I work in a small company in Italy. 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. From 09:00 to 18:00.

I do not expect to leave at 18:01. However the employer expects me and the other to talk with him and fix some things with him after 18:00. So I usually end leaving at 19:00 at best, sometimes even at 19:30/20:00.

I also have 30 min travel to go back home, so I have very little time to spend on my passions and projects.

How do I tell him I'd like to leave at 18:15 and not after?

  • 35
    Have you asked the employer if the talk and fixes could be done the next day?
    – sf02
    Commented May 3, 2019 at 16:20
  • 25
    Are you paid hourly or are you salaried? You tagged this with 'overtime' so I suspect it is hourly. Commented May 3, 2019 at 16:31
  • 8
    Is there any reason why you and the others can't "talk with him and fix some things" before 18:00? Why wait until literally the last minute of the working day? Commented May 3, 2019 at 16:37
  • @thursdaysgeek I've never heard of "salaried" employees in Italy. All contracts define the number of hours per week and any hour in excess of that is paid as overtime. The only exception is the "flexible hours". The employer can decide at the time of stipulating the contract a range of times of arrival and leave for the employee, who is free to come & go as they please during those times. The time in those ranges is "banked" so you can work extra one day to work less on a future date.
    – Bakuriu
    Commented May 6, 2019 at 18:27
  • In any case the OP should contact Ispettorato del Lavoro or the Guardia di Finanza to fail a claim for not being paid overtime.
    – Bakuriu
    Commented May 6, 2019 at 18:35

9 Answers 9


If you are hourly, you tell him, "Excuse me, let me clock back in until we are done with this." If he pushes back on that, a good response is "We could get in trouble if we don't track my time correctly." Emphasize the "we" - together we are working to find a good and legal solution.

If you are salaried (and in the US), it's a bit fuzzier, because you're expected to be willing to work extra if there is work that needs to be done. But you can push back on that too. Perhaps something like this:

Hey boss, we often have conversations about work later in the evening, which is usually after I expect to leave for the day. Would it work better for you if I came in later in the morning so that there is time for these conversations? Or could we move them to earlier in the day?

Don't offer to come in later if you're not willing to do that, but do ask in a "we're trying to figure this out together" tone of voice how he would like to adjust your schedule or this meeting, because, of course, it's reasonable to have adequate time off in order to recharge for your job.

As Magisch points out, 'salaried' has different meanings in different countries. If you are not allowed to work extra without extra pay, then, even if you are salaried, the first part of the answer is more applicable: ask your boss how to either charge the time so you are following your laws, or, if you are willing, suggest that you change your core hours so that his meeting time is still during your normal working time.

  • 88
    I disagree with the salaried note. Your agreement should cover the average working hours, and abuse of that is a way that employers try to sneak in lower wages. You may be able to take it to your labour board.
    – Malisbad
    Commented May 3, 2019 at 21:06
  • 5
    @Malisbad - true, working extra on a regular basis is not ideal, although many do it. If something really needs to be done and takes extra time, sometimes that is what is needed. It shouldn't be a regular practice for most people. That's why I had the last sentence about it being reasonable to have adequate time off. Commented May 3, 2019 at 21:50
  • 3
    The salaried note, It depends on the country, for my case it's illegal to stay more than 2 hours daily and can't exceed 12 hours for the week Commented May 4, 2019 at 16:11
  • 2
    @Malisbad depends on the jurisdiction. Here in British Columbia salaried tech employees are by law not eligible for overtime pay. If you don't like overtime your only recourse is thus to quit. Commented May 6, 2019 at 1:23
  • 2
    @JonathanReez that was Christy Clark selling all of us out to EA. I was reading up tech labour law in BC and it was like the tech companies got to write it, and they just signed it.
    – Malisbad
    Commented May 6, 2019 at 3:22

...However the employer expects me and the other to talk with him and fix some things with him after 18:00. So I usually end leaving at 19:00 at best...

