Could I be let go for not keeping up with my work if my workload has greatly increased but not my scheduled hours?

I was hired for a 24 hour position 5 years ago and was informed that I would not get more hours. Last year we got new software which has increased my workload. I requested more hours since I was staying past my 24 hour job. I was told no. Now I am falling behind in my work. Can they fire me or make me work longer over my required 24 hours?

Asked on August 29, 2011 Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you have an actual employment contract defining, limiting, or guarantying your hours, that contract and your hours can be enforced. However, without a contact, you are an employee at will. Employers generally have tremendous discretion to set the terms and conditions of employees, limited only by contract. So your employer may increase your workload or hours if you don't have a contract; and if you are an employee at will, you may be disciplined, suspended, demoted, etc.--or fired--for not getting the work done or not working the requested hours. If you are an employee at will, you have very few rights in regard to employment; your employer may change your job and hours almost at will, and you have to accept the change, quit, or risk being fired without recourse.

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