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A coworker and I have a task that we take turns running. If we have a day off we can ask someone else to do the task. He wants me to do it next weekend since he usually works but he has a day off. Can I refuse since it's also a day off for me since it's the weekend?

It would probably only take me 10 minutes so I don't want to make a big deal out of nothing but I also don't really want to run it on my day off as well. What would be a good solution to this?

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  • 23
    refusing seems petty
    – Tiger Guy
    Feb 28 at 20:23
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    Is there someone who does not have a day off on the weekend that could be asked to run it? Feb 28 at 20:28
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    Since it's a day off for the both of you, can't you ask someone else to do the task, as you mentioned in your question?
    – Sherry
    Feb 28 at 20:33
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    If there a reason it's not also a 10 minute job for your colleague? I don't understand why he's asking you to do it, if you also have a day off Feb 28 at 22:34
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    @Bigbob23 why don't you answer matt freake question: "I don't understand why he's asking you to do it, if you also have a day off ". Even the title of your question doesn't make sense, the correct title would be "Saying no to doing my coworker's task on MY day off".
    – agemO
    Feb 29 at 8:26

10 Answers 10

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I kind of disagree with most of these answers. The weekend is your day off just as much as your coworker's, and while yes it's only a 10 minute task I think this is worth bringing up to him on principle. You mentioned someone else entirely can do this task if neither of you can, so I would do one of two things:

  1. When you respond to him about this task, say Hey, I'm also off that day. If you really need someone to cover it for you I can take care of it, but ideally someone who is in that day can cover for you instead. OR
  2. Cover for him without mentioning it, and sometime next week just let him know that in the future you would appreciate if he would make sure that you are in fact working before he asks you to cover for him. In this case, make it clear that you don't begrudge having already covered for him, just would prefer not to have to do so in the future.

This way you avoid making a big deal out of a 10-minute task, while also making clear that you expect your work-life boundaries to be respected.

Also, your question is a little vague about whether "ask someone else to do it" means there is a 3rd party that you can ask, or if that means you and this coworker can get each other to cover since you take turns. I read it as the former, but if it is the latter than ignore my answer - him taking the day off means he probably has special plans and is too busy to do it, and if you aren't than you should definitely cover for him.

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    If you go this route, I suggest option 2. A lot less confronting and now you can distill the conversation from the problem (that someone must do this). Could be as light as "We should come up with a better solution" aproach
    – Martijn
    Feb 29 at 7:50
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    I would replace "If you really need someone to cover it for you I can take care of it, but ideally someone who is in that day can cover for you instead" in #1 with "Sorry". Feb 29 at 10:28
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    Option 2 sounds very passive-aggressive to me. You can "make it clear that you don't begrudge having already covered for him" as much as you want — the fact that you still remember the issue at all the next week clearly tells your coworker that you do begrudge it, and if they're not a totally insensitive asshole, they'll feel bad that you waited to bring up the issue until it's too late for them to do anything about it except feel guilty. Feb 29 at 11:51
  • @IlmariKaronen That doesn't seem to make sense. If you remember an issue after a week, it means you begrudge it ? Id say its normal to remember things from the previous week. He should feel guilty for being incompetent to the point of asking someone who is off to do some task for him because he happens to be off.
    – Or4ng3h4t
    Mar 1 at 10:18
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    @Or4ng3h4t I think the point he's making is that if you bring it up after a week, not necessarily ... hey I remember you did this thing I didn't like last week.
    – JeffC
    Mar 2 at 7:35
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I disagree with everyone who says to do it and wait until after.

If you don't want to do it then there is zero need to directly refuse the task. Just tell your colleague it's your day off that day, and leave it to him to initiate a negotiation or whatever he decides. It's best to just professionally clear things up immediately.

At the end of the day it might take ten minutes, but you have to work your day around that 10 minutes.

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    If OP can get a favor out of it OP should probably do it, or negotiate for the coworker to do the task 2 weeks in a row in exchange, otherwise, giving the same reason back such as its also the OPs day off is fine I think so too. Its the coworkers responsibility first. Feb 29 at 5:45
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    @RanaldFong If the company has a task that needs to be done every single day and has only 2 people on it that are supposed to cover each other, then the company messed up. Even more so if these two people can just take the same day off. You are not doing your coworker a favor, the company created a setup that will occasionally fail. They have to fix it if it is important to them.
    – quarague
    Mar 1 at 7:50
  • @quarague Not all companies/departments are that large nor organized for that to happen. Sure your googles or multi billion IT focused companies may be. But even there, if a team is trying something new, exploring options, doing something within the team itself. Stuff like this pops up every so often. The question isn't about the validity or importance of the task but what how to handle a non-routine situation. The answer is non-routinely by asking and compromising not running to a best-practice company organization and management manuals and field of responsibilities contract. Mar 14 at 4:45
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    @RanaldFong That is the point. The company created a setup that works most of the time but not all time. You can either say, let the employees work on their day off and it will be fine or you can tell the company that they should solve their problem (which may very well be 'most of the time is good enough'). I believe the latter is better approach.
    – quarague
    Mar 14 at 7:00
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If it will only take 10 minutes and you have the time, it's worth doing for your team mate.

A 10 minute task is typically trivial in the modern work place. At worst it is a little tedious, but it is over fast. Think about the cost benefit. You lose 10 minutes of the 1920 waking minutes of your weekend. You gain good will from your team mate, a better working relationship, and maybe even some minor kudos.

