Feeling ragged holding two jobs, want options for my retail job.
April 27, 2021 6:00 AM   Subscribe

I'm currently holding down two jobs (for reference: the priority job is full-time; and the 2nd part-time retail), so am working 7 days a week. I'm running ragged, and my mental heath is suffering somewhat. I don't want to outright quit my retail job. I want help navigating options.

I asked about this a bit earlier this year, before I started my full-time job, when I was without concrete information. Obviously, things has settled down somewhat since then, and I've been able to get a better grasp on what my full-time job is like.

I was able to sort out availability with the retail job, and while I was not able to get Sundays off as requested, they at least accommodated me to an half day on Sundays, so 4-5 hour shifts. My schedule looks like:

Monday - full-time job all day, then 4 hours in the evening for my retail job
Tuesday - only the full-time job
Wednesday - full-time job all day, then 4 hours in the evening for my retail job
Thursday - only the full-time job
Friday - full-time job all day, then 4 hours in the evening for my retail job
Saturday - 8 hours at my retail job
Sunday - 4-5 hours at my retail job

It wasn't bad at the beginning, but I'm starting to feel really exhausted and not having Sundays to myself is hard. I also have noticed my mental health starting to suffer lately, and customer interactions has been difficult, as I feel little/no patience and snap easily (so far, internally for the most part).

What's holding me back from leaving:

-I really enjoy my retail job for the most part. I enjoy the people. I enjoy having something to do. My full-time job is a WFH job so it's nice to get out after a long day WFH and interact with actual humans and get some steps in.
-It's nice having something to do to keep me distracted. If I have nothing to do, I become anxious easily and muse over stuff. The retail job keeps me occupied.
-It's nice (not absolutely required, but definitely very nice) to have the extra income, especially as I live in a high COL area.


-When initially asking for Sundays off in January, I was told that was not possible, given business needs of the retail job. They did meet me somewhat halfway by giving me half-days on Sundays.
-Some co-workers (on the same level as me) in similar situations get around this by claiming they need Sundays (or Saturdays) off for religious reasons. I was given the recommendation to do this by those co-workers, but I don't feel right lying.
-If my only scenario is to quit, it'll be hard to find another part-time job for a number of reasons, including a disability I have that my retail job is very accommodating with (I don't want to disclose which disability, given this is kind of my sockpuppet account).

I don't want to be shoehorned in being stuck choosing between "suffering" with my current availability/schedule or leaving the job altogether. All I really need/want at this juncture is Sundays off. I also don't want to "make up" for the missing Sunday by adding another weeknight. I was initially told the minimum required part-time hours were 20 hours, and I currently work 24-25.

I have a meeting with my manager tomorrow, and want to try and articulate on how to politely but firmly insist I need Sundays off for my mental health, while being able to successfully keep this job. I understand the initial response in January was that it was not possible, but that's what I need. I make good sales for this company, am punctual and reliable too, so that should help.

Any suggestions or advice on how I should make this happen? Thank you!
posted by thoughtful_analyst to Work & Money (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I mean, are you willing to leave the job over this? That is your biggest leverage with your employer. If you say, "I understand you need someone who can work Sundays, but I can't do that anymore - if Sundays are really non-negotiable for you I will have to quit." If you're not willing to leave the job, then you don't have very much leverage.

If there's any scheme you could work out that would make working Sundays acceptable to you, you should propose that (e.g. only working one Sunday a month, double pay on Sundays, working Sundays but no weekday evenings at all). The "at least 20 hours" rule might be more flexible than the "have to work Sundays" rule.

Working seven days a week is not something most people can keep up indefinitely, but your boss will take whatever you are willing to give, because that's business/capitalism.
posted by mskyle at 6:17 AM on April 27 [10 favorites]

Agreed, you should just tell them "I can no longer work on Sundays, so can we work something out?" I volunteer during tax season which means I work about six days a week, but Saturdays are shorter. I am basically useless on Sundays during this time because I am recovering from the week. Mentally, I can not handle another work day and they should realize that most people can't. Can they give you Saturdays instead of Sunday if you go back to 8 hours on Sundays?
posted by soelo at 6:30 AM on April 27

Maybe try to negotiate one weekend day off a week and be flexible as to which one?
posted by domino at 6:41 AM on April 27

I did a similar schedule once and it broke me. I would rather work 60 hours spread over 5 days of the week than 30 hours spread over every day of the week, no joke. You need to go into this willing to quit because your “pro” column is just not enough to make this worth it. And if you do go in willing to quit, they are more likely to actually listen to you.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:04 AM on April 27

I worked two jobs for a few years. The only leverage you have at your second job is the willingness to say, "OK, then I quit."

