What should a contractor do in the following scenario:

Background: The contract is between the employee and the recruiting agency that got the employee the job. Today the work was done 1.5 hours early and the employee was told to go home. The recruiting agency wants a time sheet filled out for the hours worked. The options are:

  1. fill out the time sheet as if the employee worked the 1.5 hours
  2. fill out the time sheet for when the employee left work
  3. ask the recruiting agency what they want
  4. ask the end client what they want

#2 is perhaps the most honest. On the other hand, the work was finished early because the employee worked hard and efficiently. The work hours aren't specified in the contract but it had been agreed 8 hour days and full time work.

The above situation is a specific scenario but what about in general? I'm guessing contractors have less leeway than employees when it comes to getting paid for hours not actually worked, but what is the most ethical and pragmatic strategy for approaching this scenario?

Update: I asked the agency and they finally answered I can expense for the full 8 hours. I told them next time it should be made clear up front.

  • 3
    It all depends on the contract and the norms for that sector. Usually workers insist on being paid a full day's hours as a minimum, once an attendance at work is made. If the timesheet is paper based, my usual device is to list the actual start and end times, but state the hours as 8 (or whatever a full day is). If the timesheet is electronic and you can't adjust the hours field independently of the start and end times, then simply state the start and end times you were booked for that day.
    – Steve
    Feb 1, 2022 at 7:57
  • 1
    The question could do with a relevant location tag; the answer is going to vary a lot with country/region, as well as sector. Feb 2, 2022 at 11:04

2 Answers 2


You got a contract with the recruiting agency. So read your contract and go with 3, ask your recruiting agency. They will know any relevant clauses they have with the customer you work for. Also, if this is a recurrent occurrence, they might have a talk with the customer. It's really the same as usual: Keep your manager informed of relevant occurrences. And your real manager is now at the agency, not at the customer you work for.

  • 1
    Additionally the OP should have contacted the agency immediately.
    – Kilisi
    Feb 1, 2022 at 9:45
  • 1
    you are right Kilisi. The sooner you inform your manager/agency the sooner they can react. If you wait e.g. a month, it might be to late for them to do anything about it.
    – Benjamin
    Feb 1, 2022 at 9:59
  • 2
    you are new, it happened the first time. so this is the perfect occasion to clarify how to handle this. If you decide on your own, do it several times and it turns out you decided wrong, what do you think will happen? your agency will be unhappy with you.
    – Benjamin
    Feb 1, 2022 at 10:05
  • 2
    @potatomasher Yes, immediately; as they are paying you. How do you feel about calling them immediately? "[Formalities] Client told me to leave early. Is there anything you would want me to do before leaving for the day?"
    – paulj
    Feb 1, 2022 at 12:32
  • 4
    If you need to leave early for any reason, you let your employer know asap both for courtesy and business reasons. There may be a dispute in payment between the client and your employer for example.. In any case your employer needs to be in the loop. Ideally the client already ok'd it with your employer, but you still doublecheck
    – Kilisi
    Feb 1, 2022 at 12:49

The first thing you should do is contact the agency.

The reason being is that you want to be entirely above board in your dealings.

The contract is between the employee and the agency, but also between the agency and the employer. If the employer is telling the employee to go home, the agency isn't going to get paid, and that may be a violation of the contract.

Also, a less than scrupulous employer might lie to the agency, saying that the employee requested to go home early.

The only option is #3. Keep the agency informed

  • 2
    Yes, this is the correct answer. This is not even a debate. In addition to the contract, there may be legal reasons not to put down 1.5 hours. They need to call their agency now. It's much easier to deal with this issue now by calling them than waiting 3 months and having to correct the paperwork retroactively. Feb 1, 2022 at 19:28

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