). If they're not compensating you for 100% of your time then I wouldn't give them 100% of your effort.

Professional and Structural Engineer (ME, NH, MA)
American Concrete Industries
www.americanconcrete.com

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

Even from the manager's perspective, 72 Hours a week ought to be recognised as bad practice. Productivity can't be good (not even in the hours they're paying for the following day) and somewhere round about the eleventh hour in any given day is when expensive mistakes get embarrassingly common.

But then, if your site manager is one of those dimwits who equates (other people's) effort with progress, you've backed a loser.

A.

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

2
billbusy,

Yes, this is abuse. Put up with it short term, prepare a back-up plan, and make as gracious an exit as they deserve. In my mind, what they deserve is one day you simply don't show up at all. What they are doing is wrong, disgusting and blackmail.

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

3
That site manager is a damn hero, insofar as Top Management (*) is concerned.

He's got an entire crew of Salaried Professionals working five half days and a full day for free every week.
That isn't going to change.

The folks who are being paid by the hour must be laughing themselves silly at you buffoons.

I'll bet the company is not even providing catered onsite meals in partial recompense.

I'm only conflicted about whether you should tell prospective employers that you were so easily taken advantage of.
On the one hand, it marks you as a Team Player.
On the other hand, it also marks you as a fool.



(*) I often use Top Management as a pejorative, as in this case.

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

Even if the compensation matched the hours worked, 6x12 is no way to live

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

sounds like you're moving on so start looking for work,
in the mean time,
commit to learning every possible thing you can re engineering and construction from everyone there, wringing all the knowledge and insight you can from the position, especially the old-timers there,
commit to massive self-improvements in personal productivity, don't let your peer's pace set your pace
don't let their ick stick to you.

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

(OP)
Thanks all you guys.

I have per Diem as it is a field work. Considering the exchange rate, the current salary for 60 hours (not 72) is acceptable.

During the interview, they told me there will be some unpaid OT. From the job offer, I didn't expect anything more than 10 hours/day except some emergency situation.

After I started, I learned that the site manager and project manager(in home office)want to finish the project by Nov 1st rather than Dec 20th as the original planning.

The site manager is a tough senior guy, yes, he is kind of blackmailing us, but he also stays here 13/14 hours each day.

I can tell the power of the group culture/environment is really strong.

Because the manager stays longer and everyone else stays ~12 hours, it make me feel maybe I am a bad ass, maybe this is the right/expected schedule/performance for the construction project like this. I feel confused. I am thinking if I comply with the schedule for a few days, I will be just like other team members and believe that is the right schedule.

I don't want to judge his choice, maybe he will have a big bonus, maybe he really loves the work and has nothing to do back to motel. But, it is just not what I expected and learned during the interview. I just want to finish my work and leave earlier quietly.

I have done like this for 2 days and feel a little bit isolated.

I am waiting for someone to talk to me ...

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

I bet the 10 hours a day or 6 days a week was also supposed to be on occasion and not the normal, right?

Your agreement was for up to 10 hours a day, so leave no later than somewhere between the minimum required and the 10th hour every day. If (when) confronted, make sure you have a copy of the offer document to produce which states as such and stand your ground on never working over 60 hours and let things fall where they may.

Your site manager may have incentives to work like a slave, such as a performance bonus based on the project success, making it in his best interest to attempt slave driving the rest of the team to achieve his goals.

My BIL is working in Alberta O&G as a bus mechanic and does 7x12 for 2 weeks alternating the schedule every other 2 weeks. At the end of each month he puts in about the same amount of time as a 8-5 worker doing 5 days a week so the schedule is fair. But, you're not getting the time off to compensate for the weeks with long hours which makes it unfair.

I also suggest you read the employment rules for the province you are working in. In Ontario, there are laws which limit the hours worked to 48 unless you agree to more hours in writing, and even then you can revoke agreeing to work over 48 hours by giving 2 weeks written notice.

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

(OP)
To LionelHutz (Electrical)

I am in the States now. The state which I work in doesn't require employer to pay OT for professional positions.

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

A star to Berkshire for that list- taken with a grain of salt of course. It's a bit phobic in my opinion, but it does have some good clues to watch out for, and advice about who to talk to in order to get a better impression of what's going on inside the company.

Personally, any company with a full-on "HR department", is too big to treat its employees as human beings, so it's likely too big for me to work for. But to each their own.

The only one I think is dead wrong in that link is the mention of progressive discipline. That's necessary for a company unless they don't mind paying a severance to people who they have to dismiss with cause. Depending on your jurisdiction, that may not be an issue at all- everybody gets a severance, even if dismissed with cause. Some firms are happy to pay people off even if they, say, catch an employee stealing or committing fraud- something that would be instant cause for dismissal without requiring progressive discipline. But in a lot of cases, you do need to ratchet up the attention to a particular employee's problem in a systematic manner. And sometimes, it works- you don't just save yourself a severance, you "repair" something that's wrong with an employee by getting them the attention they need to get the issue resolved. So a mention of having a progressive discipline policy wouldn't be an instant reason for me to run out of an interview. But if the employee handbook mentioned compelled, uncompensated overtime? I'd hightail it out of there in mid-sentence!

