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I have been performing duties outside the scope of the role I was hired to do. My role has evolved from a simple data analyst role to complex IT role. I work for a government department so each role is classified into levels. I recently asked to be reclassified to the same level as individuals that perform similar roles to me in the organisation and was met with a no, we are restructuring and you will be moved under the restructure. There is no appetite to reclassify your role.

I have built and now run/maintain a business critical system for the organisation which is far beyond the scope of my job description. Based on the conversation I had, I will not be rewarded for this and since I asked for the reclassification, I am now being punished and moved to a different department where I will have to maintain the business critical system as well as perform other complex tasks still beyond the scope of my job description.

I know this sounds petty but should I just turn off the system and the teams I support can work off spreadsheets like they previously did? They will lose all their performance reporting and work allocation system. I will still do the tasks in my job description but nothing more. I have been trying to get this role reclassified for more than 2 years now and each time I get given a bullshit story as to why they won’t do it. I enjoy this role but it’s time for me to move on. In the meantime, anyone here ever go nuclear and stop performing higher duties and, if so, what were the consequences or results from doing so.

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    What job is more interesting to do? Which job's work is going better on your CV? What skills can you apply in other jobs you want?
    – Helena
    Feb 26 at 10:01
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    The appropriate "go nuclear" option is to threaten to quit, and then quit. Maliciously disabling systems may even be a criminal offence in some jurisdictions. Feb 26 at 10:20
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    "Just turn off the system" can get you into a lot more trouble than just losing your job. Especially if the system is hard to turn on again.
    – gnasher729
    Feb 26 at 15:30
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    It's very likely that since you work for the government, there are laws that you'd be breaking by purposefully turning off such a system, more so than in the private sector.
    – Issel
    Feb 27 at 7:30
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    Which government?
    – StingyJack
    Feb 27 at 14:33

7 Answers 7

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Turning off a critical business system out of spite is likely to get you fired for misconduct, even if you were the one who created it.

If you don't like the job, look for another one.

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    Being fired is surely the nicest thing that will happen. Being sued for damages after sabotaging your employer's system will be the more important problem.
    – FooTheBar
    Feb 27 at 13:48
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    Realistically OP doesn't need to turn it off. Systems do not run themselves, and it'll break down soon enough when OP leaves. You can then convert it to a contract role at X times your salary. If they don't like it, you just be nice to them, let them know you are open to a contract, and see what happens after. Maybe they don't care for the system and don't mine people working at a fraction of their past capacity. It IS a government though, and they really don't care sometimes.
    – Nelson
    Feb 28 at 9:58
  • While it isn't definite - they may just live with the old way of doing things - I have once seen someone being brought back on 4x contracts after they were made redundant and then their skills/ knowledge were missed. Many more weren't missed, though
    – HorusKol
    Feb 28 at 13:21
  • @FooTheBar Apparently OP's employer is the government. Most countries will treat this as a "public service interruption" which is probably a felony, so OP risks prison time, a dirty record plus damages...
    – GACy20
    Feb 28 at 15:50
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This depends on the country and local laws.

Most governmental agencies have some sort of union or employee representation and your first step should be to talk to them and figure out what your rights and options are.

It's indeed possible that there is no budget or open position for reclassification. In this case your only options are to make peace with the situation (in whatever way you prefer) or find a new job.

On the other hand there is also no need to do work for which you are not paid for. After consulting with the union or rep, you can probably tell your boss, that you are happy to do the work that you are hired and paid for but that the other duties are out of scope and you need to stop doing them because it's not your job to do so. This has clearly been confirmed by your boss since they refuse to reclassify the position.

In Germany there is even a term for this "Dienst nach Vorschrift" (work per regulation). Some government employees are not allowed to go on strike, so instead they do all work by the strict literal interpretation of all regulations, which brings everything to a grinding halt.

I know this sounds petty but should I just turn off the system

Absolutely not. Don't do anything malicious or destructive. You probably can stop working on the system and let it watch to fall into disrepair.

