I am a trainee developer at a large (~120 people) web agency, about 7 days from passing my probation. I was feeling unwell this morning (Thursday) but I went in anyway because I have a deadline for a substantial project to meet in 4 days time (Monday). I was only briefed on this project yesterday (Wednesday). Work days are only Monday - Friday so technically I only have Friday and Monday to do this. I am still quite ill and the fever and dizziness is only slightly better, so I most probably won't be able to go into work tomorrow.

However, I don't think it is fair to just dump an entire project on me with a deadline I know I won't manage to make. I have voiced this out with the person in charge of this project and he just shrugged it off without offering to help.

I have been criticised by my boss twice during probation because he feels I am not enthusiastic, that my technical skills are much lower than my colleagues (I am a biochemist by training) and that I do not study further outside of work to make up for it (which I do, I left a career in science because I am passionate about programming). So I am afraid that if I continue to be sick (which I can't really help), I might get fired because I was unable to meet this deadline, which is unreasonably set in the first place.

I look after myself well but these past weeks have been suffering from sleeplessness (I won't be able to sleep until 2am and would wake up by myself at 6am, 7am), probably because of the stress.

The only solution I can think of is to go in on the weekends (provided I have recovered), but then would it be rude of me to ask for time off in lieu at the later time?

  • Yes it is, but those colleagues are fully qualified. I feel if I asked the boss he would be like 'you're not as skilled as the other, so you should make it up with your own time'...normally I wouldn't mind to find out, but financially I'm in no position to not have this job. (I'm the only person in my family that earns a living) – dayuloli Jun 19 '14 at 16:31

The only solution I can think of is to go in on the weekends (provided I have recovered), but then would it be rude of me to ask for time off in lieu at the later time?

Since you indicated that it is standard practice to ask for and receive comp time in your company, when someone works on weekends, then No - it would not be rude for you to ask for such time off.

Once you have completed this project, it might be time for you and your boss to have a serious discussion and reassess your situation.

Based on some of the language you are using ("I don't think it is fair", "he just shrugged it off", "I might get fired", "deadline, which is unreasonably set", "because of the stress"), it appears that there is a disconnect between the company's expectations and yours, as well as your ability to deliver on those expectations. That's a sign of a bad job situation.

Have a discussion with your boss. Be honest about what you are seeing and feeling, and be open to the feedback you might get.

Then try to determine if you are a good fit for this job or not, based on what you have learned during your probationary period, and act accordingly.

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  • The hurdle here being that the OP cannot afford to lose the job, so the discussion with the boss does have potential risk. – David Navarre Jun 19 '14 at 16:55
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    @DavidNavarre, the risk is substantially higher without the discussion. You can't fix problems that no one has mentioned to you. It might be persnoally painful to have the discussion but it is the only way to start to fix the situation. – HLGEM Jun 19 '14 at 17:43

Given how sick you are, it's best that you talk to your manager about assigning somebody else to work on that four-day project.

Your top assignment at this point is to recover from your illness. If you choose to push forward, you run a very strong risk of neither recovering from your illness nor finishing the project by the deadline - that's a 0 for 2. You're probably better off with a 0 for 1. You'll deal with the negative commentary when you're back on your feet. You can scratch only one itch at a time.

I presume that the reason that you are slower than your colleagues is that you don't have all of the pieces of your skills set together yet. When you do, I presume that you'll move a lot faster :)

Citing myself as an example, I banged my head against the wall for 10 months trying to learn javascript. It seemed to me that I was making no headway because I kept discovering material that I never even suspected existed and I kept going over stuff that I thought I understood and actually did not. Finally, all the pieces fell in place together and I moved forward like a rocket over the next 2 months. At which point, I tore my skills set apart and rebuilt it from the ground up. I am now pretty close to being a full stack javascript demon - Understanding your stuff will do that to you :) But it didn't happen overnight.

You're probably at the stage where you are putting the pieces together and it's possible that you are not aware as yet that you are missing some pieces and that you had better find them. If you think that takes time, you're right. And you can't hurry your understanding easier: trying twice as hard simply means at this point that you'll take twice as long. So, just keep on trucking and ignore your manager's and your frustration. If somebody criticizes me for not being enthusiastic, I will tell that person that I don't accomplish my goals by being enthusiastic but by being disciplined :)

Having said that, you can ask your manager for anything that's reasonable - the worst that happens is that your manager turns you down. And it is your manager's option to turn you down, so don't take it personally. When you talk to the manager, ignore anything he said about your job performance - it's irrelevant to the topic at hand, which is the status of the project. Your focus at this point is that the project be completed, either by you on the weekend or by someone else.

I don't recommend any option that involves you working on the project either while sick or while recovering from sickness. Because your manager cares only about the status of the project and he won't give you any slack for your health status. If you don't perform well, sick or not, your poor performance on the project will be more ammunition against you. And don't tell me you perform best when you're sick as a dog :)

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