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

To the OP, one way to know you are working too many hours is when you do things like pay for gas, then drive off without pumping the gas.

I've now done that twice in the last couple of months - 3 times overall since I've worked here.

I drove to work the long way today so I could hit a different gas station - too embarrassing to go back to that one.smile

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

One of the best things to happen to me was not getting a job with a large heavy civil firm whose name starts with a K, because I have a few friends who did and none of them stayed for more than a year with similar complaints of being taken advantage of on the basis of overtime.

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

allgoodnames: I also got a job offer with a company starting with a K. Great offer money-wise for a starting engineer and they even were up front about the hours required (60+). I thought it was fair but could easily see how I would get burnt and passed on the offer for a small consulting firm. Don't regret that decision in the slightest.

Professional and Structural Engineer (ME, NH, MA)
American Concrete Industries
www.americanconcrete.com

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

There is a difference between 60+ and 72, I think. Especially if that 72 is "the new norm". It's like going on a blind date with someone who says they weight "110+ lbs" and having to move to go on that date. If you show up and they're 200 lbs (technically 110+!), you're going to feel like you've been taken advantage of, and you wouldn't be wrong.

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

Moltenmetal,
On the subject of progressive discipline, I found that as an employer, this tool gets used most, as a means of ratcheting up attention to tardy employees, more than others. Although I feel that in the case of the OP some tardiness could be justified if he is putting in those kind of hours.
With other offenses like stealing, other than pens and paperclips , the offender should be shown the door at once.
B.E.

You are judged not by what you know, but by what you can do.

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

I never understood employers asking employees to put in that much overtime. Productivity drops off really fast after 45-50 hours and you end up rushing to get something out with the very good chance that it likely will have to be redone or revised later to fix mistakes and the only thing that you did was hit some deadlines on someone's kant chart.

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

Hamburger, I don't know if "kant chart" was intentional or a freudian slip, but I'm stealing that.

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

Bloody good, Kenat! You mean they didn't send the sheriff after you to remind that you hadn't actually taken on fuel?

It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all.

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

You could just try say in aloud voice in front of everyone "my brain is broke, I am going home" when you it the 10 hour mark and see what happens!
It sounds like a piss take but ...

Burnout is far worse than being fired, you might never be able to bring your self to work as an engineer again.

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

It is my experience that if you really enjoy what you do, you tend "not to count too much" the hours you spend at work. I understand 10 hours is excessive but this may help to mitigate. [oh by the way, to whoever feels the temptation to comment: I said it can MITIGATE).

Coming to the 12 hours...

ok so if you see people jumping from the 5th floor (without parachute), you say I'll do the same or I will do even better: I'll jump from the 7th floor...?

so unless your are putting on orbit some amazing piece of art... a huge step for mankind....working 72 hours/week is just pure madness.

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

rotw,

Isn't the genesis of an amazing piece of art a little bit of madness?
And putting something in orbit and a huge step for mankind is running on adrenaline and a focused purpose.
atom

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

monkeydog: working 72 hours per week for a for-profit enterprise for no substantial or meaningful compensation isn't madness, and has nothing to do with art- it's just a very poor life and business decision. Lots of people make that decision, and it has nothing to do with art. It has, in many cases, to do with a bug in human nature, which others exploit for their own profit. Other times it's a response to perceived economic circumstance.

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

A few things I learned about this situation over the years.

IF You work for a mad-man who is a workaholic, then they expect the same of others... simply because 'they work-like-that'. These folks have no life and EXPECT the same dedication from their subordinates.

Many studies have shown that ~50-to-56-hrs/week is a sustainable pace... If employees are motivated and are supported in various ways [IE: 'no-fault' time-off for emergencies, etc] and are treated professionally. However, even the best employees work deteriorates proportionally above 56-hrs/week... its just not sustainable... especially under professional stress. Even combat troops have to be relieved [rotated] every 2-to-3 months for R&R, so they maintain a sharp edge... a dull edge can lead to catastrophe. WARNING: One of the aspects You face is on-the-job safety... which can be grossly affected by exhaustion... especially across-the-board.

Suggestion. When my office over-seas required 12-hr/day coverage, here is how two of us engineers worked out the schedule, IE: We staggered our hours for full coverage...

We worked 9-hr days, which included 1-hour lunch break. I worked from 0600 to 1500; my partner worked from 0900 to 1800. During this time there was always someone available. IF push-came-to-shove we had no problem extending our work-day and working sporadically into the weekend, on-call. Generally speaking from 0600--0800 I was rarely busy... and like-wise my partner was rarely busy from 1600--1800. When one of us was on vacation, the remaining guy changed his work schedule to 0730--1630... with presumption that over-time would be relatively minimal to factor-in, was relatively 'fair' between us and was acceptable to site leaders.

