HOW TO DEAL WITH UNWANTED OUT-OF-WORK EMAILS
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.