I'm a new co-op at a defense contractor (co-ops are like interns who have longer assignments, more job duties (sometimes), and work through various parts of the year). This is my second week on the job, and I'll be here for the next six months. I really like the DIB and I'm hoping to secure a job right after my co-op, so I want to make a good impression.

During my HR orientation I was told that logging correct hours is very important to the company as they hold random audits. I have been very compliant in making sure I show up on time (or if I run a little late, I'll work the equivalent time after work). Now I have to say that when it requires, I will stay at work all-night, even without OT, to get the job done. I'm very committed to my work.

However, I don't know how to handle lunches. For lunch, I always bring my lunch, and I eat at my desk. I either have something light, or soylent which means I'm doing something while eating, not just sitting around. We all have our hours publicly posted (just in case we need to get a hold of one another), and it seems that everyone logs stays here for 8.5 hours (with half an hour for lunch). But I feel like I'm getting a little cheated for working through my lunch (half)hour. The other employees are mixed between going home (if they live nearby), eating at their desk, or eating at the cafeteria.

Right now I get to work at 0800 and leave at 1730. (I do work an hour extra, but that's something else, just pretend 9 hours is the normal working week). So that adds up to 9 hours + half an hour for lunch. Is it appropriate to leave even before 1730 since I don't take that long for lunch, or should I just keep my head down and but in the extra 20 or so minutes for free?

Thank you!

  • I was going to ask my boss, but to be honest, I didn't want to ask him a question that would make him question my commitment. It seems like it's something they really want (they kept asking questions during the interviews like if there was anytime that I went beyond and stayed longer at the office at previous jobs, etc.). Sep 27, 2017 at 18:47
  • 3
    I'd advise getting outside for at least a half hour. Cubicle life can be a bit hellish in the long run, and you should do somethings to break it up. However, as Joe said, it may be permissible to leave a half hour early.
    – Pete B.
    Sep 27, 2017 at 18:47
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    I will stay at work all-night, even without OT, to get the job done.Don't do this. You doing this is making your employer violate the law. They are required to pay you for each hour you work. Unless you're salaried, you need to get paid for your work. They can't even allow you to work without pay.
    – Chris E
    Sep 27, 2017 at 19:07
  • @ChrisE, That's a good point, I didn't think about that. To clarify, I was paid, but just regular rate. Not sure if that's still illegal, but in the future I'll make sure I get paid properly (especially now that I work for Defense). Sep 27, 2017 at 19:24
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    The easiest solution is to stop working through your lunch. Not only is it not productive to do so, but it leads to the exact kind of feeling you have now, telling yourself "I worked through lunch, so now I can pad my reported hours a bit!" This way will not end well. Just take your lunch like everyone else does (or like they should be doing). If you're not hungry, take a "lunch break" to do something else, take a walk, etc.
    – Brandin
    Sep 28, 2017 at 12:43

2 Answers 2


The answer to all your questions and concerns related to time tracking, lunch breaks, and leaving early is this:

Ask your boss

Describe the scenario(s) as you did for us, and ask if you can leave early if you take a short lunch break. I do this at my current job, getting in the hours typically is all that matters, but you will not know until you ask.

Since you are a contractor, and billing by the hour, make sure you understand your managers expectations. (so they line up with the clients)

  • I don't think I'm a contractor, I'm super sure I'm an actual employee of the company, but I guess I'll have to ask. Would it be smart to wait a little while longer to "build a rapport"? Sep 27, 2017 at 18:57
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    @AxelPersinger if you're dealing with HR, you're almost certainly an employee. Whoever you filled your W4 and I-9 for is your employer.
    – Chris E
    Sep 27, 2017 at 19:10
  • @AxelPersinger You're an employee of a defense contractor = you are a contractor. You aren't handling billing directly, but the hours you enter will be used by your company to bill whatever project you are working on.
    – user812786
    Sep 27, 2017 at 19:11
  • @whrrgarbl, I see what you mean now. I thought you meant contractor to the company. But I also work for the corporate office, I guess we still end up getting our money from Defense budget, but yeah. Sep 27, 2017 at 19:22
  • @AxelPersinger Yep, my first job was with a defense contractor and it can take a while to get used to it :) I'd ask coworkers who had been there for years my "stupid questions" about timekeeping, and they would say "idk, I always just ask [our manager]". So it's no big deal. Better to bug your boss with questions than have to explain why your timesheet was filled out wrong!
    – user812786
    Sep 27, 2017 at 19:43

Talk to other people especially your boss about it. I think if you try and talk to him about it, he will understand and let you go early.

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