I am a salaried employee, scheduled to work 8-5, M-F, and one Sunday a month for month-end closing. I typically will arrive for work between 7:58 and 8:04. On really, really, bad days, sometimes it’s been 8:06. On Mondays I come in before 7:30 to complete several deadline related reports. I always leave for the day, after 5:00, anywhere between 5:10 and 5:15, sometimes 5:30. In fact, I’m regularly at my desk working (as soon as my computer is booted up) and observing many salaried and hourly employees trickling in after me up to 8:15. It’s also notable that these co-workers make a trip to the break-room for coffee, or to heat up breakfast in the microwave, or visit with their co-workers before any actual work starts.

Additionally, I rarely take any morning or afternoon breaks, and I stick to my one-hour lunch; but sometimes reducing, or skipping it depending of work demands. I also average one sick day a year. Finally, my position is not a time-sensitive one, such as a call center or retail operation where the phones start ringing, or doors open, at 8:00.

Of course, I have a boss who bristles on those days when I arrive after 8:00.

If I were one of those employees who was taking advantage, and abusing the system, e.g.: coming in at 8:20, leaving at 4:50, taking extended lunches, leaving at 3:30 on Fridays to “work from home for the rest of the day,” I’d see her point. However, I don’t take those liberties.

My understanding of being salaried versus hourly, is that one of the “perks,” if you could call it that, or trade-off for not having guaranteed breaks or lunches, and being required to work extended hours without additional compensation, is that I don’t have to sweat the minutiae of extreme punctuality as if I were hourly, and punching a time clock.

My performance reviews, despite being satisfactory on the measures, always include this peeve, though not officially in writing, and it’s starting to bother me. It’s to the point I want be defiant (albeit professionally) the next time she brings it up, point out the facts I’ve described here, and take a “deal with it” attitude.

Any advice?

  • 1
    3 years ago I asked a similar question: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/55024/…
    – GreenMatt
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 15:25
  • 33
    Have you tried talking to your boss about this and asking why she needs you there at exactly 8am? What reasoning does she give?
    – David K
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 16:10
  • 2
    This reminds me of a question I asked a while back. Not at all a duplicate, but the answers I received might be helpful to you nonetheless. workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/112926/…
    – Lumberjack
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 20:10
  • 3
    Coud you clarify in what country you are, what industry, and what level you work at? In many, many cultures/industries, being salaried absolutely does not change the fact that you have to do the hours which you are paid to do. In others, there's a lot more leeway. The higher up you are on the food chain the easier it usually is, but it may depend a lot on specifics.
    – jcaron
    Commented Sep 30, 2018 at 21:59
  • Country tag please!
    – J...
    Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 12:41

18 Answers 18


Do you have a good rapport with your boss? Do you think your boss is normally reasonable and fair? If so, then you could go to her and ask why this is an issue.

Hey boss, I come in early on Mondays, usually stay later than 5, start working when I get to work, and take less breaks than others. And yet, the 3-6 minutes I am late to work on some days really bothers you. Since I'm obviously working a lot more than 3-6 minutes extra each day, it seems like perhaps there is something else going on with my work. What concerns do you have about my work?

And then listen. It's possible that there is something going on, and she is simply not expressing it in an appropriate manner. It's possible she'll see that she's nit-picking in ways that are inappropriate. You want to listen to see if the first is the option.

If you don't think your boss is approachable like this, then yeah, just make sure you're at work right or before 8. And it probably means you'll feel like she's petty, so why work after 5 at all? It's hard not to respond back to pettiness.

  • 71
    then again it might not be about the work at all. Some people really really really really really value punctuality.
    – mcknz
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 18:49
  • 38
    @mcknz - very true. Although a good manager should be able to recognize when those values are counter-productive. If nothing else, it lets the OP know what the manager thinks is important. Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 19:03
  • 6
    You just said it: a "good" manager. It is a nonzero percent chance that she is not a "good" manager. It's not 100 either.
    – John Doe
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 23:02
  • 8
    The core issue is that OP believes .. "My understanding of being salaried versus hourly, is that one of the “perks,”". That is, simply, not the case. That misunderstanding is the cause of the problem.
    – Fattie
    Commented Sep 29, 2018 at 13:10
  • 6
    @Fattie It absolutely is one of the perks everywhere I've ever been. And like any perk, it can and is curtailed if it's abused.
    – corsiKa
    Commented Sep 30, 2018 at 5:19

In my experience, when boss starts minute counting do the same.

if your position is 8-5 - stick to it.

