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danieldanielson's avatar

My boss wants me to "check in" before leaving work. Is this fair?

Asked by danieldanielson (13 points ) July 11th, 2012

I work from 9–5:30 and, more often than not, stay late when I need to get something done. Of course, this being the US, overtime is not given, but I am glad to volunteer my time for the good of the company and for my coworkers.

However, my boss has now requested that I “check in” before leaving to check and see if there is anything left I can help out with.

I personally find this unfair – after 5:30, my work time ends and my personal time begins. Some days I may have an appointment, an errand, a class, a meeting with a friend or family member, or (if I’m lucky!), a date. This idea that my workload can not be planned out before the last second seems almost absurd to me. I feel like forcing me to say to my managers face “no, I can not help with this right now, but I can tomorrow” puts me in a position where I am being viewed in a negative light as an employee.

My question is not whether I should find a new company to work at, or whether this is normal behavior for a company to engage in. My question is: Am I wrong to think this is completely unfair, and overall bad management tactics? Or am I being bratty thinking I am entitled to a life outside of work?

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30 Answers

Cruiser's avatar

Unfair? Perhaps and depends on your employment agreement. That said….the economy is in the tank, companies are having to really stretch and at the same time conserve resources and make do on less of everything especially employee overhead costs. This means more is being asked of and expected of remaining employees especially salaried hires. Stepping up and cooperating with these elevated expectations often mean the difference of keeping ones job.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Tell him that if are paid extra (or given time off), then sure.

But otherwise, if he expects you to be “on duty” an hour earlier without compensation, you will politely refuse.

Pandora's avatar

My last job would do that and I told my boss after several abuses that if I cannot be paid for the extra time that I should at least be giving time off on other days with pay. So every so often I would get 4 hours off because most days I would rack on an extra hour or half an hour. After a while she learned not to abuse my time so much. Especially if you are hourly and they are salary. Salary are expected to work extra. That is usually why they are paid more. If you are salary than you may not have a leg to stand on.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

In my state if the supervisor “asks for you to stay late” and you are not management or working as a commissioned salesperson. You are entitled to compensation, and at a rate above the normal hourly rate. Wal*mart was brought before the labor board and had to pay back wages and fines.

chyna's avatar

It sounds to me as if he is checking what time you leave. I may be wrong, but I had a boss that used to do this. She would come out at a couple minutes before quitting time and see if anyone had left early. Of course she never mentioned when she noticed someone was working over without being paid.

hearkat's avatar

What do you mean, ”this being the US, overtime is not given”? Labor laws vary between the states, but the terms of your pay are what you agreed to when you took the job.

If I work more than 42.5 hours in a week, any time in excess of that is paid at 1.5 times my hourly rate. I don’t go over that any more, because I cut back my hours a few years ago when the stress of putting in extra time was taking too great a toll on my well-being.

You should have no obligation to check-in when it’s time to leave. Your boss is being paid to manage you, and he can keep an eye on the time. If he approaches you and you don’t want to stay beyond your scheduled time, you simply state that you can not stay late, as you have other obligations, but you will gladly work on it in the morning.

hearkat's avatar

@Cruiser- I think that some companies abuse that line of thought “just be glad you have a job”; and too many business owners would rather lean harder on their underlings than have to make any sacrifice of their own time and/or money, and I don’t think it’s fair.

One has to be mindful of what their employment agreement is in their contract or employee handbook, and one must stand up for their rights. Of course the employee has to weigh the risks of ruffling feathers with what else is happening in their lives, but no one should be taken advantage of by their employers.

gambitking's avatar

First, yeah the whole “this is the US, so no overtime” comment is wrong. Americans can earn overtime, so not sure what that’s about.

Anyway, if this is a new job, then take the opportunity to keep up the initiative. There’s nothing wrong with a boss asking for a check-in before you leave. Just go with the flow.

