Can my boss track my hours?

Dear Evil HR Lady,

Is it legal for an exempt, salaried employee to be told he has to work Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with only a half-hour lunch and that you need to make up any time not spent one work (for example, taking a smoke break)?

My understanding is that if you are salaried, you are not required to work a specific daily time frame and you have don’t have to make up time.

To read the answer click here: Can my boss track my hours?

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9 thoughts on “Can my boss track my hours?

  1. There are companies that take that sort of thing, but there are also employees who overreact to reasonable rules.

    Most of the work I and my co-workers do (IT work) can be done at any hour, from any location. We’ve got people who will be up 11pm at night working to deploy a new server, or 6:00am in the morning to troubleshoot an issue on a production system, not because they’re told to, but because they can.

    None the less, my employer has a concept of “core hours” during which you’re supposed to be on-site and reachable most of the time.

    Some of my co-workers occasionally rage against this. But, while much of our work can be done in isolation, much of it requires collaboration, and collaboration across very different teams that are “far” from each other on the org chart. How are we supposed to be able to collaborate with “distant” peers if we have absolutely no idea when or how they’re reachable?

    And I’m not just talking about things like phone calls and trouble tickets, I’m talking about things like water-cooler chats as well. I can’t tell you how much time has been saved by quick hallway conversations about some service or system.

    (Maybe there’s a good answer to that question — if so, I’d be open to helping argue for even more flexibility than we already have. But in the absence of some proposal that at least has the appearance of being workable, this “core hours” concept is *extremely* reasonable. Even if several exempt, salaried employees claim otherwise.)

    1. I have no problem with a core business hours thing. I think good teamwork generally demands interacting with your team members.

      But, when your boss is saying, “You were smoking for 17 minutes, so you have to stay until 5:17 tonight,” that’s ridiculous.

      Especially since in a lot of jobs, thinking is critical part of doing a good job. I used to take a walk around our campus (huge campus) when I was trying to figure out how to do something. Sitting at my desk being frustrated only made it worse.

      I would have been ticked if my boss said, “Suzanne, I saw you went for a walk for half an hour. You must stay late!” Because on that walk, I was working in that I was figuring out a solution to the problem.

  2. If bosses have time to keep detailed track of what their salaried staff are doing throughout the workday, then they clearly don’t have enough to do. If I ever had a manager working for me who behaved in this manner, we would soon have a closed door conversation to fix the matter.

    For some kinds of jobs, I wholly support Doug D’s position of core business hours. He’s 100% right about the efficacy and efficiency of water cooler chats. One of the major drawbacks of trying to manage across time zones and international borders is that colleagues who need to coordinate closely rarely have to chance to know and appreciate one another informally. This situation easily give rise to *we they* attitudes and resulting barriers. Casual conversations in informal situations are one of the lubricants enabling a highly effective team.

    1. Even though I’ve been working at home for the past (gulp!) 4 years, I think the best kind of telecommuting is part time in the office and part time at home because when you are home, you don’t just bump into coworkers.

      It makes collaboration much more difficult.

  3. Yeah, I once had a boss who tracked our time in tenths of an hour – every six minutes. And he created a report every week that showed our ‘time outages’. And even though we were salaried IT employees and often had to handle calls in the middle of the night, we were expected to have our butts in our chairs from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm – no exceptions. Even if you had been awake from midnight to 7 am working on a problem you still had to report to work at 8:00 am.

    Oh, and any time worked between the hours of 5:00 pm to 8:00 am did not “count” toward your forty hours for that week.

    He was dearly beloved by all.

  4. And he told us straight out that we would NEVER get an ‘Exceeds Expectations’ on our yearly evaluations because whatever we did, and however much we did, well, that was just what he ‘expected’ us to do.

    Thanks for the memories and I’ll probably have nightmares again tonight! 😉

    1. I had a manager who wouldn’t give the highest rating to anyone because “only Jesus is perfect”

      1. I had a brother in law who served on a jury. After going through the whole trial, one of the jurors declared she could vote neither guilty or not guilty because “only God can judge.”

        Yes, she had lied during voir dire because she wanted to prove how evil the judicial system was by making them go through the trial and then refusing to vote.

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