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I work between 8am and 2pm from Monday to Friday. However, on 21 March my company will host an event that will happen at 8pm. However, I go to school from 7pm until 11pm and my employer knows that.

My predecessors usually helped in the organization of the event. To go to this I will have to skip my class and I do not want to do that. This subject has been brought up before and I said that I can't go because I have an appointment. They didn't say "You have to go" but said "Your presence is really important." In the near future, can they make me go (or else I lose my job)?

I am not looking for legal advice. And in order to keep it open and on-topic - What does Brazilian law say regarding employers requiring off-hours work? And how should I approach my employer about this situation?

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@Chad No, I'm a brazilian. And yes, I do have a contract. –  athosbr99 Mar 7 at 15:12
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What does your contract say? This is a legal advice question here... sorry. –  ReallyTiredOfThisGame Mar 7 at 15:12
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@athosbr99 The laws of your country is literally what you're asking about. And how to raise this issue with your employer may well be based on those laws. –  CMW Mar 10 at 9:38

6 Answers 6

up vote 19 down vote accepted

It's quite simple, you need to decide the priority, going to university or the job.

If the former, go to your class, if the latter, go to the event.

Take the long term view and act as required. When I was a student I worked a weekend job in retail. One year in November I found I had an exam on a Saturday morning and asked for it off in good time. The answer came back no, too close to Christmas (our peak time of the year, but still 5 weeks after the requested date).

I spoke to the store manager, who basically told me I had to decide where my future lay, going to uni, or working for him. The decision was easy (although surprisingly a shock to him, he later backed down and granted the time off when I offered to leave immediately, but that's by the way). I often think of this though when I hit a similar choice, always think of what matters long term, even if the short term seems difficult.

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Yeah he should, but that was what I was meaning about being difficult short term. If there was a negotiated stance, there wouldn't be a need for this question. As it is, the OP should decide what matters and be true to that, even if they need to cause bad feeling in the job. In my own example, my card was pretty much marked after that and I think I lasted a couple of months past christmas. Actually I also left that Uni eventually, but looking back 25+ years later do I regret making that choice, no. –  Mark Chapman Mar 7 at 18:43

Don't say you can't go because you have an appointment. Tell them honestly that you have class at that time and that you cannot skip it. They may find having a class more imporatnat than just an appointment. They may not remeber that you take classes.

When they say your presence is important, they generally mean that. Even if they don't fire you over that (and whether they can will depend on the laws in your country), that will make an unfavorable impression of you and that will carry over into how they assign work, how they reward performance and how they perceive you in general. You wil be perceived as someone who is not a team player and that can be a very hard perception to overcome.

You have to make the call as to whether you are planning to move up in this company or if your education is more important. If this job is just tiding you over until you get a degree in a completely differnt field and look for a totally different job (like working as a waitress while you get your medical degree), then you may not care as much as if this were company where your new degree will allow you to move up to a better job in the same field or with the same company (such as getting a computer science degree in place where you are junior programmer).

How bad is it really to skip one class? If you aren't having a test, can you make arrangements with another student to share notes? Can you talk to the professor about the issue and see if he can give you some outside help to catch up if you have to do this for your job?

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Actually, I'm not in high school. By law, every brazilian university (state-funded and private-funded) requires that a student have to take a test and pass to be eligible to enter the university. Since I failed in 2013, I'm studying to pass this test and I'm going to a "special school" only for this. It is very expensive and since my parents are paying, I don't want to "waste" money. –  athosbr99 Mar 7 at 15:21
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And yes, my current job can be compared as the "like working as a waitress while you get your medical degree". –  athosbr99 Mar 7 at 15:32
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The point of communicating, both with your manager and with your professor, can not be understated here. I can't tell you how many problems at work (and what I read here) that just boil down to communication breakdowns. –  corsiKa Mar 7 at 19:14

I'm also working in Brazil, and I can tell the OP is covered by law in all aspects. He is not forced to work out of the contracted hours, the company must pay those extra hours and if embarrassed or fired by refusing to work out of those hours, the OP can sue the company and is very likely to receive compensation for it.

That said, there's the "political" in the question. The OP's manager is not likely to miss him, and I assume he clarified that. The OP must decide what's more important: his career in the company or the studies.

I can advocate in favor of studies. A well educated, good worker is invaluable and will find a job in another (possible better) company.

athosbr99 Let your manager know you will not miss your class and don't get afraid of "looking bad". Your manager is probably not caring about your needs, only their own.

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There seems to be mostly a communication problem here. You told your manager "I have an appointment". That does honestly not sound very important. You could have said "I go to school from 7pm to 11pm; my father pays for it, and if he finds out that I'm not attending school he will throw me out and I'll have to live on the street". Now that sounds important.

Your manager said "it is really important that you are at work". You should have asked: How important? Maybe the answer is "well, we are asking you because Joe who has plenty of spare time is on his lunch break so I can't ask him right now". Or may be "well, Joe who does this normally because he has plenty of spare time complained and said that you are not working late because you are too lazy and I completely forgot about your school".

These are extremes, but you are talking about legal consequences, losing your job and so on, when it is quite possible that the whole problem could go away if you talked to each other properly.

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I believe that most of the rules that exist between employees and their employers are not stated in contracts or laws, but are not written and sometimes even not spoken (i.e. implicit). This is natural and does not imply that you are in a toxic work environment. However, "your presence is really important" is just an example of doublespeak.

It is likely that your contract protects you from being fired or punished in case you don't comply with this kind of request. However, this is far from being a decisive answer.

If you don't comply with the demands of your employee (regardless they are stated in the contract or not), you may miss the rewards and/or career advancements you deserve, unless you manage to carry out some form of moral suasion towards your employer (using your negotiation skills) or reach consensus among many of your peers (beware: this is an aggressive strategy, it is not necessary in most cases, and is very risky!).

I suggest you to go to this event for this time asking some of your "schoolmates" to take notes for you. Then, provide your employer with the schedule of your classes kindly asking to minimize, if possible, the collisions with the extra-hours they require you. Do remark that this is very important for you and will affect your performance at work making you a "more educated, satisfied, and self-confident individual". If collisions continue to happen all the times, try to find a trade-off (say 50-50) between school and work, by constantly probing the mood of your employer. Adapt the trade-off by favoring school or work as needed. And last, when you go to these events, make sure you are not invisible (this does not mean you have to be a lap dog but at least don't hide under some table or stay alone in a corner, like "I don't want to be here").

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The question is, can they make me go? And the answer depends on the laws of your country, state, locality, etc.

In the US, laws vary from place to place. My answer is based on the laws I know, from my US location. Companies can't make you do anything. However, they can fire you for not showing up.

You need to consult with your local human resources (or equivalent) person.

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