My supervisor is giving me grief over my days off

BILL HOWATT AND BILLY ANDERSON
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Sunday, Jul. 19, 2015 5:00PM EDT
Last updated Friday, Jul. 31, 2015 5:01PM EDT

THE QUESTION
I work in a seasonal business. I work in two departments, one for four days a week and the other for one day a week, under two supervisors. Our busy season is now upon us and I find myself frustrated with one supervisor. I am off two days a week (Saturday and Wednesday) but she is sarcastic about my time off. She works seven days a week because she did not arrange for a day off herself and is taking it out on me.

I work diligently in both departments. I feel as though I have to tell her that I will work for her so she can take a day off, although she would tell me it could not be done without her.

I agreed at the beginning of the season to work five days a week for July and August, and my wife and I worked at getting the same days off so we could spend time together.

Am I at fault not to worry about my supervisor’s time off? Don’t get me wrong, she works hard too, but that is why I am a just a worker. I don’t believe my job is my life. This is her first year as head of the department and I find myself almost hating to work for her as she can make it very uncomfortable. My other supervisor has no problem with me taking two days off a week. How can I handle my one supervisor so that this season is less stressful?

THE FIRST ANSWER
Bill Howatt
Chief research and development officer, workforce productivity, at Morneau Shepell‎

Employers, in theory, provide time off to help employees get rested, so they come to work motivated to do their best. Is there a need for you to worry about taking time off? No. It’s important to rest. Work is important, but not more important than your health and happiness.

If the supervisor keeps pushing, there is a line where it becomes harassment. If that line is crossed, you have the right to tell her that her comments are unwelcome and unnecessary, as you are doing nothing wrong and you feel uncomfortable around her.

If she does not stop, it makes sense to go to HR to discuss your concerns, as well as ask your other supervisor for suggestions on how to get this issue resolved.

With respect to whether it’s your role to work extra days so your supervisor can take time off, the response to that is also no. She could schedule days off when you are there. Why she believes she has to be there all the time is not your concern. My question is why is her boss not concerned about her not taking time off? She could be at risk for burnout.

THE SECOND ANSWER
Billy Anderson
Founder of the Courage Crusade, Toronto

Your seasonal job isn’t your life, but your wife is, so keep taking those days off. You don’t have to play the martyr just because your supervisor chooses to.

Her type of behaviour often results from a lack of confidence, which is common when someone is in a new position and desperate to prove their value. The No. 1 fear that holds all of us back is: “What will people think of me?”

You can help her confidence by pointing out the good work she does on a regular basis. This can help mitigate the new job pressure she may feel and it can also help her to not feel like you’re a threat to her position.

It terms of your co-workers, do they know you’re doing a good job? Keep focusing on doing great work, because that is the one thing that is 100 per cent in your control.

Don’t feel the need to justify your days off when your supervisor makes a comment. She may drop it if she doesn’t get a reaction.

Do you trust your other supervisor? If so, could you ask that person for advice? They may know some tricks for dealing with Ms. Martyr.
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