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In our company one person from the team has to come to work on Saturday. We are a team of 4 so it comes to 1 Saturday per month (paid overtime).

Recently 2 guys left and have been replaced by other 2 guys who are unable to work on Saturdays due to religious restrictions. This means that the last month me and my old teammate had to work 2 Saturdays.

Our contract has no specific mention of Saturday, it just says something general about when the company needs overtime the employee is required etc.

How can I deal with the unfairness of this situation, where two of us are required to work on (now twice as many) Saturdays while the new guys aren't? Can I refuse to work on Saturdays too?

  • 32
    Are you absolutely certain your new colleagues haven't come to a slightly modified agreement with your manager? Such as they will have to work Sundays or evenings instead? – user34587 Nov 1 '17 at 16:00
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    So, essentially, you're being asked to work alternating five- and six-day weeks on a more-or-less permanent basis? What does the EU Working Time Directive have to say about that? – David Richerby Nov 1 '17 at 19:37
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    One time years ago my boss told us he'd be out the next day for Rosh Hashanah. I told him, "Okay, can I have saint's days off then?" I was this close to getting off every single day of the year! – akaioi Nov 1 '17 at 23:53
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    Overtime: Your Rights gov.uk/overtime-your-rights – James Wood Nov 2 '17 at 0:51
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    When you work the second saturday in a month you should ask your manager to stay home on monday and let the other 2 religious guys deal with all the work of monday. – Bakuriu Nov 2 '17 at 15:19
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Is it possible that I can refuse to work on Saturday too?

Yes you can - but I would not advise it, as you already have shown willingness to work on Saturdays when needed.

The real issue here is that whomever hired these folks did not fully consider the fact that some of you are forced to work Saturdays. The problem now is that your employer hired these two knowing that information in advance or they did not communicate the need to these individuals until after the fact.

If I were you, I would suggest talking to your employer about this and see if the need to work on Saturdays can be removed entirely for all or if some additional compensation could come your way for working them. Which would make things equal among your peers.

Otherwise, you may have to deal with it or move on to another place that doesn't require working on Saturdays.

One thing I would not recommend is to pretend you also have a religious conflict that you do not really have. Lying to your employer is never a good idea.

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    Sunday working is subject to special treatment in the United Kingdom. That treatment does not extend to Saturdays. In this case, the employer made the mistake of relying on Saturday working without actually making it contractual. The overtime which is mentioned is a lengthening of the working day, it is not additional attendance. @JuanCarlosOropeza – Andrew Leach Nov 1 '17 at 16:19
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    This does seem like a hiring/management screw-up – Mark Rogers Nov 1 '17 at 20:40
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    @MarkRogers hiring someone who is unable to perform the required duties and offloading more responsibilities onto OP as a result is definitely a hiring/management screw-up. – ESR Nov 2 '17 at 0:43
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    @MarkRogers However, not hiring the 2 new colleagues could've been considered a screw-up as well, since the company may feel the risk of it getting interpreted as discrimination based on religion. The current situation may not be ideal, but the whole thing may just be one big legal minefield. – Mast Nov 3 '17 at 9:50
  • Deciding not to hire the two guys because they won't work Saturdays for religious reasons would be a legal minefield. It might be legal (to not hire them) if it is a real requirement of the job. – Martin Bonner supports Monica Nov 3 '17 at 12:53
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First, get the idea of fairness out of your head. Life is unfair for everyone in some form or fashion. Get used to that. And NEVER consider saying you won't do something because it is unfair, you get nowhere that way and you appear as immature.

What you do in this specific case is talk to your boss about how you now are expected to work half the Saturdays of the month instead of one Saturday and what kind of compensation can you get for that? Not just money. Perhaps the two people who cannot work on Saturday can be the first called for Sunday or evening work. Perhaps you can get Monday off when you work Saturday. Perhaps you can negotiate extra vacation days. Perhaps your boss and his boss can each take one of the Saturdays or perhaps someone from another team can. Perhaps Saturdays are not really needed at all.

In the end though, someone has to work those Saturdays (if they are truly needed) and if they won't give you any other perks besides overtime pay, then you will have to decide if you want to continue to work at this place. After all if the other person who shares the work with you leaves, you might have to work all the Saturdays.

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Don't lie. Don't make something up that isn't true.

Have a conversation with your management. You are not treated fairly and it's perfectly okay to talk about this. Be clear about what you want out of this conversation

  1. Don't work Saturdays at all
  2. Only work one Saturday a month
  3. Get extra pay for Saturdays worked
  4. Whatever else you may want

Once you decide on a goal, make sure you have a good plan how to explain this to your management. Sometimes it helps to write down what you are going to say and practice it with someone. You can enter the conversation more confidently. It all needs to be fact based and data driven, it doesn't matter how you or anyone else "feel" about it. Leave the emotions out.

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    I think this is good advise. Know what you want. Then ask for it. Other things might want: "Time off in lieu (either say Mondays, or just adding it to annual)" – Lyndon White Nov 2 '17 at 8:21
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Notice that the question doesn't specifically seek to have Saturdays off, it only seeks to avoid "extra on call duty."

Thus, I would consider asking management if working Tuesday through Saturday would work for them ... assuming it works for you (and the other co-worker who is currently coming in on Saturdays).

Such an arrangement is more equitable, assuming that the amount of work performed on Saturdays is the same as on weekdays. Everyone might have to work a little harder on their 5 days-per-week to get all the existing work done, but at least it would be divided equally.

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    Fantasitc idea. Demand a monday off for working a second saturday in a month. If they refuse that, then say you will only work max one saturday in a month (family reasons...) – vikingsteve Nov 2 '17 at 9:12
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All you can do is speak with your manager. As you pointed out, your contract states that you have to work out-of hours if requested. I'm pretty sure these news guys would be able to work Sundays or lates if required.

You not wanting to work on Saturdays is your own point of view - religion doesn't come into your situation at all. You can't use the Jewish guys religion as an excuse for you not wanting to work Saturdays.

And no, you can't make up a religion that states that you can't work on Saturdays. You'll get laughed at.

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    Yes, speak to your manager. Tell them that your family obligations mean you can't work more than one saturday in a month. Blame it on your wife / kids / family / sick mother / whatever. – vikingsteve Nov 2 '17 at 9:11
  • The OP doesn't say Jewish, but if they are, they probably won't work late on Friday evening either. Edit: I see the original was specific. Not sure that particular edit was worth it. – Martin Bonner supports Monica Nov 3 '17 at 12:55
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Can I refuse to work on Saturdays too?

You can but I really wouldn't recommend taking this approach, especially since you were doing them before and it's only the increased frequency that is the real issue here and addressing that is perfectly reasonable.

You should talk to your manager and focus on the increased frequency of Saturday working, not on anything else. You need to forget about what your other coworkers do or don't do and any notion of "fairness" and talk about what you are prepared to do. Something like:

Hi [manager], I need to talk to you about the Saturday workings - I understand we've had some staffing issues lately and I've been happy to step up to provide cover over the last month and I'm totally happy to do the 1 out of 4 arrangement like we had before but I'm finding that doing it every other week is cutting in to my weekends too much, can we come up with something to let me reduce the Saturday work back to the previous level?

Note that there is no mention of your coworkers because how many Saturdays you work is between you and the company, others don't factor into that. Also there is no "justification" or excuse as to why you can't work those specific additional days beyond the fact that it is cutting too far into "your" time because that's all it needs to be.

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