Arrive 8am sharp

You allowed 1 hours for lunch - take it, even if you use 20 minutes for food, take a daily walk for the rest of time, always good for our sitting jobs

5pm sharp out of the door.

if you come in 7.45am - 4.45pm is your time to leave

You mentioned Sundays, are they required in your "time commitment"?


When management have no professional complaints, some may feel they are losing "grasp" on their "subjects" and start to look for other ways to display their importance and power.

Not all of them, mind you, but there are some out there that view their position as more oversight than professional managers. Not mentioning professional result when discussing arrival time is a clear indication of that.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – user44108
    Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 6:24
  • 2
    Great answer and here is a quote from Abraham Lincoln that backs up the idea, "The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly."
    – raddevus
    Commented Nov 15, 2018 at 21:26
  • Being petty is not a solution.
    – Tvde1
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 13:45

Of course, I have a boss who bristles on those days when I arrive after 8:00.

My understanding of being salaried versus hourly, is that one of the “perks,” if you could call it that, or trade-off for not having guaranteed breaks or lunches, and being required to work extended hours without additional compensation, is that I don’t have to sweat the minutiae of extreme punctuality as if I were hourly, and punching a time clock.

My performance reviews, despite being satisfactory on the measures, always include this peeve, though not officially in writing, and it’s starting to bother me. It’s to the point I want be defiant (albeit professionally) the next time she brings it up, point out the facts I’ve described here, and take a “deal with it” attitude.

Any advice?

You need to learn the difference between your understanding of what salaried means and your need to understand what your boss expects of you. I'm assuming you've already discussed this during at least one performance review and that you understand that your boss wants you to be on time.

Choosing to arrive late despite the fact that your boss disapproves isn't a "perk" of being salaried, any more than choosing to ignore anything else your boss expects of you is a perk.

Many shops allow salaried workers to be a bit more flexible about their arrival and departure times. Certainly that's how I always treated folks on my team. Personally I think your boss is being silly and focusing on exactly the wrong things.

But that doesn't mean you have a right to do this in spite of what your boss wants and specifically expects you to do. And that certainly doesn't mean that you are immune to criticism in your performance reviews.

I'm not sure how you could be "defiant professionally". And you can't expect that taking a "deal with it" unprofessional attitude with your boss will be a good thing for you. That is almost certain not to end well.

My advice is to think how important it is for you be allowed more flexibility in your schedule. If it's important enough, you might need to consider working for a different boss - either by transferring within your company or finding a new job.

If it's not important enough, then learn to arrive on time as expected by your boss or learn to tolerate getting dinged in your performance review.


Your boss is a jerk.

I would remind them of all the items you mentioned in your question. After you do that, I would then ask "is 8:02" really a big deal?

If they are still unyielding, which based on what you have stated they will be, then as the other answer points out arrive early. How difficult would it be for you to arrive at 7:55 and shut them up?

As a salaried employee in your situation, if the manager did not back off a bit, especially considering the extra time you put in to make sure your job is done well, I might consider employment elsewhere.

  • 14
    Arriving late annoys some people. It also sets a poor example to junior staff. Also, challenging your boss to identify if it's a "big deal" that you turned up late is a great way to make them hate you.
    – Richard
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 19:24
  • 15
    @Richard, I actually agree with both you & Mister Positive, so here's my version. A boss who is inflexible with start times but "flexible" with end times (as long as you stay late), is a jerk. Yes, it can set a poor example to junior staff, and can cause the boss to hate you, but I've lived where leaving 10-30 minutes before I needed to be at work always ended with me being 5 min late. Leaving over 45 min early would mean I'd be 30 min early, and refusing to let us go before 5, I wasn't going to sit there & do nothing, let alone work for free, so I wasted less of my time by being 5 min late. Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 19:58
  • 3
    BTW, I left that company for their wide range of nit-picking policies and bad employee relations. Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 19:59
  • 17
    @Richard: A bit off-topic, but perhaps the meeting should not be scheduled for the very, very beginning of the work day (i.e. schedule it to start 30 min or 1 hour after the work day begins). A daily meeting right at the very beginning of the work day is just asking for trouble.
    – Johndt
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 20:13
  • 13
    @Richard, there are many strategies to avoid late starts to meetings, such as not having meetings at the very beginning of the day or starting meetings regardless if people are there. Both are good standards and were also ignored by the company I left. Sometimes tardiness can't be avoided, and businesses who ignore that also tend to ignore basic employee relations in other aspects as well, in my experience. Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 20:13

