This dilemma highlights a realistic challenge associated with receiving hourly payment for work. According to most contracts, an hourly rate, part-time employee is expected to perform reasonably productively for every billable working hour (Accountability).
Whenever the hourly-rate employee is “on-the-clock,” the employee gets paid. However, practically speaking, work performance levels vary for each person from day to day and throughout each day—depending on a variety of factors such as health, rest, distraction, and consumption of caffeine. The expectation is to work reasonably productively, not perfectly or continuously productively.
It is important to think critically and realistically about what it means to work reasonably productively (Reason), and to manage your time on and off the clock. While working exceptionally hard on the job is commendable, and can result in bonuses or promotions, it is important to recognize that working productively in the past does not make up for wasted time in the present (Intelligence).
Circumspection helps the part-time employee determine whether time spent at work is reasonably productive or not. Short, occasional breaks are necessary and expected during the work day. However, longer breaks should be taken outside of work hours. Submitting a timesheet is a means of communicating one’s productive work hours to the company, and invoicing payment for these hours. Communicating this information accurately is part of Justice and involves treating others respectfully and presenting oneself to others truthfully through one’s work.
While wanting to make up for wasted time by working extra unbilled hours in the future is well-intentioned (Equity), it is advisable for hourly-rate employees to request payment only for hours actually worked (Equitable Judgment). In this scenario, it’s important to be open to advice from others if needed (Docility), but to avoid making an issue out of the situation (Foresight), which could occur if the employee talks to his/her supervisor about it unnecessarily. It’s also important to think about how work decisions and habits may set an example for others (Avoiding Scandal). Finally, one reason to consider the morally nuanced situation in this dilemma is to appreciate how even everyday small decisions impact co-workers, teams, and the company (Promoting the Common Good).
Special Circumstances to Consider:
- If your supervisor and/or co-workers have observed you repeatedly nodding off during the workday.
- If your supervisor has approached you previously about your lack of productivity during work hours.
Read Fulvio Di Blasi’s full bio here.