Kate asks :

Hi Lucy,

I'm stuck working night shifts at work and as a result I have no social life, I'm exhausted all the time, extremely unhappy, stressed, gaining weight, don't see family members for months at a time and I have no life outside sleeping and work. I'm apparently no good at night shifts as I have had complaints about me. I have the same contract as other staff members but I'm the only one who has to do night shifts and sometimes end up doing a morning shift as well because we are under staffed. I have tried explaining to my manager that I'm unhappy and it would be better for me and the customers if I did day shifts because I'm so much better at them. I'm afraid if I leave she won't give me a reference. Please help!

Hi Kate,

 Please help!

Please help!

You legally have to give your employees a reference if they leave. It might be short and sweet but she has to give you a reference. If this does happen and you are asked about the situation in your old job in an interview- perhaps just be truthful and tell them that you are flexible but you feel the shifts were unfairly distributed and it was impacting your health. Is there anyone else who could give you a reference instead of her- another manager? If it is a large company you work for often they issue generic references from head office so you may not need her input at all.

If your contract is the same as everyone else’s then the shifts should be equally distributed amongst all the staff. If she is not rotating you properly then this is a failing on her part not yours. Why not talk to her again about it, give her one last chance to make a change. She might have assumed that you were going through a bad patch and that is has passed. If you stress to her that the arrangement is taking its toll on your health then she might take it more seriously. If nothing changes, it might be worth going over her head to her boss and explain that your problem is not being addressed.

Try to make sure you are eating the right things to keep your energy levels up- things that have slow release energy- good food sources for keeping you going throughout the day. It may just help you to be a bit perkier on a long shift. It might help you stop gaining weight too.

As the saying goes- all work and no play- If you are contracted to a certain amount of hours then perhaps ask to be given those and those alone and start saying no to the extra hours. If it is questioned you are within your rights to say how the extra ones have impacted your home life and health.

If nothing changes, then it might be time to find something else that suits you better. 

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