This May Be the Newest Job Requirement (and You’re Not Going to Like It)

More bosses are expecting weekends to be part of the work week when it comes to replying to emails. Here's what career experts say about ever-expanding work demands.

interviewbaranq/ShutterstockYou probably well aware that your smartphone habit can become compulsive (make sure to watch out for these signs you’re addicted to your phone). Given our dependence on handheld tech, it’s really not helping matters when the CEO of the website Barstool Sports tells the New York Times that she likes to e-mail prospective employees over the weekend to see how fast they reply.

Laura Handrick, an HR analyst with FitSmallBusiness, tells Reader’s Digest that, yes, there are bosses who can be a bit controlling. “But this sounds like an extreme situation,” she says, “especially considering this isn’t even an employee but a job candidate. I mean, what if this person left the interview and went on a cruise?”

That said, Handrick has heard of bosses who expect to be in continual contact with employees, particularly in an industry that runs 24/7, like the media or event planning and hosting. “In those situations, if the boss wants an answer immediately, it’s reasonable for the employee to be available to reply,” Handrick says. In addition, “there will be some people who accept a higher salary knowing full well that they’ll be expected to read and respond on a 24/7 basis, but it’s not the norm.”

Outside of those situations, Handrick says, “it’s perfectly appropriate to give your boss a heads up when you will not be available in the off-hours.” In fact, Handrick, herself, used to block family time on her work calendar just to make things clear. It worked for Handrick, but not all bosses will get the message. For those that don’t, employees can say things like, “I know we’ve got a big event coming up, and I’ll be there Sunday afternoon, but Sunday at 9:00 AM, we’re having a baptism, and my phone will be off in church. So if you need something, I’ll check in after the ceremony.” Or “I’m coaching the little league team and hope you don’t mind, I’m going to keep my phone off the field on Saturdays. I can check in about 5:00 PM if you need something urgent.” Or even, “My husband and I enjoy dinner together at 6:00 PM each night, and I won’t be checking my phone until just before bed. If it’s urgent, please call my home phone.”

Handrick does have some reassurance for overburdened workers: “Most good bosses are respectful of off-hours and family time and recognize that there’s very little at the office that’s can’t wait until Monday.” In addition, she wonders what sort of employees work for bosses who use weekend e-mails as a screening tool. “Most top performing individuals know how to balance work and family, and they know when to unplug.” She worries about a boss who uses weekend e-mail response as a hiring screen—and who ends up getting hired: “The employees may well be people with no life, no friends, and little sense of boundaries.”

Looking for a job with a healthy work-life balance? You need to start your job search here. Then don’t even think about accepting a job without getting answers to these questions.

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Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest, The Huffington Post, and a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction; her first full-length manuscript, The Trust Game, was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.