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    The American equivalent to that phrase/action is "Work to Rule". Feb 26 at 16:01
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    > You probably can stop working on the system and let it watch to fall into disrepair. I'm not sure this is correct. Don't most job contracts have some clause that the employee has to do anything reasonable that the employer asks for? I don't think we've seen that working on the system is so far outside of the job role that it's unreasonable for the employer to ask for it.
    – bdsl
    Feb 26 at 21:05
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    @bdsl It probably varies by region. In the US, yes, employment contracts may include wording like "and other duties as assigned" (so the employer can explicitly require you to do whatever they want), though most jobs don't even have employment contracts (so the employer can implicitly require you to do whatever they want). But I believe in some other countries, there are laws requiring that the job duties stay reasonably close to the job description, and a significant increase in responsibility needs to be justified with an updated job description (and commensurate pay).
    – David Z
    Feb 27 at 1:03
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    @bdsl Government contracts are often different. I know a person that was hired as a manual draft person to create charts and figures. Shortly after PCs entered the workplace and their role became obsolete. Since their contract did not include the word "computer" we could NOT ask them to any type of computer work.. The local union confirmed that reading and in that country government employees are essential unfireable. That person went on do absolutely NOTHING for at least another 20 years, They showed up, sat around, occasionally watered the office plants and still got paid. True story
    – Hilmar
    Feb 27 at 9:26
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    If you want to "Work to Rule" but still not sabotage any system, you could simply require external consultancy for any of the task out of the scope of your JD. This will show the maintenance cost to your employer, and you learn new people that get paid properly for the job they do - and probably they also will be able to offer you a better job ;-)
    – cyberbrain
    Feb 28 at 10:35
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You went above and beyond for your employer, but you weren't appropriately rewarded for that. So I'd say it's time to move on to an employer that does appropriately reward employees who go above and beyond. The best place to look for such an employer is in the private sector.

Acts of sabotage will make it a lot harder to find a better employer and will also likely get you in trouble with your current employer.

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    And since your employer is the government, it will get you in trouble with the government, i.e. legal or criminal trouble…
    – bob
    Feb 28 at 3:40
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Should you turn the system off? No. It's not your system. You (presumably) developed it on the clock using your employer's resources & therefore it's your employer's.

Could you get away with not being able to "find time" to do anything else on that system? Probably.

The best advice has already been given: don't destroy what is now a business-critical system and begin looking for a new job. That doesn't mean you can't stage a work slowdown.

But don't burn your bridges. Either in your current job search or in the future you may need references or help from at least some people you currently work with. So make sure you maintain good relationships with at least one person with a decent title (no one needs to know she wasn't your direct manager). This may mean continuing to support your system, or it may simply require explaining the situation and warning her of your actions.

Either way, don't act in anger.

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Refuse to perform any work that you are not contractually obligated to perform.

If management wants you to take on extra job duties, they can renegotiate the contract. Until that happens, stick to your official duties.

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Good job on the system you built, and it's good that people like the work you did. It's not good to sabotage your company for any reason, so don't just flip the switch and turn it off, especially if it can be traced back to you that you were the one who turned it off and broke everyone's stuff. That's likely to get you fired and perhaps sued.

That said, if your job responsibilities don't include maintaining this system and your superiors aren't willing to reclassify you as someone who works on this system (including giving you the appropriate benefits/salary for that level of responsibility), then simply do your job. And by that I mean, if "your job" doesn't include maintaining this system, then don't maintain the system. If it continues working forever with no trouble, that's great, if it breaks, it's someone else's problem now. If someone comes to you and asks you to fix it, tell them you're not authorized to fix it (because you're not, even though you're the expert in how it works). If your boss tells you to fix it, ask your boss if that means you're being reclassified as a person with that responsibility, and at that point try your renegotiation again.

Don't sabotage your company. "Doing your job" is not sabotage. So do your job, which isn't this.

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As per other answers - your best solution is probably to find another (better) employer who recognises your contribution and rewards you for it.

In the meantime, as per other answers, don't do anything in anger. You should continue to do all your work professionally and to the best of your abilities.

However, you can alter the scheduling and priorities of the work you're doing. You have a new role - and so as far as anyone needs to know, you need to work extra-hard to "get up to speed" and to give it the attention it deserves. If things go wrong on the old critical system, well, maybe you can't get to fix them right away - maybe they'll have to stay broken or sub-optimal for longer than they used to. If someone pushes for a quick fix, then say something like "oh sure I can help with that - let me just square away the thing I'm doing right now and I'll get straight on it - won't be long!". The intention here is to always be giving "signals" that the old system isn't your top priority any longer, but you're doing your best.

You'll quickly find that "business critical" either isn't nearly as critical as it was made out to be (so you don't really need to maintain it at all), or else there really is some time/budget/appetite to sort out your role situation after all.

By all means consult with a union or other body for advice, but they're unlikely to be able to "solve" anything - at best they may give you some coping strategies though. As others have said, this may include some working to the strict contract, which might sound okay, but it's not a positive experience for you - so long term it's a pretty horrible way to live.

Personally, if your employer does ever sort out your role situation, I'd use that as a stepping stone to a better role elsewhere. If you've had to "fight the power"/"work the system" (or abuse it) to get anywhere this time, you'll have to do this again next time too. Not all employers are like this - you can probably do better.

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