Can I Refuse To Work Weekends – What Are The Consequences?

After one Friday shift, you’re ready to go home already making weekend plans, when suddenly, your boss says: See you tomorrow!

What? What happened?

Can he do that? Can I refuse to work weekends and how to do that?

Let’s research this controversial topic!

What Does Law Say About Weekend Work?

Weekends include two days that allow any worker to put their feet up, and catch up on rest, leisure, hobbies and family. Working continuously will make you exhausted and tired and you won’t be able to maintain or increase the quality of your work.

employment law

First, let’s check what the law says. So the US Department of Labor says that extra pay for working during weekends is a matter of agreement between employee and employer. But non-exempt employees must be paid at least one and one-half times their regular rates of pay if they worked over 40 hours in a workweek.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the United States employed people work on average 5.4 hours on a weekend day. Also, new technologies changed the way people are working. That includes remote access and flexible timing.

Shortly, there aren’t many laws that protect employees from refusing to work.

What Does Your Contract State About Working Weekends?

When accepting a job, there is a lot of paperwork, a new place, new people, etc., but you should read your contract carefully.

signing contract
If your employer requires weekend work shifts, that should be part of your contract. So, when papers are written and signed, they become legal.

Can I Refuse To Work Weekends?

Technically, nobody can force you to work weekends (at least in the USA), so you have the legal right to refuse to come. But, your employer also has the right to penalize you or even fire you for that. That especially can occur if weekend work is a known requirement for your company.

How To Tell Your Boss You Are Not Working Weekends?

There are some things you can try to tell to avoid working weekends. Try some of them:

  1. Ask Questions and negotiate – You can ask your employer about this decision and if is it necessary. Also, you can negotiate for extra pay in exchange.
  2. negotiator

  3. Use an excuse – Sounds a bit silly, but you can try. Although you aren’t obligated to provide a reason, it could be helpful. There are some excuses – I’m out of town, I have pre-existing obligations, etc.
  4. Use vacation time or sick leave – Some employees use them strategically.
  5. Apply for the different positions – In the same company, yeah. Maybe you are qualified for a different position that doesn’t include weekend work.
  6. Quit – Easier said than done, I know. Also, there is no guarantee that grass is greener on the other side.

Can They Fire Me?

Unfortunately, the employer can fire you (even on your day off) for refusing to come to work. In the US, every state follows the fule of at-will employment. So, in America, employees are employed at-will basis.

fired woman

That means that workers can be fired at any time and for any reason. Also, this rule benefits workers, because they can quit at any time and take another employment.

Here you can listen to an employment attorney that explains this topic.

Downsides Of Weekend Work

Working on weekends impacts your leisure time, family time, rest and health. Let’s mention some of the most common:

  • Social Isolation and anxiety – Weekends suppose to be for your family, friends, gatherings, travels, hobbies, etc. If you work these days, there is a risk of social isolation.
  • Never off of work – If you are available 24/7, (even if you aren’t present at work), this expectation of availability causes anxiety and pressure.
  • tired man

  • Flexitime Culture – Organizations that promote flextime end up intruding on home life and propagating the availability at odd hours as a benefit.
  • Health Risks – We already mention anxiety. It often leads to hypertension, depression and ulcers.
  • Overall Tiredness – When you work 6 or 7 days per week, you’ll start dealing with overall tiredness which will cause less productivity.
  • Overthinking, insomnia problems, relationship conflicts, no work-life balance,…

If you don’t have a clear start and end of the workweek, it will turn into long continuous work weeks and that will cause dissatisfaction, health issues, social and family conflicts, etc.

Benefits of Weekend Work

Well, there aren’t many, except you are working for yourself. But that is another topic.

  • Financial Gain – If you work the weekends, chances are that you can receive overtime. So, if you work more than 40 hours per week, the employer is required to pay you overtime.
  • Time Off During The Week – There are chances you are going to get some of your off time throughout the week.

Final Verdict

Since working is a very important part of our lives and living, weekends are the Holy Grail for most working people. Check out what you can do if you’re required to work weekends and what is the best way to solve this situation.

Melissa is a freelance writer with a Bachelor of Economy. She became one of the OfficeNeedle team members in 2020. Her expertise in business management lies in 6-year experience working in 3 companies which allowed her to improve her business skills. The knowledge she has received through her work, she presents in the educational articles helping many people who start or run a business. Her secret love is design so she writes also about office furniture and equipment.