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I have been working here since I graduated, as a software engineer for approximately 5 years at this company. In the first 3 years I thought everything I went through was learning, even though the workload increased.

Now I am in the project working on an ERP module, which should have been completed and far beyond the timeline. This is because my employer is reluctant to add people as software analysts and programmers, instead employers use employees in the hardware section as analysts to justify business processes. I have been working on my own and a few weeks ago the employer added remote employees because the client was angry and impatient with this project. Plus the difficulty level of requests from clients that made me unable to sleep.

I work overtime almost every day because of moral responsibility, on the other hand it's been more than 5 months of overtime money that has not been paid and there are no benefits whatsoever, sometimes the salary can be late.

I feel tired with all this, may I resign in the middle of this project? With a note that I am the only programmer working on this module, and things can get messed up if I take paid leave.

my employer throws responsibility to me when asked by the client about the delayed progress. The manager tells the client that the person in charge of this module is on paid leave and hopes to wait patiently for me to re-enter. when I first entered after my leave was paid, the pressure from the client was on me.

And I did not sign any contract when I was told that I was a permanent employee, only verbal statements and congratulations.

Can I try to apply for a new job?

76

Two issues. Your taxes and quitting.

...it's been more than 5 months of overtime money that has not been paid and there are no benefits whatsoever, sometimes the salary can be late.

[...]

And I did not sign any contract when I was told that I was a permanent employee, only verbal statements and congratulations.

If you are in the United States, you need to make sure your employer is paying all of your taxes, including unemployment and social security taxes. This can easily be done by looking at your pay stubs, and/or calling one of the relevant government agencies.

If your employer is not withholding or paying its share of your taxes, you will be liable for your own taxes as an independent contractor. Do not bury your head in the sand. This is extremely important information for you to have because you'll need to put that money aside to pay your taxes if your employer doesn't.

If your employer has lied to you about your employment status and hasn't been paying your taxes, you need to establish a paper trail that they've told you that you were a full-time employee since a particular date. This should be relatively easy to do, because supposedly, they still need to keep you working and they do not want to upset you.

For that, you need to stop communicating verbally and put everything in writing. You need to send an email memorializing the fact that they told you that you were a permanent full-time employee starting a particular date, but that you've verified your taxes and that your employer hasn't been paying them yet/withholding yet. This email needs to be sent to everyone that matters in your company. Your manager, HR, payroll, etc. And you need to print it out and keep a copy of it and any response you receive at your domicile.

Make your request in writing, if nothing comes of it, issue a written ultimatum, take a vacation, turn off your phone, do not answer your door, do not even stay home, and do not write a single additional line of code until this situation gets resolved and you're made a full-time employee retroactively. Once that's done, demand the same for any overtime or unpaid wages. Memorialize in writing what they owe you. Make sure they acknowledge their debt towards you in writing. Once you have that back and forth paper trail established, then it becomes relatively easy to get paid what you're owed if you push them a little, or if you make a complaint to the US Department of Labor in your State (again, that's assuming you live and work in the US).

And once those two situations get resolved, or at least until those two situations get acknowledged, then. Then quit. In fact, you should use that little ultimatum-vacation in the meantime (I told you to take at the beginning) to look for another job. But my point is, do not tell them that you're planning to quit until every issue is resolved first. Once you say you're going to quit, you lose all your leverage to normalize those situations. So when you do look for another job. Keep a very low profile initially. Do not go through 3rd party recruiters unless they've been recommended to you. Only give out your resume to people you trust. And create a separate gmail account and use Google Voice as the only phone number you give out.

Can I try to apply for a new job?

Yes, you must! This employer is god awful. Not to mention, this project will likely never end. The only reason you're still working for them is probably the Stockholm syndrome. Ideally, you need to look for another employer before you quit, but since you're doing so much overtime, you may not have enough energy/time to look for another employer. In that case, just make sure you have enough money in front of you and quit anyway.

