When the HR was giving the induction presentation around three months back for the post of trainee at a Software company to me, I explicitly asked them what are the timings?

HR: We bill our clients at 45-48 hours per week, so we expect that from our employees.

Me: Ok, I can come and go whenever I want as long as I maintain that time per week?

HR: Yes.

Today the HR called me.

HR: What time do you come in? and leave?

Me: Around so and so times

HR: Yes, I have noticed that and due to my busy schedule, I was not able to point it out to you. Do you think that is enough?

Me: umm, yes I do around 45 - 48 hours per week.

HR: Look, for trainees the time 9.30 sharp in the morning, as you are on the payroll we require trainees to be in by this time, I dont want to point out others, but so and so trainee come in at 9 and leave at 8 pm. (And yet they didnt say what is the official out time)

Me: (gone crazy) said OK, pointed out to that first day conversation(where they said about 45-48 hours per week) and left their cabin.

Now my question is, is this behaviour justified? I dont want to live in the office, I am given work, I get it done thats what matters to me, I have my life to live too. How to tackle this situation?

Edit- The justification they gave about telling 45-48 hours was that its for the employees, not trainees. (Another wtf)

Edit - IMPORTANT - I work in India, therefore there are significant differences from a cultural and legal perspective when compared to the USA or other NATO countries.

Update Third day after that conversation, reached at 9.50 (got late because of gym) and got a mail saying why were you late today. They are now keeping a close watch on me I guess. Is it time to talk to them and say give me some time to adjust to the new timings?

The conversation was as follows:

HR: Even after verbal discussion you were late, I need an explanation.

Me: Due to my gym session I was held up, sorry for that, will come at 9.30 AM tomorrow.

HR: What about the out time?

Me: 7.30 PM

HR: (took a while to reply) 10.30 to 7.30 is 9 hours, one hour for the break, so you are working 8 * 5 hours total. SE need to work for 48 hours, but you are trainee level, you need to put more extra efforts.

Me: (thinking that break is 30 mins, I came in at around 10 so it still is 45 but replied) Duly noted, I am already doing my best to complete all the work my supervisor is giving me, thanks for the heads up.

The irony is, just about 15 days ago I had a rather good offer from a much bigger company than this, but because it was in a different city I had to decline it. Never anticipated such a situation would arrive here.

  • 9
    It looks like the problem here was just an unspoken expectation about people being in the office during some core hours. Just abide. These kinds of misunderstandings happen when you mix older and younger people who have wildly different ideas about what constitutes core working hours.
    – teego1967
    Oct 28 '14 at 14:05
  • Where are you located? Some regions mandate lunch breaks of certain durations by law. (And even though my location doesn't have such a mandate, I've never worked anywhere that gave me less than 1hr for lunch.)
    – Brian S
    Oct 28 '14 at 14:58
  • India, the place I work has 30 minutes, as I was told by the same HR on my first day.
    – user1502
    Oct 28 '14 at 15:08
  • 6
    The fact that you work in India is incredibly important. I work for a multinational company that has offices in India and in North America. The rules that apply to North American employees and the rules that apply to Indian employees are unfortunately very different. Most answers seem to be given from a North American perspective and may not apply in your circumstance. For example, in Canada, the comment that HR made is actually illegal (they can't say that they expect you to work over 44 hours); in India, HR's comments could be ok (I don't know for sure). Oct 29 '14 at 16:39
  • 3
    Hello user1502! I noticed you have some closed questions on our site and thought I'd offer some guidance to help get you the best answers. To write a good question for our site, focus on conciseness. Just include enough information to make it clear what the problem is. Afterwards, at the end, ask a clear question that has a clear goal. The question should be something folks can answer in Q&A format as we're not like a discussion site. Check out How to Ask for more guidance. Good luck!
    – jmort253
    Oct 30 '14 at 4:18

In a professional career, always assume and act as if a simple misunderstanding has happened, not a deliberate act of misrepresentation. Regardless of what the truth of the matter is, it puts you in the right frame of mind to act professionally (and you always want to do that, even if you're the only one in the room doing so).

