Signs You’re Being Taken Advantage of at Work and What to Do About it

People generally want to succeed at their job. That means trying your best, going the extra mile when you can and taking the opportunity to prove yourself. But there is a line between being a good employee and being taken advantage of. 

Nothing makes going to work worse than having the feeling that your company is exploiting you, but you may not be totally sure if you’re just being paranoid or over sensitive. 

Here are a few signs that you are being taken advantage of at your job.

Unrealistic Expectations

Taking on some extra work or staying late every now and then is a great way to be recognized as a helpful employee in your workplace. But when people stop asking and just start expecting it, then you know you’re being taken advantage of. It can grow to the point where it becomes like you have an extra job. You’re taking on the work of other people and this can result in extreme burnout and stress.

No Raise or Promotions

You have taken on more work and responsibilities and your boss keeps telling you that you’re going to get that raise – but nothing happens. If you keep getting those promises and the work keeps piling on this is a sure sign you are being exploited at your job. Being consistently underpaid can be stressful and also hurts your long-term earning potential.

No Recognition

Sometimes it’s not just a raise or promotion that makes a difference – it’s being openly appreciative of an employee’s efforts. You can’t expect a ‘thank you’ or ‘good work’ every single time you get something done, but if you never receive recognition that can be draining. Sometimes it can even go further into belittling efforts when coworkers or bosses make it seem like anyone could do your job and there is no need for recognition. 

Breaks and Time Off Are Non-Existent

Every worker deserves breaks and time off. There is a reason it’s written into labour laws across the country. If you’re not receiving breaks or time off, your company is absolutely taking advantage of you in the workplace. Another way employer’s exploit employees is by creating a culture that discourages taking vacation or breaks with comments about how they are ‘lazy’ or ‘aren’t working as hard as others’. This encourages an environment of overworking. Employers should know the importance of giving their rest and taking time off. 

What Are the Solutions?

You know the signs and you think you are being taken advantage, but now what? The main thing you need to know is that it’s not going to get better on its own. If an employer has been successfully taking advantage of employees, why would they stop now? You need to do something about it.

The first step is to try and set up a meeting with a manager or your boss. Start by talking about your workload and responsibilities so that you’re sure they have a clear understanding of what you’re dealing with in the workplace. Then ask how you could work together to come up with solutions to some of these issues, whether it be your workload, breaks or pay. 

However, this tactic can be understandably intimidating. What if you’re punished, demoted, or at the very worst, fired. Without any sort of protection in the workplace, this can be a major concern. This is why another option is to get workplace representation. When you have a union, not only can they can ensure that you won’t face repercussions for speaking up, they can also make sure you are being fairly compensated for the work you do.

It’s important to not lose your cool and keep doing good work. Try talking to someone you trust outside of work so you can vent about these issues.

No one should feel like they are being exploited in any aspect of their lives but especially work. It can be mentally and physically exhausting. A good employer should never want to take advantage of their workers. 

The Distress Line is a great resource to call if you are feeling overwhelmed and need someone to talk to. You can contact them at:

403.266.HELP (4357) in Calgary,
780-482-HELP (4357) in Edmonton and 1-800-232-7288 in rural areas.

We're here to help

Do you have any questions about your rights in the workplace or need someone to talk to about your job stress? Contact one of our free labour counsellors at (403) 259-4608 or

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