Is it okay to leave work on time as a developer ?

I'm currently working for a company, and I just got a complaint from the boss that I always leave the workplace on time; usually a developer works late.

My work time: 9-6 I always leave work at 6.

My boss told me I should leave at 7pm.


6 Answers 6


It depends on your region and your contract, but generally, you are fine to leave the office after it becomes the time that is designated in your contract. Just because you are a developer does not mean you need to stay longer than others, unless that is specified in your contract.

For context, in Japan, many contracts specify the maximum amount of overtime that is allowed 'unpaid' since it is included in the base salary. In general, it is 40 hours a month. If that is included in your contract, you may be required to stay another hour or two when it is seen as required by your bosses. (it is called minashi-zangyo みなし残業)

If there is not a clause like the one above in your contract, then you are generally not required to stay longer, especially if they are not giving you overtime pay.

  • 6
    There is no such rules included in my contract. The boss just verbally told me about it. And also including that usually when those who go back early are bad at work and won't commit fully to the job. I am pretty fed up by this comment. Dec 26, 2019 at 1:34
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    @incognitorecon, That's funny. Usually, it's the opposite. The ones that leave on time are the ones that are the most efficient. How do you compare otherwise? Dec 26, 2019 at 1:53
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    I also not sure how does my boss compare. Pretty mad about the comment from my boss. Where the project that I handle have 0 issue from staff side and customer side and he still saying that early back is not showing full commitment and these type of employee is the one getting fired first if anything happen Dec 26, 2019 at 2:01
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    Your boss is displaying a form of power harassment, and trying to use his position to force you into working unpaid overtime. Again, depending on your region, you can report him to HR or to your local Labour Standards Bureau. Dec 26, 2019 at 2:05
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    Can downvoters of this answer please specify why? Seems like a good answer to me to work hours paid and not more. Additional context, this is perfectly normal in pretty much whole of EU, but speaking from experience for Netherlands and also New Zealand.
    – rkeet
    Dec 26, 2019 at 9:57

It's a trick.

This type of bosses try to squeeze out some extra hours out of the employees, for free. The boss may even try to sound ruthless/serious about it, and try to convince you to stay longer, and put a lot of stress on you about this matter to stay longer everyday & every now-and-then until you finally submit, and he will keep trying and trying with different ways, but he cannot force you and he's not allowed to.

  • If it's not urgent, don't do it.
  • If everything is urgent, then nothing is urgent, so don't do it.
  • If he really wants you to stay for overtime, then he should pay you for overtime.
  • If it's your company/your father's company, then that's a different story.

6PM, just leave. They cannot do anything about it. You may also wave at everyone (including boss) with "Have a good night".

He may try to give compliment to other employees, saying "Mr.X is best employee because he stays long overtime hours", it's just another way to convince YOU to stay longer.

P.S: Leaving on time has no impact on giving you less chances to get bonus/salary increment or be target to be replaced. If it does, this company doesn't know its priorities and is worthless to stay with anyway.

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    Not my parent company, yeah I just leave in time as usual, unless my task is urgent (which I did in the past where task is urgent then I will take OT) Dec 27, 2019 at 0:57
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    I disagree that there's nothing the boss can do about it. A location isn't given in this question, but I'm assuming US because of our crummy OT practices. If you're an at-will-employee, then you can absolutely be let go at any time without cause. You can try to prove that it's because you were being required to work unpaid OT, but that's a long court battle that will be difficult at best to prove without lots of written documentation to back it up. Your boss can absolutely be looking for a replacement behind your back, and can fire you with no notice when that replacement is ready to start. Feb 4, 2020 at 13:17
  • @NegativeFriction mostly the boss will not look for replacement if you don't work unpaid OT, but will do if he/she hates you enough.
    – evilReiko
    Feb 5, 2020 at 6:11
  • @evilReiko depends on the environment. Maybe less so for software engineers, but there are definitely industries that can only persist because of the amount of unpaid OT that they can demand from employees. Family Dollar is a known offender. Feb 5, 2020 at 13:05

Two important bits of information missing: In which country is this happening? And what do you mean by "boss"? Is it your manager, is it the company owner?

You can tell your boss that it is absolute nonsense that "developers work late". (If you don't want to tell him yourself, just show him this post). Good developers don't do unpaid overtime, because they know that working more than 40 hours a week lowers productivity. (They don't just know, there are plenty of studies). And of course because they don't do overtime without getting paid. Good bosses don't ask for unpaid overtime, because it lowers productivity, and they will lose all the good developers - only the ones that think they are not good enough that anyone else would hire them will stay.

So these are the arguments against unpaid overtime: You don't do it because it makes you less productive, and because you don't get paid for it. So no upside at all. On the other hand, from the company's point of view, the arguments are less productivity, and loss of good employees.

  • Some developers stay long unpaid OT hours everyday, because they have passion & goal to achieve something great in their life. While that's all great, but then the boss comes into picture to utilize this opportunity & encourage them to work more for free, then eventually fire them when not needed anymore :|
    – evilReiko
    Feb 6, 2020 at 5:44

Is it okay to go home on time?

