I'm asking some advice for my mother.

She was hired around 2 years ago for a team leader and customer-facing role. She wanted to be employed full time, but the company did not want to pay for this. They hired her for 30 hours a week.

The work she has to do is too much for this time period. Most of her hours are booked into seeing clients and there is no time for her managerial role. For the entirety of the past 2 years she has worked 7 hours overtime a week.

Clearly it would have been better to hire her full time...

Her manager is very down on overtime and has recently been on a course which instructed her to stop all overtime.

This obviously isn't ideal:

  1. Lower income
  2. Not enough time to do her job
  3. She sees it as devaluing her work

Obviously there's no legal requirement for the company to not be short-sighted but is there precedent regarding overtime that should have been contractual to start with? The job demonstrably requires more hours than given.

I also read somewhere that additional holiday should have been calculated on her overtime. This was not the case. Is there anything she can do about this?

How should she handle not being able to perform all aspects of her job within the allotted time?

  • 8
    Slightly different question but the solution is the same. Your mother needs to show her boss her workload and let him/her decide priority.
    – user48276
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 17:11
  • 2
    @red-shield as OPs mother is nos hired full time, that overtime helped her reach her target salary... Not being able to do so means she will earn less...
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 19:32
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    @red-shield there are lots of hourly employees who are quite happy to get overtime.
    – stannius
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 19:38
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    @cybernard: The part you appear to be missing is that management doesn't want to pay for a full time job. So either they think she can get the same work done in less time OR they are going to be willing to allow certain work to simply not be done.
    – NotMe
    Commented Sep 27, 2018 at 3:45
  • Are you sure the manager wanted to ask to stop overtime rather than stop billing overtime? No one is legally allowed to ask stop billing (but doing) overtime, so this might be something the management wants to do off the books Commented Sep 27, 2018 at 18:06

3 Answers 3


If she thinks that she can't get all the work done in those hours, and she feels all the work is important, then she should go to her boss and work out priorities for the work: what work is most important, and what work may not get done with less hours.

Hi boss. Since I won't be able to get all my tasks done without overtime, what tasks are less important? I'll try to get them all done, of course, but since things come up and sometimes the tasks take longer, I need to know which ones you consider most important to get done. The others will get done when everything comes together, but probably won't get done most weeks.

If the boss doesn't want her working overtime, then the boss is probably ok with not all the work she is doing getting done. Find out the boss's priorities and work with that.

If she wants more hours, it sounds like this job isn't the right job for that. It could be worth one try asking the boss if full-time instead of overtime would be considered, but since she's probably not getting overtime pay for hours under 40, there's a good chance the boss only wants to pay for 30 hours.

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    If the boss doesn't want her working overtime, then the boss is probably ok with not all the work she is doing getting done. - Unfortunately this is not always a given Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 12:54
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    @TheEnvironmentalist True. But sometimes when management wants mutually exclusive outcomes, it does need to be clarified to them what they are really asking. Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 15:59

How should she handle not being able to perform all aspects of her job within the allotted time?

Speaking bluntly, this is mostly her manager's problem, not hers.

Clearly she was willing to do paid overtime to compensate for the fact that she was not hired full time. Now, the manager is telling her to stop doing overtime.

As a result of that, she will be able to achieve less things than before when she was doing the overtime. Seems that the manager wants to stop the overtime for some reason unknown, but by doing that her productivity will also drop.

Like I said, this is her manager's call; if he wants her to work less time the manager should expect less things done.

I'd suggest that, for her safety and to keep things clear, she writes a mail or talks to her manager to make this situation explicit, where they can discuss the new priorities. Something in the lines of:

Hello Mr. Manager. I received your email regarding the overtime, and that I should stop working those extra hours.

As now I will have less time to carry with all my responsibilities, I ask you which of those should I prioritize over the others? Currently I was able to handle tasks X, Y, and Z smoothly, but now I will have to drop one of those, or reduce the time spend on some of them to favor the other(s). Which should It be?


As a team lead, she has a managerial position, and at that level one should be expected to manage their own time.

Her situation is nothing special. Yes, it's a bit arbitrary for her boss not to let her work more, but this is in no way different to any other overworked manager (most managers I ever met have more work on their hands than possible to work off in the allotted time if they wanted to do everything perfectly).

So I'll concur with the other answers and suggest she tells her boss about the fact that she has less time than before (he surely knows already, but she may go a step further and tell him exactly how much it is). So far so good. But I'd also expect her to work out a plan of what to remove from her work schedule. Maybe two alternative scenarios if at all possible. Then she needs to document the pros and cons and give her boss either a simple "either/or" decision, or better yet, decide herself and let her boss simply nod it off:

Hey boss, I have come up with plan A or plan B. Which do you prefer?

Or better:

Hey boss, I have come up with this plan A to get along with less time and will implement that starting next week unless you have more input for me (I could also follow plan B if you prefer that).

Obviously, plan A should be the one she likes more / finds more sensible etc.

A top way to build such a plan is to delegate stuff (which could mean getting more staff or an assistant; or motivating another team lead to take some of her stuff). Next, de-prioritize/skip complete work packages. Next, resolve some work faster, if possible in her job (which may cut into quality, obviously). She also needs to say "no" more for new work entering her domain.

The one thing she must not do is plan in a way that makes her suffer more (i.e., skip lunch, stress herself out overmuch, etc.).

Oh, by the way. A boss who actually wants to avoid overtime should be a luxury. It would be much easier and profitable (at least short-term) for them to keep her working until she dies of exhausting. A boss is responsible for their directs and especially their health and well-being; sure, at 30h/week, 10 hours of overtime will not damage your mothers health - most people work 40h/week easily. But still... the fact that he tries hard to avoid overtime in general is to be applauded. Depending on the size or type of her company, he also simply may not be able to pay more than a 30h/week position - he may well be out of the loop which decides these things.

  • 3
    Managers still report to their own manager and can definitely ask for prioritization if there is too much to do.
    – stannius
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 19:40
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    @stannius Yes, that is what she is doing by offering two alternative solutions.
    – AnoE
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 19:53

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