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I work in a hi-tech company. The hours here are very long (10+ hours a day), beyond what is legally permitted in my country (i'd rather not say where). Let me say that it is very common in my country to work long hours in hitech.

I just found out recently that it is against the law, and most people don't realize it.

I thought of discussing it with my boss, but this is impossible. A co-worker once found an article that said that working long hours in hi-tech is counter-productive, and he got fired when he brought it up.

I don't want to cause any trouble, I don't want to get fired, and i'm afraid of being put on a black-list which could damage my career. But its not only me who's being hurt by the long hours, it's all the employees in my company and in many other companies (like I said, long hours are very common for hi-tech in my country).

Can I make a change? should I? And how?

Your help is very much appreciated,

Thanks

closed as off-topic by IDrinkandIKnowThings, gnat, Roger, yochannah, Jim G. Mar 15 '15 at 21:27

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  • Are there any laws protecting whistle blowers in your country? – Brian Mar 9 '15 at 16:42
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    In my experience, long hours in tech are normal for every country. – Lawrence Aiello Mar 9 '15 at 16:45
  • I think this is very dependant on the working culture in your country. In some countries it is expected to make certain amounts of overtime, but in general excessive overtime is not normal. – Cronax Mar 9 '15 at 16:52
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    Why do you not want to share which country? It could be helpful in answering your question. – David K Mar 9 '15 at 18:02
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    Create a union? It's an uphill battle but if you are concerned about something that's common where you live and even bringing it up can lead to someone being fired, then it seems the problem is systemic and you won't have much luck tackling it alone. – Relaxed Mar 9 '15 at 21:57
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You said it yourself, if you bring up the subject, you will get fired based on the company's past actions. Don't kid yourself, they know that what they are doing is illegal. They don't care. It is called wage theft and very few companies do it unknowingly.

If you want to force the issue, document every bit of overtime you do and make paper backups of the documentation that you store off-site. Then when you leave, you can hire a laywer and sue for back pay. In fact before you do anything, consult a lawyer to see what type of proof you would need. The lawyer may get most of the back pay, but you should still get some.

However, in a small country or city, this could easily get known in the industry and make it harder to get another job. That is part of the risk of being a whistle-blower and only you can factor in how much this will affect your ultimate decision.

Other alternatives are:

Go to work for a better company, one that follows the law or at least one that expects fewer hours.

Start your own company and pay workers properly and don't force people to work long hours. Contract out to companies like the one you work for and show them that long hours causes more work.

Start freelancing rather than working for a company. Then you can work whatever hours you want and you can get paid for all of them.

Change to another industry where the long hours are not the norm. Or stop working for hi-tech companies and do development work for other types of companies. Check out other industries and govenrment positions to see what types of industries are less liekly to be so exploitive. I know around here, government projects are far less likely to require the ridiculous hours of overtime. Check around your country to see what works best. But above all stay far far away from anything that is close to being a start-up or owned by one or two individuals.

Network with others in the high tech industry. You may find a better place to work from getting better known in your own industry. Working conditions tend to be better in places where they actively recruit the best talent.

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I don't know what the laws are in your country.

In the United States you could document your unpaid hours and then sue the employer, assuming that you are a wage earner (not an exempt employee). You need to have ironclad evidence you actually worked the hours in question.

Another strategy would be to contact the employee that got fired and try to induce them to sue the employer.

Yet another idea would be to rat the company out to whatever government agency is in charge of enforcing labor laws (it would be the EEOC/Department of Labor in the United States).

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