My co-worker comes in 1-2 hours early for his shift and begins working, he doesn't add this to his time sheet. I am worried that this is a potential risk to the company should he ever leave or be terminated. I am not his immediate supervisor so I wanted to ask the question before I raise my thoughts to my supervisor and look like a dork.

He is hourly like I am and he does work his full scheduled hours but each day he arrives anywhere from 1-2 hours before his shift. This adds a potential 5-10 hours each week of overtime he is possibly owed. He is not required nor was he asked to come in early. We are in the state of Wisconsin.

I am not sure if it registers that he is here working with our direct supervisor since he works down the hall from us and doesn't really check us to see if we are here when we are supposed to be.

Should I bring this up to my supervisor?

  • 1
    Is there some reason to believe that his supervisor is unaware of this? Do you share a supervisor? Yes, there is some potential liability here but if the coworker's supervisor is well aware of the issue, there is probably no reason to bring it up. Oct 3, 2013 at 17:58
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    Does the co-worker take breaks that may amount to the 1-2 hours that you don't know he takes?
    – JB King
    Oct 3, 2013 at 18:27
  • JB King not that I know of. Oct 3, 2013 at 19:26
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    @Raystafarian - our direct supervisor since he works down the hall from us - Says not doing OTR Truck driving, and would indicate office type work, though i suppose it could be industrial. It also states the state of Wisconsin so it is definately US Oct 4, 2013 at 17:39
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    Why is this your concern in the first place? Aug 30, 2021 at 9:07

5 Answers 5


First thing I would note is that he could be coming in early and working on personal stuff. Unless you are over his shoulder watching you really can not be sure. It is also possible that your coworker is either being paid for this extra-time, or has some sort of comp time set up with his supervisor.

Even if there is no compensation at all, as you noted he has not been asked to come in early, nor is it required. If your coworker wants to do extra with his time it really is not your responsibility to take any action unless you are in his chain of command. You have not shown any way that these actions are affecting you so you have no reason to interfere.

In most places a person that does something like this is going to find management much more willing to let off early for appointments, or take a day off. Sometimes people just have extra time on their hands, and they enjoy their job. I see no reason for you to have any issue or reason to take it to task with your management.

  • I sit very near him and he immediately starts working on work related stuff as soon as he comes in. Oct 3, 2013 at 19:26
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    I'm not saying that the OP should report this, but suggesting that coming in and working "for free" because you like your job is most definitely not OK in contractor situations.
    – jmorc
    Oct 3, 2013 at 20:10
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    @Mr.LostITGuy - What impact does that have on you? Oct 3, 2013 at 21:10

No, you should not bring this up. You are correct that it could be an issue, a liability, but it's never good form to be intruding into your co-workers' habits. You don't know if he has an arrangement that allows for this, and you are not his boss.

It's offensive when employees try to clock other employees. It's never productive, and it puts you in the position of judging someone else's work habits.

Unless it -directly- affects you, stop watching the other guy, and just make sure you do what you are supposed to do.

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    This +100. If you’re a co-worker, rather than his manager or supervisor, it’s none of your business. Worry about you, not him.
    – Matt
    Aug 27, 2021 at 22:08

Check with your state labor department to find out if the company has an overtime liability. The supervisor may not be aware of the legal ramifications (I know my sister's company had to pay overtime in VA for an employee who worked unauthorized hours, but this will vary by state. BTW they fired the employee since he wouldn't stop doing this.) as most supervisors can be relatively clueless about labor law.

Several things concern me about this situation beyond the liability. First, what is he doing during those hours? Depending on the position he is in, this is a perfect opportunity to commit fraud or do something else underhanded that you don't want the company to know about. If he is just doing work, is the supervisor aware that his workload is 50 hours a week vice 40? This could make a real difference if he leaves.

As to whether you should speak up and who to speak up to? Well it could be risky to your own career to speak up if the other employees start to consider you a 'narc'. On the other hand, by providing management with information they need about a potential liability, they may be grateful. A lot of whether it is a good idea to speak up depends on your supervisor, the situation and the company culture. If the supervisor doesn't seem like he would be approachable on this issue, you could bring it up the HR and if they have an annonymous hotline, that might be the best place to bring it up.

If you think the supervisor knows he is working but may be clueless about the ramifications, then research them and tell him casually that you ran across this information and isn't it interesting. Then let him decide what to do. If the supervisor is someone you don't trust, he may be in on a deal of getting the guy to work unapproved overtime and splitting the eventual profits. In this case HR is your only bet. (You know having worked for an audit agency does some nasty things to your thinking process! These things spring to mind because I have seen them happen in the workplace and seen people go to jail when they got caught.)

You should question why you want to bring it up though? Does this person get special treatment or accolades for all the work he accomplishes when you know he is putting in more hours than everyone else? Why are you concerned about what he is doing? How is it harming you? Are you worried you will be forced to do overtime if he leaves? Why is it your business?

  • 1
    Thanks, this highlights my concerns. I am mostly concerned about the liability (even if it is unknown to my supervisor) for the company. It worries me because I am an advocate for asking to be paid for my overtime when the workload requires I work extra hours. I worry that my supervisor may know in the back of his head that my coworker just works what is needed and doesn't complain and therefore judges me. I guess it all comes down to if someone is doing something that isn't by the book it just kind of bugs me as well. I know for a fact he is working on work stuff during his extra hours on. Oct 3, 2013 at 19:25
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    So, your concern is that you will look bad for asking to paid if you work overtime? Oct 3, 2013 at 21:22

Have you spoken to your colleague? I suggest asking him why he prefers to start early. (Although another answer indicates that this is offensive, it would be normal lunchtime conversation in my geography.)

Two of my team members, my partner and her dad all share this same proclivity: They do not leave any earlier than their colleagues, but they arrive much earlier and seem to be productive. When I've asked, their reasoning is strikingly similar and it helps them achieve a healthy work-life balance:

  • They have work that they find difficult to address in a busy workplace. Two productive hours in an empty office is counterbalanced by a more leisurely pace during the rest of the day.
  • They're naturally early risers and prefer leaving for work over waiting around at home. (But they don't insist on leaving early, as meetings are frequently scheduled in the afternoon.)
  • They need some alone time to wake up. They don't have that at home, the commute doesn't do it for them. And while they're at work, they might as well get something done.

Given that they're clocking more hours than some other employees, they might seem at greater risk of becoming stressed or overworked. If there are no indicators that they're overworked, this is not something to worry about. If you're worried about their wellbeing, address it with your supervisor so he can look out for them.


Not sure regarding your industry and job, would help to better pinpoint the answer, and it seems you are a colleague, not a supervisor, but

If it is not on a time-sheet, the only time it can be concerning if he get injured during this time and submit worker compensation claim.

As i see it , it may be an issue of commute.

I myself had jobs where there was maybe a 10 minutes getting out of the house difference between coming an hour earlier and being late 5 minutes

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