So I've been working at a company about 2 or 3 years, and during that time I feel like I've been working an over-average amount. Vacation time, while allowed, is more or less entirely discouraged - I've taken a day and a half of sick time in my entire tenure, and 2.5 days of vacation time (when I requested the time off for a trip, I was asked if I could come in the first half of the day before my flight left).

I typically take short (20 minutes at most, sometimes I don't leave the office at all, but just make a sandwich at my desk) lunches

I typically work 10 hours per day (which usually actually means 11 hours, occasionally more), four days a week, but lately I've been being asked to work a lot on a fifth day as well - usually between 6-10 hours extra, and it's usually happening every two to three weeks now. A few weeks ago, I was sick, and instead of taking a sick day, did a 60 hour week because we had to rush something for a client.

I could put up with this for some time, but this schedule has made me tired, and it has made me hate going to work. I feel like I pretty much do nothing but work now, and I really feel like my productivity is completely destroyed.

How do I express this to my boss? Is there a tactful way to say, "you're burning me out", that doesn't lead with me being fired? My assumption is that he feels the extra work is due to incompetence on my part (I feel it's a mixture of screw-ups mixed with a complete lack of a business process, and also it's hard to stay focused on some days when all I want to do is go home and just sleep), but honestly in that case I'd probably just prefer to be fired.

How do I tactfully say this? Is there a way? Is the only solution getting another job?

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    4 words - get a better job. If your employer has been happy doing this to you for so long, they are not likely to do anything about it other than replace you with fresh meat for the grinder.
    – HorusKol
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 0:20
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    I don't make more money with the overtime. I'm salary.
    – Joe Smentz
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 6:04
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    So let me get this straight, you presumably do get yearly PTO and sick days, which are part of your salary package / employee benefits but you're discouraged from even taking them? You've taken 4 days off in 2 years? And you're convinced this isn't malicious? If it isn't malicious behaviour it's at the very least incompetent management. Find another job.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 10:16
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    Is your normal schedule 4 days per week (11 hours per day)? And now you are being asked to come on your off day? Also, when coming in on your off days/times, is there anything offered in return (e.g. ability to leave early in the next week to make up the difference)
    – Brandin
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 11:30

2 Answers 2


You need a rest. It is the profesional thing to do. We humans even take care or cars or machines so that they work in the sweet spot.

  • Have firm limits. There is a lot of information about this in psychology. It seems that you boss do not respect them or that you do not stand for them. State your limits and and defend them adamantly. Write down how many vacations are you going to take and how many hours of overtime.

  • Document everything and ask for compensation. If overtime is free a bad boss will think they are getting more free work by doing it. When they ask for more time you have more to bargain. For example: "so I do not have may holidays. Ok I will need to leave EVERYDAY on time to rest".

  • Simply say no and go home at the right time and ask for holidays. People may ask a lot of things and be unfair. Will you give them your house or money just because they ask? So don't give them your life, health and time.

  • Consider working this with other people. You have right to take your holidays. Explain your boss that if you have no holidays you may be forced to talk with human resources or his own boss. You can also work with the company union if there is one.

  • Consider what is the worst thing they can do. Fire you? Might be the best for you. Having your lack of holidays and overtime documented will work on your favor. Ask for everything in written emails even you talk it latter. Forward them to your personal account so that yo have written prove of how many days they own you. This is surely illegal and your boss might not be happy sending an email that clearly violates workers rights... but that does not need to be bad.

  • Prepare for changing your job. It may be your last resource and being prepared does help in case you need to be ultra-firm. Update your CV, check how many months you can afford to be unemployed, check the market, talk with your contacts about openings. Also remmember that in order to change to another company you need to go to the interview and this means taking some days.

  • Consider a lateral job change. Is this a boss problem or the culture on the whole company? In the former case you may want to change to another deparment in the latter you will need to change to another one.


I've been through this once. Dreaded going to work. Had to do 2 hours of overtime almost everyday and sometimes work during weekends and holidays.

I dare to say that there's no "nice" way to say you're tired of overtime. At least, I didn't find one. You can say to your boss something along the lines of "my productivity has gone downhill in the last weeks due to overtime. What can we do about it?" and see how he responds to it.

I believe he won't care. Be it because of lack of business process, or your incompetence, he thinks you HAVE to stay late. And I doubt he will change his mind.

Then it's up to you to decide what to do next. I can tell you that after I left that job my quality of life has increased a lot and, after I got a new job where I'm forbidden of doing a single minute of overtime, I'm much happier.

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