I am a fresh graduate started this job 3 months ago, the previous team left the project for some reason (I bet it's the horrible client and poor management). This project has been abandoned twice by 2 different teams, and now it's being passed to my team.

the normal hour is 9am - 6pm (9 hours a day), but recently, i have to work beyond 12 hours, sometimes you have to stay overnight to finish some tasks and come back again the next day afternoon. Im really stressed right now, considering i wasnt assigned in a position i applied for, and i can't have life outside of my job.

It's not like my supervisor forced me to stay, but they asked me to finish the task before going home, and i really dont know how to turn that down.., the other problem is that this project is still halfway to the finishing, and still could take 3-4 months, and the client wanted us to rush this project because it has been dragged for too long (well, 2 previous teams abandoned the project)

Thing after another, finally i decided to quit this job, the question is, is it unethical if i just quit from this job ? considering the employer might have to find someone to replace my position

  • 18
    First things first: stop working 10+ hours days. No one explicitly told you to do so and it's unsustainable. Do that first and see how your manager reacts. Let us know what country you're in because in many this would be illegal. You may end up being fired over resisting these insane hours but you're considering leaving anyway. Start looking for a job and leave this off your resume.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 10:24
  • 7
    @Lumberjack if they're lucky, they might. Many people do not. Please do not make such a claim when it is far from universally true!
    – user53718
    Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 12:42
  • 8
    Think of your health, social and family life before working stupid hours. Soon you be ill and burnt out and without a job.
    – Ed Heal
    Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 12:59
  • 7
    considering the employer might have to find someone to replace my position But this does not create an obligation for you to stay. Whether they need to replace you if you leave is for them to worry about. Things you should consider are: do you have a work contract or do you work at will, what's the typical notice period, should you quit without a new job lined up, etc.
    – BSMP
    Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 17:31
  • 5
    Frankly, that sounds like you're simply being exploited and there's not a chance of redeeming the job. On the plus side, it also means that you were probably never going to get a good reference there anyway so you don't have to factor that into your reasoning. Since you're a new grad, did this company by chance start hiring very, very early during your last year? Sleazy companies are known to pull in grads that way.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 23:54

5 Answers 5


It is rarely unethical towards the employer to leave employment, especially if you follow the arranged procedures for doing so in your contract.

In a reverse situation, your employer would not consider timing of your personal projects (such as having a loan/mortgage, or starting a family) when making changes such as redundancies.

However, before you quit, you may wish to explore other choices in-between "put up with too much work" and "quit". Neither of them seem pleasant.

I suggest talk to your supervisor and explain that you find the current workload too high. You need to do this in a reasonable, matter of fact way, quoting e.g. number of hours you needed to complete your assigned tasks in last week. No mention of quitting, or any outside influences that might be making things stressful - focus just on overlong days and total hours. Be prepared to talk through possible solutions that the supervisor suggests, they may not be things you had considered. Sometimes when you are stressed you may not be considering simple solutions - such as a company policy of time-in-lieu for overtime allowing you to take more time away after a long night than you currently do.

Your supervisor may also be expecting you to say "sorry, I think that will take me 2 days, I cannot complete it this evening" when assigning a task, or if it is not possible to predict easily then the next day say "sorry, I have not completed that task, I think I need much longer because..." - this is a matter of setting expectations. If you are a junior employee and the supervisor is also not experienced in judging how much work to delegate and how to track it, it could take a little while to settle on something that works for you both and is sustainable.

If your supervisor is reasonable, and has enough influence to help plan and fix things, then you may be able to find a middle ground. Even if this does not fully work for you, you will have made things less stressful whilst you consider your other options.

If your supervisor is unreasonable or behaves unprofessionally, or just makes vague promises about how things should get better, then you have another data point. Avoid reacting negatively to this, even if it seems unreasonable - but if you find the company being unhelpful or unpleasant to you after raising a reasonable concern, then you should have fewer moral qualms about leaving the project.

When quitting, it is better to search for alternative work whilst still employed. In that case you have an income, and will also be viewed as a more desirable candidate by employers.

  • Hey, thanks for the answer, However, the real problem wasn't on my supervisor, it's on the management above them, the management set released date of this project without even discussing with our team, and now we have to keep working overtime to rush this project. And i don't think my supervisor can do anything with that. Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 13:53
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    No, you don't have to keep working overtime. If upper management is made of idiots who set a release date without even discussing it with your team, the blame is fully on them. Not your responsibility at all.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 20:04
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    @LittleProgrammer: Your supervisor does have say on how you approach the problem and assigns you work. So they can do everything you need. If they don't have the backbone to prevent their own team members burning out, then that's a shame. Your relationship to the company is via your supervisor. Don't separate the two in terms of your behaviour. Maybe appreciate that your supervisor is not malicious or trying to stress you. But if they refuse to make any changes with weasel words like "my hands are tied" - then treat it as the company behaving unreasonably. Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 20:52

You are a fresh graduate on your first job, and you had the bad luck to pick one of the worst companies that you could possibly have picked.

