Working 9-5- still a way to make a living?
March 26, 2010 8:23 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone work 9-5 anymore? (Aside from government employees, that is.) I just got a job and my hours are 8:30-5. I've noticed that many of my friends work similar hours- 8-5 or 8:30-5:30 or 9-6 or even later. Is "Working 9-5" a thing of the past?
posted by shelayna to Work & Money (83 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
The only people I personally know who work 9-5 are government employees or work for a union. Everyone else works variations of a 9-10 hour workday. The real world isn't 9-5 anymore.
posted by meerkatty at 8:26 AM on March 26, 2010

I think somewhere along the way, employers stopped being willing to pay for lunch hours.
posted by Pragmatica at 8:28 AM on March 26, 2010 [19 favorites]

Where are you? Standard "office hours" in the UK are generally 9-5:30. That's what most of the people in my office work.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:28 AM on March 26, 2010

I work 9 to 5 as a software developer, I imagine many white collar jobs are still the same. I tend to see many of the same people on the train on both my morning and evening commute.
posted by borkencode at 8:30 AM on March 26, 2010

My career has always been 8:00-5:00, which seems perfectly normal to me. It's eight work hours plus an hour for lunch. That results in a 40-hour work week, which is standard. Wouldn't a 9:00-5:00 schedule come out to only 35 hours, or are those people getting paid for lunch too? I've always heard "9 to 5" as a colloquial expression, but it doesn't seem to jibe with full-time employment, at least not as I know it here in the U.S.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 8:31 AM on March 26, 2010 [3 favorites]

My official hours are 9-5, and I don't work for the government.
posted by cider at 8:32 AM on March 26, 2010

All the full-time jobs I know of are 8:00-5:00 with a one-hour lunch... except small software companies. In my experience, for many of them it's pretty standard for the staff to roll in at around 9:00. However, that is probably more due to the casual atmosphere of software development than actual stated work hours. I would imagine that most of their handbooks say 8 to 5, but that it's understood that you just need to get your work done and do a good job.

Speaking of which.
posted by relucent at 8:33 AM on March 26, 2010

I work for a US federal agency. Our hours are 8-4:30 with a half hour for lunch. Pretty much, everyone shows up at 8 and leaves at 4:30.
posted by neuron at 8:34 AM on March 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

My "office hours" are somewhat loosely 9-7, though they are usually more like 8:30-7:30, and sometimes far worse (left at midnight last night). I'm in a "white collar" position. I don't know anyone who works a 9-5, although my mother does work a 8-4 (as a school nurse).
posted by CharlieSue at 8:35 AM on March 26, 2010

relucent: Just as a data point, I work for a small software company. But we are actually salaried, and not everyone comes in or leaves at the same time, or follows the same schedule every day of the week. We're expected to work for eight hours a day, though, and lunchtime doesn't count.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 8:36 AM on March 26, 2010

I am a U.S. federal government employee and no government employee I know works 9-5. The closest would be 9-5:30, with a half hour for (unpaid) lunch.

In our agency (and I think this is true of most others) employees are allowed flexibility in their tour of duty, as long as it meets the needs of the office. For example, I work from 6:30 to 3:00, with 30 minutes unpaid for lunch. Some people in my office start at 6 and leave at 2:30, or start at 8 and leave at 4:30.

Also, many employees in my agency work much longer than 8 hours per day as needed.
posted by The Deej at 8:38 AM on March 26, 2010 [5 favorites]

In a global workplace it does not make sense to work 9-5. I collaborate with people in Shanghai. 5 pm PDT is 8 am in Shanghai, 6 pm PDT is 9 am. Meetings would typically run until 6 or 7 pm. It is even more difficult for folks that collaborate with people in Israel or India as there is no really good time to conduct meetings during "normal" working hours.

I also agree that software has a later start time. 9:30 is pretty standard where I work.
posted by crazycanuck at 8:39 AM on March 26, 2010

Where are you? Standard "office hours" in the UK are generally 9-5:30. That's what most of the people in my office work.

