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‘My Boss Is Making Me Work Two Jobs With No Additional Pay’

A businesswoman is cradling a large stack of binders and folders in her right arm, while holding a coffee and a cell phone precariously in her left hand.
Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photo: Getty Images

Hello Kimberly,

I’ve been asked to take on another job in addition to my current job with no additional pay.

I’ve been working at my company for ten years and the organization is currently going through a combination of layoffs and natural turnover of employees. I work in a client-facing role, so taking on another job adds a tangible amount of stress to my day-to-day responsibilities.

I can’t see myself having the time in the day to do both jobs. Even if there were additional pay, I still don’t think I’d be able to do both jobs. When I spoke with my manager, they said it was an “all hands on deck” situation and that I needed to tough it out. They work an unnecessary amount of hours themselves and I’m just not willing to let work take over my entire life for an indefinite amount of time.

What can I do? Is there a way for me to get paid for both jobs? Or should I just quit and hope to find another job right away?

Sadly, being asked to work two jobs is an experience that many professionals will endure at some point in their career. A colleague may resign suddenly or go on leave, or the company may downsize in a way that impacts your team and reorganizes job functions. Generally, these responsibilities fall under “other duties as assigned,” which appears in most salaried job descriptions. As such, most organizations don’t have a policy in place to provide additional compensation for them.

So what do you do?

First, it helps to know whether you’ll be compensated or just asked to do both jobs with a smile (and an extra-long to-do list). Head to your human resources manual to see if your company has policies that cover what happens when someone is working two jobs. I’ve only seen it a handful of times with my own clients, and managers tend to be unaware of such policies because their main concern is getting the work done. If there is a policy in place that would compensate you for performing the second job’s functions for a certain amount of time, don’t be surprised if the extra pay is dismal. If there’s no policy in place, you can put together a pitch for additional compensation — but I rarely see that strategy succeed when the timeframe for performing two roles is undefined. It may be best to wait until your mid- or end-of-year review to pitch a salary increase or bonus based on your additional contributions to the team.

Next up, it’s time to have a discussion with your supervisor about priorities. Schedule a one-on-one meeting and create an agenda that includes all of your outstanding projects, anything new that will be added to your plate, and the intended deadlines for all of them. It sounds like you’re in the unfortunate position where you literally can’t complete everything within the existing timelines, so you need to have a candid conversation about updating those timelines and/or postponing certain projects. Ask your manager, “How would you like me to prioritize this workload?” Then wait for an answer!

Come prepared with a backup plan that helps prioritize your workload, in case your manager indicates they expect you to get everything done within the existing timelines. For example, one woman I coach who is in a client-facing role took on another full job, doubling her client load. Knowing that the clients needed to be served, she recommended that her manager let her pause all administrative or operational projects that didn’t impact current clients until a backfill was hired, or until a slower season without as many client meetings.

While it’s easy to assume that your manager may not have the best intentions when assigning extra work, I do want to extend them some grace. Often, managers are simply focused on trying to get all of the work done and may not realize the true impact of you doing two jobs. They may not even understand what you had on your plate before tasking you with the second set of responsibilities. One of the hardest parts of being a manager is managing your own workload and that of your direct reports, and this is especially true for nonexecutive managers, who typically are very close to the deliverables that more senior-level executives set the tone for.

If your manager isn’t willing to reprioritize your workload, consider whether the additional work will help position you for a promotion or give you a skillset that you can leverage for external opportunities. If that’s the case, it may be worth doing the best you can for as long as you can while making it a priority to communicate your workload and when you need additional time with competing deadlines. Will it be tough? Yes. But it will reveal you to be a true team player who helped the organization during a tough time.

Otherwise, if the workload is truly unbearable, it may be time to reach out to human resources for guidance — and potentially begin looking for a new job. The reality is that, even if you involve HR and everything gets resolved in your favor, you may not want to continue to work at the company or for your specific manager. I don’t recommend quitting with no notice, though, unless you are financially able to support yourself for a minimum of six months if you don’t find another job right away.

As long as you do have to burn the candle at both ends, make sure to take care of yourself. It’s unrealistic for any company to expect you to work until 9 p.m. every evening or give up personal time on the weekends to accommodate the responsibilities of another role you didn’t ask for. Ensure that you log off at a reasonable time and create space for yourself to truly unwind so that you don’t burn out. For example, if you’re staring down a pressing deadline before your child’s soccer game, communicate that you will be offline for the soccer game and when you’ll come back online to work on the project. Reiterate that you’re aware of the deadlines and that you’ll do your best to deliver as planned, but you will not have access to email or Slack during that time. These conversations may be uncomfortable, but communication is key during this “all hands on deck” period to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Career and leadership-development expert Kimberly Brown helps readers make sure their next move is the best move. Listen to the Your Next Move podcast here and keep up with Kimberly on her website.

‘My Boss Is Making Me Work Two Jobs With No Additional Pay’