manager struggling with staff leaving early

by Ask a Manager on July 23, 2011

A reader writes:

I’m a relatively new manager (4 months). I am coming from the position of teammate to most of the staff I manage, but they all seem to have adjusted well to my new role and respected my move from peer to manager. 

I seem, however, to be having an issue with one of my staff sneaking out 10-15 minutes early from work. I’ve started to catch on, and when I ask, the person says that they didn’t take their 15-minute break so that they could leave early (which, if that’s the case, needs to be arranged and agreed upon with me), then proceeds to talk my ear off about the weather and everything they did that day and then rush out the door before I can get a word in edgewise. I can’t seem to get across to this person that it’s not acceptable, because if they did skip their break, they still technically worked the amount of time they were supposed to, and there are other people to cover should they be needed (the work time at my organization is split – half-day of customer service, half-day of office time), so there is no real need for them to be there other than they’re scheduled until a certain point in time.

I feel that I should be more assertive but I don’t know how to prove my point when this person has basically found a loophole. I would be okay with this once in a while (and if we discussed it first), but I don’t like the sneakiness of it.

Yes, the issue is far less the 10-15 minutes and much more the sneakiness, because it goes to trustworthiness and integrity.

And she hasn’t “found a loophole.” You say above that your rule is that if she wants to leave early in exchange for not taking her break that day, she needs to get your okay first. She’s not doing that, so there’s no loophole here. She’s just not following your policies and hoping she’ll get away with it.

And the reason she’s getting away with it is because  you’re letting her. It sounds like that’s because you’re not yet comfortable with the authority of your position. Letting someone do something they shouldn’t be doing just because they start talking rapidly about the weather is not an effective management technique.

Set up a meeting with this person. Say the following:  “I want to clarify our rules on leaving early. If you want to leave early to make up for not taking a break that day, you need to talk to me about it first so that I can clear it. If you don’t have explicit permission to leave early on a particular day, you need to work until the end of the time you’re scheduled for.”

Then, stick to it. If you see her leaving early again without your permission, you need to call her on it. You can do this in two ways: You can stop her on the spot, tell her it’s not time to leave, and send her back to work, or you can talk to her about it first thing the next day. Either way, you need to start setting up consequences at that point.

So you might tell her, “Sue, I was extremely clear about this when we talked last week. Where did we miscommunicate?” Then, assuming that she doesn’t explain that she was rushing out the door because of a gunshot wound or something, you say, “By continuing to do this after we’ve talked about it, it’s turned into something more serious. You’re now violating a policy that I’ve warned you about. I need to be able to trust you to follow our policies. This is a very easy thing to correct and I hope that you will, but if it continues to happen, it could jeopardize your job.”

If that seems like an extreme consequence for leaving 15 minutes early, keep in mind that the issue here is integrity, not 15 minutes of time. It’s about integrity because she’s trying to do something without you noticing it, and she’s continuing to do so after you’ve already warned her. This is a much, much bigger deal than 15 minutes of time; you can’t have someone working for you who deliberately tries to get away with things behind your back. (And I can almost guarantee you that with someone who operates this way, there are other problems with how she approaches her work.)

The bigger-picture issue here, though, is learning how to deal with situations where the people working for you aren’t performing in the way that you need — being comfortable raising the issue, correcting the behavior, setting consequences if it continues, and then enforcing those consequences, and doing it all in way that’s direct, straightforward, and fair (not defensive or insecure or overly harsh). These are essential pieces of being a manager.

More situations like this are going to come up — and some of them will be more complicated than what time someone is leaving — and you’ll need to be prepared to handle them. So I’d recommend starting to think about how you’re going to handle other types of performance problems, like someone who’s bad with customers, or someone who’s trying really hard but just not doing a good job, or someone who doesn’t follow though on things you ask them to do. Your job now is to handle this stuff, and you don’t want to wing it.

Update: Several people have pointed out in the comments that leaving early shouldn’t be a big deal if the employee is getting all her work done. This is absolutely true in certain types of jobs and with certain types of performers, but I’m assuming for the sake of answering this question that this is a job where physical presence is relevant. If that’s not the case and the employee is otherwise performing well, I’d agree that leaving 15 minutes isn’t a big deal, as long as it’s not inconveniencing others and as long as it’s not being done in a sneaky, “I hope no one notices this” kind of way. But that’s not the sense I’m getting from the letter.

You can read an update to this post here.

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{ 125 comments… read them below or add one }

sharon g July 23, 2011 at 11:27 am

When I worked at a large bank, the policy was you could not leave the property if you were on a paid break. If you left the property while on the clock, and were injured, the company didn’t want the legal issues of that could go with it (worker’s comp, lawsuit, etc.). Simple rule = you leave the property for your own personal business or quitting time, you clock out. Period.

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Julie July 23, 2011 at 11:43 am

I suppose this is tangential issue, but the question I have is: “What’s the problem with this person leaving early?” Is he or she getting all the work done? If so, what does it matter whether they leave a few minutes before the official leave time?

Admittedly, there are jobs where this doesn’t apply. (Receptionist, retail clerk, bank teller, etc.) But for your typical office job, I’d think that the amount of work getting done would matter more than if his or her butt was in a chair until exactly 5:00.

You might also want to ask *why* the employee is leaving early. It might just be a matter of impatience, but it might also be that they have to pick up kids from school, catch an infrequent bus, or some other time-sensitive thing where those 10-15 minutes really do make a difference. (For my first office job, the bus came once an hour. I had the option of arriving 45 minutes early or 15 minutes late. Eventually my boss agreed that I could shift my schedule later by 20 minutes and avoid the conflict.)

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Ask a Manager July 23, 2011 at 11:48 am

These are both points I had in my original response but took out because I think the fact that the employee is deliberately trying to be sneaky is a bigger problem. This also sounds to me like a job where be on site for the scheduled hours probably does matter (although I hope the OP will weigh in on that point), and there are coworkers who are going to resent one person always leaving early while the rest of them stay.

If the issue IS that she has to pick up her kids or something, she should raise it to the manager directly, not be sneaky, and they can see if there’s a reasonable accommodation that can be made that doesn’t unfairly impact the other employees (who might enjoy leaving early themselves for all kinds of reasons, kid-related or not).

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Samantha July 23, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Exactly. People are adults. They have to ask to leave early? So demeaning.

Now I do understand (as Julie said) some jobs – where you need to be available it’s different. But most office jobs – what difference does it make if you leave 10 minutes early and work through a break. Or maybe sometimes you work half an hour late because you are trying to finish something. Doesn’t it all even out?

There might also be the ‘sneaking’ factor because of the unspoken realization that you have to ask. And seriously it’s demeaning. People aren’t in grade school. They are adults with families, who vote, are old enough to drink, have mortgages, etc and you have to ask to leave 15 minutes early? I could see it if the person was leaving at noon.

I got into trouble once (regular office job in accounting) for leaving at 4:25 pm and I had started work at 7:50 am that day. Needless to say I no longer work there.

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Disagree July 23, 2011 at 3:54 pm

What difference does it make? Do you think it makes a difference if an employee works through their break and takes $$$ out of the till at a restaurant? I would hope you would see it as theft. It is EXACTLY the same about working through a break and leaving early, remember that breaks are not required by law. As such, if you decide to work through your paid break, that is your choice. The company does not have to let you move the break to a time that is more “convenient” to you. This is every bit as much stealing as taking supplies from the office or taking money from the till. Just because everyone else does it does not make it right.