Oh, and this is with a 1 hour unpaid lunchbreak, so it's a 37.5 hour working week.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:40 AM on March 26, 2010

I've worked for several local governments, and the workday is not 9-5. It's typically been 8:30-5, or some version of flex time that includes an extra half hour on an eight hour day.
posted by OmieWise at 8:40 AM on March 26, 2010

I work 9 - 5 as museum staff and always have, in 3 separate institutions. We just eat lunch at our desks. And then, of course, we work evenings and weekends as needed for events and so on, which is to say, a lot of evenings and weekends.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:41 AM on March 26, 2010

I work for a private employer and I work 9:00 to 5:00 most days. I'm technically supposed to be here until 5:30 but I rarely am.
posted by something something at 8:44 AM on March 26, 2010

Even when I worked for the government, my hours were 8-5 or 8:30-5:30, which is, as The Winsome Parker Lewis notes, an 8-hour workday plus a 1 hour lunch break making for a 40-hour workweek. I think this is pretty standard for non-managerial white collar jobs. Managerial positions (and those with more authority) seem to be those you-work-as-many-hours-as-it-takes jobs.

I do know someone whose hours are officially 9-5, meaning he gets paid for his lunch hour, but that's largely because (as I understand it) even if he leaves his office for lunch, if something goes wrong, he is expected to fix it immediately. In other words, he's on call during lunch, so it's not really a lunch break.
posted by devinemissk at 8:45 AM on March 26, 2010

I concur with Pragmatica. It's because most employers don't pay for lunchtime.
posted by Hanuman1960 at 8:45 AM on March 26, 2010

I work 9-5, as support staff for a private equity firm. When I was overtime-non-exempt, it was called a 35-hour week, with an hour off for lunch. I'm now exempt, but no one's asked me to change my hours.
posted by troywestfield at 8:47 AM on March 26, 2010

The "lazy government employee" stereotype hasn't been true of any *actual* government employees that I've known. 9-5 is a minimum, not a norm.
posted by schmod at 8:48 AM on March 26, 2010 [10 favorites]

I work in state government and the hours are really flexible. Personally, I work from 7-3:30 with an unpaid half hour lunch. But I could work anywhere from 6am to 6:30pm as long as there were 8 hours plus an unpaid lunch break (at least a half hour, but could be more). Other options are a 9 hour workday (plus lunch) with an extra day off every two weeks, or a 10 hour, four day workweek.

I have never worked anywhere that was 9-5, nor anywhere that was an 8 hour day with a paid lunch break.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:48 AM on March 26, 2010

8:30 to 4:30 with an hour off for lunch is pretty standard for Canadian offices. As a manager I'm usually involved with a lot of projects and meetings outside of these hours (early in the morning or in the evening), but there's usually free bacon or booze involved, so it doesn't bother me at all.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:49 AM on March 26, 2010

The "lazy government employee" stereotype hasn't been true of any *actual* government employees that I've known. 9-5 is a minimum, not a norm.

Do you government employees have "flex time" where you are? They do here, and I can't figure out how adding an extra 30 minutes to your day equals missing an entire day of work every two weeks.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:50 AM on March 26, 2010

My "official" hours are a 40 hour (excluding lunchtime) week with no reference to times. Unofficially those 40 hours are generally interpreted as slightly before 9 until 5:30 with a 1/2 hour or so break. The office is "officially open" meaning receptionist and some professional staff available to anyone who may call 8 til 6. And in reality I work many more than 40 hours, of course.
posted by jamesonandwater at 8:50 AM on March 26, 2010

I work 9.30am - 6pm, more or less.
posted by knapah at 8:50 AM on March 26, 2010

Academia, baby. I worked 8-5 for years in the private sector, then got hired at a university. I was shocked to discover I get to work 5 fewer hours a week.
posted by 8dot3 at 8:51 AM on March 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

I work for a nonprofit and am essentially on flex time. I often have evening meetings or crazy weeks where the 12-hour days outnumber the 8 hour days. But in exchange, on the days when I have evening meetings (or the day after the evening meeting), no one bats an eyelash if I come in at noon, and the week after a 60-hour week I will often take a day off. Most of my coworkers (at least the ones without kids) are on similar schedules.