  • 1
    Better yet, create a new protonmail or any other email service that doesn't scan for stuff that's so important and personal. – Pieter De Bie Oct 29 at 6:53
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    @PieterDeBie, I suggested Gmail because of Google Voice. And I selected Google Voice for 5 reasons. 1. It transcribes your voice mail in real-time that it can send you via email or via its mobile app. 2. It gives you a different phone number for receiving voice mails from potential recruiters (other than your cell phone number). 3. It allows to forward calls to your cell phone from the Google Voice number any way you want (it's highly configurable, you can set a schedule and give it all kinds of rules). 4. It's available in the United States. 5. And last but not least, it's free. – Stephan Branczyk Oct 29 at 7:15
  • @StephanBrancyzk That makes sense. Maybe I'm getting a bit overzealous in removing google from my life. – Pieter De Bie Oct 29 at 7:33
  • @StephanBranczyk thank you for the answer, i dont really know about the tax but it seems my employer make my wages seems "underpaid" to avoid tax breaks that should be paid by the company, by dividing the salary (this one is reported) with food and transportation fees (this one is not reported to the relevant tax authorities and paid cash after the salary is transferred to the bank.), but actually when I add up that's the salary that I get. – rubber_duck_0 Oct 29 at 10:16
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    @Zaibis, The project is generating loads of weekly billable hours. It looks like it's never-ending. And the project itself has a bus factor of one. The main danger is the client company losing patience, not the employer giving up on that large constant source of revenue. The ultimatum is a risk, but it's a small one in my opinion. – Stephan Branczyk Oct 29 at 15:28
50

In this case, feel absolutely free

Loyalty demands a certain amount of reciprocity, i.e. the employer must treat you reasonably. Being overworked, having lousy project management (getting that far behind is the evidence of that), not getting paid for overtime, sometimes not getting paid until late, and being unable to sleep all each individually qualify as reasons to quit guilt free.

Together, they are evidence of a terrible workplace you should escape from.

note that I am the only programmer working on this module, and things can get messed up if I take paid leave

This is your employer's problem. Programmers leave all the time, so had he employed any number of other people, they would have left a long time ago.

  • can you help me, how do I begin this conversation and what should I pay attention to? I am okay even if I don't get paid, the important thing is that I can get out soon – rubber_duck_0 Oct 29 at 10:19
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    @rubber_duck_0 Check your contract. If you contract does not say anything about notice periods, the customary thing to do is to go to your boss and say that you are resigning, and that your last day will be two weeks from now. That is all you are required to say or do. You need not explain if you do not want to or talk about reciprocity; arguments can be made that it is not in your interest to bring these topics up. – Joe Oct 29 at 12:39
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    @rubber_duck_0 I just re-read your post and noted that you do not have a contract. The advice still applies, only I would add that you should never work without a contract of some sort ever again. – Joe Oct 29 at 12:40
  • @rubber_duck_0 In many places you will be required to submit a signed "letter of notice". There are templates on the internet, search for "letter of resignation notice <yourcountry>", edit details, print, sign, hand to your manager. The company then has a legal duty to arrange termination of your employment and supply you with relevant details (final work date, salary, stock options etc.) – bain Oct 29 at 14:57
  • my employer throws responsibility to me when asked by the client about the delayed progress. The manager tells the client that the person in charge of this module is on paid leave and hopes to wait patiently for me to re-enter. when I first entered after my leave was paid, the pressure from the client was on me. – rubber_duck_0 Oct 29 at 16:31
38

may I resign in the middle of this project?

The answer to this question is always "Yes"

There is never a good time to resign, it will always be an inconvenience of one kind or another. However, that inconvenience is not your problem; your problem is that your employment arrangement is no longer convenient for you. The project status is your employer's problem.

Think of what would happen if your roles were reversed

When an employer determines that it is no longer convenient to keep your services, for whatever reason, it does not stop and ask itself if it's going to be inconvenient to let you go because you need income to pay for your life and/or the needs of your family. They just let you go whenever is convenient for them. You should adopt a similar attitude.

  • 1
    Really well said – reg Oct 28 at 19:48
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    There are rare employers who do consider the effect of timing and letting go, but those employers tend to not let this kind of situation happen in the first place! – corsiKa Oct 29 at 3:12
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    Not only is it the employer's problem, it's a problem the employer could have been preventing all this time. Months of daily overtime, no benefits, late pay...these are obviously things that would cause most employees to take steps to leave. If the employer didn't want to be stuck in a situation where they're relying on a single employee who is obviously unhappy, they could have done any number of things to not be in that predicament, from a larger team to a reasonable workload to fulfilling the basic minimum expectation (and the law) to pay you on time. I'm sorry they chose not to do so. – Zach Lipton Oct 29 at 6:02
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I would leave as soon as you have secured a new job. It is a really bad sign that they pay you late and haven't given you a written contract. And if you were promised paid overtime and they haven't paid that either, that too is really bad. Things are likely to get worse, so leave as soon as you can. Your employer needs to do more to retain you than rely on your loyalty to the company or their customers. Having tired and stressed employees working on the project, does not bode well for the product's quality when it is eventually delivered months late.

