I'm getting really stressed over my working hours and thought I'd ask for an outside opinion. At the beginning of this year I got a new job as a support worker for people with learning disabilities. I love the work (although it is very tiring and stressful) but my hours seem so long that I'm wondering whether this is allowed or not.
For the past few months my shifts have really varied because they're working out where to put me and other staff were leaving etc but now it seems they've settled into a regular pattern. Previous to them being sorted I was working anywhere from a 40 to a 60 hour week. One of my shifts started at 8am on a Monday and finished at 2.30pm on a Tuesday - it involved sleeping in at the service user's house (11.30pm-6.30am) and I'm not sure whether that counts as working hours but it's still a really long time to have to be on alert and I have insomnia so I didn't really sleep anyway. I don't get any breaks.
My working week now consists of 8am-6pm Monday, Tuesday and Friday and 6pm-6pm Wednesday-Thursday. That's fine, I can just about manage that. However, once a month a certain service user comes for respite and my team leader has talked about putting me on shift with her starting at 8am on Friday and finishing at 6pm on Saturday at the end of this month. I am freaking out about this as it's such a long time. I'm already so tired. Is this allowed? That's 36 hours on shift, or 28ish if you take away the time I'll be sleeping but I think that still counts as work. With no breaks. Surely that can't be right? Or am I just making a big deal about nothing? I feel so bad for not being able to handle this. I'm so exhausted. I feel like I'm spending every second of my life working or trying to squeeze in a social life, which I need for my sanity!
I've tried looking it up on the government website but I'm too tired to make sense of it right now. If anyone a bit more knowledgeable than me about this could help I'd be so grateful. Then there's the issue of if it is too many hours - what do I do? I don't want to get in trouble or lose my job. I feel like such a let down already and I don't want them to feel they can't rely on me so asking for less hours is difficult. I'm just getting really anxious about this.
Ordinarily that would be above the legal limit but depending on your contract you can pretty much sign your rights away, maybe have a good look through your contract and see if it mentions anything regarding hours?
I'd agree with checking your contract and the employment laws. I'd also speak to someone at work about it (easier said than done, I know.)
Do the people around you with the same job work similar hours? It seems like you're doing a lot already and I think anyone in that position would be within their rights to turn down overtime. Better to turn it down now than try to do it and end up not coping and having to leave the job altogether.
Thanks everyone. I don't officially have a contract yet as the place I work for is quite disorganised (bad, I know) but I'm going to try and talk to my team leader about only doing 24 hour shifts at once because I just can't cope with more than that. I don't really want to bring up the mental health side of things but maybe I should.
All the people for this company work quite long hours because we're understaffed but it is really stressing me out. It makes me feel bad because if they can do it, why can't I? Another thing bothering me is that this isn't what I want to do with my life, it's just a stepping stone towards getting my doctorate, which makes it much harder to not get frustrated by the long hours.
I just don't want to make things difficult for the company! I'm still new and I don't want to make a fuss. Sorry if none of this made any sense and thank you all for your advice :)
Thanks guys, my team leader is popping round tomorrow to talk about it. I'm really nervous but hopefully she can clarify things for me. I haven't opted out from the working limit thingy - I haven't signed anything really - so I just need things to get sorted. Thank you all.
Just letting you all know I am finally getting a fixed contract of 34 hours a week - Monday 8-6, Wednesday-Thursday 6pm-6pm (the hours between 10pm and 8am don't count as working hours as those are my sleeping hours) and Friday 8am to 6pm. That long shift at the end of the month has also been changed to just the Saturday and the Saturday sleep-in, and after my contract is final when that particular service user comes for the weekend I won't work Friday of that week as I'm doing the Saturday. So it's all worked out! Finally. Feel so much better. Thank you all for being here for me. x
I get paid £25 per weekday sleep-in and £30 per weekend sleep-in. If the service user gets up in the night and keeps me awake for more than an hour then I can bring it up with my team leader and get some more money, but otherwise, it's just £25 for the 8 hours I'm 'asleep' (although I rarely am haha, I sleep very badly).
However, I've now been given a shift from 8am Thursday to 4pm Friday coming up in 2 weeks' time and I felt I couldn't say no as I had a bit of a scrape in a company car recently (see my other thread in this board... sigh) and didn't want to make a fuss because of that. So that's 34 hours on shift with no breaks. Ugh. This job is doing my head in.
Last edited by Malison : 26-03-2012 at 10:17 PM.
Reason: added a bit