  • Not left the job, re edited the post.
    – user1502
    Oct 28 '14 at 12:34
  • 6
    Okay. In that case, scratch the first part of what I said and also listen to the advice of Vietnhi because it is another version of the second thing I said. WTFs (and the face-to-face equivalent of rolling eyes and acting offended or grumpy) reflect more poorly on you than your intended target. So I hope when you left, you did so as coolly and professionally as possible. If so, you did exactly the right thing. Oct 28 '14 at 12:38
  • yes, I was professional in there and left coolly, also thanks for your 'misunderstanding' advice. But what now, should I come at the time HR says? And I am confused with the out time, I don't want to talk to the HR again about it.
    – user1502
    Oct 28 '14 at 12:41
  • 10
    @user1502 What you don't want to do and what you have to do are two different things. You are still confused and as long as you are legitimately confused, you have the right to ask for clarifications. You are no longer 10 and you are no longer getting your knuckles rapped by some sadistic nun schoolteacher - Get in there as an adult and get the clarifications you need! :) Hint: the experience of asking will be a lot easier on you if you come in with an attitude of looking for help getting info that you are legitimately entitled to have rather than anticipating another confrontation. Oct 28 '14 at 12:55
  • 15
    @user1502 1. I don't care how you go about getting your info as long as you get it; 2. When you need to get something, you get it. You are no longer 10 and you are too old to play hide and seek. Oct 28 '14 at 14:05

Consult your manager. If your manager is okay with what you are doing and is happy with the progress of your work, then HR doesn't have grounds for complaint. Unless HR can override your manager, that is.


it doesn't matter how many WTF's you add to your post - they don't change anything to the situation, except maybe give some of us a negative attitude toward you [OP subsequently edited this aspect of his post in response to feedback from @DavidNeuschultz's and me]

You are totally entitled to point out to HR that you worked your hours based on HR's presentation and that HR never pointed to a different work week rule until now. But if HR made a miscommunication, they are also entitled to correct it the first chance they get.

  • Its a small startup company, project manager is the CTO and HR manages staff. I work under a person who is just another regular employee and he is kind of friendly. So hr can override the person who is my boss. The project manager as you pointed out does not deal with me directly and only knows I exist, nothing more.
    – user1502
    Oct 28 '14 at 12:38
  • 4
    @user1502 If the CTO/PM is approachable, then it's for you to say hello to him and get to know him - you never know when you need a reference or when you need backup from high places. Oct 28 '14 at 13:08
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    @user1502: The only real thing to add to Vietnhi's answer is that a company is generally free to change working hours as they see fit. I'm not sure which country you are in, but it's entirely possible they had a "come and go" policy but now believe you've abused it and is changing that. I had a similar policy in the past but people started coming in later and later. In my case, I had enough and set actual working hours: 9am is the latest unless you are taking time off.
    – NotMe
    Oct 28 '14 at 14:21
  • @ChrisLively When I was talking to them and pointed the 45-48 hour/week thing, they started given explanations -> clearly distinguished between "trainee" and "employee", while an employee can but a trainee cannot.
    – user1502
    Oct 28 '14 at 14:51
  • 4
    @user1502: I'm standing by what Vietnhi said which boils down to a form of "suck it up buttercup." Ask HR exactly what hours they want you there so that you have clear expectations, then follow through on them.
    – NotMe
    Oct 28 '14 at 15:03

How many hours a week are you paid for, and how many are you working? What's your hourly rate for the hours that you are working? If you are not happy with it, try to take as much advantage of the job as you can (learning any technology you can, training courses etc. , they take as much advantage of you as they can so nothing immoral about it), while looking for a less evil company.