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Julie July 23, 2011 at 4:16 pm

I see it differently. An employer is hiring you, presumably, to get a job done. Let’s leave aside jobs where physical presence is absolutely required (receptionist, waitstaff, masseuse, whatever) and stick with typical office jobs. Let’s say I’m paid to process an average of 100 documents a day, which the company figures will take about 8 hours. If I’m a very fast worker and finish all 100 documents in 7 hours and leave early, is that stealing? I’d say it isn’t: I’ve done everything required of me.

Contrarily, if I stay in my chair precisely eight hours — or even nine or ten hours! — but only process 75 documents, I’d say THAT’s closer to stealing. I’m taking money for 8 hours of work but only producing 75% results.

To my mind, time spent sitting at your desk matters far less than the results you produce in that time.

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Samantha July 23, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Exactly. I don’t understand why people are so hung up on hours spent at desk instead of results.

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Ask a Manager July 23, 2011 at 4:43 pm

I’m curious why you guys are assuming this is that sort of job, as opposed to one where the OP would have a legitimate reason for the policy.

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Samantha July 23, 2011 at 4:47 pm

“so there is no real need for them to be there other than they’re scheduled until a certain point in time. ”

There is no real need for them to be there? I can’t imagine why we would assume that then.

I know the OP said that the person needs to ask if it’s ok to leave early but I’m guessing that this person doesn’t want to do that because it feels really grade school.

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Ask a Manager July 23, 2011 at 4:54 pm

I didn’t interpret it that way since she mentioned other people might need to cover it for them. In any case, I think these are some big assumptions to be making and I hope the OP comes back to clear it up for us.

I still think the core issue is that the OP needs to learn how to assert herself, not feel like she’s helpless in the face of behavior she doesn’t like. (And yes, one could respond that no, the real issue is her stance on how long people should stay at work, but again, we don’t know that here — and I think it’s semi-elitist to assume that everyone works in jobs where physical presence isn’t key.)

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Julie July 23, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Reply to AAM (since I can’t reply to your post just above, it’s too deep in the comment stream):

I agree. In this particular case, the sneakiness is the issue, as well as the OP’s need to maintain authority and assert him/herself.

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Ask a Manager July 23, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Oh! Then we’re in agreement :)

And I added an update at the end of the post itself to allow for this question.

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Julie July 23, 2011 at 5:00 pm

As Samantha said, it’s partially due to the quote “…so there is no real need for them to be there other than they’re scheduled until a certain point in time.”

For me, it’s also just a matter of convenience. If it IS a job where presence is important, then we default back to everything you said in your original reply. If leaving early means tables aren’t being cleaned or cash registers are going unmanned, then you’ve gotta stay until the end unless you make previous arrangements.

As I said, it was a tangent, not so much directed at the OP, but more of an open question towards the general attitude of, “leaving 10-15 minutes early is BAD. Why? Because it is!” (Such as seen by “Disagree”, above.)

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Katie July 23, 2011 at 5:14 pm

At my office, the majority of the staff are paid hourly, and because we are contracted to another company, we have business hours of 8 am-5pm for our clients. In my opinion, a person routinely skipping out before 5pm without telling anyone would be a problem, because if, let’s say, you lead a team with 3 people and at 10 til 5 an emergency comes up that will only take a couple of minutes to fix BUT your entire team has waltzed out early because they don’t see it as that big a deal, then it becomes an issue. ESPECIALLY if you didn’t know they were all gone and had already told your client you could handle it. If you want to leave before expected business hours end, the least you can do is give your manager the courtesy of knowing that you’re not going to be around to cover any work that may come in.

I agree with several of the comments below that in an office, all of the employees are grown-ups and should be treated as such. At the same time, I think communicating your availability and schedule to your supervisor AND being able to be in the office at the expected times are part of being a responsible and professional grown-up. If you can’t do those things, then you don’t really deserve your manager’s trust or respect, because you’ve only done things to prove you are untrustworthy and unreliable.

Our office policy of being available and at your desk until 5 is there for a reason. I know it’s annoying and inconvenient, and I’d love to skip out and get a 15-minute jump on rush hour traffic, too, but there you go. Part of being an adult and a professional is sometimes doing things you don’t like doing because it’s your job.

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Chinook July 23, 2011 at 8:02 pm

I agree. I am a receptionist (i.e. I have to ask permission to pee because the phone must be answered) in a business with flexible working hours for everyone else. A few of the lower level employees are always sneaking out before the end of business during the non-busy months. As a result, I am the one dealing with angry clients who want to talk to a human and not leave a voicemail. I once put someone through to 5 different people who had all left early. The only one I could eventually was a partner in the firm. The irony is that some of these people cannot understand why they never get promoted (they complain in the lunchroom in front of me because I am the receptionist and, by definition, invisible ).

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Jamie July 25, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Off topic – but I had to reply to your comment about feeling invisible because you’re the receptionist.

I’ve seen that before and it really sucks. A good receptionist worth their weight in gold – and all too often undervalued.

The problem is a good receptionist is the ultimate multi-tasker so you guys make it look so easy. That’s why people underestimate how hard that job is.

I’ve done it – I am REALLY bad at it – and fully appreciate what it entails.

That position never gets the thanks it deserves.

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Anonymous April 2, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Ironically, every position that requires that you stay put a certain number of hours will not exist in five years, due to outsourcing and technological/behavioral advancement. Your discipline and obedience will earn you nothing but an unemployment check and the inability to find work in the new economy.

Folks, provide measurable value, not attendance. This isn’t grade school–it’s business.

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Ask a Manager April 2, 2013 at 3:31 pm

That’s not strictly accurate. Plenty of jobs require being present during certain hours to deal with customers, the public, or other coworkers.

Disagree July 23, 2011 at 5:57 pm

Are you an hourly employee or salary. If you are salary, the leaving in 7 but getting paid for 8 may be fine, if the company agrees. But if you are hourly, you are stealing. Just as the company would be stealing if they said we will only pay you for 6 hours instead of 8 because we expected 100 documents processed and you only processed 75.

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Julie July 23, 2011 at 6:02 pm

If you’re asking about me personally, I’m a temp hourly employee currently on a one-year contract. I fill out a timesheet every week and get paid for the hours I work. If I decide to leave early because all my work’s done for the day, I simply fill in however many hours I worked, and that’s how many hours I get paid for. (My boss, naturally, has agreed to this.)

If you’re asking about people in general, I believe that’s up to the individual employee and their manager. I once had a job (salaried) where I routinely finished my work early but was not allowed to leave because “the benefits are calculated based on a 40-hour week.” (Note: I’m from Montreal, Canada. I have no idea what the laws are like in the States.)

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Samantha July 23, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Actually I live in Canada where the employment standards are different and we do get paid breaks regulated by law in the province you live in.

And I seriously doubt that leaving early and taking money out of the till is the same thing. Give me a break. By those same standards you can count all those people that spend time on the internet, or on the phone dealing with family issues or yakking with their co workers socially for 10-15 minutes at a time or taking smoke breaks as stealing too. They aren’t working then either. Maybe they shouldn’t be able to use the washroom either. After all they aren’t working *then* either.

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Disagree July 23, 2011 at 6:03 pm

Technically, those using the internet, or talking to family on company time or talking with coworkers while not working are theft. That they are socially acceptable does not make it any less theft. You are being paid to work, not surf the web, or talk to family on the phone or talk to co workers rather than working. Talking to them while working, that is fine, you are working.

Again, presuming hourly.

