Can you be fired for not working on your day off?
It is not unheard of for bosses and managers to ask employees to work on their off days. So what would happen if you were in such a situation and you refused to work?
It may seem unfair but your employer can fire you for not working on your day off. When it comes to “at-will employment” which makes up over 70% of the workforce in the United States, employers can fire staff at any time for various perfectly legal reasons.
However, keep in mind that generally, employers do not want to lose experienced and capable workers so being fired for not working on your day off is not very likely to happen.
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Can an employer force you to work on your day off?
Technically, your employer can’t force you to do something that you don’t want to. However, employers understand that employment laws hugely favor them.
Thus, morally corrupt bosses often exploit their power and use manipulative tactics to make their staff more compliant.
So do you have to come in on your day off when your boss calls you? Well, you are not obliged to do so.
But you might be compelled to do it if you understand that your boss is exploitative and you are in danger of losing your job in case you decide not to go to work on your day off.
This behavior is a sure sign that your work environment is quite toxic and perhaps you should consider leaving.
Can you be fired for refusing to work on your day off?
If your boss is exploitative and you refuse to work on your day off, then they can fire you without thinking twice.
Your boss doesn’t need a reason to fire you.
They don’t owe an explanation to anyone. They can simply fire you because they have deemed that this is the best decision for their company.
This means that you can get fired for not coming in on your day off and there isn’t much that you can do about it.
That’s just how at-will employment works. You can leave your job at any time without notice but you can also be let go at any time without notice.
Of course, there can be exceptions. It all comes down to your employment agreement. Go over your work contract and check if there are any specific chapters that refer to leaving your job.
How do you say no to coming to work on a day off?
If your boss asks you to come to work on your day off, you can tell them that you are very sorry but you won't be able to because you are busy with important personal/family matters.
The idea is to give them a good reason why you won’t be able to make it. This way they will be more inclined to let go or ask one of your coworkers to come in instead of you.
1. Ignore your boss’s calls and messages on your day off
Just because your boss is trying to reach you on your day off doesn't mean that you are obliged to answer. You can simply ignore their calls and their messages.
If they are sending you direct messages in some app, don’t open them because your boss will be able to see that you have read them and later you won’t be able to say that you did not see them in time.
Once you get back to work, your boss will probably have a conversation with you about why they were contacting you on your day off.
Then you can say that you were busy, that you were sleeping, or that you saw the messages too late.
2. Say that you can’t go to work if they make contact
If somehow your boss is able to reach you, for example, if you accidentally pick up the phone without seeing who is calling, then you can tell them that you are unable to work because you are out of town or because you have important personal matters to attend to.
How to respond when your boss says they will fire you if you don't work on your day off
As a result of your denial, your boss might threaten to fire you if you don't agree to work on your day off. In this case, you’ll have to think about how likely they are to follow through with their threads.
In case you are absolutely certain that you will be fired unless you comply, then perhaps it would be best to go to work after all. Remember that at least you are getting paid.
However, if you think that your boss will not follow through with firing you, then you can call their bluff and say something like:
“Hey, I am sorry but there is really nothing that I can do. I have something important that will take place on my scheduled day off so I won’t be able to work.”
Hopefully, they will see that you are adamant and they will simply give up.
Should you feel guilty for not going to work on your day off?
You might feel bad about telling your boss that you can’t work on your day off especially if you lied to them.
But remember that as a person you are not defined by your job. You have your own life outside of work and people and family that need you.
Frequently asked questions
What is "at-will employment" and how does it impact my job security?
At-will employment" means either the employer or the employee can terminate the employment relationship at any time, for any reason, as long as it's not illegal. This gives employers flexibility but can also mean less job security for employees.
Are there any legal protections against being fired for not working on a day off?
Yes, some legal protections may apply depending on your employment contract, local labor laws, and whether the request violates any workers' rights. Always consult local labor laws or a legal expert for specifics.
How common is it for employers to request employees to work on their days off?
It varies by industry and company culture. While some industries, like healthcare and retail, might have more frequent requests due to operational needs, others may not. It's essential to understand your industry norms and company expectations.
How can I set boundaries with my employer regarding my days off?
Communicate your availability clearly, ensure your off days are documented, and discuss any concerns with your supervisor. It's also helpful to understand company policies and your rights as an employee.