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Shaili avatar image
Shaili asked

DBA- work hours and compensation

Hello, I am a very hardworking DBA, DBA since 1998, Mostly got 'exceeded expectations' in my reviews. I have always taken my responsibilities very seriously and have delievered successful results under extremely tight and almost impossible deadlines working round the clock. My hours are M-F 8-5 and no 24 X 7 support is required as per my job description. The situation that makes me mad is that after working 70-75 hours this weekend and throughout the weekend, I am expected to come to work the next day. It is very tough for me to balance work life and personal life. I expect that after I sacrifice my weekend for work, I should not have to bother coming in on Monday unless of course there is a need of urgency to get something else done on Monday. My manager thinks that I should not be a DBA. Since I am a mother of 4 year old and obviously just like any parent, I expect comp time after working 3-4 days worth extra in 5 days time, I was suggested ( in friendly manner ) that this field is not for mothers. Is it true??? I never made an issue about being available, being at work past midnight or weekends or whenever needed. My work has always been recognised and appreciated. Then why this kind of mentality? I just asked for some comp-time to handle chores at home after working fulltime this weekend. But I was shocked to hear that if they are male DBAs, they don't care for comp time so much as much as I would like to have. Am I in wrong profession? Do male DBAs with family really don't care about comp time? Is it not appropriate to think about comp time after you have put 18 hours between saturday and sunday? Am I in wrong profession or I just need to find a better employer?? I would like to know from DBAs with family on how they handle workload ( 50-60 hours weeks for several months sometimes extending to over 70 hours ) and is it wrong to ask for comp time?? Thanks,
careerprofessional-developmentemploymentremunerationworking-conditions
5 comments
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Sounds like you are a very dedicated employee regardless the situation you are in. You make the rest of us database professionals proud. I say have that talk with your management, but be very cool about it. If things don't go the way they should then start looking for another place to work. Chicago is a very big city. With 12 years experience it shouldn't be to difficult to land a job with more respect.
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@FatherJack - can't believe you missed off the "career" tag!
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oops. Good catch Thomas, thanks
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Since it has come up in numerous answers, including mine, can I ask where you are actually located?
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Suburb of Chicago
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Fatherjack avatar image
Fatherjack answered
You dont say where you are based so this may not apply but in the UK we have to comply with the [Working Time directive][1] that specifies how many hours someone can be expected to work in a week/month/year. Any employer has to abide by this. Aside from the above, if you are outside the EU, I would suggest that if you feel you are not getting a fair deal from your employer that it would be in your own interests to find another one. One that hopefully gives you the sort of conditions that you are happy with. From your description you dont sound as though you dislike being a DBA so I would say you are not in the wrong profession, just that you are not comfortable with your current role. If you enjoy the work, find somewhere else to do it. If you dont like the DBA activities then maybe you should try another profession. [1]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Working_Time_Directive
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I wish the U.S. had a Working Time Directive. (My current job is great, but some people have to work ridiculous hours over here in the US.)
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@Mark - heh, There are some countries in the EU that are more 'relaxed' than others about working (at all!). I think they had a big hand in getting this in place.
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Of course, your employer may ask you to "opt out" of the working time directive... I remember times where I've done 33 hours straight, and not had a word of thanks.
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Matt Whitfield avatar image
Matt Whitfield answered
+1 to Fatherjack - but I will be a bit more blunt: You 100% need to find a better employer. It sounds like there is blatant sexism going on there - because I am male and I care greatly for the time I spend with my children. I would be really surprised if stating that 'this job was not for mothers' wasn't against the law - it certainly is here in the UK. If you find an employer that appreciates you, then you will be happier for it and you will be able to strike a better work/like balance without it causing you stress.
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+1 - yep, hands up, I didnt type the whole answer that I had in my head ...
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Grant Fritchey avatar image
Grant Fritchey answered
In case you're posting from the US, I'll respond. First, I agree with Matt. Time to start looking. Second, heck yes I expect some form of compensation when that sort of effort is put forth. But, take that with a bit of a grain of salt. When I worked at Dot Com's, the expectation was that we were on a death march, all the time. So we put in insane hours, but the expected compensation was that we'd all own stock in the company and the rewards were to be had down the line somewhere. After three failed dot com's (I learn slowly if at all), I've been working for an insurance company for almost nine years. This place is largely 9-5, five days a week. However, we have on-call duties that are rewarded with a very minor stipend (that I've been collecting for 7 years). And, it is expected that when there are major outages or large scale operations, we'll be here, as a part of our regular salary. But if you pull an all nighter or you spend the entire week end performing an operation, you can get comp time. So, I'd say, it really depends on the situation at the company. DBA salaries are usually higher, because they depend on 24/7 support. But if the employer is abusing that, I'd find another employer. And no, that should not change, positive or negative, because of the person's sex. That's just wrong. Utterly & completely.
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Absolutely. But it really is a dance. If I've just put in extremely long hours all weekend, I may take Tuesday or Wednesday off, just to get some sleep, not because I'm owed but because I don't want to drive my car into the ditch for my job. I'm working to live, not living to work. If that hurts my long term viability for raises & stuff, so be it. You can't get a raise if you're not there to receive it.