We're a union shop and are supposed to be working 37.5 hours/week, but I'd guess the standard is more like 50.
posted by lunasol at 8:51 AM on March 26, 2010

For something a bit different. I know many internet/software firms that flex from about 7:30 to 10:30 as a start time to 4:30 to 7:00 end time.

Both of my last two jobs didn't have "set" hours. Most meetings wouldn't start until 10 and you were just expected to do your 8.
posted by bitdamaged at 8:52 AM on March 26, 2010

At my last job as a Sr. Software Engineer, I worked 8-5:30. Lunch breaks were unpaid. It was expected that you would sit at your desk and work while you at. If you left at 5:30, you looked like a slacker since it was common for everyone in the office to stay til 6:30 or 7. Some jobs suck.
posted by adirondack at 8:52 AM on March 26, 2010

Another bit of data from the UK... two of my jobs were 9-5 with a half-hour paid lunch break, although in practice you could start anywhere between 5 and 10am. The other job was 10-6, because the parking outside was free after 10. Nowadays I work 9:30 to 5:30, but I work from home, so I can pretty much set my own hours. I don't know many people in the UK who work more than 40 hours a week, and most seem to work more like 37.5. I'm sure London is a different story though.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 8:54 AM on March 26, 2010

9-5 went away when employers decided they weren't going to pay people for their lunch hours. That's when you started seeing 8-5, 8:30-5:30, even 8:30-5 with only a 30-minute lunch.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:56 AM on March 26, 2010

I'm a government employee and I work 8-5. I don't know anyone who works 9-5.
posted by MorningPerson at 9:00 AM on March 26, 2010

I work for local government. The general accepted hours for most unionized employees are 8:00 am - 4:30 pm with an unpaid hour for lunch. In my branch, most unionized employees work 7:30 am - 4:30 pm with an unpaid lunch hour. As a management exempt employee I work 7:00 am - 5:30 pm and generally work through lunch although I'm entitled to an unpaid hour.

In this city many people start work at 8:00 am; 8:30 am is a "late" start. Starting at 9:00 or later is the province of the performing arts or retail. For white collar jobs in other sectors, starting at 7:30 is not at all unusual. We are 2 hours behind EST, so starting at 7:30 means we can reach our colleages and customers in eastern Canada by 9:30, before coffee and lunch.

9 to 5 is only an expression, and in my world has been so for at least 20 years.
posted by angiep at 9:01 AM on March 26, 2010

I work for a large international company. I used to work in one of its UK offices whose policy was you can arrive whenever but not after 9:30. You can leave whenever but not before 4. You can take up to 1.5 hours for lunch (!) as long as its between 11:00-1:00. And there was a minimum number of hours to meet per week but I can't remember because I always easily met it usually working from 9:00-6:00

I now work in a different UK branch and there doesn't seem to be an offical policy, but it does seem like people put more than 9 hours a day.
posted by like_neon at 9:02 AM on March 26, 2010

UK. International law firm. Support staff work 9.30-5.30 (1 hour unpaid lunch, so 35 hour week). Lawyers many hours as they need. A lot more than 35/week.
posted by Infinite Jest at 9:04 AM on March 26, 2010

Software engineer and at my last four jobs, we didn't have any set hours. You are expected to be available during "core hours" which are 10 - 4 for the sake of meeting schedules and then fit in 40+ hours a week around that. Generally, no one pays any attention to comings and goings as long as you get your work done. I usually wander in around 9:15 and leave around 6 or 6:30.
posted by octothorpe at 9:05 AM on March 26, 2010

I work for a very large insurance hours are 9-5.....I leave at 6 but I am usually the last one (remnants of when I used to work at a financial do not want to lose the habit since I am planning on coming back).
posted by The1andonly at 9:05 AM on March 26, 2010

Government workers: some are good and some are abysmal. When I worked for the federal government, I saw both.