You are working on a project that has been abandoned by two teams before. Unless you are superman, you are not going to succeed. And you're not superman, you are a fresh graduate with three months experience, so you are going to fail on this project. Not your fault, nobody would succeed in that situation.

Your only responsibility is to yourself and your family. You owe the company the time that they pay you for (8 hours a day). You can quit anytime according to your contract, and when you quit, you owe them nothing. If the employer needs to find a replacement, that's their problem. Nothing to do with you.

The way you describe the situation, get out there. (The correct order to do things again: Look for a job. Find a job. Sign a contract with the new company. Then you tell your company and quit. ). While you work there, make sure that you look after your health. Take it as an opportunity to practice saying "no" when someone comes with unreasonable requests.

I can 100% promise you that the project will not be finished in 3 to 4 months. It will either be abandoned by the third team, or if the company is lucky, it will be finished in 9 to 12 months, and then it will cause nothing but trouble for anyone trying to use it.

PS. If they don't offer to pay you overtime, then they are not in great need of manpower, they are in great need of a mug who works for free. Don't be that mug. If you ask for overtime payment, the need for overtime usually goes away very quickly.

  • I can't agree more with you, I just don't have the heart to turn them down when they ask me to stay because they're in a really great need of man power that can fill my current position.. Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 20:43
  • 3
    If they really can't afford to lose you, they can offer to make staying worth your while. If they don't, then no matter what they claim, they don't need you that much.
    – keshlam
    Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 21:20
  • @keshlam: Please make this an answer so it can be upvoted and you can get the credit. I'd +10 it if I could. Maybe +100. Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 14:51
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    A caveat to what @keshlam said - if they start making offers to keep you around after you turn in your leave notice, you should leave anyways. The rare types of companies who follow through on their promises and don't immediately start looking for your replacement are not the types of companies that act as slave drivers.
    – Dan Lyons
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 17:38
  • 1
    @LittleProgrammer well, you pretty much came here asking us for advice for what to do when you don't have the heart to turn them down, and the answer is definitely to not heed that feeling and do what is in your interest as diplomatically as possible. Which -- my advice on trying to improve your current project management situation notwithstanding -- would be to leave.
    – user42272
    Commented Jul 19, 2016 at 22:36

Please approach this constructively within the project before weighing whether to quit. If your hours are out of control that is, in part, because you have not taken ownership of leaving the office every day at 6 pm. Your manager needs to understand this and your manager needs to solve this problem and you may need to "manage your manager" into solving this problem.

It's not productive anyway. Things do not get done faster during "crunch time."

but they asked me to finish the task before going home, and i really dont know how to turn that down

This would be a great time to learn how to do exactly that. It's an extremely important skill and will help make it so you don't have to keep quitting jobs every so often.

It's not like my supervisor forced me to stay, but they asked me to finish the task before going home, and i really dont know how to turn that down.., the other problem is that this project is still halfway to the finishing, and still could take 3-4 months, and the client wanted us to rush this project because it has been dragged for too long (well, 2 previous teams abandoned the project)

On the other hand, if the project really is very mismanaged, it will take 12 months or more or just never end. If your boss cannot handle it, and you cannot rectify it, and your personal life is gone in the meantime, and you cannot fix that, then yes, you may need to quit. Try to find a manager who does not make these errors next time.


No, it is unethical for the company to expect you to work so far beyond your contracted hours. The fact that the project is late is neither your fault nor your responsibility, especially as a fresh graduate.

There are three basic variables in project management: scope, time and effort. They could bring this project back on track by reducing scope (by dropping features or accepting a poorer quality product), by adding time (delaying the deadline) or by increasing effort. Effort can mean longer hours (which can be as paid overtime), more people or more experienced people. Surprisingly increasing effort can often make a late project later, because the hours are being used less efficiently.

My main point is they have lots of options to get the project back on track, but they have chosen to disregard most of them and are instead exploiting your good will. Your only obligations to your employer are those that are in your contract, which presumably includes a clause about terminating your employment and the necessary notice period. You have no need to feel guilty for activating this clause in the contract that they presented for you to sign.


I've worked jobs in the past that did the exact same thing that yours is demanding now.

You need to ask yourself a question first:

How will this effect my next job if they see I left because the going got tough?

Yes, you never asked for 10+ hour days, but without talking to a supervisor about the current situation first, leaving without any real notification is bad form.

I would suggest hitting at the bases, crossing your T's and dotting your I's before getting to the point of quitting.

It may be a simple thing to you, but talk to your supervisor first, because without them knowing your concern, and attempt to help you one way or another first, you will never know if you are making a mountain out of a molehill first.

  • Actually we did,.. my supervisor is aware about the problems too, and some of us already talked to him, but the idea he gave us is that "things will get better, and since the management is that ridiculous, we shouldn't follow their footstep, and we need to prove to them that we're professional and could deliver what they asked on time" Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 10:01
  • I would suggest in this case to have a sit down. The situation seems to of expanded beyond the basic BS. Find out what is needed, what is wanted, then break it into what's been done and what needs to be done still. Once you figure out what is a need, and what's been done, then suggest the wants will be done if time allows. Otherwise you are going to be another victim of a bad project.
    – Matt Ridge
    Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 18:18

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