RE: Average hours worked

Subject: RE: Average hours worked
From: Michele Marques <msmarques -at- rogers -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 05 Aug 2002 00:50:00 -0400

I don't believe in clock-watching, but I also don't believe in unlimited uncompensated hours worked.

The arguments I have seen so far against complaining about working 50 - 80 hours/week seem to be (not necessarily in order of importance):

(1) You should love what you do for work (and thus, it is a joy to work rather than a chore) or else find other work (or work where the number of hours will be in line with what you expect).

(2) You are given a job to do, and should either work the long hours or find some way to work harder/smarter to get it done quicker.

(3) You're not hired/paid to work a set number of hours but to get a job done, which may or not be within 40 hours/week.

(4) As a salaried employee you are working by the job (task) and not by the hour.

(5) A plumber (or other contractor) who quotes you 1 hour to complete a job would only charge your 1 hour even if the job took 4 hours (if there weren't unforseen circumstances or a large change in what was expected).

My counter arguments are:

(1) Just because I love technical writing doesn't mean that I love every aspect about my job as a technical writer. I also love having an opportunity to do some things outside of my job. My love of the job means that usually I end up putting in somewhat more than my forty hours without extra compensation, but aren't enough for me to work 60 hours/week without extra compensation ... and even with extra compensation, there's a limit as to how much I'm willing to work 60 hours/week.

(2) The job I am given to do may or may not fit within the amount of time my employer and I agree are the general number of hours I am expected to work. There may not be any way to work harder/smarter ... or I may only figure out these methods by experience, in which case the next assignment I am given will require less time.

(3) Although I'm not paid to work a set number of hours, my contract also doesn't specify number of manuals per month. Also, during lulls, I doubt my employer would let me get away with working 10 - 20 hours in a week (although I could schedule vacation time for lulls).

(4) As a salaried employee, I'm not really working either by the task or by the hour, but by some not-clearly defined combination. If I were a contractor, I might have bid on a specific job. If my bid were a fixed price bid, I wouldn't be compensated for extra hours, but I might be kicking myself if I hadn't estimated the number of hours correctly. As a salaried employee, my employer assigns tasks and due dates and I may or may not be able to negotiate some form of compensation for extra work required for a specific project. I do expect to see some form of compensation eventually.

(5) Yes, if I tell my employer it will take 100 hours to get a job done and it ends up taking longer, I am willing to work the extra hours without extra compensation. But next time I will realize that the job requires extra time (unless I have learned some better approaches to accomplishing the task.) If my employer asks for an estimate and they still want me to work 60 hours per week (for at least a month) to accomplish the task, I do expect to see some compensation. It doesn't necessarily have to be overtime, but I do expect to be rewarded for my extra effort.

- Michele Marques

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