Unfortunately, without a written contract, you may have little recourse to get paid what you are owed and paid on time. They could even deny that you are an employee at all. If that happens, seek legal advice from a qualified employment lawyer. If you have not already done so, I suggest you start keeping your own records of when you work (what days, what hours) and what you have done.

4

I've been where you are.

Five years or so into my first job out of university, I found myself the sole developer on several simultaneous projects. I was working insane hours far beyond my (out of date) contract in order to try and keep on top of everything, I was stressed and suffering from anxiety in a big way, I wasn't getting overtime pay or even any real positive feedback for my efforts.

It all came to a head when I realised one weekend that I couldn't hold a pen steady because my hands were shaking.

I talked to my flatmate about it, he told me what I'm going to tell you.

Leave.

Even if you somehow wrangle your paperwork into shape as others have recommended, people and businesses don't change like that, you'll just be pushing your problems into the future.
If they need someone in your position to tell them how to manage properly, they're far beyond helping and it's not your responsibility.

Just go.

There's plenty of other jobs out there and more than enough of them have better approaches to their staffing.

You owe them nothing, they owe you far more.

Once I handed in my notice, I spent a few weeks writing procedural documentation so that whoever took over from me could understand the normal operations. I left, took a couple months to cool down, then walked straight into a small startup company and found myself on sensible 9 - 5 hours and earning about 3k more.

It is almost always better to leave a company and go find somewhere better to work if things aren't going well.

If you've been somewhere more than a year or two then you'll probably have gotten all you're going to get out of working in that job.

  • thanks mr @Ruadhan2300 can you help me, how do I begin this conversation and what should I pay attention to? I am okay even if I don't get paid, the important thing is that I can get out immidiately – rubber_duck_0 Oct 29 at 10:20
  • In my case, I was so deep in the stress and anxiety (and the boss was personally part of the problem) that I was unwilling to just sit down and have the conversation, so I wrote a letter. It was pretty short, something in the vein of "It's been a great experience and I've learned a lot, but I think it's time I moved on, so this is my formal notice". Then I set it on my boss's desk before he showed up that morning and waited for him to bring it up. He asked a few questions about why specifically and I remained vague and unhelpful. – Ruadhan2300 Oct 29 at 14:29
  • yeah its awkward but we have to move on, thanks. now im little confident and already applying few jobs for software engineer because of advice from good people here. – rubber_duck_0 Oct 29 at 16:12
2

Other answers have addressed the issues with no written contract, back pay being owed, etc., and I have no expertise in that area. I would like to add a point of view related to the work: You could potentially leave your company and continue working on the project as a contractor, and this might flip the power dynamic completely.

You mention a "client" and an "employer", so as I understand it: you're doing the work, the client is paying, and the employer is acting as a middleman tyrannizing both of you. You get paid less than the work is worth, and from the client's point of view they have a lack of control of the situation and the timeline.

A very reasonable course of action would be for you to depart from your company, then contact the client directly and offer to take over the project as a freelancer/contractor. By eliminating the middleman, you can get paid more, and your client benefits too: they can communicate with you directly instead of through a middleman, ask for exactly what they want, and cancel the project (fire you) if it doesn't work out. (Of course this means you take a risk; if you're really not very good at what you do, they may go with someone else.)

Your "employer" would really be powerless in this situation, because they can't salvage the project without you, certainly not at a price that would seem reasonable to the client.

  • Don't forget to add: as a freelancer you can stipulate your available hours. So you could, in essence, work less on that project and work on something else / for someone else simultaneously, spreading the risk. – rkeet Oct 29 at 22:08
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If you are in a country with decent employment laws then the next time your salary is late, walk straight out the door, don't look back, hire a lawyer to get your wages out of the company, plus the lawyers fee ofcause and pass any emails or letters you receive from the company directly to the lawyer.

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