I work for a bank in London and am currently in a situation where:

  • the team is under resourced but due to budgets the firm are making more and more cut backs, but work is always increasing so we have to make up for it
  • My contract states I do 9-5pm 'and additional hours where required'....

Well, the problem is, every day is additional hours. We have been told we aren't doing enough as a team but I and many of my colleagues are doing 9-whenever, I am often eating my dinner about 10-11pm at night. I often leave work 7.30-9pm.

We have been yelled at for not staying late enough in the last few months, and I have done what I can. I am exhausted. Due to this we have all been quite upset by the comments and it is impacting all of our mental health.

There are members of the department doing their strict hours, such as 8-4pm and 9-5pm not a minute over, but people let them off due to their child circumstances. Us without children make up for their home lives.

I am exhausted. I am fed up. I struggle for time to actually look for a new job. I feel like I work in a prison.

If we chat we get told we talk too much and don't have the right attitude.

My question is - what can they do if I just start leaving at 5pm?


6 Answers 6


If you're working more than 48 hours per week in the UK, and haven't signed to explicitly say you're happy to do so, then that's (in most situations) illegal. You could choose to get HR involved on that front alone, or you could get them involved on bullying (getting yelled at in nearly any situation counts, especially being yelled at frequently for not working constant overtime.)

That being said, the ship is sinking, and your manager is trying to take advantage of you. My real advice is to polish your CV and hit the job market hard; those sorts of situations are rarely recoverable.

All good members of staff will be doing the same thing in this situation (leaving ASAP), which means it's only likely to get worse with time. Don't hang about.

  • 3
    OP started they are too exhausted and overworked to make a reasonable attempt at a job search. They are also worried about cutting their hours. After all they may have repercussions or end up jobless. Can you address this?
    – Summer
    Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 0:20
  • 9
    @bruglesco yes, go to the doc - get signed off sick... but the answer still stands.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 5:28
  • 4
    @Polygnome In reality you wouldn't be let go for that, you'd be let go for another magic reason that happened to appear as soon as you decided to work fewer hours.
    – berry120
    Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 9:23
  • 2
    @KKA It sounds like it can't be leaving you feeling any worse than at the moment. Heck, if it gives you more energy for job hunting, then that's definitely a positive.
    – berry120
    Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 22:33
  • 2
    @AndyT , nah, I didn't sign anything like that.
    – KKA
    Commented Oct 8, 2019 at 20:50

This sounds like an awful situation. I've been in similar. It's nasty. You are wise to ask for help, starting here.

You could leave this job and get another. That's obvious, and it's easy to say. But you probably can't afford a period of unemployment, and you may even have an immigration problem if you have no job. And, you are in no condition to look for another job while this is going on.

You can just keep giving in to this kind of job treatment.

Or, you can try a mental trick on yourself. Imagine yourself in the position of your customer: the people who rely on the work you do. Imagine being told, "the people doing that work for you are under tremendous pressure." You'd immediately ask yourself, "doesn't that mean they're making mistakes and missing details?"

Also imagine your boss's position. He probably has been told to "do more with less" and may even have a bonus coming if he can cut costs.

Then have a conversation with him, starting, "how can we work TOGETHER to deal with this horrible situation?" If he answers "we can't, so shut up and keep rowing" you've lost nothing, and you tried. You can never go wrong by offering him your help.

But it's most likely he'll listen. Then you, and your colleagues, can make the case that you're likely to give better results when you're not insanely overworked, and when you are, as a team, treated with at least some respect. It's possible your boss is also suffering from serious disrespect, and is passing it on.

Once you are talking, it is possible you can figure out some ways for you all to maintain your personal health and integrity to "do more with less" or whatever is ailing your company. If so, great.

But we all know that's unlikely to work well for long. In that case, you have tried to treat your boss with respect and been rejected. So, your conscience can be entirely clear to transfer your loyalty away from this company. It is hard and it takes a while, but you will realize that your value as a person has nothing to do with these clowns, and that you can find other work and leave them behind.