I guess you could say that I work for the state. I start work between 9 and 10 am and finish between 6 and 9pm; I work at least one weekend day. I am paid for seven hours a day, five days a week. No overtime.

Maybe I should figure out how many hours a week I work just for kicks...
posted by sciencegeek at 9:06 AM on March 26, 2010

nonprofit -830-430, one hr unpaid lunch (7 hr workday, 5 days per week is full time)

my mom works for state govt. she used to work 8-5 but now takes a 30 min unpaid lunch and leaves at 430.

both she have comp time not overtime. so when i had to stay late for a tech to do some work earlier this week, i could use those hours to leave early as long as it was in the same pay period. so i left early yesterday.
posted by sio42 at 9:07 AM on March 26, 2010

I usually work 9:30-5:30. I also read and answer emails whenever I can outside of work, and (on rare occasion) will work weeknights or weekends if something urgent needs to get done. I'm an in-house attorney at a software company.
posted by naju at 9:12 AM on March 26, 2010

Government in Canada employee... I work 9 to 5 :) 7.25 hours paid per day for a 36.25 hour work week.

I have flexible hours as well... some of my peers do 7 to 3 which is the earliest we can start, and my 9 - 5 is the latest. Generally, any start time between 7 and 9 is acceptable and then you're done 8 hours later. This varies by department and manager though.

Some overtime happens but this always results in time off in lieu of overtime pay, as long as the OT was authorized in advance.
posted by utsutsu at 9:15 AM on March 26, 2010

9-6 for me.
posted by ejoey at 9:18 AM on March 26, 2010

I've worked 9-5 in two out of my last five jobs.
posted by josher71 at 9:24 AM on March 26, 2010

i work 9:30 to 7:30 or 8 with an unpaid lunch hour... my team is in china and i'm in california though so i sometimes stay later for meetings.
posted by raw sugar at 9:27 AM on March 26, 2010

I get to work at 9, but my job is the kind that you take home with you, so trying to come up with how many hours I work each week just feels ridiculous.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:29 AM on March 26, 2010

I'm a federal government employee and we work 8:15 to 5.
posted by LightMayo at 9:31 AM on March 26, 2010

I'm a provincial government employee and 8:30-5 with an hour unpaid lunch is the standard. I work 8-4 because I get here early and take less of a lunch and I often work from home via VPN at night.
posted by Hiker at 9:36 AM on March 26, 2010

I've been in the private sector workforce since the early 1980s and have never had the hours of 9-5.

In general, as an hourly employee, hours have been either 8:30-5:30 or 9-6, with a mandatory, unpaid, one hour lunch break. (As a salaried employee - lunch break? What's that??)
posted by chez shoes at 9:40 AM on March 26, 2010

I would kill for a 9-5 job.... I'm a business analyst. We have to meet our India developers early, work round the clock, etc. My hours are probably 6-9. Gotta love America.
posted by xammerboy at 9:43 AM on March 26, 2010

I work 8:30-4 (half hour lunch, but I eat at my desk anyway, not that it's expected, I just don't know what do with myself for half an hour in the middle of the day other than eat and read MeFi); my work week is 35 hours. As a librarian (private and academic) it's always been 35 hour weeks, woo-hoo!
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 9:44 AM on March 26, 2010

I work in publishing and we ostensibly have a 9-5 workday, though it's not strictly enforced. Sometimes we come in earlier and leave earlier, etc. We do have an hour long lunch break, unpaid, so our hours total up, technically, to 35.

Most of us work more than that, voluntarily, because we have a million things that were due yesterday.
posted by chatongriffes at 9:46 AM on March 26, 2010

Non profit, US, central time zone: official full time hours are 7.5 per day (37.5 per week), which means you can do 9-5 with a 30 min unpaid lunch and be full time.

