• Rachel Measures

Why it's okay to say no to being called into work

It's your day off and you're relaxing at home… and then your phone starts buzzing. When you swipe to answer, your manager is on the line. Someone has phoned in sick, a disaster has happened, or they're short-staffed. Either way, you're being asked to go in.


How do you feel about this?


It can be a good feeling to be the hero saving the day, and earning a bit more money, but what if you have plans, or God-forbid, really don't want to go into work on your day off? Is it okay to say no?


Let's talk about this...


This type of culture is, more often than not, seen in hospitality and retail environments, where work is largely shift based and dependent on shop or restaurant opening times. This means that the days off can become quite confusing when it comes down to hours worked and not set days.


Maybe you’re on a zero-hours contract and shifts aren’t always guaranteed. So, when you are called in, it feels like you can't say no. When we're in this situation we need to think about the reasons why saying no might actually be for the best.


Why to say no

You have plans.

If you already have something planned, for yourself, with someone else, or booked, you shouldn't be expected to rearrange this. You are completely able to respectfully decline the offer to come into work and explain why.

Physical Health.

Corporate culture tells us to work through anything, to continue even if you're tired or ill because that way you're more likely to be promoted. But... it's important to listen to our bodies when they are telling us to slow down and rest. Or to drink more. Or to eat better.


Our bodies are so good at telling us what we need and yet we often ignore the signs of being run down. Having a day to yourself to look after your body will be much more beneficial than rushing back into work again.


You might have nothing planned but this doesn’t mean you have to say yes to going to work if you do not want to.

Mental Health


If you don't allow yourself time off, your usual working hours could be disrupted. Stress is the cause of many physical symptoms, which can lead you into a vicious cycle of ill physical health and ill mental health which can impact your ability to complete regular work. It won’t be good for you or the company you work for.


A nervous breakdown, or sickness due to stress, could mean you're not available to work for an extended period while you recover. No one is immune to this happening to them if they don't take the time to look after themselves.


If you lack full motivation, are run down, or stressed - you need time away from work.


How to say no


So that's why you should say no, but how do you say no? It can be really difficult. A good manager will recognise that their employees need time to recharge but if your manager isn’t quite like this, start by reminding yourself why you work and why you want to say no.


It’s really easy to get stuck in a cycle of living only for work, but we all work to live and not the other way around. There has to be a balance. Companies don't own us, and neither does our work. You shouldn’t feel guilty for taking time for yourself and turning down a shift when you’re not obliged to work.


When your manager calls you, be honest. Can you work? No? Why not? I have plans. I don't want to. It’s my day off. I'm looking after myself so I can't come in.


Do not make the mistake of creating an elaborate lie, firstly because you don’t have to, and because it will likely unravel, but secondly because you have every right to use your day off how you want to use it.


Ensuring proper boundaries are outlined between yourself and your workplace can ensure that you are happy and healthy in yourself, that you maintain a positive work-life balance and that when you are in work, your work is much more productive and fulfilling. It’s a win-win realistically and that is the best way to combat the fear of saying no.


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