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I'm getting back into the world of work after being disabled for 10 years and got a job as a software developer. Because of a disability I work from home.

I'm starting again at a junior developer level but I'm replacing an intermediate level developer. I'm paid hourly. I'm learning as I go but things are taking me longer than a more experienced developer.

I keep track of my own hours and am not sure what all to turn in. I have only been turning in the time that I am programming and take off the time I have to look things up or learn something new.

I also don't count the time I take breaks or the time when I come into the office to meet about projects. I also take off some extra time because I'm just slower or have to re-do some things as I go along. In my last pay period I only turned in half the hours I worked on a project.

Am I being correct in calculating the hours I should be paid for?

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    comments removed Remember, "Comments are temporary "Post-It" notes left on a question or answer." If you have valuable information, flesh it out and add it as an answer rather than just posting it as a comment. Thanks in advance! – jmac Apr 23 '14 at 13:59
  • I was contract for the first project and now I will be a permanent employee. – David Apr 23 '14 at 18:36
  • Being salaried solves so many problems. In any case, it's results that should count, not hours. – aroth Apr 24 '14 at 1:36
  • @aroth nice in theory. In practice many managers and companies look to hours first, results second (or rather, to both, and punish you for spending too few hours to get a result, as well as for spending the correct number of hours...). – jwenting Apr 24 '14 at 9:55
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You should consult your employees manual for exactly what you are entitled to submit for hours, failing that consult your manager or HR. They should be able to answer this more completely than anyone on here.

That said as a general guide you should be entitled to claim any time you are in work for meetings, plus travelling time to and from work (at least here in the UK). You shouldn't be removing time just because you are slower than you expect. You were hired in a junior developer role, they won't expect you to produce code at the same speed as those at a more senior role so don't expect yourself to. That also goes for time spent looking up new stuff. You'd have to do that if you were in the office so why shouldn't you claim the time at home? Every developer, new, experienced, young and old all look up new technologies (or they should) as they come out. Researching how to code is an expected part of the job (to a certain extent). Just don't be afraid to contact your colleagues in the office for help when you need it.

If you constantly short change yourself on your hours you're going to set a precedent that isn't good. It leaves you unpaid for hours your working and it means management isn't aware of how much you are actually working. If they suddenly drop a project on you and expect you to have it done in X time because you've been short changing your hours and you actually need twice as long to do it that puts you in a bad situation and when you can't do it in time it leaves your managers asking why.

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    And note that whatever level of developer you are, you will always learn 'on the job', and you will always have to look things up. That never stops and is an integral part of being a developer. – user8036 Apr 23 '14 at 8:51
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    The corollary to that being, a developer who doesn't ever looks things up is probably a bad developer. New stuff comes out, best practice changes. – Reinstate Monica Apr 23 '14 at 9:38
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    @JoeStrazzere and yet it happens regularly in the (UK) software contractor space, on top of food and fuel allowances no less. Salaried software developers are often short changed in this regard. – Gusdor Apr 23 '14 at 14:19
  • @JoeStrazzere I've updated my answer to make it clearer that travel is applicable to me here in the UK. – Styphon Apr 23 '14 at 14:38
  • @Gusdor in case of contractors, the contractor's company is paid for the travel time. The person himself never sees a pence of that money. Of course in case of self-employed contractors the company is the person, but those often get the short straw when it comes to contract terms. – jwenting Apr 24 '14 at 9:57
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I keep track of my own hours and am not sure what all to turn in. I have only been turning in the time that I am programming and take off the time I have to look things up or learn something new.

I also don't count the time I take breaks or the time when I come into the office to meet about projects. I also take off some extra time because I'm just slower or have to re-do some things as I go along. In my last pay period I only turned in half the hours I worked on a project.

Am I being correct in calculating the hours I should be paid for?

It doesn't appear that you are calculating your hours correctly at all (at least the way they would be calculated in my shop). But the only opinion that matters in this regard is the opinion of your employer.

You should talk to your boss and ask how you should be calculating your hours. Your employer is trusting you to keep track of your own hours. If you aren't sure how to do that correctly, you owe it to them to find out.

In general, you are entitled to be paid for all of the hours you work - at home or in the office, not those hours diluted by some factor to account for your slowness.

Ask your boss.

  • Ask your boss... cautiously. A not-very-nice company could take advantage of the OP's good nature. – Reinstate Monica Apr 23 '14 at 13:37
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    I'd avoid leading questions - e.g. saying "I'm only charging for active hours writing new code, and not for research, is this right?" invites a simple lazy "yes", whereas "What are the typical guidelines for charging billable hours?" might get a more reasonable answer. – Reinstate Monica Apr 23 '14 at 13:42
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If you were in the physical office, chances are that time taken to research solutions, build your skills, go to the restroom, take a few minutes to reset your brain, and the like would all be perfectly billable. The way I tend to resolve this is that I have a desk area set up at home: any time spent at the desk is time I'm "on the clock", and quick trips to the restroom or kitchen are also "on the clock". If I wander off and have a nap, obviously that's not billable, and likewise for popping out to run errands (akin to a lunch break). When I'm in my home office, I'm in the office, period, and I make a point to behave the same way I would at the actual office.

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If you wouldn't be doing what you are doing if you didn't have the job, it's work. Charge for it!

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    Could you explain your answer in more detail please? – Adam Zuckerman Apr 24 '14 at 4:45
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I would charge for all time working including time learning skills that are directly needed for the current project, likewise I would charge for all time in meetings and traveling to meetings. I would not stop charge when making a cup of tea or putting the washing in the dryer. I would not charge for time having lunch or doing the ironing.

However I would give them something like 1hr free for each full day of work they pay for, to make up for the time I don’t have to spend commuting.

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    Why on earth would you give them an hours for free? Most businesses don't pay you for that hours you spend commuting anyways. And you're already saving them money by not having to pay for space/electricity/office supplies to house you every day. – Grant Apr 23 '14 at 17:00
  • @Grant, Because they are allowing me to work from home, they don’t have to. If I don’t show that I am more productive than someone in the office, then I may be forced to do the commuting. – Ian Apr 24 '14 at 7:42
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    @Ian who tells you they're not getting benefit from it too? That they don't need you to work from home? If your work isn't a mutual benefit, just quit. Seriously, do it. – Pierre Arlaud Apr 24 '14 at 8:28
  • Its illegal to work for free in the US, remote or not. – Andy Dec 5 '14 at 17:16

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