I suspect that You could show how work demand is minimal during the early and late edges of this weird working-shift of Yours... and show 'good-enough coverage' by just one of you being around early and late.

Now, IF work-site managers won't help You by adjusting shifts and liberalizing emergency time [especially during off-demand hours], then You will turn-out just like a friend of mine who tried to handle a mad-man shift similar-to-this... and was a basket case after just 6-months... and quit after 9-months when his wife and several of us intervened.

My Dad once stated the military situation he was often-in like this: "GIs will give their ALL in blood/sweat/tears/life... So when it safe to stand-down, get-out-of-their way and let the guys have a break. They deserve it."

NOTE.
IF the managers You work for are royal-*ss-h*les, then bail-out... You are a tool to be used-up and thrown-away when worn out.
IF this is the case, then consider this: Naaaa better not say what would happen to these managers if they were military superiors in Combat and acted like this...

Regards, Wil Taylor

o Trust - But Verify!
o We believe to be true what we prefer to be true. [Unknown]
o For those who believe, no proof is required; for those who cannot believe, no proof is possible. [variation,Stuart Chase]
o Unfortunately, in science what You 'believe' is irrelevant. ["Orion"]
o Learn the rules like a pro, so you can b

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

Quote (http://money.cnn.com/2016/05/17/pf/overtime-rule-c...)

Right now, if you're a salaried worker who makes between $23,660 and $47,476 and have some managerial duties you are considered "exempt" from overtime pay. Under the new rules, such low-paid managers would be reclassified as "non-exempt.

I'd think the $47,476 probably excludes most engineers in most areas, but newbies and/or lower cost areas may be impacted.

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

I worked those hours when I was 18 years old just starting off in the iron foundry. I probably made more money that year than you will tho. You agreed to 60 hours per week. Work 60 hours per week regularly, occasionally step up when you need to do more. Be a team player without being stepped on.


"Formal education is a weapon, whose effect depends on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed." ~ Joseph Stalin

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

2
Foundries are the closest you'll get to hell on earth, no amount of money is worth that shit.

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

Kenat,

Even in a low cost of living area like Oklahoma, fresh grads make more. The only engineering graduates that are making that little are working as technicians, not doing engineering.

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

We used to have a little saying around the Model Shop...."Don't complain about your job, or your wife is gonna make you go work in the foundry..!"

Proud Member of the Reality-Based Community..

To the Toolmaker, your nice little cartoon drawing of your glass looks cool, but your solid model sucks. Do you want me to fix it, or are you going to take all week to get it back to me so I can get some work done?

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

We used to work those in the Navy in the shipyard, or while deployed.

But, no. Did my share of 52-60 hour weeks on salary.
Now am on 7x12 and (less often) 6x10 hour weeks. But that's while on a job order, on the site during an outage. When that is finished (3-6 weeks) you are finished. You are back on 40 hours at the office, or are on wait time at home, or are not on paid hours at all. More, when on 60 or 84 hour weeks, every hour is paid as either straight time (40), overtime Saturdays and weekdays) at 1.25 rate, or on double time (Sundays). With 2x 12 hour shifts, you need a 1/2 hour turnover meeting with your opposite shift engineer (or the night crew - depending on what is working), and then you are off.

It happens, but you try hard not to bring work with you.

And that is hard when you are calculating, designing.

I agree with the others above. You "can do it". For a short time, maybe you have to do it. But, no at that rate for free.

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

You first mistake was accepting 60 hours a week for 40 hours pay... Bet you don't do that again!

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

I learned something from my last Director of Engineering. He told us nothing needed to change because no one was quitting. So we all quit.

If the boss it driving for a bonus is he sharing it with you?

Good luck

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

(OP)
Update:
Quit after two months as I found another job. but everyone else seems still there.

Past: Oil & Gas industry in Canada.
Present: desalination pump manufacturer in the US

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

billbusy,

Glad it worked out, you deserved better than that nonsense.

Keep in touch.

RE: Need suggestion for UNPAID OVERTIME (72 hours a week!)

Just my opinion, but work is a balance of $$$ in to effort out. If you severely dislike an aspect of your work then go elsewhere, simple. I would NEVER judge a position by hours alone as I've had several where I worked extreme hours, was more than compensated for it, and enjoyed some other really nice benefits because of it. Others are welcome to make claims about XX hours = no life and other nonsense but personally I've been running fine on 4-6 hours sleep for 20 years and don't get distracted much by life's bs like television. Acquaintances usually believe I'm joking or suicidal when I tell them I did an hour+ in the gym before work, worked 10+, put in another eight hours in my home shop after, and still met all family obligations...I prefer the term discipline, can't help if others struggle to keep up.

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