You have a cultural problem. Those are hard to solve, especially if "everyone" and "usually" are involved. You have to fight those two.

Usually: start tracking your overtime, you need a metric to know if your life is getting better or not. Start writing down your extra hours worked, every day. Then you can approach your boss, with something like:

Hi boss, i know usually we have meeting after 6pm, can we move some of those earlier in the day? I have evening plans this week.

Or every day try to pre-schedule meeting with a boss:

Can we meet at 5pm to tidy things up, is there any unfinished issues? Can that be pushed for tomorrow?

You have to get ahead of the meetings happening after 6pm.

Everyone: consider talking to your colleagues. You all probably already have talked about that issue, and there is understanding that it is not a normal situation. It might be harder to change things if you are the only one having problem with it (I am not saying that's bad).

Changing culture is like changing habits, it happens slowly. Get some patience.

  • 2
    From personal experience of working overtime for similar reasons (for half a year of almost every night), this method works. Get your meetings preemptively going and you might even be recognized for your eagerness. Commented May 5, 2019 at 10:15
  • 11
    I disagree with the "Can we relocate this because I have evening plans" idea. It suggests that the you need one-off plans, in order to be able to go home on time, and thus unconciously re-inforces the idea of "normally leaving at 7 is fine".
    – Brondahl
    Commented May 5, 2019 at 10:30
  • 1
    @Brondahl You shouldn't have to give a reason, but what do you think about giving an incredibly mundane reason? "I need to go home now so I can cook spaghetti" or even "I already planned to play [videogame x] this evening" - basically the truth, plus a reminder that you do have a life outside the job. And it's not as "stiff" as the straight up technical info "it is 18:00 now", which works better in a corporate setting.
    – R. Schmitz
    Commented May 5, 2019 at 21:26
  • hmm, not sure. It feel like it may be at risk of sounding like you're taking the piss? Dunno. My instinct is always to address it head on, but I agree that seems like a plausible option if you're not keen on that route.
    – Brondahl
    Commented May 6, 2019 at 18:09

How do I tell him I'd like to leave at 18:15 and not after?

"I'd like to leave no later than 18:15."

  • 40
    technically correct answer but it misses the people-side of interaction Commented May 3, 2019 at 17:07
  • 30
    Better answer: “It’s six o’clock, I’m leaving now. “
    – gnasher729
    Commented May 3, 2019 at 17:37
  • 7
    Alternate answer: "Is it 6 already, time to go home!"
    – user53651
    Commented May 3, 2019 at 21:32
  • 5
    @aaaaaa it doesn't miss anything - after a week of this, the boss will earn to expect worker leaving on time. If smart... the boss will learn sooner.
    – WernerCD
    Commented May 4, 2019 at 1:33
  • 5
    @gnasher729 Very poor approach when the OP has already been accepting this. They need to make it clear that this is changing, and they should do so politely, which your wording does not.
    – jpmc26
    Commented May 5, 2019 at 16:51

I'm going to have to go "blunt" route here. You need to immediately change your willingness to work after hours.

Don't give any excuses, just tell your boss that you expect to work the same hours as everyone else, including leaving when everyone else does. You need to state this in a way that prevents everyone else from having to stay as long as you currently are.

You don't need to tell them you are busy.
You don't need to tell them you have projects.
You don't have to tell them about your commute.
You don't have to tell them about how you need to rest after a long day.
You don't have to tell them about how you need to get away from the stress.

Be professional, not rude. If they remain professional and understand, great. If they become rude, push you to continue working late, or push you into coming in early, you might want to start looking for a new job. You may have already set expectations that you can't change at this position, so look for a new one, setting expectations in a way that actually works for you.

This is a job. They pay you for your time and effort, they don't pay for your private endeavors. If they want to get to know you, that's fine, but it's not part of the job. It's also not part of the job to ignore having a life outside of work.