Any advice?

My advice is:

  1. be there by 7:45 and in your seat working by 7:55
  2. take your lunch at the same time every day
  3. take at least 45 minutes for lunch AWAY from your desk
    (eat / walk / whatever... it will increase your productivity)
  4. leave at 5:05

I scramble some days to make sure I'm in 10+ minutes before my start time.
People who sit near me come in sometimes 10 minutes after their start time.
We all share the same manager - and he comes in early, so I'm on time.

I don't know why your manager is picking on you specifically.

  • Maybe when you first started she only noticed you when you came in after 8.
  • Maybe she took something you said the wrong way and she's out for you.
  • Maybe you're less productive that the other employees.
  • Maybe the first time she told you about it she thought you looked defiant.

Despite what you think, it doesn't matter why.

You'll notice that I am not, as some have, advising you to talk with her about this because you're not likely to get a straight answer from her.

Taking a defiant or "deal with it" attitude with her won't end well for you (95%+ chance). But you probably know that; you haven't done it yet - don't.

You can still repair this relationship if you want to.

Anyway, that's my advice, I hope it's worth more than you paid for it :-) -Chris C.

1. If you do follow my schedule, it will take her a couple months to notice and focus on someone else. 2. If she doesn't focus on someone else, i.e. changes her focus from 'you being late' to you 'something else' - get out before you're fired or laid off. You probably cannot repair the relationship. 3. You'll notice I'm telling you to work about 8.5 hours when you're salaried and you won't get overtime. If it isn't worth it to you, that's a sign you need to start over in a new job.


I once worked at a company that had an official flexitime policy allowing us to start anywhere between 8 and 11 so long as we were doing 7.5 hours a day.

Despite that my boss would regularly make sarcastic comments about the fact I usually got in around 9:30 despite the fact I also regularly worked until after 6.


I never really got to the bottom of it but I think he was a very rigid morning person. He liked structure and routine and everything in its place. It upset his sense of order in the world when people arrived at other times.

Perhaps you have a manager like that, in which case no matter what you do they will never be happy about it. I'd suggest 2 things:

  1. Check what the official company policy is.
  2. Shift your entire working day (including finishing time) earlier by 10 minutes (assuming there isn't a reason such as train timetables or similar why that is hard).

This should mean you're almost always in on time and prevent the tutting while not really costing you very much.


Arrive to work before 8am

If this is the only issue your manager has picked up on then make sure to turn up to work a few minutes early each day.

  • 11
    @FrankieRose Regardless of whether you are salaried or hourly, your company and manager are the ones who set the rules, not some generic definition of a "salaried employee." If you have laid out your argument and they still say you need to stick to a schedule, then your options are to shape up or ship out.
    – David K
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 16:11
  • 18
    No. If they are going to make OP "punch the clock" to this degree, then he is an hourly employee and entitled to overtime. If there is a work need for him to always be there at 8 AM, absolutely, then that can be articulated and he should be there to meet those work requirements, but, lacking that, they don't get to micromanage his work time and not compensate him for time over 40 hours. Exempt employees are paid for their job/work, not for hours spent. Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 16:12
  • 8
    As a salaried employee I had to arrive by 9am and sign in a book which was removed at 9 am. Salaried just means you are paid the same each month or pay period. I have also been salaried and had to clock in albeit with flexitime.
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 17:54
  • 4
    This is the only correct answer I'm seeing here. One answer recommends clarifying the boss's expectations—but that will just make the OP look dumb, because the expectation is already clear. Approaching the boss and carefully negotiating some discretionary flexibility might work. But one's impressions of salaried vs hourly work is 100% irrelevant. If you're the employee, you're obligated to do what the boss expects. Period. (Pursuant to laws, ethics, and morality of course.)
    – elrobis
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 21:13
  • 1
    @PoloHoleSet I think you're on to something. Can you explain more about that and/or link to some stuff to back that up? Commented Sep 29, 2018 at 20:45

There is no difference between salaried and hourly employees when it comes to abiding by contact terms. Many people in salaried positions enjoy benefits such as flexitime (and in fact some hourly people do as well), but it is not automatic. Many companies and bosses will not rigidly enforce contract terms and be flexible with their employees but, again, it is not automatic.

If your contract states that you need to work 8 to 5 (I don't know from what you've said whether it does), or indeed if there is a formal company policy stating it, then being salaried makes no difference. If your boss chooses that as a rule they'd like to enforce, whether that's a wise decision or not, you need to either obey it or accept the (hopefully minor) consequences.


Look for another job.

Effective managers manage the work you actually do. Ineffective managers manage proxies for work, such as timeliness. There is no way to convince an inefficient manager they are doing it wrong. You can only leave, or wait for them to be promoted.


At a job where work hours were 8AM-5PM, I was fired for regularly coming into work five minutes late, even though I left work well beyond 5PM.

Naturally, I didn't like that, but don't think for a moment that I blamed them for firing me. (That was 30 years ago, though...)

  • 1
    I have fired people for this too, not even 5 years ago. I never felt guilty about it. The company policy was to be ready to go at 8:00. Anyone late (even higher-ups) that was not ready to work at 8:00 got written up, warned, and then fired on the third occasion in a 3 month period. If the company is lax with it's rules then ok, but your not entitled to that laxness, no should it be expected. The default should be to show up early.
    – coteyr
    Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 7:40
  • 2
    @coteyr If you're in a business where you need to be ready to go at 8am, then fair enough. Any kind of customer-service work, for instance. But anywhere else doing that will kill your employee relations, and then the employees will treat the company the same way. You've got a massive order which could let the company break into the big time, and you'd like me to work overtime for a week to fill that order? I don't care, I'm clocking off at 5pm. Maybe if you pay me 10x my hourly rate, I might make an exception...? Flexibility goes both ways.
    – Graham
    Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 12:53
  • This is a good answer because A) personal reference and B) correct information. If your company policy says be there at 8:00am ready for work and you're not there at 7:50 making sure you'll be ready at 8. Then you're already late. I'd fire someone for that, imo it shows contempt for the company and rules (however, ill-founded they may be) Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 12:57
  • @Graham I tend to agree. But, it's up to the company to decide if the rules are strict or not. As long as the expectation is clear, and it's applied fairly. You don't have to work there, you can go find another job. As a complete aside, with this in place the "people left" didn't care about it.
    – coteyr
    Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 15:23
  • @VictorProcure No, the policy says you must check in by 8, therefore you check in by 8, and that's all. If you don't get any recognition for being early, 7:59 is as valid as 6:59. And you check out at 5:00 on the dot. Following the rules cannot be classed as contempt. You may quite justifiably feel contempt to the people who set those rules, but if you're following them to the letter then the company cannot penalise you in any way. In fact, if they do then you have cast-iron evidence for a wrongful dismissal case.
    – Graham
    Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 15:51

I find a more meaningful distinction is:

  • Hourly is expected to put in a defined amount of effort in order to accomplish a goal. They're also generally expected to produce an amount of product which corresponds to that effort (they can't be horrible at the job), but the fundamental charge is to put the effort into the task, and go home when they're done.
  • Salaried is expected to get the job done. It doesn't matter how much effort it takes. That may give them some leeway with regard to schedule, but fundamentally, their job is to get the job done. This is why many salaried workers often put in far more than 40 hours a week.

Your boss may indeed be going on a power trip over punctuality. Or he may feel there is a legitimate need for punctuality which you are simply not aware of yet. Talk to them about it.

If this is just a power trip, then there's plenty of famous phrases to recommend what to do next. My favorite would be from 1984: "If you kept the small rules, you could break the big ones." If this is your boss' most important small rule, by goodness show up at 8:00am. Make your boss' job easy. Always strive to make your boss' job easy.

However, if there is a legitimate reason, its very wise for you to learn about it, so you can fulfill your salaried position better. You may also be able to discuss how to flex the needs better. Perhaps something else you are doing during the day can offset you appearing a little later, you just have to negotiate it. Or perhaps another salaried employee whose schedule permits more punctuality can cover for you if you are tardy, while you cover for them later. The job has to get done.


There's a saying that being 5 minutes before is being on time, and being on time is being on time... and it looks like your boss is one of those who still follow that ancient advice.

Unfortunately for you, it looks that you tries to appear on time, which means, you're almost always late. You try to compensate for this for doing things that nobody asks you too, like staying too long or shortening your lunch break... but it's not going to help... for someone who considers being punctual the highest virtue leaving too late doesn't diminish the deadly sin of arriving too late.

You have basically 2 choices. Either arrive on time (which means arranging your schedule so that you typically arrive earlier and only exceptionally 2 minutes before 8) or look for other work, which would be better for you, because obviously the current working culture doesn't match your expectations.

Trying to argue is futile. Being permanently too late is a valid reason for firing. And your boss is always right unless proven otherwise.

  • Danube is a long river... but there are not too much countries passing through it. :-)
    – Gray Sheep
    Commented May 12, 2021 at 20:27

This may not be a popular answer, but, here it goes.

Sometimes I am this picky, as a manager. Not often, but sometimes. There are reasons for it. Some the employee may not see. Sometimes it's nothing more than managing political nonsense, sometimes it is to comply with the company policy.

I have worked with companies that have a policy that if your shift starts at 8:00 am, then at 8:00 if you're not there and ready to work, you're late. I have also worked with companies that don't care at all and have people still walking in the door at lunchtime. Different companies, different rules.

My personal rule on the matter is that if I can't tell, then I don't care. If your day starts at 8:00 and I come looking for you, and can't find you, and it's even a little after 8:00, then it's a problem. If I don't "look" for you until 9:30 then what do I care if you don't come in till 8:05.

The problem with that rule of mine is that it's subjective. There's no way to know if I am going to be looking for you at 7:59 waiting at your desk because of an issue, or if I won't even physically see you today. But I always feel that if a shift starts at 8:00 then you should be there and if you're not, you get what you get. Mostly what you would get is a comment, but it sounds like that is what is bothering you.

So if the company policy is 8:00 and no lateness at all, then you better show up at 7:45. If the company policy is laxer and it's just your manager, then ask the reason why. Maybe there is a good reason. But whatever the response, obviously you have a disconnect from what you expect and what they expect. If you can't or don't want to give them what they expect, it's time to dust off the resume. If you can, then go for it.

  • Then you are the type of managers i am speaking about. Perhaps better solution to your floating focus would be electronic communication. All these tools: email, phone, watsup etc can help avoid standing over the person`s desk, waiting for him
    – Strader
    Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 14:24
  • That's less fair, because if it's an instance where I think I need to float, and I come over to your desk and hover, then you had better answer the email by 8:00, or the IM or the whatever. The point is, by the time I have to get involved enough to wait for someone to get into the office, were past normal and into emergency mode. An answer it when you get to it form of communication is no longer acceptable.
    – coteyr
    Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 18:10
  • No offense, but if these emergencies happen and there is no contingency plan for it, its manager`s issue for not having plan in place. one or two occurrences are sufficient to devise a solution that addresses the problem. In correct workplace no person is irreplaceable because work flows around the process, not people.
    – Strader
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 14:33
  • Yes, every contingency has its cost, but it is not employee job to absorb that cost
    – Strader
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 14:34

1) check your contract or ask what the expectation is. Are you required to work 8-5, are you required to work 40 hours per week, are you required to work 8 hours a day 5 days a week ? All of those would lead to different behaviors for me. If they actually want you to work 8-5 there isn't much you can do.

2) I would very meticulously keep track of the time you spend at work. In my previous work I made sure to log every minute that I worked (always more, never less than required). When there's a dispute you can present things that work in your favor, even if at that point you should probably already be looking for employment elsewhere.

3) What are your goals ? If you just want to stay in your job you might want to just not rock the boat. If you want to move up you should focus on your effort to go above and beyond rather than a 'deal with it' attitude. When it comes up that you were late, point out that you work more than you're supposed to, but don't be defiant about it (unless you're not required to be there at 8).


Does your boss know you're only late by a few minutes, and not every day? Perhaps she only knows that sometimes when she looks for you at, for example, 8:01 AM, you're not there.

I would suggest keeping a log of when you actually arrive and leave each day. Show it to her after about two weeks, or sooner if she dings you again. Emphasize that these times are typical for you; you're not just improving your on-timeness now that you're keeping a log.

And why are you late? Traffic, or lateness of trains or buses? Sometimes it's just not possible to come in at exactly the same time each day, and you shouldn't have to plan to arrive at 7:40 just to be sure you never come in after 8.

Perhaps you can point out what you accomplish when you are there -- many managers obsess on things like face time when they should be focused on results achieved instead. (When I was on this really big project at one place I scheduled periodic meetings, not required by anyone, to say what I'd accomplished lately. They loved it.)

If all else fails, do what Scott Adams calls the weasel approach: show up strictly on time, but do your own thing before actually starting work -- "a trip to the break-room for coffee, or to heat up breakfast in the microwave, or visit with their co-workers before any actual work starts" as you said.

There's also what he calls reverse telecommuting -- bring your personal work (like bills to pay) to the job and process at them at your desk.

If you're salaried, then you probably have a medium-level job where there is normally some trust that you will do the work without a lot of close supervision. Unfortunately, this trust is eroded if she perceives you to be abusing the system. If you can't fix this soon, it will only get worse.


As a former manager here is my take on it.

Often times managers have to look out for not just single employees but the department/unit as a whole. If there is one person constantly coming in a few minutes late and it's harming the morale of others, then the issue needs to be rectified.

There is also the Broken Windows Theory, if team members see one coming in later, they may begin to believe they can do it as well. Then start to push and possibly begin coming in even later. If it can be handled adequately, quickly; this may not end up being a problem.

Lastly, if the company policy or contract states that employees must be working at 8:00am and you're rolling in at 8:03am. Then you're not ready for work at 8:00am and doing this repeatedly shows a contempt for the company rules and should be remedied. If my contract stated I was to work 8:00-5:00, I'd be in the office at 7:50 getting ready for work at 8:00.

To reiterate, it may not be just about you, it's possible your manager is seeing something in the greater team as an issue that needs to be fixed. He may see you as the person that can help him with this issue by changing your behavior, not necessarily a bad thing.

My suggestion, malevolent compliance, do exactly what is being asked, nothing more, nothing less until you've further assessed whether your manager is indeed trying to fix a problem, or he's just being a stick-in-the-mud.

  • The OP clearly stated that others come in later than him.
    – tmaj
    Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 0:46

I think we need to address the preverbal elephant in the room:

Why does being salaried imply it is ok to be late (even 5 minutes) or not be as punctual, if not more so, than an hourly employee?

It's like the old saying: Time is money; if you're not making the company money then you're costing the company money.

This is a fundamental principle most managers, executives, and business owners believe in vehemently; furthermore, there is a lot of merit in the belief as many employees (salaried and hourly alike) will often abuse schedules, breaks, lunches, etc. regardless if it costs the company money or not.

Preface / Disclaimer: I'm not sure what your particular labor agreement (contract or otherwise) states or what country you are in and/or your employer originate/operate from, so I will avoid any legal arguments or advice regarding labor laws and such. However, I will note that you seem to be attributing being a salaried employee to having a flex schedule of some sort (at least in start time and end time) when these generally are not equated with one another unless specifically stated in your labor agreement. If it indeed is (or any other pre-agreed condition of employment regarding schedule and/or start/end time exists) then that is a relevant omitted detail which would affect my answer (and likely many others).

I'm going operate on the assumption that there are no relevant details being omitted.

Let's refine what it means to be a salaried employee. There are 3 traits of salaried employees that are often noticed (and frequently expected):

  1. High Availability: Since you may not "punch a clock" everyday, doesn't mean you don't need to be available much more often than an hourly employee. Actually, it's a common experience that salaried employees should be at their desk at least 30 mins to 1 hour before their regular start-time.

