I learned something today that bugs me.
The new A-100 students are once again being told not to request comp time or overtime pay for the overtime they work.
Because "it isn't done."
First off, yes it is.
Second, it is important that you take it for several reasons (with the caveat that I know there are folks out there who will disagree with me).
The first reason it is important is because you have earned it. No, you shouldn't count every minute that you work over. You are supposed to be a professional. That said, there will be S visits, codels, etc that will require you to work lots of overtime and you will need the time off to recharge your batteries.
I didn't claim it at first when I got to Jerusalem, because I bought into that whole "it isn't done" line. We are all one big team. Hoo-rah! But soon you get tired, burned out. And so you have to claim the comp time so you can have a chance to rest. Because there is usually a lot of work. I ultimately ended up taking it as overtime pay because I could never get the time to use my comp time before it expired. And I left Jerusalem exhausted and ready to quit the Foreign Service.
So here is the deal. You WILL work more than 40 hours a week as a matter of course, both before and after tenure. After tenure, you will not be able to get overtime, though some positions, like my current one, so routinely require you to work more than 40 hours that you get a "differential" to make up some of the difference. Because you do need to have a life outside of this job or you will burn out. And the extra pay, while not giving you more time for a life, makes living it a little easier. Plus, once you are tenured, you have job security. You do not when you are not tenured. Overtime and comp time are the price the department pays for being able to get rid of you if they chose (they seldom do).
But a second reason you should claim comp time or overtime is to help with staffing. If you work 60-80 hours per week routinely in your section, but it is never documented, the Department will never know you are short staffed. So when they do hiring increases like they are doing now, they won't know your post needs more people because your work ethics are concealing that. I actually had a boss tell me he prefered Junior Officers claim it so he could demonstrate he needed more people.
So don't listen when the old timers tell you it isn't done. It is. And it is your right. And it is not legal for you to be denied it and your boss can't mention it in your EER.
And you are not less loyal to the Department for asking for it. You are just taking care of yourself so that you can continue to serve.
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