Hi all, is it acceptable for your boss to send text/sms messages to you about work outside of work hours? And how does one ask the boss to stop sending them?

The scenario is as follows. My wife Jane works in retail, it's a small company, she's the only full time staff member and there are 2 other part time staff. The boss is the owner of the shop. For a while now the boss will send Jane text/sms messages in the evenings and on weekends - mostly just talking about work (eg. "we sold X amount yesterday, that's great"), she even sends them to Jane when we've been on vacation, and then last week sent a text at 7am. Jane had just worked 6 days in a row, and was due to work the following day, and was not happy at being woken up ealry on her one day off.

The next day at work Jane then told her boss she did not appreciate the early morning text on her day off, to which her boss took excpetion to, saying she bends over backwards to help Jane then brought up a number of things that Jane had done to annoy her in the past - all of which was news to Jane and the first she had heard about it.

Any tips on how to handle this one would be greatly appreciated.



bug_girl's picture

If I was your wife, I'm afraid I'd find your interference about as aggravating as the boss.

She's an adult. Your instinct to help and protect her is admirable.   But SHE needs to be the one that finds the balance. 

Having said that: have you introduced her to the MT way yet? ;p

acao162's picture

Easy solution, turn off your phone.

Seriously.  I turn mine off when I am not interested in getting calls/texts.  When i turn it on again, everything is there waiting on me.

Beyond that, I agree with Bug_Girl.  Let your wife fight her own battles.

apriltaylor's picture

The responses to this so far are way off, in my opinion.


Bug_Girl: He hasn't interfered, he's asking for advice. Advice is something most of us give and take everyday. Now, if he called up the boss himself and read her the riot act, that would be interfering.


Acao: That solution doesn't work for two reasons. (1) The wife may want to get texts during that time, just not from her boss. (2) The boss will jump to the conclusion that she's being deliberately ignored. Though turning the phone off while you're sleeping will seem reasonable to most people, some will say "I want to know if a loved one is in an accident at any time of day."


For my part, I have to ask in what tone your wife spoke to her boss about the problem. Did she say "Please don't send texts that early because I like to sleep in that early." or "I don't appreciate you waking me up at the crack of dawn."? I'm sure you can see the difference. You wife has to voice her concerns to her boss in a way that keeps the focus on herself and her feelings, rather than making accusations that cause the boss to go on the offensive. If she does go on the offensive, your wife should defend herself in a calm and rational tone.

When this behavior started, did you wife respond to every message? If so, she has set up certain expectations. A lesson here would be to avoid enforcing bad habits.

Hope that helps.

spiffdeb's picture

My feelings on this question really depend on her role in the company.  If she is a Manager or Assistant Manager or something along those lines I would expect that my boss might text/email me outside of work hours.  Is she an hourly paid employee or salaried?  Is the boss paying for the cell phone?  All of these would have a bearing on what the boundaries might be.    

The other question would be whether the number of texts out of hours are 'excessive' and if they are for items that are not urgent and what the boss's expectation is regarding response times.  

At a minimum it sounds like a conversation is in order between the employee and the boss to align needs/expectations.   


TomW's picture
Training Badge

Texts are not like Instant message. And instant messenger tells the sender that the recipient is online. Text messages do not.

Heck, from the sound of it, the texts don't even require a response. They are just FYI.

I don't think there's any obligation to repond to or even read a text message at a time that the recipient might logically be asleep. If it were that urgent, like a loved on in an accident, it would be a phone call, not a text message.

I set my phone not to notify my with any audio signal for text messages. I get a blinking light that I can sleep right through.

nd above all, you can't manage your boss. If your boss wants to send texts at all hours of the day, that might just be something you have to learn to live with or work around. Or find a new job, because your boss might not like being told something like that.

jhack's picture

Small company, she's the only full time employee...
The boss is sharing important information that doesn't require a reply...

