I manage a small team and recently hired for a new position. In the job posting it clearly stated that the work hours are from 8:00-4:30. No concerns about these hours were mentioned during the interview process at all.

Recently after accepting the job offer, the new hire expressed an issue with the hours of work, and proposed their own hours. The hours were not even consistent every day, they requested different work hours for each day of the week (they did all add up to the same total number of hours). I rejected this request.

The employee(before the first day of work), then emailed my superior with the same request and was approved.

How do I carry on managing an employee that is willing to go right over my head on an issue like this? How do I address this with my manager so that it doesn't happen again. ( the first words out of my managers mouth should have been "Have you discussed this with your direct manager first?" )

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    Why do you have a pointless set-time day when your own superior thinks more flexible hours is acceptable? Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 5:24
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    Your employee did the correct thing. There was a conflict and they escalated. The only issue is between you and your superior disagreeing on what work hours should be (or disagreeing on how such escalations should be resolved, i.e. we agree to always discuss them first).
    – GManNickG
    Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 6:06
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    Again, it hinges on information we lack, but immediately assuming "they disregard my authority" because they escalate an issue is not a great quality for a manager, especially if they hasn't started yet. How can they disregard you if he has barely met you?
    – xDaizu
    Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 7:33
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    It's quite possible that as a leader of a small team, you dole out work and lead standups etc. Deciding what core hours are is not within your remit. You seem to be focusing on "oh noes he won!" when you should be focusing on getting them upstairs to acknowledge that you're all entitled to flexible working! Winner, dinner, etc. Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 9:20
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    Are you the manager of the team, or the leader of the team? In other words, do you actually hire and fire people, or just supervise them? I wonder whether there isn't a misunderstanding over what your role in the company actually is. Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 12:28

7 Answers 7


How do I carry on managing an employee that is willing to go right over my head on an issue like this?

This is not a problem with the employee. This is a problem between you and your superior.

As a middle-level manager, I would be aghast if my boss allowed someone to go around me and get their acceptance on such a request without even first letting me know about it.

I'd immediately request a one-on-one meeting with my boss and discuss what my role was, what my authority was, and why this end-around happened.

Hopefully I would hear that this was all a mistake or misunderstanding. But if I found that I actually had no real authority and that this sort of thing would continue to happen, I'd re-evaluate my role and decide if it was still a role that I wanted to fill or not.

And if I chose to stay, I'd talk with my manager about why the hours of 8:00-4:30 were important enough to make them part of the job posting, and how I was going to move the new employee back to those hours. (This all assumes that coverage of those hours wasn't arbitrary and that adherence really was important).

I would then inform the upcoming employee of the work hours I expected to be covered, and I'd prepare for the scenario where the new employee chose to not come aboard after all.

I view backing up middle-managers (at least publicly) as vitally important in a workplace. I wouldn't work for a company where I was expecting my decisions to be undermined on a regular basis.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Commented Mar 27, 2017 at 21:59

First and foremost, talk to your superior.

You've got to start out by realising that this is not a problem with your employee, if anything, it's a problem with your boss. Unless it is typically his / her responsibility to set your employees hours, (s)he's out of his / her department by approving the request.

It is quite probable that (s)he didn't know that the employee's original request was denied, and it is just possible that (s)he believed that the employee, being new to the company, wasn't quite sure where to put in the request.

Whatever the case, communication with your boss is critical. (S)he should know that you had already rejected the request, and it is a good idea for you to have an idea why your boss approved the request.

From there, you should discuss with your superior what this should look like in the future, whether or not those hours should be preserved, etc. Be ready to express the concerns you had with the employee's suggested hours. Communicate, communicate, communicate.

N.B.: Obviously, when you talk to your boss, don't go in an attitude of "I'm right, you're out of line: I've got to fix you": the whole goal is communication and understanding.


Read the employee handbook. Everywhere I've ever worked, escalation to your boss's boss is exactly how disagreements with your boss are supposed to go. Chances are that your employee has done the right thing, if they believe a reasonable request has been unreasonably refused. If you're going to complain about your employee not following the letter of their contract, you'd better make sure you're also following the letter of their contract!

As Joe Strazzere says though, you do have a problem with your superior overriding your decision without consulting you. They may quite legitimately decide that your decision wasn't right - and that's why they're your boss. I'd be worried if this was to happen without consulting me, because although flexible hours are usually a good thing, there may be some specific issue which your boss doesn't know about which in this case would make it impractical.


Turn this employee's perceived liability into an asset. Your view is this employee has demonstrated a lack of respect for authority. Turn it around and say, this employee has assertiveness and is a problem solver. It took some guts to go around you. Most people would have given up and lived with the rigid situation. This employee found a way to resolve it. It depends on the job, but this employee's ability to cut through rules and bureaucracy could be a huge asset to you.

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    James, Please tell me you're the employee he's talking about. It would be hilarious if it were you. Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 6:10

This question needs more replies from employee's standpoint. Here is one more.