We have a flex-time type system that allows us to set our start and end times and the duration of the unpaid lunch break within some broad parameters. So some people work, say, 7:30 - 4:00 with an hour for lunch and others do the 9-5 thing w/ a 30 min lunch ... It all depends.
posted by misskaz at 9:46 AM on March 26, 2010

8:30-5:30, 1 hour for lunch. Software developer a few miles from New York City.
posted by exhilaration at 9:53 AM on March 26, 2010

DC native, never heard of any government employee who got paid for lunch. I always heard 9to5 was a NYC thing -- unlike everybody else, those advertising executives and folks like chatongriffes in publishing actually get paid for going to lunch!
posted by Rash at 9:59 AM on March 26, 2010

My official work hours are 9-5 M-F. However I am IT and it is a salary position. However it usually works out I am here ~8am and leave just before 5 so it works out.
posted by NotSoSimple at 10:07 AM on March 26, 2010

Um, how did this become a survey of "what are your hours?" In my understanding, the OP was asking why most people don't work 9-5 anymore.

Not paying for lunch hour is it. My mom used be a paralegal at big NYC law firms. They all worked 9-5 because the employer was paying for their lunch hour.

Somewhere along the line, employers stopped doing this. What I don't know is when, or how.

1994: "Jim, we're not going to pay your lunch hour anymore. Please start staying an hour later; alternatively, we can dock your salary and start paying you for a 35-hour week instead of 40. Thanks!"

I'd also like to know what industries are still paying for the lunch hour, if any. Although it's probably the type of places where secretaries still get their bosses coffee and their bottoms pinched.
posted by thebazilist at 10:12 AM on March 26, 2010

i work 9-5 with a half hour lunch (canada, big insurance company).
posted by janepanic at 10:14 AM on March 26, 2010

In the last 5 years I had 2 jobs that were 9-5, and another job that I was able to change from 9-5 to 10-6 to avoid traffic. All had a 1 hour lunch, where 30min was un-paid, making for a 37.5 hour work week.

Currently I work part-time 10-4:30, as well as from home in a second job.
posted by Sonic_Molson at 10:17 AM on March 26, 2010

In my first job at a small software company I worked 9-5 every day and often went out for lunch. I just sort of figured that's what "full time" meant. Although many of my coworkers worked more hours than that, no one ever talked to me about it. After nine months or so it occurred to me that I probably shouldn't be counting lunch time. So I started timing my lunches and staying later by the appropriate amount.

My second job had no scheduling requirements, and I often worked whacko hours like 2-10pm. I think it worked out to at least 40 hours a week not counting lunch (or dinner) time. I don't remember how I accounted for lunch, but I did stay later if I wasn't being productive that day and it took me a while to get into the zone. I wasn't the only developer working those kind of hours, but I wouldn't recommend it everyone. I was much happier getting in at 9 than at 2; I just didn't have the self-control to work mornings when my boss didn't care.
posted by serathen at 10:22 AM on March 26, 2010

I work at a state university. Standard office hours are 8 - 4:30, unpaid 1/2 hour lunch, with many variations. Many departments allow flextime; many don't. Salaried staff have more leeway in scheduling, mostly meaning salaried staff get to work more with no overtime pay.

It used to be more laid-back, but years of budget-cutting have reduced staff and increased workloads.
posted by theora55 at 10:22 AM on March 26, 2010

Do you government employees have "flex time" where you are? They do here, and I can't figure out how adding an extra 30 minutes to your day equals missing an entire day of work every two weeks.

Some of my Government of Canada associate employee contemporaries have such an arrangement. This is a form of "alternative working arrangement" called "variable work week (compressed)" in which hours of work are averaged over two, three, or four weeks with a periodic day off regularly scheduled accordingly (e.g. every second Wednesday).

I just work 9-5. Most people in my office seem to work either 8-4 or 8:30-4:30, but 7.5 hours per day is the basic setup with start and finish variable according to the demands of your specific role.
posted by onshi at 10:33 AM on March 26, 2010

As a Web consultant paid by the hour, my clients don't want me to work more than 40 hours a week, they want me to work as little as possible to get the job done. On on-site jobs this ended up being something like 35 hours a week, starting around 10. The ad agency world doesn't typically get up early.