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Very well said! May I add that the compensation to be expected might be in the form of increased chance for raises, bonuses, and promotions down the road? When working for a for-profit company, I expect all of my efforts to be compensated, but at least in some companies I have dealt with it is common for those rewards to come long after the work. In that type of culture (whether that type of culture is a good one or not is a separate question), someone who demands their rewards immediately may be given exactly what they ask for only to then not recieve the larger prizes that can come later.
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So true. One of the issues at my current place of employement is the constant change of the guard. You put in countless hours of over time, work weekends, go out of town on conversions etc, only to have the management team change so many times that there isn't anyone around to remember all the blood sweat and tears you have put into the place over the course of your career. The only silver lining to it all is that you are constantly building a resume and expanding your skillset. I am lucky to have a job that I love, the hours may be long sometimes but there is respect amoung my coworkers and management for the effort we all put in. It would just be a heck of a lot nicer if there were big fat checks to go along with it. Unfortunately I think in most markets those days are gone for awhile.
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@TRAD, you make a good point as well. Hopefully, they are performing smooth transitions. If outgoing managers leave behind detailed notes and are normally outgoing because they are promoted instead of leaving the company, then your contributions will likely be well remembered even as managers change. On the other hand, if you frequently have managers fleeing the company or being fired and detailed performance and other records aren't being passed from one to the other, that is a sign of bad upper management and it might be time to start putting that resume you were building to good use.
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@TimothyAWiseman. For the most part if the former of your statement however we do have some mangagers who have left the company completely. I have only known of one that was asked to leave. Typically folks just progress on through the company but since we have been having to recruit outside of our town for some time now we have had a few that after 18 - 24 months decided that their family just isn't happy in a smaller town and they move on to greener pastures.
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Tim avatar image
Tim answered
I work in the US for a financial holding company. We have and have had many female DBA's over the year. As @Grant Fritchey mentioned above, if we are on death marches then you are expected to be at work, however, if you just pulled a 70 hour workload and the project was succesfull, we don't expect to see you for a few days. We do expect you to be available by phone/email if we need you but thats about it. I will say that most of us even if we are on vacation still keep our PDA's with us and keep up with email but it is not really a requirement, just something we do. I agree with everyone above, first find a new job, then get a dang good attorney. Tim Radney, Daddy of 3 amazing kids.
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Blackhawk-17 avatar image
Blackhawk-17 answered
I don't have any answers to add but reading your scenario almost made me ill. **Run away!**
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+1 as well - run far way.
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+1 - "Run away" is sound advice in many contexts, from childhood to old age!
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coffegrl avatar image
coffegrl answered
Run, do not walk, but Run to a new employeer. I've been a production DBA for 10 years, and even before I had kids i insisted on comp time after extended work hours like that. There are employeers out there that will value your drive and expertise. Do yourself and your family a favor and start looking for one. Meredith Ryan-Smith @coffegrl
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I think this would be my preferred action. Being comfortable at where I work makes me a better parent (I hope!) than if I were under pressure and discriminated against.
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Agree with @Fatherjack. Me being happier in my work certainly brings me back home in a happier mood, and that is bound to trickle down to the family. It's a bit harder when I'm working away from home and therefore not getting back each night, but I think it's still an improvement over being in a sucky situation. Hell, even the dog's happy to see me these days!
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TimothyAWiseman avatar image
TimothyAWiseman answered
First, I will agree with Matt that saying this job is not for mothers is sexist and indicates a rather undesireable approach to business. With that said, let me respectfully offer a very different opinion from Matt and Fatherjack on the rest of it. I believe much of this is cultural, since I believe that Matt and Fatherjack are both from Britain where I am from the US. But here, a salaried employee generally does not expect comp time from working anything less than truly excessive hours, and 70-75 hours for a relatively senior person is not considered excessive if it is exceptional rather than routine. In my last job, 50-55 hour weeks was routine with occassional busy times getting above 70 hours. I personally would not want a job that frequently expected me to work above 60 hours a week, but occassional busy times will happen. Also, I do have friends that routinely work well above 60 hours week. Again, this is partially cultural and dependent on your local markets. If you expect to reach the senior ranks in the market to which I am accustomed, you should expect to work well above 40 hours in an average week and be prepared for busy times that exceed it substantially. But it is a question of your priorities and your trade offs. If that is what it takes for advancement where you are and you want that advancement, then it is probably best to simply accept that. On the other hand, if advancement is less important to you and family time is more important, then it makes sense to seek a position that will support that. I can only speak for the local market where I live, but there are some DBA jobs and many database programmer jobs that will not require you to work long hours, unfortunately those also tend to be the ones that pay less now and offer less opportunity for advancement later. In my family, we made the conscious decision that my wife would primarily stay with the children and we accepted that for me to advance in my career would require some late nights. I am of course around for them as much as I can be, but I focus on providing a living for them even if that means not always having as much time for them or myself as I might like. Other families make other decisions. [Edit: Fixed a grammatical error]
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That, unfortunately, is the corporate circle. The new kids come on and can't understand why the 'seniors' aren't willing to put in the time. After they've spent their early years working 80 hours a week to move themselves forward they discover they want some time to actually live - especially if they didn't get the plum role (only so many to go around). Soon they are 'seniors' themselves wondering why the kids are pushing so hard and not living. Good management doesn't allow this circle to happen. They look after their people and understand that life away from work is as much a factor in development as time on the job.
