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Working overtime on the excuses

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If you are an employee you will have come across the idea that architects are not paid for overtime because that would not be in keeping with their status as professionals. The story goes that one is paid to perform a role, and one should spend as much time as is necessary to complete the tasks arising from that role, rather than attending the office for a specified number of hours and leaving one's woes behind at 17.30, 'like someone in a call centre', or someone with a life. Professionalism is one word for this, exploitation is another. There are, undoubtedly, architects who achieve more in four hours each day than others in the same office do in 10; they are not, you will notice, encouraged to go home at lunchtime having completed their tasks for the day.

Employees'credulity in believing their employers' bedtime stories about the de-professionalising influence of overtime pay contrasts starkly with employers' unwillingness to trust their staff.

It is assumed that employees who direct the spending of vast sums of clients' money would waste their days looking for celebrity porn on the Internet or surreptitiously reading 'Flint-knapping for Beginners' so they could cash in on the time-and-a-half evening rate.

This attitude in the profession may just reflect employers' weakness in demanding extra payment from clients when extra work is needed: 'Oh, you don't like flat roofs any more; that's fine, we'll just design it again then.

No, of course there's no charge, we've got to get it right haven't we?' You don't hear solicitors saying: 'You've decided not to exchange tomorrow, but buy a different house. That's all right, John will come in at the weekend and do the work, so it won't cost extra.'

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