The original poster (OP) started working at a new company 8 months ago. Before accepting the position, she ensured that the contract had a clause that prohibited the employer from contacting her outside of work hours. She said she could make an exception if it was truly an emergency. She refuses to respond to anything otherwise. She also has a separate phone for work which she turns off promptly at 5pm and turns on again at 9am the next business day.
OP refuses to work any overtime. She says she is very efficient, so her work is done by 3pm or 5pm if they have an emergency. She always leaves the office during her lunch break and has her coffee break away from her desk. She has observed that many of her coworkers like to socialize during work hours and, as a result, have work left to complete afterward.
She says they sometimes ask her to help, but she declines and says she has plans but doesn’t give specifics. But she admits that the plans are generally her just going home, reading books, or sleeping. It’s really whatever she feels like doing in her personal time. On Monday, a coworker asked OP to stay later to help her out because she was late with some essential work that had to be done that night. She also had her daughter’s recital, so she was in a tight spot. However, OP declined and said she had plans.
OP says it was a nice day, so she decided to go to the park instead of heading home. She read a book while eating fruit and having bubble tea. The same coworker drove by and spotted her having a picnic alone. She approached OP, angry that she had lied about having plans. She told OP she could have helped her when she knew she needed to attend her daughter’s recital. OP said that her personal time was just as important as her daughter’s recital was to her.
She called OP a jerk and left. OP discussed the situation with her friends, who agreed that she wasn’t nice for refusing to help her coworker. She is reaching out to the online community to ask if she was wrong.
The response that received the most votes doesn’t believe OP was wrong.
“I mean…you’re living 10000% in the black and white definition of your job responsibilities. If you’re asking if you are wrong for refusing to change your boundaries, you’re NTA. If you’re asking if I would like working with you – also probably no, but I don’t think that will keep you up at night.”
“Work is not your friend, though. How many posts do we see about someone being on-call all the time? Getting online at home to take care of a problem at work? A problem maybe caused by someone else? To have to work late and/or weekends because someone else didn’t pull their own weight? That their work/life balance is ruining their marriage? I think OP is just fine with the boundaries that they don’t work more hours than they contracted for. Period.”
Many readers say although she is within her rights to not do extra work, she could have empathized with the mother trying to make it to her daughter’s recital on time.
“Slight YTA – This is a case where you’re absolutely within your rights to do what you did, but it’s kind of an AH way of doing it, and it would make you a miserable person to work with. The way you responded is pretty unempathetic. Sure, her daughter’s recital isn’t important to you, but it doesn’t take a huge amount of empathy to understand that it’s important to her. Your picnic is not time-sensitive. Her child’s recital is. You don’t owe her your time or work, but you also didn’t have to be a jerk about it either. “Eating fruit in the park is more important than your daughter’s recital.” No, it’s not. You care about it more.”
Others say it’s often the childless employees who get taken advantage of.
“The problem is that child-free people never get this “kindness” in the workplace. We’re always, always expected to cover for parents and told that our time is less important because Coworker “has a family.” And if you do it once, then they expect it every single time. Your plans will never be acceptable because you don’t have kids. Your time will always be less important because you haven’t reproduced.”
What do you think? Should she have stayed behind and helped her coworker even though its against her policy?
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