Yes, given that you have finished your regular work and there's no urgent need for you to stay back and fix something, then yes.

I'm currently working for a company, and I just got a complaint from the boss that I always leave the workplace on time; usually a developer works late.

Seems your management has a twisted view of the productivity. Working overtime as a measure of productivity is not really a standard thing, rather quite the opposite. It's like trying to measure the efficiency of an airplane by it's weight.

Is it okay to leave work on time as a developer ?

In most of the cases, this is not only OK, but expected.

In other words, if you cannot stick to the normal work timing to finish something off, it shows either there's a problem with the planning / estimate or, the competency is not up to the mark.

Talk to your boss.

Ask them why they expect you to stay late?

  • Is it like they are over-committing (on behalf of you or the team) and by asking you to stay late and put more effort to get things done, they are trying to project a higher performance output?
  • Are they trying to enforce a stay-late culture thing (which is not good, anyways)?
  • Is it that they expect you to just stick around with the rest of team, or are they actually expecting to extend your working hour to deliver more? That is, is the leaving time (clock in-out) important, or they expect you to work on something (over and above the assigned task) during that time?
  • If they expect you to leave by 7 (instead of 6), are you allowed to come to office at 10 (instead of 9)?

Sadly, in some places (ex: India), many organization and management believes that by staying late employees display some sort of commitment and more productivity - but unfortunately that takes them nowhere. Enforcing and following these things usually lead to burnout and actually decrease productivity.

To sum it up: Show them that by leaving on-time, you're not falling short on your delivery. You are capable of completing your work assignment on time, and leaving only after your finish the tasks.

However, If this is a company wide culture and they do not seem to have a justification for you to stay late and ask you to do it just because everybody else does this, you may better off finding a new job where your time is actually valued.

  • 2
    Dear Downvoter, along with the downvote, if you can leave a comment mentioning what is not useful about the answer, and how it can possibly be improved, it'll be helpful. Thanks. Dec 26, 2019 at 6:47
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    Because you are potentially endangering someone’s job based on how you wish the world worked. This is a bunch of well meaning gibberish that boils down to “be insubordinate to your boss.” It is possible the OP lives in a country where they can get away with that, I guess we’ll see.
    – mxyzplk
    Dec 26, 2019 at 18:59
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    Just to add: The company not hiring enough people to do the work does not create an urgent need for you to stay back and fix something.
    – gnasher729
    Dec 26, 2019 at 22:00
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    Mxyzplx: Refusing unpaid overtime is not being insubordinate. You get paid, you work. You don’t get paid, you don’t work.
    – gnasher729
    Jan 1, 2020 at 19:30

It depends.

  • There are jobs where developers make a lot of money, but are also expected to work insane hours. And that can be a perfectly fine job for people who are young, healthy (physically and mentally), stress-resistant, love their work and don't have a family, a hobby or a lot of friends.
  • There are jobs where developers make a regular amount of money and are expected to work a regular 8-hour work day. These kinds of jobs are great for people who want to maintain a healthy work/life balance.
  • There are jobs where the company expect the first but pays the latter. These kinds of jobs are best avoided. And in most regions, qualified software developers are in very high demand, so they can avoid that kind of job.

Usually you should try to find out what kind of job you are in for during the hiring process.


You can choose to leave whenever you want, but if you don’t follow your supervisor’s directions you are sure to be fired. Your choice. Sounds like you’re not entirely clear on your hours and weekly expectations - talk about it with your boss not Internet strangers. If your locality has laws about maximum hours that will come into effect, but that is rare in the US.

  • 7
    but if you don’t follow your supervisor’s directions you are sure to be fired is it always that easy? What if my supervisor wants me to put in 30 hours of unpaid overtime, and/or to work on weekends on a regular basis? Dec 26, 2019 at 6:48
  • In most countries that would be against the law Dec 26, 2019 at 9:02
  • @souravghosh The US answer is “you do that” if you are working a normal exempt job. You go get another job if you don’t want to.
    – mxyzplk
    Dec 26, 2019 at 18:49
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    If you don't follow your supervisor's instructions, and he tries to fire you, he may find out that his instructions are not actually in agreement with company policy. In the UK, your supervisor CAN NOT fire you. He can ask HR to fire you, and HR, knowing the local laws, will want a reason. And if the reason is "Refused to work one hour of unpaid overtime every day of the week", then HR will have a good conversation with the supervisor.
    – gnasher729
    Dec 26, 2019 at 21:05
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    This answer sounds like "Keep your head down and do whatever you are asked just to keep your job," which is okay in the short term and when you're young, but it can really destroy your health in the long term. Don't do that. Constant overtime is one of the worst things for your health (and sanity) and if a company demands it of you for no urgent reason (meaning actual emergencies, not "we're not getting enough done") then you really, really need to push back and/or look for another job. Better to be fired than to be burnt out. There are plenty of jobs, but only one "you".
    – user90896
    Dec 27, 2019 at 10:50

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