Company work hours by default don't mean everyone has to work them. They only mean company business hours, when someone can come in. Small companies usually have the most flexibility in this regard, so it's natural for people to assume that flexible hours is a norm for non-customer facing roles. Is this a helpdesk or sales position? Is it a software developer / network admin / another technical role? Two different treatment plans.

Regarding how to deal with this or similar situation (when employee requests a non-standard accommodation), you need to try your best to accommodate them. Talk to your boss, see what you can do. If you can allow some flex in work start/end time, do so. If after all this you are absolutely sure hours are strict, you must provide a reasonable explanation why this would be the case (unless it's obvious to everyone, like a bank teller - need to cover a specific shift). In 2017 you cannot just reject them "because I said so".

But the key question here is how talented the employee is. Is he/she a top performer / Will become a top performer? Another key question - are you paying as much as google? If yes to the first question and no to the second, you need to be careful when imposing authority. Especially if dealing with a millennial. Especially if they were hired at a senior level position with substantial experience. Based on how they acted, there is a high chance of them being a top performer, now or in the future. Please respect A players and use their energy in the right way, if you want them to succeed.

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    I agree, it wasn't worth a down vote. It would have been nice if the person who had down voted you had left a comment as to why they did so though.
    – Mark Booth
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 16:31

I agree absolutely with earlier answers: talk to your manager about him/her overriding your decision without consulting you. I want you to think about the management implications.

You cannot allow this employee to work flexible hours and not allow the rest of the team to work flexible hours.

How flexible are these hours? Are there core hours, say 9:00 to 4:00 or 10:00 to 3:00, when everyone must be present? Can I work 8:30 to 7:00 Monday to Thursday and take Friday off? Can I accumulate overtime and then take the odd day off or get extra pay? Can I leave early even if an important task needs to be completed by 4:30?

If everyone arrives at 8:30 and leaves at 4:30, it is easy to manage time. If everyone can arrive and leave at their own time, you need a time management system. Will you have a clock-in/clock-out system or will you trust everyone to create their own timesheets. How will you calculate the actually hours worked? Will you employ someone to process the clock cards or timesheets? Will the clock-in/clock-out system create weekly reports? Will staff enter their timesheets into an online system?

A change from fixed hours to flexible hours will be popular with employees but will need rules and extra management. Who will set the rules? Who will be responsible for the extra management?

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    “You cannot allow this employee to work flexible hours and not allow the rest of the team to work flexible hours.” — In fact, if this is regulated in the contract you absolutely can. It’s entirely normal for different employees to have different working hours. Although, admittedly, in the same team this may lead to friction if there’s no evident, acceptable reason for such a distinction (but even that happens). Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 15:38
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    @KonradRudolph. The question implies that 8:30 to 4:30 are the contract hours and flexible hours are a favour for the new employee. Having some full time and some part time employees is not unusual and would not be a issue. You can have secret differences in terms (A gets more per hours than B for the same work) but, in my experience, having obvious differences (A has flexible hours whilst B does not) leads to such a drop in morale and productivity that it is not worth it even if it is legal. Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 16:22
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    I tend to agree but then the same is true for other contract terms. Case in point: I’m a postdoc in a big lab, and I have a higher starting salary than my postdoc colleagues. The reason? I negotiated for a higher salary, the others didn’t (since it’s not usual to do this in academia). That’s a ridiculous situation but most people accept it without batting an eyelid. I don’t see why flexible working hours should be any different. In fact, I think that it’s much less serious than variable salaries. Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 17:22
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    "If everyone arrives at 8:30 and leaves at 4:30, it is easy to manage time. If everyone can arrive and leave at their own time, you need a time management system." Or you could just have a little faith in your employees. Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 18:46
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    @KonradRudolph The (huge) difference, is that flexible hours are in other peoples faces every single day, while different salaries are either confidential, or at least not that obvious (I'm assuming you don't have a big sign above your desk saying "I'm paid more!"). Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 7:43

You are not happy with your manager. You say "How do I carry on managing an employee that is willing to go right over my head on an issue like this? How do I address this with my manager so that it doesn't happen again. ( the first words out of my managers mouth should have been "Have you discussed this with your direct manager first?" )"

Who says that wasn't his first words? And then the new employee said "I did, and he rejected it for no good reason at all".

It seems you have your view of the interview process. But if I see a job offer that is mostly fine but I don't like the hours advertised, I would apply and at some point in the interview process discuss the hours. It's quite possible that this was actually discussed, between new employee and your manager. That would explain a lot.

You seem to be particularly annoyed that the requested hours were not the same every day. Why? I know people who need everything to happen in a fixed arranged pattern that they cannot deviate from. This seems more like your problem.

So you have an employee who disagreed with your decision and who completely rightfully went to your manager who overrode your decision. That's absolutely normal. How do you carry on managing him? To the best of your abilities, of course. Without creating a hostile working environment by showing or even having anger, or retaliating in any way. By acting professionally. A business decision has been made. Nothing to take personal.

How do you address this with your manager so that it doesn't happen again? You have a talk with your manager, asking why the decision was made, and why it was made without asking you. Then you either accept your manager's decision or you go to his boss. If your boss doesn't like it, you can show him this post. On the other hand, you may discover there was a good reason for this decision.

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