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I'm starting my master's degree in January and will be taking a class on Thursday evenings from 6-9. That means I will need to leave work at about 5:30 to get to class by 6. The master's program is not available online, so I have to attend in person for all my classes.

I am looking for a new job. But at my current job, the unofficial policy - that I did not find out until after I enrolled for classes and paid fees - is that you can't leave early unless you have to pick up a child from daycare or school. I don't have children, so I end up staying at work until 7 or 8 every night. I get to work at 7, so these are very long days.

The company has always touted its "flexibility" and "flex time", so I assumed it would be there for me when I needed it - especially because they are the ones who wanted me to do this degree - turns out, "flexibility" is only for people with kids.

I do have nieces, so I was thinking about telling my boss that on Thursday evenings, I babysit my nieces. I would say that every Thursday, my brother and sister-in-law have a date night, and no one else is available to watch their kids.

Many people have been allowed to leave early (earlier than 5:30) without retribution to babysit their nieces/nephews or grandchildren (i.e. not their direct children), so I am sure the excuse would work. No one would question it. But it is dishonest, and that bothers me.

But like the now-deleted answer pointed out: it bothers me a lot less than working 12 hour days without the "flex time" benefits my coworkers enjoy. Most of them are gone by 3:30, and I'm there until 7.

Do you think this is an acceptable situation to lie to my employer until I can find a new position? I hope to find one before January, which would make all this a moot point, but it may take longer.

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Neo Nov 11 '19 at 19:11
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    Why are you working 12 hours a day in the first place? Are you paid solidly for overtime? Is this in exchange for 3-day workweek (3*12=36 which is very close to 40)? I can't imagine any other good reason why you should put up with that instead of flat out leaving after 8 hours. – M i ech Nov 13 '19 at 11:08
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You’re already doing the right thing — looking for a new job. Any place that expects you to work 12 hour days, and tries to micromanage your personal life, is not someplace you want to work.

Leaving at 5:30 after being at work since 7 is not “flex time”, it’s working only a couple hours of overtime that day. Just smile and say “sorry” as you walk out the door.

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    I suggest starting leaving on time at least one day a week, without asking permission or discussing the matter, in advance. If there is going to be any push-back from your boss, get it out of the way before you start your college course. – Patricia Shanahan Nov 9 '19 at 19:56
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    It may be better to get into the habit of leaving on time two days a week, so that you have a free evening for study and coursework, as well as the evening you are attending lectures. – Patricia Shanahan Nov 9 '19 at 19:57
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    The best thing would be leaving on time every day of the week. If you start at 7am, half an hour lunch break, you should be gone at 3:30pm. 4pm with an hour lunch break. What you are doing now will be killing you in the not so long term. – gnasher729 Nov 10 '19 at 0:24
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You don't need to give a reason for when you depart work so long as you're leaving at a time that is consistent with the expectations of your role. However, being honest is probably your best bet.

You might consider discussing the situation and your feelings with your manager. Share that you don't feel like the promises around flex time are being applied equally across colleagues. You should also share that you believe school is a valid reason to make use of the flex time policy.

If your manager doesn't agree that you're using the flex-time policy appropriately, you could engage another trusted manager or leader in the organization to provide a perspective. You could also engage your colleagues in the HR department for their interpretation of the policy as well.

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