How can I get myself sacked legally?

I’m dreadfully bored and depressed in my job.

I work for a big bank as a portfolio manager, and have nothing to do. I tried starting new projects but have been discouraged by management. So I spend my time writing a script and studying but the fact that I have about 10 hours of work a week is killing me.

I can’t quit as I need the salary. The only way out is to get myself sacked, since the legally required pay­-off where I live is huge. This would allow me to take a more interesting job on lower pay. But how do I it? The company is satisfied with my work and colleagues love me.

Portfolio manager, male, 28

LUCY’S ANSWER

You are full of surprises. First I’m surprised that you can do your work quite so quickly. I thought that deciding what to invest in meant doing an open-ended amount of homework.

I’m also surprised to hear that your colleagues like you so much. In my experience, people tend not to be especially keen on their overachieving workmates. If I were sitting next to someone who despatched his work to the bosses’ satisfaction in a couple of hours and then spent the rest of the day writing scripts and studying, I wouldn’t feel too warmly towards him.

And finally I’m surprised that you need so much money. Isn’t the point of portfolio management that you get paid quite a lot for it? Unless you are also overachieving at sowing your seeds and already have four children, then surely you can afford to take a worse paid job?

Despite the above, I’m still prepared to feel sorry for you. Having too little to do is a kind of torture and is far worse than having too much to do. However, trying to get sacked isn’t the option. In most countries, getting fired for doing your work badly – let alone for having your hand in the till or up someone’s skirt – means you don’t get a bean. If you are made redundant you do get a pay-off – but if the bank isn’t trying to lay people off, this may be hard.

The best option is to tell your boss exactly how much spare time you have. If he has any sense he will respond by giving you a lot more to do. Or else he will mark you down as an annoying upstart and will only be too glad to edge you out when the next round of redundancies comes round.

Dear Lucy

This blog is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.

Lucy Kellaway, FT columnist and associate editor, offers her solution to your workplace problems in a fortnightly column in the Financial Times. In this weekly online edition of her 'agony aunt' column, readers are invited to have a say too. Read more about Dear Lucy here.

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