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I work on a small team (approximately 10 people) within a very large company. Within our team, we all share the same line manager and all sit in close proximity to one another, within our office. We're all contracted to work 37.5 hours a week, though I have began to notice that a colleague of mine definitely does not work these hours.

Let's call her Sarah. Both myself and Sarah begin work at 08:30am and finish at 16:30pm, including a 30-minute lunch break that would equal 7.5 hours a day, and 37.5 hours a week. However, Sarah takes hour-long lunch breaks, and yet will still finish her day at 16:30. Our line manager takes even longer lunch breaks, leaving before Sarah does and arriving back after her, and so is unaware of her longer breaks. Just to clarify, we're allowed long lunch breaks, as long as we make up the extra time at the beginning/end of the day, as our hours are flexible.

In addition to this, I've frequently noticed Sarah on her phone, browsing social media or online shopping on her PC. Quite often, she will even grab my attention to come and look at an interesting post she's seen (not very discreet at all). Our seating plan in the office means that I am the only other person aside from Sarah, who can see her screen/desk area, and the only one who can see her procrastinating.

I'm almost certain that our Line Manager is unaware of Sarah's actual working hours. Each week, we record how many hours we've spent working on particular projects for particular clients; to which they get charged for. This means that Sarah has essentially been charging clients for work she has not been doing; and rather charging for her long lunch breaks and un-work-related internet browsing.

I feel as though this is completely wrong, but am very unsure of how to approach my line manager about this behaviour without sounding petty/without Sarah overhearing; I don't want to cause any sort of conflict, as I do have to work with this person on a daily basis. Is this my place to speak up or should I hope that our line manager will notice? How would I go about speaking to my line manager about this?

Side note: I have looked at both of these previously asked questions (here and here). I would say that my question addresses a different issue to both of these. In the first question, the boss is aware of the issue with the colleague, unlike in my situation. The second question relates to the lack of effort given by a colleague. In my situation, yes, the social media browsing and online shopping could relate here. However, an extra 30 minutes, sometimes more, on a lunchtime and claiming it to a project isn't "lack of effort"; it's lying to the company and the client. Some of our clients are charged £50+ per hour of our work, that's £250 a week and £1000 a month they're paying for work they think Sarah is doing, when she's out having lunch.

I agree that I should do my job and let my line manager do their job. But when I'm fully aware that Sarah is claiming for hours she isn't working, and am aware that my line manager doesn't know and probably won't find out without my input; I feel like I'm stuck in a difficult situation. This is costing clients thousands of pounds, I'm aware of the situation and yet feel as though it isn't my place to speak up.

marked as duplicate by Dukeling, Jim G., Dan Pichelman, Masked Man, Mister Positive Nov 13 '17 at 13:58

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    Has Sarah's work been negatively impacted by this? – user34587 Nov 13 '17 at 13:39
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    Second issue - what industry is this? If you're both "web designers" or something, you're skills are not really hourly-based. – Fattie Nov 13 '17 at 13:42
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    "I don't want to cause any sort of conflict" - You can't accuse your coworker of being lazy and/or not caring about her job without causing conflict (unless you just mean you don't want to be directly involved in the conflict you cause). – Dukeling Nov 13 '17 at 13:42
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    Stay away from this. The only thing you can gain is being labelled as snitch and ostracised from the rest of the group. If Sarah is performing below expectations, your boss will deal with this. If you can't complete your job due to waiting for Sarah, escalate that and focus only on that. If it doesn't affect you in any way, realize that there is more to work than only putting exact number of hours required by contract. – Mirosław Zalewski Nov 13 '17 at 13:58
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    @Skeletron It seems to me that the line in bold in the accepted answer to that question adequately addresses your query. "It is your manager's job to manage." If Sarah is working only 4 hours while she is billing 8 hours, then either she is super-efficient or the client is incredibly stupid to not ask your manager for an explanation as to why they are not getting the desired output. Either way, it seems your manager has it under control. Don't go stirring the pot and looking for trouble. It is not your problem. – Masked Man Nov 13 '17 at 17:54
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I feel as though this is completely wrong, but am very unsure of how to approach my line manager about this behaviour without sounding petty/without Sarah overhearing; I don't want to cause any sort of conflict, as I do have to work with this person on a daily basis. Is this my place to speak up or should I hope that our line manager will notice? How would I go about speaking to my line manager about this?

You are not Sarah's boss. Sarah has a manager and you aren't it. It is not your place to manage others, and thus not your place to speak up.

Speaking up will certainly cause conflict with Sarah. It may cause conflict with others on your team, and even with the manager. Snitches aren't well liked by anyone and are certainly not trusted.

And if you choose to talk about who isn't doing their job according to your standards, you had better first make sure that everything you do is 100% by the books. If not, you should expect retaliation the first time you slip up at all.

You do your job. Let the line manager do their job.

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    Given the added context of "engineering consultancy", there's the possibility of OP getting pulled into it due to bad performance for the whole team of people working at the client's side. It's a different situation than a client paying for a project; here, the client is paying for actual (wo-)man power. – pmf Nov 13 '17 at 14:42
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    I'd also add that managers are (usually) aware of a great deal more than they let on. Some are conflict avoidant, and some (like me) leave "gentle hints" to employees that are going off the rails so that we don't end up with a legal situation if we don't need it. – Wesley Long Nov 14 '17 at 3:02

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