  • When I had joined I was told 45-48, so I have been working around 9 hours a day, 5 days a week. There is no hourly rate system in India (yet). As I am a trainee, I am paid very less, if projected in dollars, 114.137$ per month, and once they promote me to an employee, I am expected to earn 407.631$ per month. Good idea about learning new technologies, will implement that right away! This is the best company around the place I live, rest are in different cities, I had to decline one of them for this reason although it was 4th largest company of my country.
    – user1502
    Oct 28 '14 at 14:48
  • 3
    @user1502 if getting promoted out of trainee status into full employee status is expected to more than triple your salary, then you would probably be well advised to make the extra effort regardless of how the job was initially presented - because I bet you that if you don't, plenty of other people are willing to. Oct 28 '14 at 23:30

I am currently a Software Engineer on salary in the US.

The building's HR representative would prefer I come in earlier (I often come in after 11 and sometimes after noon), but my manager doesn't care at all, and it's his call, not HR's. He often comes in late as well, as does much of my team, so it doesn't actually affect our effectiveness as a group.

The opinion of the people you work for and with is more important than HR's. Despite HR's opinion about my punctuality, my managers are very happy with me and because of that I've been promoted several times in the last couple years.

It is definitely relevant that you are still in training. Here, we expect new team members to come in at about the same time as whoever is training them until the trainer feels like they can work on their own, at which time they make their own hours.

My contract doesn't include any specific hours, it simply says I need to perform my job duties to my manager's satisfaction.

Check your contract to see what it says, and consult the person who actually makes the decision. Check to see if what they tell you is temporary because of your status as a trainee.

Whatever you do, remain calm, don't get angry, and present yourself as seeking information so that you may correctly perform your duties. I would be much happier with an employee who made sure to clarify with me than with one who got upset and tried to avoid further conflict.


First of all HR called you. That is already a warning sign. Things like these come and go, and I would make everything in my power for them to forget about me, even if it took staying in the office for 12 hours. Then little by little you shave and shape your hours back, making sure you leave at least the impression that you are doing what they want you to do, even if your are not.

Anything you do - don't stir the waters. You can't win HR.

  • 6
    This sounds like horrible advice. Whatever you do, you want to make sure you have the correct expectations, and having the last thing HR remembers be scolding you about your hours is not a good impression to leave them with, especially if they later find you're still not doing it right.
    – DCShannon
    Oct 29 '14 at 3:33
  • This is making the assumption that you desperately need this job and can't afford to leave, even if they are ripping you off badly by making you work way longer than you agreed. If you're not from the US or a third world country, this is probably not a useful answer.
    – MGOwen
    Oct 29 '14 at 10:35
  • You can choose between the PC answers and reality. Navigating the workplace is a game and an art.
    – user1220
    Oct 29 '14 at 13:51

You added in a comment:

have got all my work done as and when my supervisor has said. Sitting there with work is one thing, sitting there to finish hours is another

And I would agree but that's where you want to focus your response. You're willing to "do what it takes" and you simply need more to do then. Ask HR to whom you should inquire for more work when you've completed your tasks. If they can't give you someone who can direct you then (politely) ask "then what should I be doing during the rest of the time I'm here? I want my time here to be as productive and useful as possible".

It's their job to give you something to do unless they specifically tell you to find something else to do. But whatever they say, take them at their word in that regard. If they say "find something" then you ask everyone you can for something to help with.

  • It's the supervisor's job to give the employee something to do, not HR.
    – DCShannon
    Oct 29 '14 at 3:34
  • In any normal, sane company I would agree. However, he said "Its a small startup company, project manager is the CTO and HR manages staff" which is why I answered the way I did. If HR (who often has the ability to make staff changes) is unhappy with your activities, it's reasonable to ask the person how to rectify the situation, otherwise you get into a "he said, she said" scenario where he says "but tom said he had nothing for me so I left."
    – Chris E
    Oct 29 '14 at 12:38
  • Was that in a comment somewhere? It's not in the question now.
    – DCShannon
    Oct 29 '14 at 21:56

If HR has come to you with this request, you have to understand first that you are in trouble. Someone has noticed that you don't seem to be working the hours they think you should be working. Some companies allow flexibility only until they think you have abused it. Your company thinks this or you would not have had that chat. Like it or not, you are not meeting their expectations and your job is at risk when that happens. This is something you need to fix immediately.