Your wife is misinterpreting the situation. The boss is treating her well, like a collaborator in the business who might care about revenue and success. She should be honored.

If she doesn't want to be wakened by text messages at 6am, she should silence her phone overnight. The text will be waiting for her to read over her morning coffee.

Your wife should apologize, tell the owner she appreciates the updates, and add that she might not instantly catch all her texts if she's asleep.

In a sense, the real issue here this just a job, or is this a career?


John Hack

kingdave's picture

I don't know what kind of phone you have, but I can set my blackberry to only be audible for phone calls, so texts would be silent.  You can use that when sleeping.

During off hours, if I were her, I'd read the message and if it's urgent then respond, and if it's not urgent then instantly forget what it said.  If it gets excessive, then I might try talking to the boss again, more gently this time.  If it becomes intolerable, look for a different job.

tomjedrz's picture
Licensee Badge

The key question in my mind is whether the boss is just sending the message when convenient for the boss, or is requiring immediate action.  If the former, she should ignore them, or respond with a "Thx 4 the info!", and not make a big deal.  If the latter, then she needs to respond each time as appropriate. She may need to respond with "Sorry .. can't work right now .. 1st thing Monday!", or "Can this wait until tomorrow?".

If the boss is not makiing an issue of it, then she should be fine.  If the boss is making an issue of it, then she needs to have a discussion about boundaries.  If the boss wants unlimited availability, and that isn't OK, then your wife needs to negotiate or make a decision.

malinasl's picture

I know how this goes. I work in a retail store that is a large chain across the country as a full time manager. I'm one of 4 management team members. The store manager consistently texts me around 9 am (the time the opening manager usually goes in), on both days off and on days that i don't have to be there until later in the day. These are usually things like "write me a list of things you did yesterday between this time and this time explaining why ____ (fill in the blank) wasn't done" or "where is this?" or sometimes they are accusatory "a customer came in and said you told them (fill in the blank) when you know that's not how it's done" or a reprimand for something. It's gotten to the point that even though I have turned off notifications for my text messages, i dread seeing a blinking light because it could be my store manager. This has been on going since I was promoted to full-time manager 5 months ago. I even received text messages on my vacation. Personally, if the messages were just "hey, we made our goal for the day" I wouldn't care (as I'm sure your wife doesn't mind) but accusations and  reprimands sent via text message on days off? That's crossing a line. In my case, I believe that there is more going on between my store manager and me than just the messages and i think that talking to them regarding text messages is the least of my worries, but I have begun to save them in case the situation reaches a boiling point. If there's any suggestions regarding my situation, I'd love some advice. I like the job and all the other people are awesome. But the Store Manager makes me doubt myself everyday and there have been days where I cried on lunch breaks, cried when I got home or left mid-shift because of the disrespect. It started with texts, but hasn't stopped there. Help!



Singers's picture

My personal view is very simple, I'm available 24/7. Why? When a company trust you to manage sometimes very large amount of money besides the number of people, I would want to know if something is happening that I need to be involved in. Ensuring your people understand WHEN to use this option, both your boss and your directs and a bit of a learning curve.

Kind Regards
Mads Sorensen
Disc 4536

ken_wills's picture

I'm with the majority of posters on this thread - and, importantly, your initial description doesn't seem to indicate that Jane needs to DO ANYTHING or even respond to these messages.

But let's focus on the most important events:  it sounds from your description that Jane made things worse for herself by voicing her objections.  And you mentioned that the boss brought up behaviors of Jane's that she found annoying.

Is Jane addressing her own behaviors?  Because unlike her boss' behaviors (texting), she DOES have control over her own behaviors.

  • Does she have a complete understanding of what she does that her boss finds annoying, and why her boss finds them annoying?
  • Is she willing to change or modify those behaviors?
  • If not, is she looking for a better situation?

NOBODY likes to hear criticism from a boss.  But once you get over it, the real question is: what are you going to do about it?


Good luck to you and Jane!