If you're not willing to quit over this, then I wouldn't even bother bringing it up - the management at the second job has already made it clear what their priorities are, and those don't include you having Sunday off.
posted by ralan at 7:14 AM on April 27 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Not to threadsit too deeply, but if direly necessary, would a religious exemption like some other co-workers has pursued, be a way to go? I hate to lie, but if that's what it takes to keep my job, that might be something I would do.

Also, any good scripts for "threatening" to quit if necessary? I don't want to sound aggressive or rude when doing it, but I want to get my point across, too. I'd be armed with arguments too (3+ years at this company, high sales numbers, etc.).
posted by thoughtful_analyst at 7:22 AM on April 27

I was in a similar situation, eventually quit my side job that I loved, and I'm so glad I did. My side job (working in a bike shop) was much, much more fulfilling than my engineering job. The pay sucked. The coworkers were great. The work environment was great. The employee discount was amazing.

But after Covid, when they said they're ready to re-open the store, I quit, and HOLY SHIT WEEKENDS ARE AMAZING. Sleeping in on a Saturday because I don't have to open the shop? Amazing. Riding my bike or playing a round of golf on a Sunday because I don't have to open the shop? Amazing.

Fuck that second job. Fuck it so hard. They were great to me, but at the time I couldn't see that it really wasn't worth my time. Literally: NOT. WORTH. MY. TIME.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 7:29 AM on April 27 [13 favorites]

Personally I would not be willing to ask for an accommodation or exemption for something that I was not legitimately entitled to.

As for scripts - again, you have to be willing to quit over this. There is no bluffing. I would go with this:

thoughtful_analyst: "Hello boss. I need to have Sundays off. How can that be arranged?"
Boss: "Sorry, that's not possible."
thoughtful_analyst: "Ok. Then I'll need to find a different part-time job. Thanks for the opportunity here. Consider this my two week notice."

And whatever you do, don't back down. You either a) get Sundays off, or b) you quit. There is no option c.
posted by ralan at 7:31 AM on April 27 [13 favorites]

Does it help if, instead of thinking of it as "threatening to quit" you look at it as "trying to come to an agreement that works for you both"? If not working Sundays is truly a hard-line boundary for you (and it sounds like it should be!) you just need to stick to that (I know that's not easy, but it is at least simple). "I know you want me to work Sundays, and I appreciate that it's hard for you to find people to work Sundays. But that's absolutely not an option for me any more, even working half-days on Sunday is too much for me. Are you willing to keep me on under these circumstances?"

Personally I wouldn't ask for Sundays off as a religious accommodation, but couldn't you ask for it as a health/disability accommodation? That's subject to similar protections in the US and I'm guessing many other places. And you literally need it as a health accommodation. Again - your boss may say it's an unreasonable accommodation and he can't do it (although that's very much undercut if he's offered the same accommodation to others for religious reasons) but you can ask.

If you're not willing to leave the job over this, you are basically choosing to prioritize the benefits of the job (human interaction, money - these are important!) over EVER GETTING A DAY OFF (which is also really important!).
posted by mskyle at 7:41 AM on April 27 [1 favorite]

Yeah, what if you did three weeknights for 4 hours, and then 8 hours on Sunday, with Saturdays off instead? It sounds like a lot of people want Sunday off so maybe that's why they can't do Sundays off for you -- if you could still get your 20 hours in but have a day off on the weekend, would it matter which day it was?
posted by jabes at 7:43 AM on April 27 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Does it help if, instead of thinking of it as "threatening to quit" you look at it as "trying to come to an agreement that works for you both"?

Yes, that was my original mindset. I was responding to those upthread who said that there is no Option C/that my only choices are to quit or stay with the hours. Hence the quote marks around "threatening to quit". I really want to find a middle ground. Any recommendations for a script to find a middle ground?

The flipping of weekend days seem intriguing. I really would prefer Sunday to be my reset day, as I work my full-time job on Monday, but if presented with that choice, I might as well take Saturday off and do Sunday. Maybe.

but couldn't you ask for it as a health/disability accommodation?

How would you best suggest I phrase it?
posted by thoughtful_analyst at 8:30 AM on April 27

Any recommendations for a script to find a middle ground?

Given what you've said, management has made it clear that their only "middle ground" is letting you work a half day on Sunday. So your choices still seem to be:

a) Tell them you need Sundays off - they'll either say yes (not likely), or no.
b) So you either quit and find a job that will accommodate your schedule, or
c) Stay and continue to be miserable.

You may have some luck approaching them about switching to have Saturday off instead of Sunday, but I agree with your assessment that you need Sunday to be your reset day so you can start the week rested for your full-time job.
posted by ralan at 10:32 AM on April 27 [1 favorite]

Why not just say you want to reduce your hours to 15 or 20 or whatever? If they say no, wait a week and then put your 2 weeks in. It's the Apple Store. It's no more special than any other retail place. This is not something they haven't seen before.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 10:52 AM on April 27 [2 favorites]

What would a middle ground look like?