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Susan July 24, 2011 at 12:04 pm

I think we are getting off on an elitist track by insinuating that chatting with co workers (etc) is only allowed for salaried employees, who, what, presumably work harder? Theres always someone in every office who bucks the system in their own way, whether it’s leaving early, taking longer than allowed breaks, or ” getting coffee” that somehow takes thirty minutes.

Lets not forget also that appropriate peer networking can be professionally beneficial.

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Henning Makholm July 24, 2011 at 7:40 pm

Technically, since you want to be technical about it, wrongfully taking someone’s chattel without the owner’s permission is theft. Nothing else is. Using the internet, talking to family, riding the train without a ticket, extortion, blackmail, and running Ponzi schemes, none of those are thechnically theft. That they are socially unacceptable does not make them any more theft.

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Disagree July 25, 2011 at 11:56 am

I can tell you like to steal from your boss, must have hit a nerve!

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Samantha July 23, 2011 at 4:43 pm

No the company doesn’t *have* to let you move the break. But then again companies do/offer a lot of things that they don’t *have* to hire good workers and have them stay.

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Anonymous July 23, 2011 at 4:00 pm

I don’t think having to make sure you’re on the same page about your schedule as your manager is demeaning, I think it’s common courtesy. Sneaking around trying to “get away” with something you know is not OK *is* childish, though.

Many workplaces have an explicit policy about not taking your break in the first or last hour, to avoid exactly this situation.

Another consideration: at my current job, we more or less set our own hours, but we have to stick to it, because they need to know who is in the building at any given time. If there were an emergency evacuation and you had left early without telling anyone, you would be missing from your assigned meeting place, and they would have to assume you were trapped in the building.

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Samantha July 23, 2011 at 4:26 pm

I don’t sneak around trying to get away with anything (what I said was that the person in the OP’s original post may have been doing that). And I didn’t say I left without telling anyone. The receptionist always knows where I am and when I leave. We also have an in/out board that I mark myself in/out on. So yeah I’m really sneaking out.

And I didn’t say that being on the same page as your manager is demeaning. What I said was having to ask to leave 15 (or 10 or 5) minutes early is demeaning. If the policy is that you can’t alter your schedule (and staff know about said policy – which believe it or not they often don’t -which is what happened to me previously) then that’s fine. But if the atmosphere and the job is such that you are not dealing with customers or clients or coworkers on an on call basis there is no reason you can’t have flexibility. What crisis is going to happen in the last 5 minutes of the work day that can be solved in that time? And yes your manager should be on board with this. But just having someone *have* to be at their desk right until the end of the day – *just because* is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard.

And another thing people have to realize is that not all work places are the same. I have to laugh at the emergency evacuation comment. In my work place they would probably just leave people in there to burn. (not kidding).

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Anonymous July 23, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Sorry if it sounded like I was accusing you of sneaking out/being childish – not intended! I was referring back to the OP’s employee. Regardless of whether or not leaving early should be OK, if the employee knows it isn’t but is leaving anyway and trying to hide it, *that* is childish.

I do agree that generally, managers should focus more on performance and less on hours sitting at a desk in most office jobs, at least when it’s a question of only 10-15 minutes.

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Anon2 July 24, 2011 at 12:13 pm

all agreed here. but as the spouse of a fire fighter, please know they will go in to look for you, even if it’s just a maybe that you’re there…which puts them @ risk. just something to keep in mind.

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Tom October 28, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Simply because if you do it for 1 you do it for all.
Then you may as well let everyone leave 15 minutes early. Then it becomes 15 minutes earlier than that etc.. Rules are rules and if not followed human nature of people “Getting Over” will creep in like a bad storm.

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Susan E July 23, 2011 at 1:00 pm

This is good advice, but if you see her leaving early, I would not wait until the next day to talk to her; as a manager, I’d talk to her there and then. Waiting until the next day sends a mixed message–if at first you let her leave without objecting; then the next day you say it was a problem. People like to be able to count on their managers to act consistently.

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Kimberlee July 23, 2011 at 2:35 pm

When I was a new manager coming from much the same situation, I was in a workplace where, as a supervisor, I was sorta expected to let a lot of things go. There’s a worry in a situation like this that because nobody else seems to think it’s a problem, you’re a bad friend or a bad boss if you decide to harp on it. Ignore that worry. I took my job more seriously than other people did. Eventually, if an employee decides that they want to get fired because they can’t hang an extra 15 minutes around work, then that’s their problem, not yours. That’s the choice they made.

Also, for the record, in most states (the state’s where I’ve examined the law, anyway), if the break is legally required, it’s not legal for the employee to not take the break and leave early instead. It’s a loophole (so to speak) that managers have used to avoid paying breaks. Nobody’s gonna call you on it, of course, but if it makes the convo you have with your employee easier (ie, having another reason for your policy), then have at it.

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Katie July 23, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Yeah, I’d definitely mention the issue of missing the break. “What can I do to help you make sure you get your break earlier in the afternoon?” It sounds like a good opportunity to discuss time management and work load.

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Henning Makholm July 23, 2011 at 2:47 pm

My immediate reaction was the same a Julie’s. The OP’s description is a bit hard to parse, but it does not sound to me like there’s a strong intrinsic reason that they employee’s job MUST be done at these particular times, just so long as it gets done. Are there days when the OP works a quarter of an hour later to get to a nice stopping point, such that it all evens out in the end? I have a feeling that the OP may have fallen into the easy trap of thinking his duty is to “keep underlings from cheating”, rather than to make his organization succeed?

Of course, now that you have picked this particular battle to fight, you cannot just let it drop and have any authority left. So it needs to be dealt with. Just be sure to remember that your success criterion when dealing with it is NOT “John never leaves early again” (which will paint you into a corner as Mr. Grinch for the rest of your tenure as manager there), BUT just that John works out an agreement with you before leaving early.

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Ilf July 23, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Doesn’t also make a difference if the employee is exempt or not? If we are talking about an exempt employee and she’s done her job, can the manager request that she doesn’t leave early?

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Ask a Manager July 23, 2011 at 4:35 pm

These are almost certainly not exempt employees, since we’re talking about breaks.

Now, there are tons of jobs where caring if someone left 15 minutes early would be ridiculous, but there are also tons of jobs where it does matter (banks, customer service, receptionist, child care, etc.). I assumed for the sake of answering the question that she’s in the latter since it’s rare to have designated 15-minute breaks in, say, a law firm.

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Ilf July 23, 2011 at 5:34 pm

To me it’s not obvious that we’re talking non-exempt employees, and the reason it’s not obvious to me is I am an exempt employee required to work every day to 5:00 and of course stay late whenever there’s a need for me to stay late to get the work done. I’m working late most days and I’d love to be able to get out 10 minutes early once in a while to get ahead of traffic (I have a long commute through terrible traffic), but couldn’t get my manager and/or his bosses to agree. I wouldn’t want to make a big deal out of it and jeopardize my career, but it’s really annoying that managers don’t realize I am within my right to leave early if I finished my work and the business doesn’t need me to be there. Companies and managers tend to treat exempt employees as exempt employees only when the employees have to work longer hours.
I do agree that the manager should be in the loop about any changes in schedule.

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Anonymous July 25, 2011 at 9:05 am

Actually you’re not within your right to leave early. They can require you to be there during certain hours. Now generally they can’t deduct from your check if you leave a few minutes early, but they can discipline/fire you for it.