Regardless what many other people say, the job isn't there to take full control of your life. That's nothing against other Answers, there's plenty of people you know that'll tell you to endlessly work, and that's a short path to burnout and truly hating your job, your life, and pretty much everything else.

You still need to do your job to the best of your ability, including improving your ability, but only during work hours. There may be times when you absolutely have to work extra hours, but those should be the exception, not the rule.

As a secondary though, your boss might be attracted to you. They may be working with you late as an excuse to be with you, or vice versa. Without knowing more about the situation, the romantic side is only a wild guess. You boss might be strictly business and just trying to get cheap/free labor from you, but maybe there's more to it. I'm just throwing this out as "possible".

  • 1
    While I agree there should be no need for excuses, something like "I need to pick up my children from nursery" will be a lot harder to dismiss for the manager
    – P Varga
    Commented May 4, 2019 at 11:06
  • 12
    @ᆼᆺᆼ – I agree that having a good excuse makes things easier. But I can't help but hate it when people use their kids as an excuse for 💩 often leaving the dude-with-no-children behind working overtime.
    – Daniel
    Commented May 4, 2019 at 16:10
  • But they can't verify whether he really has children or not ;) Or he could claim to have started dating a single parent and now has to share the childcare duties. At one my previous workplaces a colleague said she's converted to Judaism. She got Friday afternoons off. Rightfully so (it could have been true...), and our manager didn't dare say a word
    – P Varga
    Commented May 4, 2019 at 19:10
  • @ᆼᆺᆼMaking up excuses that involve "children" that OP doesn't have in order to leave work on time, seems a little excessive to me.
    – Akavall
    Commented May 5, 2019 at 15:58
  • 2
    Making up an excuse is always a bad idea. At best, you get caught and lost trust with your boss. At worst, you get caught, get fired and get sued for fraud. That's more for getting time off that you didn't earn and not the case the OP, though. Also, the only good excuse is actually called a reason. Commented May 6, 2019 at 5:19

Get a life outside of work. Set work to second place in your life instead of first. When it is time to leave work, pack up and leave. Do not hang around to chat or socialize. Turn off the computer and go. Be packed up five minutes before the end of the day if this is possible. Don't let anyone stop you from walking out the door.

Look around you. There's people you work with who have children or hobbies or other life commitments. As people get older their life changes, their time becomes more valuable and their ability to stay back an hour after work becomes impossible.

A lot of people who don't have children get hot under the collar at those who do who leave at 3pm to 5pm to absolutely positively be there when their child checks out of school or daycare. People who compete in sports have to attend practice. Have you ever seen someone try to talk a gym junkie out of their before work/lunchbreak/afterwork workout? Right.

Your boss doesn't need to know why you are leaving, only that you are going. If they do hold you back you can leave. If you have finished the work allocated for the day why are you still in the office? There is always tomorrow.

People with a partner get used to saying to people that they will be in trouble if they don't get home on time. People with commitments get used to telling people that they have to be on the other side of the city in the next half an hour. Eventually other people understand and adapt.

If your boss wants you to stay back then they need to give notice or pay overtime. When they do they can expect employees to push back. Not with 'No, I have a life' but with 'I have commitments after work' or 'Sure, I can do that, I'll clock it as overtime'. Then you'll see if your boss really wants you to work, in which case they will pay you overtime, or if there is something else going on.

If you have an Office Space Boss then your best bet is to avoid them.

The only reason to stay back and work for free is if there is something in it for you. A promotion? Time in lieu? If work is not paying you for the hours spent at work then don't be there. Years later you will look back and wonder why you gave up those hours of your life for free.