The easiest fix is to come in at 9:30 like you were requested to do. Then stay at work the hours you are supposed to be there. If you are wroking from home part of the time, you need to make that more visible with emails and chat sessions during the hours you are there so that people see you available and working. If people try to contact you and you are never around, they will decide you are not working even if you worked until midnight. So make sure that the work you are doing is clearly visible.

Make sure that you ask for more work when a task is finished not sit around waiting for it. In a place that expects such hours, the liklihood of there being no more work to do is probably less than 10%. If they didn't have a lot of work, they would not expect the hours they expect. In almost 40 years in the workplace I have had maybe two days when I had nothing to do and then I spent the time on professional development. There is ALWAYS something that needs to be done. It may not be something you particularly want to do but this is work, so do it anyway rather than sit around. They are paying you for full-time work, it is incumbent on you to make sure you deliver full-time work not "as much as I felt like" this week.

Your corporate culture is to require constant overtime. They told you this up front. 45 hours a week is a nine hour work day excluding lunch. So starting at 9:30 that means you have to stay until 7 pm. Every day. If you want to leave earlier than that, then get to work at 8 or 7:30. You need to make sure that you either do the hours (and do them visibly since you have appeared to be slacking.) or go get a job with hours more to your liking.

  • "In a place that expects such hours, the liklihood of there being no more work to do is probably less than 10%." I know there is work, but we are talking about work for a trainee here, there are things that this company doesn't specifically trust their trainees can do because of the works sensitive nature and hence its given to the employees only to finish. I don't have any problem coming early, but as and when my work gets finished I wish to leave, which is going to change now.
    – user1502
    Oct 30 '14 at 5:13
  • 1
    Secondly, my communication through mails with the HR is nil, and HR doesn't assign me any work, my supervisor does, I talk to him all the time and 2 other people of the team, thats about all. How on earth can the HR assume that this trainee isnt working? I feel it was a bit daft of the HR to judge the trainee's work capability on the number of hours spent at the office. But somewhere I feel that HR was channelling their grudge against me due to some other reason.
    – user1502
    Oct 30 '14 at 5:13

You have a contract, look inside it, ask a lawyer to check it. Whatever is not written there usually doesn't count and can't be changed without your consent.

In all contracts I had so far, core working times were defined, number of weekly hours, vacation days, everything.

You have different options:

  • play by their new rules
  • stick to the contract
  • look for a new place to work
  • start an own company

Options might be limited by how desperate you need the job, how easy it is to find a new one, or one option might lead to another, e.g. the second to the third.

  • I have never had a written contract nor do most people in the US. However, there are also generally HR policy manuals which dictate acceptable hours among other things.
    – HLGEM
    Oct 29 '14 at 14:31

As a fellow software engineer, who worked in multiple places. Here is my 2 cents.

I have worked in different work environments with companies of different sizes and culture. I would say there is not a one size fits all response to this situation. It depends on the company, their culture (institutional way of doing things, Team culture etc). Infact some time things differ within the same team as well. Here is how

Team 1: Our daily checkin was set at 11 am, thus team mates would come in by 10.30a, worked till later in the day. Some folks did the checkin on the call since we had team mates divided within multiple office locations. The coming and going policies were quite causal. Insistence was on to be at the 11 am checkin and updating the status on the project management tool.

Team 2: Daily checkin was set at 9 am, majority team mates in the primary location. I felt the insistence here was to be in person at the office at 9am and if you were not there then that was a little frowned upon.

Note: These were both teams under the same manager but different team leaders.

Thus I would say the best thing to do is to gauge what the rest of your team is doing especially the one's in your role like full time software engineer.Thus knowing what the precedent in the team is certainly helps.

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