  • 1
    Yeah unfortunately its very much us little people vs managers. We don't get informed of anything. It really does remind me of students in a classroom not being told what the schedule is the next day.
    – KKA
    Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 22:11

In my previous job I was in a similar situation to you - working long hours every single day simply because there wasn't enough time in a normal working day to get everything done and we were always under pressure.

It lead me to a simple conclusion about business. If you can't afford to hire enough people to complete the work you're being paid for in normal working days, then you don't have a viable business.

Of course there are going to be pressure times occasionally where you will have to stay back late to meet a deadline or something. But this should be the exception rather than the rule. Is there a specific goal / deadline you are working these long hours for, after which things will return to normal?

If it's the rule it means the company is not making enough money to pay its employees.

Think about it this way. Is there any service or expense, other than work done by its employees, where the company would get away with demanding more of it for the same price simply because they are under pressure? Of course not. So why should they with their employees?

Unless you feel extreme loyalty to try and rescue the company (and I'm assuming you don't if your manager is yelling at you like that), or are holding out for a redundancy payment, then the only advice is to look for a new job with better management.


You should ask to be well paid for the extra hours worked, now you are needed you need to use it to your advantage. You manager is yelling because he is under pressure too.

Make them pay cash for all your suffering. Looking for a new opportunity should have been a priority long before now.

  • They don't pay any over time, its just expected unfortunately. Pay rises are absolutely awful too! And bonus is the set amount for everyone across the function.
    – KKA
    Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 22:07
  • The bank doesn't have any money?
    – Mawg
    Commented Oct 8, 2019 at 6:32
  • If you can't figure out any tactical reaction to the situation. After all the answers and propositions sent to you. .... i suggest that you make a strategical move. ... you deposit your resignation , so either they need you, for that they may offer a raise, or they dont need you, at least you are not considered fired, get your stuff out and move forwared to your next opportunity or job . Commented Oct 9, 2019 at 16:44

the team is under resourced but due to budgets the firm are making more and more cut backs, but work is always increasing so we have to make up for it

There will be always more and more work. Just from the fact that there will be less and less people doing it. Your company is already showing two "Red flags". From experience I can say that this is a desired goal for your company. Spend less money on employees while expecting/requring same outcome.

My contract states I do 9-5pm 'and additional hours where required'....

The "where required" refers to occasional needs that might arise and couldn't be predicted. Occasional also means that it cannot be every day.

Adding to berry120 comment the 48-hours week it's calculated over 17-week period. So in 17 weeks the average should be 48 hours. When you finish at 7.30 you work 12.5 hours more. During 17 weeks the average is 52.5 (I assume it could be even more if you work 12 hours a day).

This may be against the law (depending on if you have signed a working hours directive opt out). My advice would be to go to the doctor, take sick leave. Rest and take that time to look for new job.
Also contact ACAS as, apart from the possibly unlawful overtime, you are also being bullied.

  • 1
    That’s very important. Overtime is not required if the company could hire another employee instead.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Mar 24 at 22:21

At a bank in the U.K., you should go to HR and tell them that you are not happy with the situation and you want it changed. Banks have enough money to hire more developers, so there is no business related reason for continuing overtime.

If that doesn’t help, tell your GP that you can’t handle the stress at work. During your sick leave you have a perfect opportunity to look for jobs elsewhere.

  • 1
    "Banks have enough money to hire more" is a ridiculous basis for an answer. First of all, employment and the benefits of employing staff are the same for any company. Secondly, it seems like you're conflating the bank's capital (i.e. their company budget) with their customers' money.
    – Flater
    Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 14:00
  • @Flater If the bank told the public they had not enough money to hire more developers there would be an instant run on the bank. Accusing me of confusing the bank’s money and customer deposits is childish.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Mar 24 at 22:24
  • The counter to your assertion is not limited to "the bank states that is has no money". A much more reasonable counter is "the bank is not going to increase their staffing costs every time someone suggests we should, this would not be an effective business practice". You can't just state that because their business is in financing, they must therefore be willing to spend more money, which is effectively what you are claiming by saying "Banks have enough money to hire more developers". More often than not, having money comes from not spending it wantonly, which is the opposite of your point
    – Flater
    Commented Mar 24 at 22:37

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