Friday - - Work/Life -

Most of us ac­cept that some­times we have to deal with work sit­u­a­tions beyond of­fice hours: this is called the 21st cen­tury. But what do you do if you feel your boss’s de­mands are un­fairly in­trud­ing on your free time? We spoke to Ivor McGet­ti­gan, part­ner and ex­pert in em­ploy­ment law at Al Tamimi & Com­pany, about how to deal with the sit­u­a­tion. IF YOU FEEL UN­COM­FORT­ABLE ABOUT THE EX­TENT OF POST-6PM DE­MANDS FROM YOUR BOSS, WHAT’S THE FIRST STEP TO TAKE? It de­pends. I think if you’re get­ting an evening re­quest to pre­pare some­thing for the next morn­ing, if that’s a one-off and it’s hap­pened be­cause of ex­tra­ne­ous cir­cum­stances, then you should look at that and maybe ac­cept it’s un­der­stand­able. But if it’s hap­pen­ing reg­u­larly and it’s be­cause of poor man­age­ment then it’s an un­fair in­tru­sion. So the best ap­proach, ini­tially, would be an in­for­mal talk with the line man­ager just to say, you know, ‘I’m happy to help but cer­tain re­quests I feel could have been dealt with dur­ing the work­ing day’. The way to make that con­ver­sa­tion work is be non-crit­i­cal. Shape it in pos­i­tives, like how you can be more ef­fec­tive and give things more at­ten­tion if you re­ceive them in a timely man­ner. Pack­age it in a way that what you’re ask­ing for ben­e­fits the firm. IF THE LINE MAN­AGER IS UN­RE­SPON­SIVE? I think, of­ten, they wouldn’t be. Espe­cially in more en­light­ened com­pa­nies, there is an un­der­stand­ing that well-rested staff are more ef­fi­cient and pro­duc­tive. And the com­pany would see reg­u­lar out-of-hour de­mands as re­flect­ing badly on the line man­ager mak­ing them. If that per­son is not con­trol­ling their own time, it raises ques­tions about what else they’re not in con­trol of. But if the line man­ager re­ally is un­re­spon­sive or if that con­ver­sa­tion feels too awk­ward, there is HR. But again, en­sure you’re non-crit­i­cal and em­pha­sise your own will­ing­ness to be flex­i­ble where nec­es­sary. WHAT IF THE COM­PANY DIS­MISSES THESE CON­CERNS? It’s dif­fi­cult here. Ul­ti­mately, the em­ployee could make a claim for over­time. But if the com­pany is un­re­cep­tive to that too, then the em­ployee could file a com­plaint with the Min­istry of Labour, which would send a rep­re­sen­ta­tive to ad­ju­di­cate. HOW DOES THAT PROCESS WORK? It’s called a griev­ance. The Min­istry of Labour will ap­point some­one to in­ves­ti­gate. It’s a non-bind­ing rul­ing; the next step is to go to court. The courts are sym­pa­thetic to em­ploy­ees in this sit­u­a­tion – if there is ev­i­dence – so it’s per­fectly rea­son­able you could win. But, on a prac­ti­cal level, would I ad­vise this? I think if you get to this stage and your em­ployer isn’t lis­ten­ing, any vic­tory is hol­low. For your own hap­pi­ness, it would be worth con­sid­er­ing an­other job.

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