I recently started a job as a contractor. My boss wants a written daily report detailing what I will do today and what I did yesterday and how much time was spent on each item. The level of detail he wants is quite high. A lot of time is spent setting things up and trouble shooting random issues. For example, the video playback on videos I had to watch for work kept freezing. Yesterday I spent 30 minutes updating codecs and getting a new media player. Do these 30 minutes count towards "work" and should I include this in my daily report and invoice? What about the time spent installing and configuring new applications or troubleshooting old ones (like when Skype randomly stops working)? Another specific I'm wondering about, I'm required to take internal training to learn a system, does the time I take to organize notes count towards work?

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    We did not sign your contract nor any of the policies you agreed to, so you will have to check those and/or simply ask your boss/client. May 27 '20 at 14:17
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    @TymoteuszPaul it's pretty standard "something that is done per the specifications of client"
    – cooltrix15
    May 27 '20 at 14:19
  • If it's so standard then why are you asking us, and not just adopt the standard way to do it? Again, we don't know, we cannot know, why won't you simply ask your boss exactly what you've asked us? May 27 '20 at 14:20
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    I am more concerned if it's fair or not. @guest
    – cooltrix15
    May 27 '20 at 14:22
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    I suggest you stop calling your client “my boss”.
    – AsheraH
    May 28 '20 at 16:52


That totally depends on your contract.

The way I see it, if I have to do it because of work, it is work. You want me to use skype? those skype troubles are billed. You have a shitty VPN client with stupid configuration? Those hours are billed. I spend 20 hours researching for nothing because the request was badly phrased? those hours are billed.

Of course, there is a line. A customer can assume that you have a PC with a working OS on it...

It is not standard to get super detailed on invoices. Depending on customer, how fine grained it is was different. From "development work" everyday in the project, and just how many hours that day, to which rough topics I worked that day. The invoice to your level of detail is super rare, and I would push back against it.

I would advise against asking your boss after the fact, that just opens up discussions. And it makes you exploitable because you show weakness. The greedy boss will try to define as much work as possible as not billable, while still expecting you to do it. Your boss might be different, just be wary of this.

If you are unsure, ask BEFORE you do it. And if he says no, dont do it. Will I be able to bill X? No -> Dont do it.

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    Agree. Don't ask the boss. That's pretty obvious. If you're a contractor, you're acting like a business. Businesses don't ask other businesses if they should charge for things. If you're running a store, you don't ask a customer if they would like to pay for something or just get it for free. May 27 '20 at 14:32
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    It's a bit of a balancing act. If the contract allows either party to walk away on a whim, billing the client for very minor things, may be a quick way to lose the job. May 27 '20 at 14:37
  • Be prepared that you annoy other people really fast if whenever you need to do things like installing Skype, other things, you need to find a person responsible for finances and ask them.
    – guest
    May 27 '20 at 15:56
  • I have another specific example. I'm doing training to learn how to use an internal system. If I take time to make a good copy of my notes does this count towards work or not because my boss didn't specifically say to take notes?
    – cooltrix15
    May 27 '20 at 18:47
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    also, maybe instead of boss, start calling him something like customer or client. Maybe call him the customers Project Lead, or Project Lead for short. But when you trully are contractor, that person pays your bills, but you are your boss.
    – Benjamin
    May 28 '20 at 5:45

Any time where you cannot do what you like counts as work. Say you are playing football with your kids from 8am to 8:40am (not work) and 8:40 you start setting up Skype for an important call at 9am. Since you had to stop playing football with the kids, the setup time from 8:40 to 9:00 is work.

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    That's a bit oversimplified. If OP has to walk/drive home, take a shower and change into business clothing, that's unlikely to count.
    – Llewellyn
    May 27 '20 at 18:17
  • That's a little bit oversimplified. For example, a taxi driver in my country does not have the right to expect more money from me if he waited 5 minutes until I come, even though he cannot spend the time with kids.
    – guest
    May 27 '20 at 19:31
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    This might be correct for employees, but certainly not for contractors. It's also oversimplified even for employees. If I get stuck in traffic on my way to work, that's on me, whether I'm employed or contractor. If I need to buy a new car because the old one broke down, still on me. Buying a faster machine for work as a contractor? On me.
    – nvoigt
    May 28 '20 at 5:31

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