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I am not certain whether it is is a good thing, or a bad thing, but in the job markets I am used to working in it is true either way. If you expect to advance, you should expect to work much more than 40 hours a week. If you want to work 40 hours a week, you can find places that will support that, but you can then expect to be promoted slowly if at all. Good management will have a hard time preventing it even if they wanted too. Even if they make a point of never requiring anyone to work more than 40 hours, they will know who does and those are the people they will more likely look at to promote and everyone knows it. If they try forbidding people from working more than 40 hours, one of two things will happen. Either their ambitious hard working people will move somewhere else that will both permit and reward them for doing it, or the ambitious hard working ones will spend time studying and improve their skills, which will help them get promoted and works out very close to the same thing in the end. The only way I know to prevent it is to make promotions dependent on something other than merit, such as a seniority system, and this creates its own problems.
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I think its a case of getting back a return on what you contribute, it seems like you get the gain (promotion/salary etc) for the hours worked and projects completed whereas the OP is doing the work and not getting the benefits. This is made worse by the managers attitude that a woman shouldnt be a DBA if she wants to have children ...
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If she is not getting the benefits, then I will join the chorus counselling her to leave. But that is vague in her post. She says she is not getting comp time, not that she is not regularly getting raises/bonuses/perks like being sent to conferences/etc. The last company I worked for would be very reluctant to give me comp time (I was viewed as critical and they frequently would call with questions even when I did take a day off), but I got 2 promotions and 4 raises in two years along with a bonus and paid training and earned the right to work from home under some circumstances. They demanded a lot of my time and would resist my trying to reduce the amount I worked, but they rewarded me well for it.
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ozamora avatar image
ozamora answered
As everyone else stated, start looking for another job. I have a female DBA in my team, and gets compensated about the same rate as everyone else. She is a mother too. I do not mind accommodating schedules if she needs to get back home earlier, or if she needs to work from home in the morning. I try to arrange the best scenario for my team for them to deliver; at the end what matters is their quality work and them being happy working for me/for the company. What they are doing there is just plain wrong.
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CirqueDeSQLeil avatar image
CirqueDeSQLeil answered
I will add to what the others have said. I care for time with my family and expect a return on time when I have to work a ton of hours as well. It doesn't mean I get those hours. Your boss is in violation of several laws within the US (if you are within the US). I would certainly be looking for a new job if I were in your shoes. In the meantime, I would certainly take the grievances to HR.
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Much of it turns on the details of the conversation. I see things as more vague. It is very possible that the manager was comparing her to the other DBAs in that department who happen to be male, in that case there is no discrimination. Even if he explicitly compared her to the males, then it seems he was doing so in the context of denying her special treatment. While this may not be politically correct, it is not sexist to deny someone special treatment. If anything, it keeps things balanced as the law was meant to do. Even if the details did reveal it to be sexist, my (again not a lawyer) understanding is that for it to be discrimination one of two events would have to be true. Either she would have to be damaged in a way comparable male employees are not, or a hostile environment would have to be created based on her gender. I think her description indicates nothing is being asked of her that is not asked of her male colleagues. The hostile environment very much depends on the details, but I do not see it in this description. A smart manager will avoid angering a good employee in the way she is angered, but I do not see anything clearly illegal.
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Could I ask what laws you say they are violating? The only thing questionable I see is the "mother" comment. In my understanding (I am not a lawyer), even that goes away entirely if the boss were to explain that he was simply applying his general belief that a "parent or gaurdian" probably should not be a DBA to her specific situation. I do not believe parent is a protected class and "mother" is simply the proper English term for a parent who happens to be female as the poster is. To make a claim, I think she would have to somehow show he was referring specifically to something about females and not to parents in general, which is a very high bar to cross even if true. Her boss might honestly believe it is not a suitable job for someone responsible for raising children. I do agree that even construed as "a parent should not be a DBA" that the attitude is unwise and ridiculous, but mere foolishness is not illegal. Aside from the "mother" comment I am not aware of anything else that could be in violation of law.
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Reading the way she describes it, it is definitely a discrimination. Being that she is female and being compared to the men is also discrimination. Throwing the mother bit in there just adds fuel to the problem.
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Thinking on it a bit more, all of this is based on one side of the story. Maybe the use of language was mis-interpreted. Nonetheless - it would be wise to be looking for alternate employment.
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DaniSQL avatar image
DaniSQL answered
Have you talked to your boss and discussed the situation openly? Just to make sure he understands what going through, I say discuss it with your manager/boss on how you can work together to come up with an arrangement that can help you balance work and personal life.(may be work from home a couple of days a week or get day off after working weekends). After clearly communicating with him, if it doesn't work out then start looking for a new job. If he doesn't appreciate you and value your work its better to "Run" to somewhere else. For the record, you are in the right profession:-)
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