I'm a student + working from home (coding - not internship). I'm supposed to count hours I've worked on the projects, but then I'm still somewhat new to my job and 2/3 of the time I spend working is basically just learning, reading, testing new technologies and such - every week I'm working is basically 3 days of learning and 2 days of actual work, still mixed with a lot of googling.

While I'm fine with reporting hours, it seems unethical that I'm getting paid to basically read books and docs for 20 hours a week, whereas an experienced programmer would do my job in a few weeks (down from months) without most of that.

A lot of what I'm learning isn't domain-specific, so my next job/certain courses I'll have in a few months will greatly benefit from this.

Should I report all the hours I'm working, or limit those hours somehow?

  • it seems unethical that I'm getting paid to basically read books and docs for 20 hours a week - are you reading things which are necessary for you to complete the project? Report those properly and there should be no ethical problem. – Brandin Jan 8 '17 at 9:52
  • Very much related: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/24432/… – user8036 Jan 8 '17 at 13:26

Both overreporting and underreporting of hours amount to timesheet fraud. If your company bills a customer for your hours, timesheet fraud can setup them for potential litigation (in both cases).

The case of overreporting is obvious, but there are a couple of reasons why underreporting could cause problems.

  • The customer may see your company more favourably for future contracts based on the "lower" billing, but that lower billing is based on false data.
  • The false data could also jeopardize your own company's project planning for future projects, which usually takes past project data as a factor.

Report the hours. They have the right to know how long it took you,

If they hired you on the cheap, they got what they paid for. If they had wanted to hire someone experienced, they would have already done it. And paid that someone accordingly.

  • This is really the point - if you were being paid as an experienced contractor then you wouldn't report the hours. However it's unlikely that a student would be paid the same hourly rate as a senior software engineer/developer. So the reduced efficiency is expected - and likely still cheaper for your employer. – Chris Jan 13 '17 at 17:16

Learning will be a major part of your time, no matter how experienced you are. There is much, much more to know than a single person could ever know. So hours spent learning towards the goal of performing the task that you need to perform counts as working time.


It is not a general rule for this, at any level of experience as freelancer or employee that is paid per hour.

To manage this ethical, you must answer one question, in my opinion: Is it, the task, included in the job requirements or it is at the level of knowledge for that you were hired or they already paid you to learn that? If it is and you still need to read more, this shouldn't be paid time. If the answer is no, if they ask you to do something, but this is out of your working zone, it is something more than the level for you are paid, you should report the hours.

Anyway, 2/3 time for studying it is a bold choice, a little too much time. It is important to keep a balance between a solid base that you offer to your clients/ employer and the learning.

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