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EngineerGirl July 23, 2011 at 5:23 pm

The issue is about courtesy and disclosure. As adults, we need to realize that we are part of a team and that our actions affect the other team members. Maybe someone needs to ask a question, and spends several mintues looking for the person only to find that they have left early. Maybe other people have to take up the slack if the person left early. But someone sneaking out without letting others know strikes me as 13 year old juvenile. Grow up! It isn’t all about you. Your actions affect others and you need to have the basic courtesly to let others know when you will/won’t be in the office.

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Dawn July 23, 2011 at 6:21 pm

I agree. Yes, they’re all adults, but it isn’t very “adult” to sneak out of the building without letting the boss know.

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Ilf July 23, 2011 at 6:32 pm

“they still technically worked the amount of time they were supposed to, and there are other people to cover should they be needed [...] so there is no real need for them to be there other than they’re scheduled until a certain point in time.”
OP swayed a lot of people to her side by using a charged word: “sneak”. Had she said “left” instead of “sneaked out”, would you have felt the same?

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EngineerGirl July 23, 2011 at 7:52 pm

Yes. It is about courtesy and letting those affected know. How many seconds does it take to let others know you are leaving the office? Two? Three?

Even our directors and vice presidents let people know they are going to be out of the office. There is a realization that their actions affect others.

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Cassie July 23, 2011 at 10:38 pm

I never let my bosses know when I’m leaving, though sometimes they see me as I am walking out so they know I am leaving. (They have my cellphone # so if it’s urgent, they’ll call me and I’ll help them through whatever it is they need help with).

Is it considered common courtesy to let your manager (or supervisor) know that you’re leaving for the day? Should you also say goodnight to your fellow coworkers? It reminds me of a couple of our staff who stop by every office/cubicle each morning and greet each person hello/good morning. Seems like a huge waste of time and if I’m working on something (after all, we are at work), I’d rather not have to divert even the smallest amount of energy to saying hello. I know this is a very petty and ridiculous point of view, but it’s how I feel.

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Ask a Manager July 23, 2011 at 11:38 pm

Depends on the culture and on the nature of the work.

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Anonymous July 24, 2011 at 3:51 am

It is also about taking some time to be “nice”. Let’s face it, the people that get promoted are the ones that perform AND get along with others.

Taking some time for pleasantries builds relationships and networks. If you are nice then people want to help you out and give a little extra than if you didn’t.

Several of the other engineers used to wonder why I never had problems getting a tech to work on my stuff while they waited for hours. Easy! I cared about the techs as people, helped them acheive their aspirations (recommendations for school), and brought them muffins on occasion. Being nice has benefits.

If you’d rather not divert energy saying hello, hmmm. I suspect that 10 years from now you’ll be at the same job or unemployed. And think of this – the higher up the ladder you go, the more it is about relationships and the less it is about technical.

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Dawn July 24, 2011 at 11:03 am

There’s no need to run to every single cube and say hello and goodbye, but at least say it to the people you cross paths with on the way in or out. It’s about treating people like human beings. Those who can’t be bothered to extend a simple hello are often seen as people who think it’s beneath them to talk to other employees, like they are somehow better than them. I once worked with a manager who wouldn’t acknowledge anyone unless the other person said something to him. My tellers complained to me all the time that they felt like they were considered pee-ons and not worthy of a hello. It affects moral eventually. Once he started taking two second out of his day to say hello, things changed.

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Jamie July 25, 2011 at 11:39 am

I agree with Dawn. I don’t send out an all users email to say goodbye when I leave, but I certainly to anyone with whom I’m crossing paths.

If I need to leave early for some reason I do let my boss know, as well as the receptionist. It’s just common courtesy in case someone is looking for me I don’t want her to waste her time tracking me down.

The age old argument for exempt personnel about whether hours matter if the job is being done will probably never be fully resolved. However, basics of common courtesy and complying with policy to be are non-negotiable.

If you leave early and someone has to cover for you – you let your boss know. Because it’s a slippery slope of Sally seeing Jane leave 15 minutes early every day so she does it too…then Dave…next thing you know the poor schmuck who works a full day is covering for everyone and those last 15 minutes become the worst of their day.

It’s just about manners.

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Ilf July 23, 2011 at 9:11 pm

You are assuming the person leaving 10-15 minutes early doesn’t let anybody know. I’ve re-read OP’s letter and haven’t found any indication that’s the case.

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EngineerGirl July 23, 2011 at 10:02 pm

She isn’t letting her manager know, and that is the person she reports to. It seems fairly disrespectful to me. I’m amused that some commenters are complaining that having to notify the manager is demeaning. Yet those same people don’t seem to realize that keeping their manager out of the loop is disrespectful of her! I’m also amused that some people state that a flexable schedule is a perk. Well yes, it is – for employees that perform. It is NOT an entitlement that anyone can demand as their “right”.

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Rose July 23, 2011 at 11:04 pm

I have to say that unless you’re required to be at your desk to serve clients, keeping an hourly system is far less productive than not. My husband is going through this now: his company’s owners are very old school and require people to clock in and out even though its a design company. Being a design company, the employees often work 60 hours one week to meet a deadline and work hard on facebook when there isn’t a project. PLUS the company doesn’t honor comp time. So what happens is there’s a deadline and his team will clock out at 5 and leave. Its all about the hours and not about the work. My point is that maybe she feels unfulfilled at her work, and of course its not the OP’s job to entertain her, but maybe the employee is interested in something like graphic design and she could give her an extra project to work on that is interesting to her and could benefit the company (website, etc).

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Disagree July 24, 2011 at 8:16 am

Sorry for your husband, but that sounds like poor time management on the part of the bosses. If they are taking design jobs due the same week and have to have employees work over to complete on time, then they did not allocate enough time. If, on the other hand, they scheduled multiple weeks for the project and you have people using Facebook and playing computer games rather than working on the project, they need to be terminated and replaced by people who will actually work on the job they are being paid to do. I do not blame the team for clocking out at 5, the boss is not doing his job properly and they are having to cover up his mistakes by giving away work. That is every bit as bad as the stealing of 15 minutes a day by the employee (which adds up to an hour of pay a week). The company is stealing time from the employees.

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Rose July 25, 2011 at 11:19 am

Small, creative companies do the work as it comes in. There is no design company on earth that says, ‘Gee, we’d love to take your project but all our employees are already working 40 hours a week on this other project, sorry.’ That’s a recipe for going out of business. There are industries where it is understood that you work overtime regularly to meet deadlines. The good companies in those industries let their employees do flex time, take comp time when work is slow, etc.

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Anonymous July 24, 2011 at 10:26 am

I’m sure the fact that you had no direct management experience came up in your interview for this promotion… clearly the people in your company who gave you the authority believe in you. I’d recommend (from personal experience) that you go to them and talk through it – they get it, these conversations are hard at first. Always make sure to show and share forward progress with your management skills, though!

Of course, only you can decide if these individuals are willing to mentor you, or if the expectation is to just “get it done” – in which case, we’re here for you!

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Anonymous July 25, 2011 at 9:07 am

This happens all the time at our company 9do you work here?) It’s small and people have made up their own schedules. If I don’t take a lunch I can leave 1 hour early etc! Usually I get stuck sitting here alone while people leave early.. esp. when my boss is gone.

Have a talk with them, I bet that other people are getting frustrated when they see this!

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Aniau Jade July 25, 2011 at 10:14 am

I personally feel that once again, this all comes down to office/work place culture. There are plenty of situations where this could be acceptable or not. I know that at my place of work, if we plan on leaving early we have to clear it with our management staff. Usually they’re pretty lenient about our various situations, but then again, if you just walk up the stairs to another office, still the same company, but different management, it’s a whole new ballpark. If the OP feels that this situation is coming from a heart of “sneakiness”, then I feel it should be addressed, but then again there are people who are totally oblivious and just having a blunt conversation may turn them around. It’s probably best to go with the OP’s best discernment, and judgment based on experience with the individual.

