I just recently signed a "NEW" remote worker form. It stated my work hours were 8-5 Monday through Friday. I am considered an Exempt employee. If I am consistently working 7 days a week over 80 hours just to TRY to keep up with my assigned job duties is there anything or anywhere I can go that protects me so that I can just work my 40 hours a week (even though all of the work responsibilities will not be done). It is a physical and mental inability to do all that I am being asked to do in only 40 hours. I don't work "overtime" just some time, I am doing it "ALL" the time?

  • 4
  • 77
    Where in the world are you? Laws, regulations and expectations of people knowing those vary significantly with country and juristiction.
    – nvoigt
    Aug 31, 2021 at 20:19
  • 6
    Location? This is illegal in Australia.
    – nick012000
    Sep 1, 2021 at 6:33
  • 5
    Is anybody above you in line of command aware of your ridiculous workload?
    – Fildor
    Sep 1, 2021 at 9:11
  • 5
    Are you producing twice as much output as your co-workers who only work 40 hours per week? While you are entitled to only work your contacted hours (and I recommend you do that), the danger is that your output for 40 hours of work is less than that of other employees, which means you are underperforming. Regardless, you shouldn't be working that many hours. So cut down to 40 and hope your work is enough to meet expectations.
    – musefan
    Sep 1, 2021 at 14:09

3 Answers 3


Disclaimer: The following assumes you are a salaried employee (you do not get paid extra for overtime)

There is a mismatch between what you are expected to do and the time you are expected to do it. You control one of these. Your stated work hours are 8-5, M-F, and that is what you are paid for. So, stick to that schedule. You work 8-5, M-F, and that's it. At the stroke of 5pm, your computer is shut off, you are clocked out, and you don't do additional work. If you're in the middle of something at the stroke of 5, then maybe it'll be 5:15 one day or 4:45 another day. But somewhere around 5pm, you're done. On the weekend, you do not respond to work emails or messages; if you have your work email sync'd to your phone, remove that sync right now and/or find some way to not get notifications on that account. Your weekend is your time.

Concurrent with this, explain this problem to your manager, that you have far too much work to do and you're backlogged. Tell your manager that any work he gives you will be prioritized and done when you have time; as a result, work given to you may not get done for weeks or months. When your boss adds additional work to your workload, give him an estimate of when it will get done, based on the other work you have planned ahead of it, and based on your 8-5 M-F schedule.

Only you can take charge of your time; don't allow your company to take charge of your own time, and especially not if they're not paying you for it. They don't own you, except during those 40 hours they are paying you.

Now, some companies run as sweatshops where you're just "expected" to do this work. Your manager, upon hearing that you are taking charge of your schedule, may call you things like "lazy" or "underperforming" or whatever. In which case, I would recommend that now, I mean right now, you should start looking for another job. You can always cancel your job search later, but the sooner you prepare an exit plan in case this job goes south, the better. Then, if everything turns out to be hunky-dory at this job, you can just cancel and withdraw.

Bottom line: The way you take charge of your time, is by taking charge of your time. Your company will take advantage of you only as long as you allow them to do so. So don't allow them to do so.

  • 46
    Part of pulling back is that it is almost impossible to maintain quality while working 80 hours. In most cases, doing some quality work is far more important than doing huge quantity of flawed work.
    – David R
    Aug 31, 2021 at 20:45
  • 5
    Why does "salaried employee" implies no overtime? My salary covers 40 hours per week, everything beyond that is paid at an increased rate.
    – Davor
    Sep 1, 2021 at 8:57
  • 19
    @Davor In the US, salary means someone that gets a fixed amount per week (or whatever time period) regardless of hours. The "Exempt" from the question means that the worker is exempt from overtime (i.e. that the company is exempt from having to pay overtime). Exempt workers get a higher weekly (or whatever) rate to compensate for the absence of an hourly rate.
    – mdfst13
    Sep 1, 2021 at 9:25
  • 10
    This. The OP should also take in account that if management isn't aware of the overtime, they will never know that the workload is not doable in normal time and will go on planning too much work. If they know it and try fo enforce it (in subtle ways or explicitly), then this is a red flag
    – Kaddath
    Sep 1, 2021 at 10:26
  • @mdfst13, you mean "Ideally the exempt workers get a higher... rate...". Unfortunately, that's not always the case, and in many cases get a really low rate to begin with. I've worked IT jobs that were considered exempt salary workers, but made less than $40k even a decade ago. It's all too often a way for employers to get free overtime from their employees. Sep 1, 2021 at 22:03

is there anything or anywhere I can go that protects me so that I can just work my 40 hours a week

Presumably, the contract that you recently signed stating your work hours is what is supposed to protect you from working ridiculous hours.

You are in control of how much time you spend doing work for your company. So if you only want to work 40 hours a week, then stop working once those 40 hours have been met. If all of the work and responsibilities cannot be done during your contracted working hours, then you need to prioritize your work to ensure that at least the most important tasks are completed. You can speak with your manager if you are unsure what is most important.

Some companies are OK with their employees working normal hours and some companies are not. If your company is one of the latter, then you should probably start searching for a new company to work for.

  • The phrase "the contract that you recently signed" is based on the assumption that the OP works in a country where there are employment contracts. In the US, that is rarely the case. OP did not give any clues as to their location.
    – SteveDonie
    Sep 2, 2021 at 16:15

Your path back to a 40 hour week may vary but here would be my approach.

I would communicate with my manager what has been going on in regards to overtime work. I would tell them they would be seeing a decrease in throughput from me because I am going to start sticking to a schedule. I would then share a google doc/sheet with my boss and use that to track my hours. As an added timestamp I would email my boss when starting and stopping work for the day. I would not contact them in regards to bathroom breaks, lunch, etc.

When emailing about start and stop times I would include what you planned on getting done for the day and then what you did get done for the day.

  • 1
    Perhaps during the transition make a quick task-log of what you did that day. Then it's ready to go if requested.
    – Kingsley
    Sep 1, 2021 at 19:22

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .