I was offered a contract with an Education institution in Ireland for working in a research project with a Company (In Company's place). So all the hiring process was done while I was still in my country of origin (Low latitude, ~5000km away). In the contract the working hours are 9:00am to 5:25pm. However, it states than occasionally additional hours could be required.

Once I started, I noted that the company working hours are 9:00am to 6:00pm, and some co-workers, hired under the same scheme as me, follow the company working hours because someone told them.

When I started, both my supervisor from Education Institution and my supervisor from company were on holidays, so kind of started with a full induction, just brief introduction of project and small tasks, but no emphasis on new working hours. Since then, I am fulfilling the working hours in my contract (9:00am-5:25pm).

Is this a common practice, have differences in contract/real working hours?

Am I stealing (time) to my employer?


There is no weekly hours information in my contract, which is fixed term contract of employment for 3 years.

This is extracted from my contract:

PLACE OF WORK: INSITUTION, however you may be required to work in other locations. [...]


Hours of work will be Monday to Friday 9:00am to 5:24pm

you will from time to time required to work flexible and or additional hours depending on the requirements of your work and at a discretion of your supervisor.

  • As comment to @justin 's answer:

And how much you value your new job vs personal time/self respect.

As foreigner (non-EEA) in Ireland I am under work permit tied to this job and not allowed to apply seamlessly to a new one, so me and my family income depends on it. My personal time is also valuable as I had another matters planned before moving, based on the leaving hours stated in the contract.

Do you get multiple breaks, as that sounds like the figure includes a lunch hour.

The company policy is a 15-mins break in the morning plus one-hour lunch break

  • 2
    What are the contractual hours per week in your contract? If it is 40 per week (or 8 hours a day), then working 9:00 to 17:30 is 'normal' (assuming 30 minute unpaid lunch break). Feb 6, 2019 at 12:27
  • Justin below has said it all. "As a contractor, feel free to stick to stipulated times." End of story.
    – Fattie
    Feb 6, 2019 at 12:54

1 Answer 1


+1 @Mark Rotteveel.

It does entirely depend on what your contract says.

And how much you value your new job vs personal time/self respect.

Most (IT) contracts are for either a specific number of hours (per week) or (e.g. 5) days a week. These daily contracts often won't state the number of hours and are usually agreed with line management (i.e. your boss). Ask, and you'll be told "business hours/day", which is assumed to be 7.5 or 8 hours which won't include additional lunch break, also generally assumed to be an hour or less.

9.00 to 5.25 is a strange number. Do you get multiple breaks, as that sounds like the figure includes a lunch hour... But I've never worked in your industry sector.

Have you asked your new colleagues? It might be they just do it to avoid traffic or for some other reason.

Having said that it's something you need to clarify immediately or you will always give an extra 30 minutes every day. Do this in a friendly way, by asking "What are your expectations..."

You might decide just to swallow the extra 30 mins, but again make it clear that you have chosen to do this - a weekly summary of what you spent the time doing ("voluntary overtime spent marking essays"). You can use this to your advantage if you later need a few hours here and there for personal tasks.

As a contractor, feel free to stick to stipulated times. If management insist or try to persuade/bully you, just do the extra time, but send an email immediately ("Following our conversation, I am happy to work an extra 30 mins per day"). cc your agency if you have one and make sure you (pro rata) invoice for these hours (you must keep good timesheets. Ideally create a second invoice with just the overtime, in case they reject it). Obviously, if you're not happy about this extra time, be upfront and tell them (that your agency says you must) invoice them at an overtime rate - they'll either agree or back down.

The above needs to be weighed against how much you want/need the job and subsequent renewals.

  • You've said it all. "As a contractor, feel free to stick to stipulated times." Exactly.
    – Fattie
    Feb 6, 2019 at 12:54
  • 1
    "9.00 to 5.25 is a strange number" - I can explain this. I've previously worked for the UK civil service and the days there were 7:24 long. 9:00 - 5:25 minus the hour lunch is 7:25, close enough. 7:24 multiplied by 5 days is a 37 hour working week.
    – Skrrp
    Feb 11, 2019 at 22:15
  • Thanks Skrrp, I never thought of that. I think I once did a 37 hour week, but just worked 4.5 days or something. Mostly its 37.5 or 40, or just "professional day".
    – Justin
    Feb 12, 2019 at 12:03

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