  • While I agree with most of what's said, it's hard to "get a life outside of work" before shutting down the after hours work. Using something as a scapegoat to get out of extra work is a crutch. Ideally people will have the gumption to say "no" to a boss without having that kind of crutch. Commented May 6, 2019 at 15:58
  • Agreed, yes, and very true. A lesson I learned a long time ago is not to say "no" directly, but instead focus on a resolution. A crutch can be useful to get you started. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and do it. I have been through this a couple of times myself, and it's still not easy for me. I still set an alarm and just leave it ringing if anyone is keeping me from leaving - it's so difficult to keep up a conversation or continue working while an alarm goes off :)
    – Underverse
    Commented May 7, 2019 at 13:43
  • Maybe I've learned to be too blunt to have issues leaving on time, but I can still see how setting an alarm and letting it ring can be a useful device. Commented May 7, 2019 at 16:10
  • 1
    If it is really important, and I know I have to deal with a painful situation I have someone call me every five minutes and send SMS messages. Turn the phone sound up. It takes a really dense person to not take the hint or keep you from leaving. My office has a couple of people who really like to socialize after hours. Nice people, but just not time sensitive. Don't walk out of the office: Run.
    – Underverse
    Commented May 8, 2019 at 13:29

Why not being direct:

"It is due past my time, I am tired and need to go home, can we talk it tomorrow morning?"

Or some white lies:

"Sorry, I have a meeting with my dentist/wife/mum. We will talk tomorrow."

The point has you say in the question, has that you are selling your time, but not your life and soul.

Anyway, it has to be give and take from both sides. If a superior obliges me to be everyday late for no apparent reason, I also won't be there out of work hours.

When I had a egomaniacal team lead that arrived 3-4 hours after us and due to power trips and disorganisation systematically wanted to talk us late, sometimes I talked with him, often in a while I told him : "too late to talk, I am too tired and have to go home". Or as we were the same age, I often told him "It is not my fault you arrive late, I need to rest, is it urgent?". On the other hand, as I had a lot of leeway, I also made a point of being always available when I was needed outside of work hours when we had malfunctions, and that in turn "bought" me more leeway.

People are not robots, and need their time off, both to have a meaningful life, and to rest. Otherwise, it does not make sense to work at a job that enslaves us.

PS Over time, I also understood one of the motivations of that team lead to book meetings late is that he did not agree with the hours HR/our contract defined. Once again his problem, we were a very large organisation, for the better or worse.

PPS To give a perspective on give and take. When we were under a cyber attack, I logged an insane amount of extra hours in a single month, barely slept that month. On the other hand, summer time they let me define my working hours (I was working projects), and when I had a surgery at the hospital they turned a blind eye for me not being able to reach the mandatory quota of hours in two or three months. If you are working with minimally reasonable people, both parties will reach an understanding if they are willing to compromise.


Schedule a short regular appointment (maybe 10-15min) with your boss sometimes between 1pm and 3pm to "align on highest priority topics".

On the day you do what was discussed then, unless it is a real unforeseeable emergency.


There can be only few options. Mainly, you either quit or get a union involved right away. More details:

  • if you have an on-call contract, your employer can effectively blackmail you into not giving you more work if you ever say "no". This can only be solved by changing job.

  • if you try to discuss the matter with your boss, it's very likely he/she will have a massive ego and will flag you as a traitor (not a metaphor). This will see you fired or pushed out, and it's not recommended. This assumes you work for a family-run company.

  • if you are working without a contract, your only chance is to bring in a union representative, sue the company and get hired with a normal contract plus some money. This will still see you fired or pushed out, and it's not recommended.

  • if you signed any type national contract, refer to regulations and rights for that specific agreement. A union rep can help you.

  • if you are less than six months away from gaining additional protections, the recommendation is to endure until you move into a "unlimited time" contract.

Whatever contract you have, you should start talking to a union rep asap.


contact the department of labor (regional) and try to anonymously bring to their notice. it would certainly help. best of luck !!

  • 5
    That’s pretty extreme when the question seems as if one particular manager is just being a tedious bore.
    – Joe
    Commented May 4, 2019 at 11:15

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