Working off the clock can be part of the job

We asked:

How often do you find yourself working off the clock, voluntarily doing overtime for which you don’t request payment?

You said:

Almost daily, due to the fact that I have a government-issued BlackBerry, and I run a very vibrant program. I don’t expect to be paid, and I’m not complaining about it, either. I’m proud to do what I do.

Lowell Marshall

Food and Drug Administration

Every day, because we’re short-handed in my office and the work must get done — but I don’t get “overtime” as in extra money; I opt for “comp time” so I can add to my vacation time.

And no, contrary to what everyone might think — it’s NOT time and a half. If I work an hour I get only an hour.

Michelle H.

Department of the Treasury

As a human resources manager in a large federal agency, I live on my BlackBerry — while on leave, nights and weekends. My day typically begins at 6 a.m. and goes until 5 p.m., often with no lunch, so 15 hours of overtime per week. And this doesn’t include BlackBerry time! I figure with over 25 years of dedicated government service I have donated approximately 16,500 hours just to do my job.


Department of Veterans Affairs

Almost every day. Budget cuts and uncertain future budgets have meant that we no longer replace staff that leave. I am currently doing my job and have taken on the entire portfolio of a colleague who left for another job.

Deadlines still need to be met, so I regularly work 10, 11, 12 hours per day, and usually check in over the weekend.


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

I try to avoid working extra hours. Between the nine-hour days and the hour-plus commute, I don’t have enough hours in the day to work extra AND get enough sleep at night, let alone exercise, pay bills, etc.

I’m single and have no partner to help me take care of the house. Everything is my responsibility.

Even if I did work extra hours, the Army does not pay overtime. Once I had accrued comp time that automatically converted to overtime pay because it had been on the books for 12 months, and my bosses were all over me about that.


U.S. Army

In my 15 years as a Social Security Administration analyst, I have frequently skipped lunch, and I don’t remember the last time I took one of the two daily breaks I am allowed by the agency.

I have carried work home on weekends and taken it with me on vacations. I have often called into meetings from home or vacation sites, once from the back seat of a moving car. I have canceled scheduled vacations at least six times over the years. I have participated in workshops and meetings away from my duty station, and spent the evening in my hotel room doing my “regular” work as well.

For most of this, I have neither requested nor received remuneration.

I am not unique. There are certainly some on staff who do not do these things, but there are many who do, both in my office and across the country.


Social Security Administration



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read Local



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.