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LCL July 25, 2011 at 12:35 pm

If the employee leaving early is an hourly employee, she is stealing. Many companies that have hourly employees don’t allow them to rearrange their break time, because then there is no proof that they took their break.

The way I handled this with our hourly employees is I told them fine, come in late or leave early. But since you aren’t here, you have to use your personal leave time-vac or sick leave. ‘Cause I sure can’t be responsible for you being paid if you aren’t here.

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Vicki July 25, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Is it a paid break? Or an unpaid break?
Is this a salaried exempt employee or a time-based overtime-eligible employee?
Does the employee punch a clock or not?
Those matter, from a legal point of view.

The OP said “and there are other people to cover should they be needed (the work time at my organization is split – half-day of customer service, half-day of office time)” which would imply that other co-workers _may_ be inconvenienced by this person leaving early… if she’s leaving early from the customer service half of her day. I don’t see it for the other.

I also worry (as others here seem to) about the phrase “sneaking out”. We only have these words on that. Does she mean the employee is ducking, tiptoeing, acting furtive, dashing when no one can see her? Or by “sneaking out does she mean the employee didn’t ask permission? Would AAM call it “sneaking”?

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Ask a Manager July 26, 2011 at 12:04 am

I’d love to hear more from the OP to answer some of the questions that have been raised, but my sense from the letter was that, yeah, it sounds like “sneaking.” Not just because of her characterization of it, but also the whole “I’m going to talk really fast about the weather and then run” out behavior when she was noticed. If the employee felt above-board about the whole thing, why wouldn’t she just say, “By the way, I’m taking off”?

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FrauTech July 26, 2011 at 9:57 pm

Even if the employee is an exempt employee, if everyone else is staying until 5:00 and this person is leaving early frequently that’s bad behavior. I think we’ve all left early every now and then. Some of us are in offices with different work schedules where this wouldn’t be noticed.

As an exempt employee, I don’t have to take a lunch and can leave “early” versus the hourly employees I work alongside. But personally having been an hourly employee in the past, I know how frustrating it is to work through your lunch (which you have to clock out for anyways) and watch all your salaried coworkers leave before you. The manager should maybe approach this from the side that it’s not good for the team rather than it being a disciplinary issue. I certainly don’t tell my boss when I come in earlier than normal and therefore leave earlier than normal. But I make sure I meet my obligations, and don’t sneak out. And I make sure I make up for it by staying later at other times.

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Ann July 26, 2011 at 10:16 pm

I can’t believe this is a discussion, aside from advising a new manager how to handle it. She should quietly inform the offending employee verbally and in writing that leaving early without her express permission is unacceptable. If there IS a reason, other than because she thinks she can get away with it, then offer to allow her to come in early so she can leave early. Explain the only other alternative is that, in the future, her pay will be docked.

I’m not a manager but everything is based on a 35-hour or 40-hour work week. If the employer is paying for your time, you owe it. I see this quite often at my part-time job where some sales associates clock in but delay going to their stations for 15-20 minutes thus cheating the employer. It does not endear them to their supervisors OR their co-workers.

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30-year manager July 29, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Come on folks, if the employer hires (and pays you) to work 8:00 to 5:00 p.m., it’s your responsibility as an adult to fulfill their expectations. Sneaking out early without telling your manager is not only sneaky behavior, it’s disrespectful.

I’ve never worked anywhere where I haven’t been able to receive permission to leave work early to take care of personal business once I asked my manager. I’ve never just assumed it was OK to manipulate my breaks and lunches in an effort to alter my work shift without talking it over my manager. For me, it all boils down to respect.

Ask A Manager, your response was right on target. It’s obvious the employee was trying to “get one over” on the supervisor as evidenced by their rushed small talk about the weather.

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Liz in a library July 29, 2011 at 3:28 pm

That was my thought, too. Frankly I’m surprised by how many people here think it is acceptable to not work the agreed schedule that your manager has set with you. If you don’t like your schedule, talk to your manager, instead of just deciding that your way is right and OK without their input. It’s mind boggling.

And, since this has been tossed around, I am an exempt employee. My job is sometimes worked around the need to have coverage in our department at particular times, but it is far more often based on getting certain tasks done that I need to do. I have never considered just leaving because my work is finished and I wanted to go home…I find other things that we need to have done and do them. Novel concept…

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Jamie July 29, 2011 at 3:46 pm

With your last sentence you have single handidly restored my faith in my fellow workers.

Novel concept, indeed.

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BuckeyeHoosier April 9, 2012 at 3:57 pm

+1

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Aaron January 23, 2012 at 12:37 pm

I love reading all of the responses on this site. You’re all a bunch of typical butt-kissing micro-managers.

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Ask a Manager January 23, 2012 at 2:26 pm

I think you haven’t read much of the site in that case.

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Aaron January 23, 2012 at 12:39 pm

As far as I can see, 8 hours is 8 hours. If the employee isn’t dealing with customers, what difference does it make where the 8 hours come from? If she worked through her lunch to leave early, who the hell cares? You’re getting your 8 hours from her, so stop complaining.

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Anonymous May 4, 2012 at 8:28 pm

If you are contracted to work 9am – 5pm then that is set in stone you cant have staff comming in and out “willy nilly” 9.15am-5.15pm!!! Thats not how businesses are run. If there was a fire and you had to do a head count and it was 4.50pm you would have firemen going into a building looking for this person, but would have already gone home!!!!!

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Vicki May 4, 2012 at 9:00 pm

If you have a time clock and a policy of punching in and out, you _may_ have a point. Otherwise,… I do hope you’re being facetious.

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M May 15, 2012 at 2:06 pm

I know this is an old article but I need some advice if somebody can give it. I have been working at a shop for almost a year and have done my boss plenty of favours- I am the only person who trains new staff (without extra pay), on numerous occasions had to work whole day 9.45-7.15 (was given a paid break but had to eat by the till but never allowed to sit during the whole time) because someone was sick, asked the night before to work a different shift than I was scheduled for and many other cases like this. Now I am only working 2 days a week as I have college now (although I am still the only one who trains new staff). We are scheduled to work 6.5 hours with a 30minute unpaid break which we can take whenever we want. Recently I have been leaving work early without my 30minute break, my boss knew about this and said it’s fine but now, he is suddenly saying I can’t do this. I always ask my colleague if she minds me leaving early and there is always someone on the shop floor regardless of this break of mine. Business is also very quiet at the moment so I never thought it was a problem. I think this is very unfair that he won’t let me do this as I would like to go home early to do my college work, I’m working the full 6.5hours as scheduled.

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Jamie May 15, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Logically, I’m on your side. If you can take it “anytime” why not take it the last half hour and head home.

That said, it sounds like you work retail or in food service. If that’s correct, it could be a problem if everyone wanted to do that as you have no breaks mid-shift and everyone wants to head out early. Also, there is a chance that the co-worker said she was fine with it when you asked her, but complained to the manager. It sucks – but it happens all the time.

It could even be something that happened on another day/shift and the manager is just applying a new policy across the board.

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guess May 30, 2012 at 5:24 am

My manager is being a real so and so. and he is one of the worse managers i and my work friends have worked for. He has disciplined 3 of us in 3 weeks for really petty things that no other manager would ever do. Ive been never disciplined in my 15 years with the company. My manager has been letting us go 1-2 hrs early and paying us! but the company dosnt know about this! its a big company. what sort of trouble could he be in? if he was caught letting people go home and admitting them to clock?