In theory, they could offer to schedule you only every other Sunday or one Sunday a month or whatever. I personally wouldn't put any store in that agreement lasting longer than 3 months, but you know these people better than me. I'm also not sure that this would really work for you - it's more likely to be working 13 days out of 14, which sounds awful.

Or, you could offer to work either Saturdays or Sundays but not both. But I suspect that not working Saturdays is likely to be less attractive to them than not working Sundays.

I don't think there's anything else you can offer as an alternative.

You could say that you need a scheduling accommodation to protect your mental health, which is suffering with your new work schedule across your two jobs. That accommodation is that you are no longer scheduled for work on Sundays. While it will be true, I'm not sure that it will work particularly. After all, it's only true because you have a second job.

The only outcome you will be happy with is them changing their minds. I don't think there are any magic words that we know and you don't to make that happen. Do your best in the conversation, and deal with the outcome. If they don't change their minds, I think you will need to make peace with giving up this job fairly soon.
posted by plonkee at 11:38 AM on April 27 [1 favorite]

So a long time ago I worked 2 jobs, a full time weekday and a part time nights/weekend. I originally negotiated the part time job to be specific times such that I got saturdays off entirely from both jobs. We got a new manager, I told them my deal and expected it to be honored, they told me they would do their best. They put up a new schedule Wednesday, I am scheduled for Saturday. I don’t go to the shift. Manager called me 15 min after shift started to see when I was coming in. I said, oh no, I work Sunday afternoon, Monday night, Tuesday night, and Wednesday night. He says but you’re scheduled for today. I said no, I work these four days, dunno who changed it but those are my hours. He said, “oh, ok. (Long pause)...see you tomorrow then.” My schedule went back to what I wanted. Now, this is a third way, an option c., but I only managed to do this and have it turn out good because I was one of four in-store DJs at a record store. Only four people of the 75 person crew knew how to run the audio board, the only audio input to the store speakers. If I left, they had no ability to play any music in the store on the days I wouldn’t work ( and it was a record store so this was not going to fly) and I knew the other 3 DJs were also putting together multiple jobs, and didn’t have bandwidth to take this on full time, and they’d been looking for a DJ for four months before hiring me. I also was ready to walk away: I was 100% prepared to be fired, I didn’t expect it to work. But there it is: an option c that worked for me.
posted by holyrood at 11:40 AM on April 27 [2 favorites]

There is no middle ground between working Sundays and not working Sundays, unfortunately! You may not be able to come to an agreement. All you can do is try, and be clear about what your boundaries are (respectfully! kindly! but firmly!).
posted by mskyle at 12:48 PM on April 27

Are they hiring people who are newer than you? Weekend shifts are often given to newer workers, so I think that you'd be in a position to ask for a less senior employee to take over your Sunday shift. You don't have to threaten to leave, but you can tell them that you're seeing a worrying trend of the cumulative results of not having Sundays off being bad an impacting your health and that, eventually that will mean that you'll have to look for another retail position that can give you the schedule that you need. But, in hopes of avoiding that, you're addressing it now because you'd strongly prefer to stay and have the specific experience that your current retail employer is likely to want to keep. Given that you have a years-long history of employment there, it wouldn't be wrong to point that out and ask for some special schedule accommodation.

Would some of your "religious "coworkers likely be free for an afternoon shift after attending worship services in the AM, maybe on a rotating basis so that you only have to work a Sunday once a month?
posted by quince at 12:48 PM on April 27

I just feel like you should not be experiencing this level of stress from a part-time job you don't need, even if you love it. The world is working on opening up again, you're not going to be stuck in WFH isolation forever. Please make rest and leisure a priority if you have the luxury to do that.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:11 PM on April 27 [4 favorites]

A lot depends on the culture of the place. Some will have more understanding managers, some will have less, and sometimes a chain will vary in the attitudes to such a request from location to location.
If your managers are not accommodating at your location, is it possible to transfer to another store where you might have more flexibility? Apologies if someone has already suggested this.
posted by Armed Only With Hubris at 5:11 PM on April 27

How about the full-time job - is there any room for change there? Could you go to 4 days a week instead of 5, and take Tuesday or Thursday off? Of course you would take a pay cut, but maybe that's where the flexibility could lie.
posted by lulu68 at 6:13 PM on April 27

You're a retail worker. They can find another you in a minute. I don't think they love you enough to give you Sundays off if previous negotiations haven't gone well. It inconveniences them to make allowances for you, period. Retail workers are disposable and they can easily find someone else who will work any random Sundays or all Sundays without complaints.

Seriously, just quit already. I can't imagine how Too Much that is. What spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints said.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:53 PM on April 28

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