You can of course mention you won't always be able to extend this generosity.

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    There is game theory that suggest this. I believe called "Tit-for-tat". Unless he has done something egregious, you want to build good will for when you need his help.
    – paulj
    Mar 1 at 15:29
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Why don't you just trade it against one of your turns? Just answer "I'll take this one if you take my turn next week".

That way it will cost you nothing on the whole, while still solving your college's problem. It also avoids a situation where someone is always picking up the slack and/or someone is always ducking the responsibility. To me it's the most fair way to deal with something like this.

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    Depends on if the OP considers that a fair trade. Doing a 10 minute work task when you're already at work can be quite different from having to rearrange your weekend schedule to make sure you have your laptop with you and some place where you can sit down to work for 10 minutes at a specific time of the day. The OP doesn't say what their original weekend plans were, but it could be a major blocker if they'd planned to e.g. see a movie or go to a concert, and awkward if they were going to be traveling or hanging out with friends or meeting relatives or going somewhere with their kids, etc. Feb 29 at 12:05
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    I imagine he means trading doing the task on a day off (if this is the usual practice).
    – David
    Mar 1 at 14:33
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A coworker and I have a task that we take turns running.

So far, so good.

If we have a day off we can ask someone else to do the task.

Seems reasonable. However, your manager should probably delegate the task when this occurs.

He wants me to do it next weekend since he usually works but he has a day off.

So he usually works a full day and takes care of this task? But this weekend he took an actual vacation day? So who is scheduled in his stead?

Can I refuse since it's also a day off for me since it's the weekend?

Did you take a vacation day as well or is it merely not your turn to work on the weekend?

It would probably only take me 10 minutes so I don't want to make a big deal out of nothing

It's obviously something. A 10 minute task can easily turn into hours especially if something goes wrong. You have not indicated whether this is physical on-site work or a remote task.

but I also don't really want to run it on my day off as well.

I don't blame you.

What would be a good solution to this?

Something like this: "Hey, I'd love to help out but I am completely unavailable this weekend due to plans."

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I think the word weekend is a red herring here, causing an instinctive reaction for some people. If your job regularly has someone scheduled to work on those days then your job is more similar to shift work, where you have shifts you are normally scheduled for and shifts you are not normally scheduled for. Your coworker has a shift they are normally scheduled for but they are taking time off. They need to schedule someone to do a short task during that time. It isn't "just 10 minutes" for the coworker since they will be out of town/at an appointment/doing whatever it is they're taking time off for.

  1. If there is some significant reason why you can't do it that day then just say so. It's possible that you're also out of town, at an appointment, whatever.
  2. If you don't have any particular reason why you can't do it and your coworker doesn't frequently ask you for favors, then just do it. You might gently remind them that this isn't your normal work time and normally their back-up would be so-and-so so they do owe you a favor for this but really you will need someone to help you some day. Doing an occasional small favor is being reasonable, not being a doormat.
  3. If your coworker does frequently ask you for favors, or they ask you in some annoying way like always at the last minute, this is where you don't want to be a doormat. This is where you ideally have an adult conversation with your coworker and your manager, or, less ideally, passively pretend you won't be able to do it.
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What would be a good solution to this?

That depends on who set up the arrangement of you taking turns to do this task.

If it was your boss that set this up, then ask your boss how to proceed and follow their instruction.

If this was set up between the two of you, then I would just bite the bullet this time but talk to your coworker about how to handle this going forward that works fairly for everybody.

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Can I refuse since it's also a day off for me since it's the weekend?

That's a question for your boss.

It would probably only take me 10 minutes so I don't want to make a big deal out of nothing but I also don't really want to run it on my day off as well.

You don't want to spend 10 minutes out of your day off to help a coworker. Okay.

What would be a good solution to this?

A good solution is to just do it and expect a similar favor when you need it.

If you can't bring yourself to do that, talk to your boss. Maybe they can find someone else to handle this 10 minute task.

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    The ability to refuse to work outside of paid company time should not be anyone's boss' call. Please note that I am refuting this in the context of it being given as blanket advice. If the question were scoped to a region where there is indeed zero protection w.r.t. employers forcing employees to mandate unpaid work during off time, then this answer would be correct for that region.
    – Flater
    Mar 1 at 4:13
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    Agreed with Flater: if my contract doesn’t require me to work on week-ends, and my colleague asked me to, he’d get a flat "No, I don’t work on week-ends" without any other justification. If my boss asked me the same, he’d get a "Okay, let’s sit down and talk compensation". But of course, the solution would be either automating the task, or being able to be done at another time.
    – breversa
    Mar 1 at 14:37
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Why don't you look at this way. He might've some valid/personal reasons for not being able to complete a task, that as you mentioned would only take 10 mins at best.

If you extend your help when he's not able to for whatever reason, then you can also rely on him for the days when you're not able to. Unless there are some other factors involved.

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Works best in an office environment:

Smile, and say the magic words "You owe me one." Loud enough for your co-workers to hear. If he asks again, say "You owe me two." When it reaches four, say "Hang on", go to the stationary cupboard and fetch a notebook or paper. Note down each date laboriously, and pin it up by your desk. Then say "Yup, no problem. That's, err, four!"

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