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Diego June 26, 2012 at 3:11 pm

I disagree. Counter: http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-05-04/strategy/29976111_1_work-habits-great-success-bursts

Managing should be about optimizing resources to achieve goals, not hardlining or running a military operation while exercising authority. At best that assumes you don’t trust/value what your coworkers are capable of, and that undermines the very reason you hired them.

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Ask a Manager June 26, 2012 at 3:18 pm

There are plenty of jobs where physical presence on the job during business hours matters — jobs centered around taking customer calls, for instance. And the last paragraph of the post addresses this.

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Julie July 6, 2012 at 1:24 pm

To me, the bottom line is that this person signed a contract – a contract of employment – which specified certain work hours. She’s not following the contract. Your confidence in addressing it will increase if you base your conversation on facts, not making them feel guilty about integrity or sneakiness. Research your state’s guidelines for work hours and breaks. Does your company support breaks and include them in the work time? If so, then fall back on your original plan of action of approval before leaving. Before the initial conversation, document, document, document. Document the times/dates that she left early. You will find that if she does this every day or even every other day, there is an hour or more of work missing each week! Now track it for a month. Wow! When you have that conversation with her, show her a calendar with the days that she left early and total up the time. Address it as a contract of employment/policy issue. Describe the consequences to her and when the application of those consequences will take place. You don’t want her to feel cornered, though. Yes, it may give a good feeling of being right, but ultimately you want to improve performance, not fire the person (or do you?) In order not to feel cornered, give her the option of having that time that she took from the company be taken out of her vacation time – just this once, as a chunk of time. If she agrees, don’t make a big deal out of it. It is an option that she has to choose to make it seem like her idea. Or, you may choose to make her give up that vacation time in time she owes back to the company. In either case, reinforce future inappropriate behavior and consequences. Reinforce the application of company policy. State needed expectations and behaviors that you want to see. And never, ever stop documenting. Make sure you document any and all improvement in her performance and behavior and talk to her about that, too. Remember, what gets noticed, gets repeated!

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John Lennon August 7, 2012 at 1:51 pm

It’s managers like the original post and the bizarre Arbeit macht frei comments that followed that makes normal folk hating going into work everyday. “I feel that I should be more assertive” yet you have to get help from the internet, GOOD JOB. Funnily enough, I had a manager that I did this to all the time and she was too much of a bottlejob to ever question me about it. Laura, is that you?

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Ask a Manager August 8, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Holocaust references = not appropriate here.

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John Lennon August 8, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Blimey, sorry. Stakhanovitism then. Or oddball sycophancy. However you’d like to put it.

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newmanager August 8, 2012 at 11:28 am

This post really helped me with a situation with my new assistant. I am also learning to become comfortable with managing others. It helped me to deal with the situation and focus on the real issue of her not communicating a need and thus acting in a sneaky manner to handle her personal affairs. I appreciate the very real situations and solutions discussed.

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Ask a Manager August 8, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Good, thanks for saying so!

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past n present August 23, 2012 at 11:56 am

I worked for a few years with a co-working leaving 15 to 2 hours early several days a week. It pissed me off big time because I was left then to do the work of 2 people. I never missed a day.. never left early and I always rose to the occassion yet no one cared -except me. To me it’s a no brainer. I grew resentful a- hated my job, my manager and that horrible lazy employee.

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Vicki August 23, 2012 at 12:05 pm

You had me right up to “never missed a day”.
Were you never sick? Never took vacation?
There’s a line between being piled upon and being a martyr.
Did you speak to your manager? Instead of growing resentful, work with your manager to ensure that you aren’t blamed for the co-worker leaving and you aren’t doing the work of two people.

If you pick up the slack and never let anyone else know what’s going on, everyone will assume that things are working well.

Speak up! Fix the problem before you burn out.

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John Lennon August 23, 2012 at 12:08 pm

The solution would have been to share out the workload during the ‘working hours’ or just leave it and then left early yourself.

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Business Guy October 12, 2012 at 2:13 am

I’m coming in late here, I just want to say that people like Samantha have obviously never been in a position of responsibility or run a business. Don’t complain when you don’t get promoted or when you get fired. When you are the employee and have a bad attitude, like Samantha and the employee in question who consistently leaves 15mins early, you are simply looking after yourself and not considering the other people who you work with or the company that pays you. Without the common decency to communicate with your manager, you are showing that a) you are more interested in yourself than the success of your team or b) you have poor communication skills and lack of respect.

A lot of people who have never been on the other side (i.e. employees who have never been managers) have an attitude that there is an endless pit of money and that someone else will make up for their lack of drive. The reality is that running a business or being a manager is tough, especially in the poor economic climate right now. People should be working 15 mins extra each day, not leaving early. If your employer isn’t paying you enough for these efforts, then go for a pay rise or go somewhere else if you can find a higher paying job. The bottom line is, you need to respect your employer and perform, which includes being at work in accordance with your contract. Leaving 15 mins early in a flexible job can be ok if it is seldom, but if you are doing this consistently then you are simply cheating and a good manager will engage you with performance management tactics, the final step being the unfortunate task of dismissing the poor performing employee.

On a positive note, if you are a high performing employee, well done I respect you, if you also go the extra mile and start early plus finish late, then a good company will reward you. If you are in the situation where you are high performance and working extra, then you might just find yourself in the position of “manager struggling with staff leaving early”, then you will understand the other side of the coin!

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Tracey Chapman October 12, 2012 at 3:30 am

You don’t actually believe any of that waffle you just wrote, do you? “If you work hard and go the extra mile” you’re usually rewarded with a pay freeze, pay cut or redundancy. Funny, the same as the people who don’t work hard, maybe they’re both in the same boat? Or you act like an arse licker and everyone you work with hates you for it and gobs in your coffee.

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Vicki October 12, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Tracey –
You said it better than I could have.

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Ask a Manager October 12, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Tracey, it sounds like you’ve had bad work experiences, but they’re not universal. I’ve found throughout my career that if I work hard and go the extra mile, it pays off — with money, with more responsibility, with respect, with reputation, and most importantly, with the flexibility of having many options when many people want to hire you because of that reputation. And I’ve returned the favor with the people I manage, and there are many others here will will tell you of similar experiences.

It’s disheartening to hear someone so bitter from their own experiences that they’ve come to believe something about the work world that simply is not universally true.

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Tracey Chapman October 12, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Do you think the people you manage turn up every day for the fun of it? That they just can’t wait to leave their house at silly o’clock, sit inside all day and come home in the dark? Nearly everyone hates their job and having to work for a living, and it doesn’t surprise me you’re so out of touch as to think my feelings are a one off. Just think, when you’re not watching, the people you manage are sending emails to their pals, stealing toilet paper and finding fun things to do with thieving time. Woo hoo!

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Ask a Manager October 12, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Actually, many people enjoy their jobs enough that they’re pretty happy, or at least content, coming to work each day. We’ve heard from them here many times. It’s categorically not true that “everyone hates their job,” although perhaps you’re in a field where that’s more likely to be true. That attitude will make it hard for you to leave that field, though, since good managers won’t want to hire someone who brings that orientation to work.

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Tracey Chapman October 12, 2012 at 2:00 pm

PS. It’s not bad experiences, it’s work itself. As the old adage goes, if work was any good, they wouldn’t have to pay you to do it.

