How To: Leave Work Early For Shabbat, Without Jeopardizing Your Job

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Friday afternoons in the winter can feel like the last mile of a marathon — making sure the chulent has enough water, taping the light switch in the fridge, and getting everyone showered before the eighteen minutes (and hot water) are over. But when you work full-time on top of everything else, getting to the candlelit finish line can be even more of a challenge.

Working women — and men — know the challenge of telling their bosses they have to cut their Friday’s short to get home in time for Shabbat. But for those in a new job, or whose boss forgets about that early Shabbat thing every winter, here are a few tips for breaking it to your boss that you’ll be offline and out of the office early.

  • Consider how many hours you need to work:

Realize that you’re probably going to need to make up the hours somehow. Try shifting your workday up by a few hours by coming in early on Fridays. Plus, you’ll get the added benefit of working in an empty office with fewer distractions.

  • Ask your boss about working from home on the shortest Fridays of the year.

The time you would have spent commuting turns into the time you can spend working.

  • Ask for a compressed work week.

Some offices encourage their employees to work a compressed work week in the summer, meaning Monday through Thursday, 8-6. By working two hours extra each day, they fit the standard forty hours into four days, leaving Friday free for summer fun. You can use the same model, leaving your Friday free to…”work” in the kitchen. But at least you’ll get your chicken soup!

  • If all else fails and your boss still won’t budge, consider taking a pay cut…

…for the time you can’t work on Fridays. If you leave at 12 on Friday in a standard 40-hour workweek, you would dock your pay by 12.5% for those 5 hours off.

No matter how stressful your Friday sprint, when you do get to the end of the race, don’t forget to enjoy the peace of Shabbat. We don’t live to work, we work to live, so enjoy the time with family and friends!

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Shira Hanau is a journalist and student living in New York City. You can find her on Twitter at @shirahanau