How Do You Politely Say No to Weekend Work?

If you aren’t required to work on the weekends, don’t feel pressured into saying yes when you are asked.

Sure, the overtime pay can be nice but it isn’t always practical. It isn’t always worth it for your physical or mental health either.

Breaks from work can help you feel rejuvenated and reconnect with your loved ones. It is possible to politely say no to weekend work!

To politely say no to weekend work, it’s good to give an understandable reason. Try to be as honest as possible; it is okay to use the weekend for recreation.

No Thank You

Some employees worry there will be consequences if they make their boss upset. You don’t owe your life to the business. If you work the hours you are scheduled, they can’t force you to work over the weekend.

It is a request, and they may remember who goes the extra mile and who doesn’t, but you shouldn’t be treated any differently in the workplace because of it.

It may seem too simple, but politely tell them you don’t want to. They can take that at face value.

You don’t owe them any more of your time than you already committed to during the week. If you really don’t want to work then don’t do it and don’t let anyone make you feel guilty.

What to Say:

“No thank you, I have other plans for the weekend.”

“No thanks, I don’t feel up to that.”

“I need the break so I can return on Monday refreshed and ready to go!”

“Thank you for the offer to do the project, but this weekend doesn’t work for me.”

“I can’t contribute this weekend but I can put in some extra effort next week if you still need the help.”

Can’t Fit It In

You don’t have to disclose more than a simple explanation to your boss. It isn’t up to them to determine if your reason not to work the weekend is valid or not.

You may not feel comfortable looking them in the eye and making an excuse. You really don’t have to; they can’t mandate weekend work if that isn’t part of your hiring agreement.

What to Say:

“I wish I could help out but I won’t be able to fit that into my schedule.”

“The weekend is out for me, the schedule is packed.”

“I have too much going on this weekend to be able to work.”

“It isn’t possible for me to rearrange what I have planned.”

“I don’t have any free time this weekend to give to you.”

Other Commitments

You may have other commitments; it isn’t uncommon for people to have plans on the weekends.

You can disclose what your plans are or simply say you have other commitments.

You don’t have to make an excuse if you don’t feel like working over the weekend either.

What to Say:

“Sorry but my weekend is booked with other commitments.”

“I have a family event this weekend I am looking forward to.”

“Our anniversary is coming up and I want to do something special with my spouse this weekend.”

“We have a wedding to go to this weekend, we have had it on the calendar for months.”

Family Time

Bonding with your family is important, and it should take priority over working the weekend. Being family-oriented is something you should be proud of.

Let them know you plan to spend the weekend with your family because that time is special. You carve out your time to be with them since you all go your separate ways during the busy week.

What to Say:

“Weekends are family time; we don’t get enough quality time with each other during the week.”

“I plan to go to the park with the kids, maybe a picnic too. I love catching up with them over the weekend to see what each of them is up to. They grow up too fast and I don’t want to miss out.”

“I have that time carved out to spend with my family.”

Lack of Childcare

Finding childcare to work over the weekend is extremely difficult. It often costs considerably more than during the week.

You may feel guilty sending the kids to daycare after they have been there during your work week too.

Let your employer know you simply have a lack of daycare so you won’t be working on the weekends.

What to Say:

Daycare is too expensive for the weekends.

“There aren’t any daycare slots open for the weekends.”

“I can’t expect my kids to spend the weekend at daycare, they were already there all week while I was working.”

“My family doesn’t have the time or ability to watch my children so I can work the extra hours.”

Fatigue / Burnout

Working too many hours can cause you to struggle with fatigue or feel burned out. In the long run, you get less done.

It is harder to focus and your creative concepts become increasingly challenging.

Mistakes are more likely to happen when you work more hours than you should.

What to Say:

“When I work over the weekend, I don’t feel like I give 100% the following week. It is counterproductive.”

“I have struggled with burning out before due to working long weeks and through the weekends. I won’t do that to myself anymore.”

“I promised my partner not to work weekends so I can continue to take care of myself.”

Health Issues

There are many health issues that can make it hard or impossible to work for the weekend. Many ailments such as arthritis or chronic pain make it hard to give more than you already do.

The fatigue, discomfort, and distraction may be off the charts if you work over the weekend too.

It isn’t worth it to put your health on the line.

What to Say:

“Due to my medical concerns, I can’t work on the weekend. I find it overextends me and my symptoms flare up. It takes too long to get them under control again.”

“I don’t have the energy to work this weekend, my health issues are getting the best of me.”

“I have to stay focused on my health. If that suffers, I am no go to myself, my family, or my job.”

Mental Well-Being

It isn’t just your physical health that suffers if you don’t take a break from work. Your mental well-being can take a beating too.

You need your mind and body both to get enough rest and be in sync with each other.

What to Say:

“This job is too taxing on my mind to work over the weekend too. I need the downtime to stay on top of the challenges.”

“My thought process needs a break from work, but I guarantee I will be here to give it my all again Monday morning for you.”

Enjoy Your Free Time to Relax

You don’t have to be busy on the weekend to not work, you may enjoy your free time to relax. Don’t feel guilty about sharing that with your boss.

Politely let them know you plan to kick back and not do much of anything over the weekend. You have earned it and they are well aware of that fact!

What to Say:

“Thank you for the offer but I plan to relax this weekend and not do much of anything. It is time to get caught up on sleep, some TV shows, and time on the porch enjoying the beautiful weather.”

“It has been a hectic week and I am ready to just do nothing all weekend long.”

Offer an Alternative

If you don’t want to work over the weekend, but you know the job has to get done, you may feel obligated.

Before you give in to the pressure, offer an alternative. You never know, if they need you bad enough for the weekend work, they may take you up on that offer!

What to Say:

“I will work this weekend for you but at the end of the month, I would like to take a four-day weekend. How do you feel about that?”

“I can work Saturday and Sunday this week if I get Monday and Tuesday off.”

“I can’t work over the weekend but I can stay a few extra hours each night next week if you need me to.”

“I can’t come into the office over the weekend but I don’t mind working on this from my home office for a few hours if that will help?”

Be Firm but Polite

You may be annoyed if your boss asks you to work over the weekend.

Be firm and set boundaries, but don’t be rude about it. Always remain in control of your emotions and act professionally.

What to Say:

“I am sorry you are in this predicament, but as I shared, working this weekend isn’t possible for me.”

“I explained that I won’t be available to work over the weekend.”

“I hope someone else can work this weekend, I simply can’t do it.”

“I don’t think I am the right person to complete that task, even if I was available this weekend. I hope you find the right person to take it on.”

Katie

Katie Haynes is a senior author at everyday-courtesy.com with over 15 years of experience in marketing and psychology. As a freelance consultant, she also supports companies and executives in overcoming communication challenges. Katie is a passionate digital nomad working on her first book on the art of communication.

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