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Ask a Manager October 12, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Yeah, that’s basically the attitude good managers will screen out when they’re hiring. So you might be self-selecting for bad managers and bad jobs, with that way of thinking.

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Tracey Chapman October 12, 2012 at 2:06 pm

Funnily enough, I don’t tell them that at the interview. I would miss out on that free toilet paper! Don’t you know, talking ’bout a revolutionnnnnnnnn.

And I wasn’t including managers in that everyone, why wouldn’t they love their job? They are part of the reason everyone else is bloody miserable.

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Ask a Manager October 12, 2012 at 2:08 pm

I’m not limiting my comments to managers.

And funnily enough, good interviewers can pick up on this attitude without you coming out and say it.

Your bitterness is coloring your perceptions of what the world around you is actually like.

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Tracey Chapman October 12, 2012 at 2:18 pm

I don’t think you understand. I hate that my labour is alienated having real benefit. That I can earn a certain amount which is then deducted as ‘profit’. That I am forced to do it in order to eat and place a roof over my head with no real alternative. That someone makes sure I turn up, on time and don’t leave early. It wouldn’t matter if I had the best job in the world, because even that would have those same problems.

And worst of all, that I feel my life and everyone else’s is wasted on something that ultimately means nothing. 40 years from now, no one will give a toss that you had an upscale in productivity in March. Your kids, partner or family will just wonder why you weren’t at home more.

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Ask a Manager October 12, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Then you’re in the wrong field. You need to work somewhere where you can find meaning, like nonprofits or anything else that would be fulfilling to you.

Many people do find fulfillment in for-profit roles, but since you’re someone who doesn’t, you’d greatly benefit your quality of life by moving into a field where you feel good about your impact.

I’ve had jobs where I gladly would have turned up even if I wasn’t getting a paycheck, because my work was directly influencing issues and people I cared about. It sounds like that’s what you need.

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Jamie October 12, 2012 at 2:43 pm

“40 years from now, no one will give a toss that you had an upscale in productivity in March. Your kids, partner or family will just wonder why you weren’t at home more.”

This, or a version of this, comes up so often here and every single forum where work is discussed.

It’s repeated so often that I think it’s accepted as truth – and it’s not.

Maybe in 40 years no one will care about that March’s productivity. But everyone thinks that people lay on their death beds wishing they hadn’t worked so much. Maybe people who didn’t work enough, didn’t provide for their families as well as they could have…maybe those people have regrets, too.

Sure – it would have been great if my parents had been around all the time and every day was like Sunday. But I don’t resent him for that. Now that I’m an adult and I see how freaking hard life can be I am immensely grateful for how hard they worked to give us the life they gave us. And how that example helped me carve out a pretty nice little career so I’m paying it forward and taking care of my kids.

If my parents were alive today I wouldn’t bitch at them about the hours they worked…I’d just want to say thank you. And I’m sorry you died while I was still too young to fully appreciate the extent of the sacrifices.

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Business Guy October 14, 2012 at 3:54 am

I can understand that sort of thinking, but you really are stuck in this capitalist society so you had better get used to it or live life in poverty. Just think, if we were born 500 years ago, you and I would most likely be peasants and have to sow the fields for a lord who literally owns us. The world has improved but it’s far from perfect, we all need to do our bit if you want to be free, I call it buying our freedom because unless you were born rich, you are a slave to society (except for social security, of course, but who wants to live like that).

I hope for your sake this is just a stage and not a permanent personality trait because the world isn’t going to change just because you despise the system. I never created the rule book; I just challenge myself to play the game to the best of my ability. When hiring, I hope I have the ability to detect a bad attitude hiding beneath the surface, this is the type of attitude that can poison a happy and productive work environment and for your sake it can’t be making you happy. We are all stuck in this rat race together, so I’d rather surround myself with positive people who make the race fun and have a laugh in the process and I want the people who work for me to be happy so I do the best I can to achieve that.

Do you have an issue with ‘authority’ or with ‘the system’? My advice, if you care to listen, is why don’t you beat ‘the system’ and become the ‘authority’. Unless you have inherited a large wad of cash and assets, if resent working for other people then the only way you will achieve this is through smart and hard work. You could go it alone in business like I do, or try to climb the ladder, personally the ladder didn’t appeal that much so I went at it alone and built my own team. We are lucky enough that capitalism allows you to prosper financially, you could better your life and that of your family, or you could be bitter and twisted and complain all the way through your journey in life.

I would like to challenge your way of thinking and tell you that many people actually draw great satisfaction from their careers, myself included. When you work in a team where there is passion, mutual respect and loyalty (this applies to bosses being loyal and respectful to their staff too) and work towards a common goal and achieve mile stones together, it really is a good feeling. Maybe you haven’t found your passion, or maybe you have worked with people who are selfish and demeaning and believe me I have met my fair share and continue to regularly so I wouldn’t doubt it if other people have affected your attitude. I would like to inspire you with my personal story, the truth is I am 28 and am in a position now where I could already retire, not in luxury but in comfort. No one gave me any money, my parents kicked me out of home at 18 and I had to work so I never gained a degree, I completed a trade and a diploma. But what I have done is developed a unique plan which I inspired others to follow, worked my but off and risked every cent several times. I built a services company and it grew quickly, which I then sold and now I run another business in the technology sector. You need to know your strengths and you need to have passion, use your strengths and follow your passion. You know as well as I do that you are trapped by the capitalist society we live in. You are fighting a tidal wave that is far too strong for you to swim against. My advice to you is – you can’t beat them so you may as well join them and have fun in the process.

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Business Guy October 14, 2012 at 4:20 am

If you employer is making a ‘profit’ isn’t that great, doesn’t that mean your company is doing well and your job is secure?

RE: “Your kids, partner or family will just wonder why you weren’t at home more”, no on is saying you should spend more than the designated time at work, just meet you committments. You can still have a work life balance, working 40hrs a week. Next you will say “don’t send your kids to school, so we can all sit on the couch and spend more time together”, that would be great, but who is going to pay for it?

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not having it October 23, 2012 at 1:21 am

wow! this is bananas to me. people who are sneaking off early and cheating time are the same people who do not get all their work done and also do it poorly. they are probably in denial about that of course and telling themselves “well i got my work done and that’s all that matters”. They are the weakest links and their own worst enemies.

my advice to the new manager is to be confident and trust yourself. you are not outside your rights to insist that team members fulfill their contract. it’s an ethical situation. what kind of person SNEAKS around? a petty small person who is not an asset to the team. seriously, she should not be there – she clearly doesn’t even want to be there. this is not a person who wants to contribute, let alone lead the way, etc.

discipline them and yes, you should hope they do quit! there are people clamoring for work, of all ages and of course young people who are champing at the bit for a chance to prove their qualities and gain new skills. lose the dead weight and make room for someone who merits the pay and the rewards of a good performance. let this job be a stepping stone for someone who will know what to do with it.

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KarenT November 9, 2012 at 11:37 pm

I just stumbled upon this post and it is one of the most enjoyable (and heated!) AAM discussions! Everything has already been said, but I would like to chime in and say even IF the OP/ OPs company are ridiculous for having employees stay til a certain time, the employee is not acting appropriately. If you question the validity of a policy, you ask your manager about– you don’t sneak. Never sneak.