  2. Achieve Results: Salaried employees (generally considered to be managers, see point #3) are expected to achieve a result for the company even if they have to put in more hours. Salaried employees need to be available and on-hand (whether that be physically or virtually) to handle problems and achieve results. Salaries generally have overtime built into them for this exact reason. If you perform your essential duties in less than 8 hours per day then that is fine and you may be able to leave early in many cases; however, if a crisis erupts either early in the morning, late at night, or during off-time (e.g. weekends, holidays, vacations, etc.) you're still expected to handle those issues. Managers don't ever "leave" work but rather just scale back their availability and response time to a day or two at the most.

  3. Management / Leadership: Salaried positions are usually reserved for managerial level positions (generally speaking). Even if you're not an actual manager in either title or authority, the prestige of the compensation of the position generally dictates that you hold yourself (will be held) to the same standards as a manager would be.

With these traits in mind, as most senior professionals have, you should be able to see why your manager expects so much of you. Being a salaried employee is akin to being a manager (often just from tradition and prestige of compensation) so being "late" everyday is looked down upon severely by more traditional and senior managers. The only "excuse" is if the position requires frequent travel, but that only works a couple of times until it looks like the person has poor travel planning skills.

When it comes to punctuality, a good rule of thumb is as follows (or often an unspoken rule): being on-time is late, being 30+ minutes early is on-time, and being late is quitting. (Take with a grain of salt)

Alternate Short-Theories

Theory #1: The Improvement-for-the-sake-of-Improvement Hypothesis

It's not uncommon for organizations and senior management to want to always be improving their company and employees. This could be the same philosophy being propagated down unto middle management whereby they must find something in every employee that could be improved upon.

Theory #2: The Almost Good Enough Hypothesis

It could be, since you say you do very well in your performance reviews, that your manager would like to promote you to a senior or lead position of some sort; however, her manager or senior management frowns upon tardiness and considers that a showstopper for such promotions. You indicate she gives you this feedback in a pseudo off-the-record fashion (it's not formally written down) indicating she might be trying to make it apparent and hint at the fact that this is an important trait to her boss/senior management without putting it to paper (thereby hurting your chances).

Theory #3: The Perception Hypothesis

It might be that your behavior is inappropriate given your labor agreement while others might have agreed upon a later/different start time in exchange for less pay, less/shorter breaks, less lunch break time, etc. While it may seem that they're violating the rules, it could simply be that you're operating on your perception of facts without knowing their specific labor agreements compared to yours. Of course, they may be getting similar feedback as well but don't seem to care or show it as much.

Theory #4: The Everyone's Buddy Hypothesis

This is kind of self-explanatory but when you're good friends with almost everyone ("everybody's buddy") or can garner sympathy from almost everyone, you can get away with a lot. It can also depend on your colleagues' track records / history in the company that they are given slack and latitude regarding when they show-up. Similarly, it's like if you make the company $1 Million in sales annually and you're 15 minutes late everyday, it's perfectly acceptable in many places. It's like having connections and knowing somebody in the company without actually needing to know anyone. Best advice: just ignore it and accept that high-school popularity contests still exist in adulthood and beyond. It's sad but unavoidable.

Theory #5: It's All Relative (The Power Trip Hypothesis)

Sometimes you just can't please your boss no matter what you do and they want to nitpick at you and flex their management muscle because of one unknown reason or another. Only solutions are: ignore it or find a different job/department.

Hope this all helps, best of luck! :)


Reading between the lines, if you are singled out for arriving a few minutes late when others are not, may be the problem is not arriving late.

It seems others make some part of the group, while you do not.

My take is, try to make part of the group. If others have some coffee in the morning or middle-morning, try to make them company. If you are not a coffee person, bring some snack, and make that an excuse to join them.

If you do not enjoy sharing time with your colleagues (I think there are people who do not enjoy) ...fake it.

Being somewhat perceived as anti-social is clearly holding you back at the office, and your manager's light irritation with you might extend to the days you arrive slightly late.

PS. I am supposing you all report to the same manager

PPS. In a more general sense, what I am trying to convey here is that usually is not a single reason/situation that makes a boss unhappy with you.


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