I started a new job a few months ago and they are very strict on timing. In fact if we show up 1 minute late we get written up. We recently finished training and are now told to show up 15 minutes early to get setup and have all our computer programs ready to go when our shift starts (one of the programs we open actually is the official time keeper for when we are considered working).

A large part of the job is talking on the phone and we are required to stay late if the call hasn't finished before our end time. We don't get paid for this time either, and it happens at least once a week.

I like the job and intend to keep it, but it seems like each day I learn something else I consider unfair. What actions options do I have? I would like to get the instructions in writing that I have to be their 15 minutes early encase I latter learn this isn't an official rule. Where I live an employee can't get fired for refusing to do unpaid work, though I don't think refusing to follow the rules is a good idea.

Would it help if I send a message to the HR or payroll department along the lines of

I have no problem arriving at work 15 minutes early. Just wondering if it's considered normal pay or overtime?

note the sarcasm as I already know they think they can get this for free.

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    This will depend of you contract I think. Everyone has to do some overtime from time to time to complete tasks even tho i'm not sure it's 100% legal regarding your position it's how things work in a lot of companies , you're paid for doing a job , if it takes you longer time then it's your problem , do this time. – Rolexel Jul 4 '17 at 7:26
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    Can you add a location tag to this? It will depend on where you live. – Erik Jul 4 '17 at 7:49
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    Are you paid hourly or on a salary? There isn't much you can do if it's salaried work. – DCON Jul 4 '17 at 7:59
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    By my reckoning, you've basically just had a 6.25% pay cut (based on an 8 hour day). Your employer may well have the right to impose this on you, but personally I'd be looking for a new job right away. – Jonathon Cowley-Thom Jul 4 '17 at 10:12
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    some local laws sometimes require that employees must be ready to work at the time their schedule/shift starts : that means -> dress code (if needed) / computer on / phone on... it's then not part of the paid time. But check your local law before taking any action – OldPadawan Jul 4 '17 at 11:00

This is a delicate situation to handle, because you are trying to change management from below.

First: Do not send the message you proposed, it will be viewed as passive-aggressive and you will be perceived as a troublemaker and achieve exactly nothing.

Second: Think about the situation in total. Had they given you a contract that clearly stated that you had to arrive early and do a moderate amount of unpaid overtime, would you still have taken the job? Is the wage good enough even considering your additional working hours?

If this still makes you feel treated unfairly, find the person responsible for the time-rules and get a private conversation with him. tell him that you like working there, but that you noticed that the unpaid overtime and preparation-time makes employees feel treated unfair. Tell him that you have no problem with putting extra effort in, but you also feel work has to be paid. Try to make this about fairness and employee-satisfaction as an important counterweight to the relatively small savings on wages. Also, don´t expect an organisation to change over night just for you. Every change takes a lot time and effort, the more so the bigger the organisation.

If you get to a point where you are sure you can't convince the management, you'll have to decide for yourself if you can put up with this rules or better look for another employer. Even if you are legally right - if it's their organisational culture to do extra time you will always be at odds with them and it´s hard to maintain a healthy working environment.


I've seen similar sorts of setups a quite a few places I've worked, the "justification" often given is to ensure that staff are ready to start work at their actual start time rather than spending the first 10 mins or so of their shift starting up computers, getting coffee etc. I've never seen this time be considered payable (as in their mind you aren't "working"). To be honest in my experience it's often a sign of a crap work place when they focus this rigidly of the minutiae of timekeeping but it's not black and white and the appropriateness will depend on what the job role is really.

Ultimately though you won't be able to change it and pushing back on it will likely just cause hassle for you. Your proposed message to HR for example would likely be a disaster. So really you need to decide whether this is a big enough issue for you to leave over or not, I'm not suggesting it should or shouldn't be - that's a personal decision that only you can make. It's surely not a surprise to you that they take this stance given it was made clear during your training?

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