I work as a software engineer in a relatively nice office, with several benefits and a great working environment.

Sometimes I decide to work overtime to get some things done before leaving for the day, and so do some of my colleagues. These overtime hours get registered on the company's system, but do not count towards my paycheck.

My contract specifies that I must meet a certain amount of hours each month, which I do and then some more. I've recently asked my colleagues about using my overtime hours to leave early sometimes, which would help me sort things out on a personal level as well as managing meetings on my freelance jobs.

Their response was that it technically is possible, but looked down upon by the higher ups. None of them do this either, not because they can't, but because they don't want to put up with our bosses.

My question, is it okay to approach this with higher ups? how can I do so?

I'd like to make use of this benefit, but at the same time I don't want to damage my current position here as I really like this company. Hence the question.

  • First time posting here, I'm not entirely sure about these tags so if anyone here wants to suggest an edit please feel free to do so.
    – user112925
    Dec 26 '19 at 17:04
  • 2
    What does your contract/employee manual/... say about working hours? For example, I work in an arrangement where I have to be in between so and so time and can leave anywhere starting from a certain time, as long as I do enough hours per month.
    – AsheraH
    Dec 26 '19 at 17:08
  • It pretty much says that I only need to meet a certain amount of hours per month, as clarified on the OP, there's a specific clock-in time but no specific clock-out time. My doubts are more on the side of how (if possible) to approach this without damaging my employment here, rather than if I technically can or not.
    – user112925
    Dec 26 '19 at 17:14
  • 4
    This is very much dependent on the region and country where you work, and also on the company. Where I work, it is official policy that overtime can compensate for "undertime," especially on Fridays, and after coordinating with the team and immediate manager one can even take an entire day off if there is enough accumulated overtime. For your company, there are local laws, local customs, and the specific company to consider.
    – o.m.
    Dec 26 '19 at 17:15
  • 3
    I don't understand why you would work overtime hours if you do not get paid for them.
    – Brandin
    Dec 26 '19 at 19:08

My question, is it okay to approach this with higher ups? how can I do so?

Certainly it's okay.

Just ask for a few minutes of your bosses time. Mention that you would like to work extra hours early in the month, so that you could take time off later in the month to do personal things and manage meetings for your freelance jobs.

They will tell you if that will work out or not.

Asking is the only way to know for sure. If you are afraid to ask, then you already know your answer.

  • 5
    Discussing the other freelance jobs could be dangerous, dependingon the OP's situation. In my experience, many companies frown on side jobs--whether or not it's fair to do so. Some may see them as broadening horizons, but that risk should be gauged.
    – SemiGeek
    Dec 26 '19 at 17:21
  • 2
    OP should also get additional information from their co-workers about why the higher-ups don't like it so that they can go in prepared.
    – BSMP
    Dec 26 '19 at 18:26
  • 4
    And if the higher ups say no - stop working the unpaid overtime.
    – HorusKol
    Dec 26 '19 at 23:07
  • 4
    "I need to leave early to work at my other job" is not going to do OP any favors. They don't need to know why he feels he needs the time off. Stick to personal things and leave the freelance stuff out.
    – Josh
    Dec 27 '19 at 18:51

Their response was that it technically is possible, but looked down upon by the higher ups.

Naturally, because the higher ups want you to continue to provide free labor. Don't buy into the sucker culture that's so prevalent in today's work culture.

If you sold cars for a living would you sell a car to a customer with options that they didn't pay for? Of course you wouldn't. Every time you work overtime without being compensated you're giving your employer "options" that they haven't paid for. Stop doing that.

Working overtime occasionally is understandable... it happens. If working overtime is the norm then your company is taking advantage of it's employees and is getting free labor. You're enriching the company owners/share holders without extracting any benefit to yourself.

Have a read here:


  • That link was an excellent read, thanks.
    – Justin
    Dec 27 '19 at 9:46

Is it okay to count overtime hours when deciding to go home for the day?

The real question you should have asked is: (emphasis mine)

Will the company be willing to consider the previously-clocked unpaid overtime to compensate for the shortfall at a a later date?

The answer is: Only the company / management can answer that.

Talk to your boss (and / or HR partner, if asked by boss) and inform them that:

  • You have worked some amount of overtime previously (which are recorded and unpaid)
  • You'd like to leave early on an occasion when/where you're done with your assigned work, and
  • The time difference in shortfall is less than or equal to the overtime you clocked-in, and it does not fail to qualify you for the minimum work-hour requirement.

Based on their reply, you will have your answer. Whether you'd like the answer or not, is a different story - if it's a negative, then as suggested in other answers, simply stop putting extra efforts as overtime.

You must log in to answer this question.