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John Schoonover February 7, 2013 at 11:48 pm

I am a employee at a restuarant, and recently had a co-worker leave work 5 hours early without permission from our manager because he was mad that something was said to him for going outside to smoke every 10 miniutes this employee is still working here today I feel that this is a form of quitting, and if not quitting this should call for termanation, is there anything that those who feel he should be fired could do about this

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Boss Lady March 13, 2013 at 7:51 am

If each employee takes the attitude that they can just take their break when they like , what happens to the work place? No one to answer the telephone, take orders, serve people or they don’t take into consideration their work colleagues lives and attitudes. what is the point of having a working day, why not have an open week policy , oh I will work my full hours in two days and take the rest of the week off.
Everyone has a right to chose but for gods sake to run a reasonable sensible work force, respect consideration and a healthy respect for being employed has to be a huge consideration.

What utter tosh, you are employed to work certain hours days etc, if you need to change talk to your boss and make arrangements that suit yourself and you r employer. Sneaking off is disrespectful to your employee and your work mates.

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Gil Scott Heron March 13, 2013 at 9:39 am

The problem is, it’s only bosses and busy bodies that care about the work place. My day doesn’t end if the phones aren’t answered. The company goes bust, I can just get another job or go on benefits. And you’re on to something, a two hour week sounds lovely, when can I start?

I have tried to change at workplaces to a more flexible time arrangement, ie. just pay me and I promise I won’t show up and wreck things. But they tend to be a wee bit recalcitrant with such forward thinking. So taking breaks when people like and skipping out early is a way workers can take back some of the time they’ve no choice to give up every day.

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Dude March 13, 2013 at 8:10 pm

“The problem is, it’s only bosses and busy bodies that care about the work place”. That is an incorrect and ill-educated assumption, what about people who care about their families enough to hold down their jobs?

Some people have good jobs that they like and a good work ethic too. What a revelation!

A decent manager would fire someone like you, as clearly you don’t have much to offer the work place with that sort of attitude, sneaking off would be a good excuse to legally dismiss you. Then you would become a blood sucking leech on benefits and all those companies and tax payers you have little respect for would be supporting your lazy ass. But you would still complain as that is the negative cycle your puny mind is stuck in.

“2hr week”, you lazy trolling bum, you will always be stuck in poverty.

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John Turturro August 23, 2013 at 5:04 pm

The Dude would be aghast at possibly being confused with you.

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Vicki March 13, 2013 at 8:39 pm

> then you would become a blood sucking leech on benefits

> “2hr week”, you lazy trolling bum, you will always be stuck in poverty.

I think this comment crosses several lines we try not to cross here.

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LongTimeReader April 19, 2013 at 2:45 am

How about: Leaving on time, but coming in late everyday without your manager noticing? So your manager thinks you’re here at the office at the hour you’re expected to (while you were not) and leaving on time…?

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Cammi April 20, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Wow, 15 minutes is a big deal? I’m sure this manager has failed already. Everyone must hate him/her.

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Dougie D April 24, 2013 at 12:12 am

Your ultimate responsibility as an hourly employee is to do as little as possible without getting fired.

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I.M Wright May 11, 2013 at 10:05 am

We have an employee who was leaving 45 minutes to two hours early EVERY day and was still getting paid. Management was located at a different location. Management finally caught him red handed but it had gone on for two years even though they were informed. This was a gov. job so she was stealing from the taxpayers not the company. This is stealing plain and simple. By leaving an hour early every day for year this person was stealing at least $7,000 a year. The sad thing is this person doesn’t get it and thinks they are the victim.

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ew0054 July 19, 2013 at 6:20 am

If he was on salary and getting his work done this is not stealing. If he was on hourly and fudging the time sheet this is stealing and should have been pursued to the maximum extent of the law. Even if we spend more in legals fees it is worth it. Only when we punish enough people will it send the message to others not to do the same thing.

And you bring up a good point that is the problem with society today… everyone is a victim. It’s Bush’s fault. It’s the corrupt system. It actually isn’t any of these things… it starts with YOU.

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Thomas D July 19, 2013 at 5:48 pm

You certainly are a victim of some serious mental issues. Imagine having to work under you, Jesus.

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Vicki July 19, 2013 at 7:55 pm

Who clocked her out?

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Ken R May 11, 2013 at 12:32 pm

They stole $7,000, their bosses stole 2 years of their life. I think only one party really lost anything there IM WRONG.

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ew0054 July 19, 2013 at 6:17 am

It is sneaky the way this person is going about it, but we are not getting the full story. Is this person getting all her work done? Is she coming in early? I’ve worked at companies where no matter how early you come in they give you a hard time about when you leave. It could be one of those places.

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Anna August 5, 2013 at 2:46 pm

I think this problem is really interesting one. I could myself have been classified as a ‘slacker’ because I often got into work 10 or 15 minutes late in the morning. It was because of the terrible transport system in London, where I used to work. I didn’t see it as a big deal. I was a writer and had to hit deadlines every day, which I did usually without fail. And would often leave 10 or 15 minutes later in the day. But I would always get drawn over the hot coals for my tardiness by my manager. Flexitime is a better idea in the long term, if people have other commitments or kids to pick up. This woman could come in 15 minutes early to do her work and leave 15 minutes early – the problem is then solved. My lovely boss would also not do that much during the day, and such was the need for presenteeism, he would sit at his desk, rarely working till nearly 6.00pm each day to make it appear he was putting in an extra half hour, at least each day! That often included ringing his wife, or just reading a paper and doing nothing that you would classify as work. Who was taking our company for a ride!

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Glenn August 23, 2013 at 1:30 pm

So, it should be ok for everyone to leave 15 minutes early, right? What about 20 minutes? If everything’s done? What about an hour? Would it still be ok for everyone in the company to leave an hour early if all their work is done?

It sets a precedent to allow one person to take off early, and puts you on a slippery slope toward having the entire staff abusing policies. Not to mention in most states, skipping a break puts the employer in a position of legal culpability by allowing employees to violate labor laws.

I don’t allow shift modification at all. Not because it really matters that the employees are at their stations between specific times, but because it imposes equality, order and consistency in the workplace. They all know what to expect, they know they can expect exactly what their peers can expect, and they know what to expect for doing their own thing, not being part of the team.

Different strokes for different folks, I suppose. Morale and production are generally excellent with my team, so if it ain’t broke, I ain’t fixing it.

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George August 23, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Are those rhetorical questions? Obviously the answer is sure, why not. Leave two hours early, and don’t even finish your work.

Also, LOL at employees violating labour laws.

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Penny September 12, 2013 at 3:52 pm

I think you should not leave early from work you are paid to do the job. what if they knew you was leaving early . And you did not know that your boss knows and the money was taken out of your paycheck each time you left how would you feel then? You would be at the accounts payable asking why this was taken out right? Your minutes add up to hours very quickly. Next time keep a record in your head on the days you deicide you want to leave early and the minutes and added them up to see what it adds to.

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Leila September 12, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Yes, good idea. You can also do this with any unpaid overtime.

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Vicki September 12, 2013 at 6:57 pm

If the job is salaried-exempt, none of this applies.

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Joe Heger January 9, 2014 at 7:26 pm

Very simple if you are to work from 9-5 there is a reason why they ask for sn no leaving early.

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Sammy January 9, 2014 at 8:05 pm

What is the reason?

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Nessa Martinez January 29, 2014 at 1:41 pm

if I’m asked to go home early, do I technically have to go home because I’m asked? or can I finish the rest of my shift just as long as I’m working. whenever I do say to my boss no I don’t wanna go home early cuz I need the money, he says that if I don’t he’ll cut my hours for the following week. also if any one of his employees get him mad he will also do the same thing cut your hours. please help. I have never had a problem before with any of my prior Bosses.

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