Workplace refuses to grant me overtime

screenshot 2023 01 12 at 7.08.49 pm
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Dear Koren,

I was very ill for about three months and could not go to work. I was in and out of hospital, and you know the situation with the sick pay. I did not get all of my salary because Social Security paid some, and the workplace paid some and it was a whole mess. Now I am back to work I am trying to get some overtime to make up money for bills that didn’t get paid and my supervisor is telling me that based on the fact that I was sick they are not comfortable having me work longer hours. Shouldn’t that be my decision to make? How could they be so cold? I have worked with them for over 12 years and they cutting style to give me overtime. Do you think I should bypass HR and go to the general manager?

Frustrated employee,

Dear frustrated employee,

I’m sorry to hear of your illness and the financial burden it has caused. I hope you are much better now. It certainly seems so, based on your desire to do these overtime hours. I wish you had given me some idea of what your job entails so a better assessment can be made in terms of doing extra.

Your request seems reasonable, based on the circumstances, and it is admirable that you are finding ways to deal with your shortfall. You are taking responsibility and seeking opportunities to improve your cash flow.

In any event, your HR person is doing her part to ensure that the company does not have any liability. If you are given overtime and it affects you physically, maybe they are afraid you sue them or hold them responsible. Companies have to do what they deem necessary to protect themselves.

Before I offer any advice, I don’t know your union status, work agreement, or the company culture or policy. However, while the general manager is higher than the HR, it would be unfair for that person to overrule the HR’s decision because it would cut the legs out from under the HR and render the position ineffective.

What I think would be better is if you were to ask your physician for a letter to say that you are able to do extra work, and that you are medically cleared. That would then directly answer the HR’s reasons for not allowing the overtime. If the reason given is the real reason, then your physician confirming your ability to work should be okay.

You also have to bear in mind that in many companies overtime is not a guarantee. It is often at the discretion of a supervisor, manager or someone else. So while you can request it, I do not think you can demand it.

So get that physician’s medical clearance and have a meeting with your HR and see what obtains. If there are still objections, then see if there are some duties that they are more comfortable with you doing, so that there is a win-win situation for everyone.

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