The way to handle this is to be forthcoming and plan ahead. If you anticipate that you can’t stay late on a given day, or you’ll need to even leave a few minutes early, tell your boss in the morning of your plans for the end of the day. He’ll have a heads up, you’ll know where you stand and your supervisor will appreciate the openness.

downtide's avatar

Depends on your contract of employemt and the laws in your state – it may not be fair but it may not be illegal either, and it may be the only way to keep your job in these uncertain times.

Try asking for time off in lieu of extra time worked in the evening – perhaps a later start in the morning now and again can be negotiated?

It could just be that your boss is checking to make sure you’re not leaving early. It might help to check in after you’ve turned off your PC and put on your coat.

creative1's avatar

If you are hourly then they have to pay you overtime unless you are salary then there is an expectation that you would work 40 to 50 or more hours a week. So if you are hourly then you have overtime coming to you and you should be putting in your correct amount of hours on your time sheet, otherwise you and they are both not following the labor laws.

JLeslie's avatar

I see no problem with the bossing wanting you to let him know when you are leaving. Seems perfectly reasonable to me. He may not be “checking” on you, he probably just wants to know if you are still there if he needs you. It seems like common courtesy to let someone know you are leaving if you work directly with them.

Whether you get overtime or not depends on the type of job you have. There are laws governing overtime, we have overtime in the US for those who are eligible. It does not have to do with hourly vs salary, although most people eligible for overtime are paid hourly. It has more to do with your position and if you have decision making responisbilities in your job.

@Cruiser That only flies with me if the business really is struggling and the boss is putting in more time too. If a business is making hand over fist in profits still, I have no tolerance for overworking employees now because the market is tight and economy is slow.

jca's avatar

@danieldanielson: It would help if you specified whether you are a salaried employee or hourly.

It seems to me as if you would be asking if it’s ok to leave. To me, that doesn’t sit well. Companies always have work to be done, and if you had to get permission to leave, you’d never leave, as there is ALWAYS something to do. If he wants to know if you left or not, he can come by and look and see. I wouldn’t do it. If you do want to do it, and you get paid until 5:00 pm, then I would go to him at 5:00 and tell him you’re planning to leave now. Then if he wants you to stay a bit, you’re staying only till 5:30, which you do now anyway.

danieldanielson's avatar

I am a salaried employee. Also, I didn’t mean “no overtime in the US” from a legal standpoint, I meant that it seems like it’s a generally accepted part of the workplace culture around here if you are salaried and work in an office.

JLeslie's avatar

@danieldanielson Well, there is company culture and law. They have to follow the law. What state are you in?

Does your boss typically load on more work if you let him know you are leaving? Or, are you assuming that will happen?

LittleLemon's avatar

Depending on the management style of the boss, he/she might just be asking you to check in towards the end of the day to see if there’s anything you could wrap up for him/her.

My boss does this, and she’s a little on the flighty side, so it’s just a matter of helping her out and reminding her of something she would have ordinarily forgotten.

As for your original question, if the boss’ intent is to have you stay late with minimal warning, then: Yes. I think it’s totally unfair, and you have every right to feel a bit cheated. However, all of the jobs I’ve worked in so far have been pretty unfair in one regard or another.

Yeehaw, ‘Merica

marinelife's avatar

Your boss did not say when you had to check in. If you are due to leave at 5:30 P.M. stick your head in the boss- office at five P.M. and say “I will be leaving in 30 minutes. Is there anything else you need done before I go?”

jca's avatar

I was just thinking what @marinelife said or even a little earlier. Check in at 3 and say “Hey, anything going on this afternoon that needs to get wrapped up by day’s end?” If you do that and the boss says that’s too early and you need to come to him right before walking out the door, then I would have a little sit-down with him and say you need to be able to plan your outside activities to some extent, and you are totally willing to work extra and have been, but it
is hard to plan when you’re getting last minute requests.

jca's avatar

@danieldanielson: By the way, Welcome to Fluther! Stick around beyond this question. We’re a nice, thoughtful, intelligent community of people who, if you stick around, you will get to know (and hopefully, love or at least like a lot!).

zenvelo's avatar

Checking in with your boss at the end of the day is a perfectly reasonable request. At times I have needed staff to let me know of anything that arose through the day that did not need an immediate response but that I should be aware of.

