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This is stupid. Why? Because you are getting legal advice from someone who isn't a lawyer. The spirit of his post is fine, but the reality, for a lot of people, is very different.


In Ontario, the Employment Standards Act, which defines all of this (and a lot more) has a ton of exemptions. Here's the exemptions for "Information Technology Professionals":


Notice that we are exempt from "Hours of Work", "Daily Rest Periods" and "Overtime" to name a few. This means that, aside from your employment contract, there are no laws that protect your right to refuse unpaid (or paid) overtime.

It's good thing you're not a lawyer because nothing he said violated the law or a contract. :) Unless I missed it, the only thing he discussed relating to laws was how other countries dealt with this sort of thing. Refusing to work unpaid hours is just fine, perhaps you will be fired, but it is definitely you're right but no boogeyman is going to come and lock you up for banging out mindless Java code to meet some unrealistic deadline.

First, he suggests that no one should work overtime, which isn't practical for people who can't afford to get fired. Second, he suggest that there's no benefit to working over time, while many would see keeping your job as a benefit.

I'm not sure if he realizes that refusal to work overtime can, in itself, be a reason to get fired, or if that consequence simply doesn't matter to him. Either way, saying that they shouldn't matter to any one else is incorrect.

Also, the entire health care angle is weird. Both Canada and UK have public health care, but both work a lot of overtime:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/4149835.stm http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Unpaid+overtime+grow...

It's only impractical in a poor job market. I take it you write code?

As a fellow Canadian, I have only one suggestion: get the fuck out of Canada. The market for programmers is piss poor, the selection of jobs anemic and mostly drudge-work monkeying. There are other geographies that offer much more interesting work, double-to-triple Canadian salaries, and a strong enough employment scene that nobody can hold much over your head, least of all fears of being on the street.

You sound like you're being bullied. Your employer is holding your basic survival over your head to get you to commit to unreasonable demands. I'd highly suggest turning this around.

I was in Canada for most of my life. I'm in Asia now. I agree, getting the heck out of Canada is a good idea.

None of this is about me. I just think the article really comes off quite sheltered..."I can do what I want and who cares if I get fired, so should you!"

> "I just think the article really comes off quite sheltered..."I can do what I want and who cares if I get fired, so should you!"

I don't see that sentiment in the post.

There are two takeaways for me from the post:

1 - You have more chips to play with than you know, particularly in this industry. We're not fighting over factory line work here, we're people with a highly coveted skill set that is (at least for now) at incredibly high demand world-wide. Abusive employers would like for you to believe that you have no choice but to submit, but in reality people in our line of work have an almost comically absurd number of options right now. If you are programming and dealing with this, you probably don't actually have to, and your fears of getting fired and unable to find other work are likely unfounded.

"You're going to get fired if you don't submit to my unreasonable demands, and you're lucky to have a job at all!" is usually a scam. Triply, quadruply true for our field.

2 - If you do find yourself in a position where your freedom to say "fuck you" to an abusive employer is compromised (no other jobs in the area, collapsing industry, etc), you need to get yourself away from that kill-zone as quickly as humanly possible. If you need to retrain your skillset, do so. This is a problem that will never correct itself, and you can get out. If you have high expenses that limit your savings rate, and thus your unemployment runway, do something about it. Your employment mobility is the negotiation leverage in this line of work, and you should never do anything to compromise this (like, say, take out an unwisely large mortgage).

First, he suggests that no one should work overtime, which isn't practical for people who can't afford to get fired. Second, he suggest that there's no benefit to working over time, while many would see keeping your job as a benefit.

Even if the employee receives proper benefits from those extra working hours (in Argentina, extra hours should be paid double what a regular hour costs), how is his point invalid? He's arguing that your life is worth much more than that. Near the end, he mentions people in China who have no option to refuse working extra hours, and yet that's wrong. It's wrong because those people SHOULD have an option to say no to being f over each day by their employers. Their lives are worth much more than those iPhones.

Of course, if you need to put food on your family's table and there's no other job on sight.. well, you'll do it no matter what. But it's not what we should strive for.

On the China point, while wages are lower, there are five factors related to total cost not often discussed.

Average 'fringe' in China, defined as social insurance paid to government, state pension, etc, averages 40% of salary for most employers like factories and BPOs. Total cost of employment per employee in China is more expensive than most of Asia.

Overtime of more than 36 hours per month for each employee is illegal in China, and the court always sides with the employee even on the scrappiest amount of evidence.

China makes up for this with awesome infrastructure reducing logistics costs a lot. Wage costs are only around 15% of total cost of production for a factory like Foxconn.

Some factories do not provide great conditions, but these are mainly small factories with no gloves when handling pollutants, etc. When I mention small factories, I mean a warehouse with wooden tables, anything with plant and scale is monitored closely. Monitored by the public with mobile phone cameras as much as by officials. There is a strong public backlash movement on the Chinese language internet and it is effective.

On glass vs. plastic... China can be incredibly agile especially when dealing with partners that are privately owned properly licensed companies which lack global levels of bureaucracy. Today, in my global multinational, I was requested for 3 directors' 'approvals' for the acquisition of 3 new IP phone sets, while another request which goes through another route which, for 50 desktop units and 100 screens, did not require any 'approval'. Do not discount baggage slowing things down.

Regardless of what is legal or not, you do have the right to seek another employer (if not, then you really are some sort of slave) and your employer is also free to either accept your employment terms or find somebody else.

So if you're valuable to the company enough that seeking a replacement costs a lot more, then the employer will probably accept that overtime is not an option and if not then you've got options to consider.

Employees should really learn to use capitalism to their advantage.

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