If you are an exempt employee, there is no overtime. Exempt employees are paid to do a job, not perform on an hourly basis. In most companies, an exempt employee is not bound by reporting or quitting times as long as the assigned workload is completed on time.

The hard part though is the politics of arriving late or departing early. If you stay late fairly often to complete the day’s work, then leaving on time for an appointment or other occasion is fine; you need to talk to your boss about this.

If you are not an exempt employee, then you should document your overtime and submit it with your time-sheet. And speak to HR if this becomes an issue. But generally overtime can be necessary and not optional.

flutherother's avatar

Neither you nor your boss should forget that you have a contract that neither party can change unilaterally. If your boss wants you to work late he should ask you nicely and offer overtime or at least time off in lieu. It’s all very well to say times are tough and you need to help the company out but how many companies help their employees when times are good?

funkdaddy's avatar

I’ve never had a salaried position where overtime wasn’t the norm.

If everyone else is working overtime, or if you’re taking more than 30 minutes off through the course of the day, this might be a subtle way of getting you both on the same page.

Are you there early so you’re ready to work at 9? Do you make up for any appointments you take throughout the day? Do you leave the office for lunch? Are you really back and working in 30 minutes?

In my experience, most folks who watch the clock for their time to leave are always waiting for the next break, lunch, or time to go and are hard to work with around those times.

You could always be honest and just discuss it with your boss.

JLeslie's avatar

What exactly does your job entail? Do you have the power to make significant decisions that impact the company financially? Do you supervise anyone? Do you mainly do administrative type work for your boss, secretarial work?

Cruiser's avatar

@hearkat I think that can go both ways. As not only are companies in survival mode right now and will ask more of their employees they are able to keep on….also those employees are perhaps fearful of keeping their jobs and more willing to do more. This is the dynamic/mindset I see in and around the businesses here that I deal with during these economic tough times. Of course there are your outliers who do abuse this all the time and take advantage of employees as much as they can get away with.

zenvelo's avatar

@flutherother That’s not quite accurate if the employment is an “at-will” employment. The employer can fire an at-will employee without cause or reason, as long as it is not on a discriminatory basis. A change in schedules is up to the employer.

flutherother's avatar

I hadn’t heard of ‘at-will’ employment but I would be even less inclined to work for nothing if those were the conditions.

zenvelo's avatar

@flutherother What country are you in? Here is info on at-will employment:

I. The At-Will Presumption
Employment relationships are presumed to be “at-will” in all U.S. states except Montana. The U.S. is one of a handful of countries where employment is predominantly at-will. Most countries throughout the world allow employers to dismiss employees only for cause. Some reasons given for our retention of the at-will presumption include respect for freedom of contract, employer deference, and the belief that both employers and employees favor an at-will employment relationship over job security.
A. At-Will Defined
At-will means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason, except an illegal one, or for no reason without incurring legal liability. Likewise, an employee is free to leave a job at any time for any or no reason with no adverse legal consequences.
At-will also means that an employer can change the terms of the employment relationship with no notice and no consequences. For example, an employer can alter wages, terminate benefits, or reduce paid time off. In its unadulterated form, the U.S. at-will rule leaves employees vulnerable to arbitrary and sudden dismissal, a limited or on-call work schedule depending on the employer’s needs, and unannounced cuts in pay and benefits.

flutherother's avatar

Thanks for that. I’m in the UK. Workers can be dismissed here of course but not without reason and employees can leave at any time but must give notice.

cookieman's avatar

What @marinelife said.

‘Course if it was me, I’d check in at noon and say, “I’m leaving in about five hours. Anything else you need?”

jca's avatar

@cprevite: Check in at 9:00 am and say “I’m leaving in 8 hours. Just checking to see if you need anything!” LOL!

disquisitive's avatar

It doesn’t have to be fair. You work for him.

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