The paid by the hour thing also allows me to avoid many meetings, which I love.
posted by lackutrol at 10:33 AM on March 26, 2010

Most people I know who work at offices in Mexico work from 9-10 am to 7-8 pm. I used to work at a tv network and the hours were from 10-9. People usually take long-ish lunches. It's kind of unheard of for a well paid executive to leave work before 7:30 pm.
posted by Omon Ra at 10:47 AM on March 26, 2010

I think a lot of the drift away from 9 to 5 came as a result of so many companies doing business with other time zones, as some noted above, and other organizations just following suit. Also, many service-type organizations have extended hours (eg 8am to 6pm), so there are some employees who open, and some who close. I think the paid lunch thing is less of a contributor, since that can be dealt with by calling for a 40 hour work week, or 37.5 hour, or a 35 hour work week.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 10:51 AM on March 26, 2010

... and I should add, about the "compressed" work week, it's not the case that a half-hour per day x 9 days = 1 day off every two weeks. For a 7.5 hour day, you would need to add 50 minutes per day x 9 days to get the 10th day off. It does work out to just slightly over 30 minutes averaged over three weeks, though. The drawback to a comrpessed work week is that any leave you take is requested in hours, not days, and so one vacation day that would otherwise be 7.5 hours becomes whatever higher value you are actually working each day.
posted by onshi at 10:53 AM on March 26, 2010

I work in San Francisco as a salaried 'creative' in a smallish ad agency. Officially, I can get to work somewhere between 9 and 10, but practically I can come in any time up until 11 (unless I need to be here for a specific meeting or project). I generally take about an hour for lunch, though sometimes a bit more, and I am generally expected to stick around for an 8-hour day (so if I get in at 9, I can leave by 5; in at 10, out at 6, like that. Longer if I took a long lunch). I frequently end up staying at work a bit longer than the required 8 hours, both because my work often requires it and because I really like the office and who I work with. Occasionally I am called upon to stay at work as late as 1 or 2 am, thought that is pretty rare, and I am generally out by 7:30 or 8. The last agency I worked at, in Tallahassee, FL, had more or less the same arrangement, and was a much larger agency.

The account people here have much more 'regular' hours (9-5:30, mostly, but some 10-6), but they stay late to finish certain projects pretty often, too.

My wife works at a local state university, and her hours are 8-4 or 9-5, depending on the day. She has to co-ordinate with her coworkers what hours she is going to work ahead of time, though, so it's not really a 'flex-time' arrangement.
posted by Pecinpah at 10:54 AM on March 26, 2010

I'm impressed with all the people who get paid lunches; the jobs I had working in banking and insurance were all 8:00-4:30, unpaid half-hour lunch; now I work 8:30-5:30, 1-hour unpaid lunch. I suppose the question of "exempt or hourly" might explain some of this; I'll bet a bunch of 8-4 or 9-5 people are exempts who spend a few extra hours in the office every week anyway.

In the recent past at work, my employees have had very flexible hours; the most popular schedule is 7:00 - 3:30 with a half-hour unpaid lunch: moms with kids and people who like having a huge chunk of time in the evenings to do what they want. Still, we don't pay for lunches.

Speaking of which, lunch is almost over for me...
posted by AzraelBrown at 11:18 AM on March 26, 2010

I am envious of all of you! I work 9:30 - 7:30 or so...although posted hours are "9:00 - 7:00." Most nights I end up staying until 8:00. These are typical hours in the VFX industry... We get built in OT so that's nice. Weekend work is plentiful. I need to take 2 months off work per year just to stay sane.
posted by jnnla at 11:40 AM on March 26, 2010

I had a full time summer office job where I could choose my hours: 7am to 3pm with paid lunch, other people chose varying 8 hour periods of time. Another different summer: 8:30 to 5:00pm with an unpaid 30 minute lunch period. This summer, I'll have 8:00am to 4:30pm, 30 minutes unpaid lunch.

I also worked somewhere where you had to account for your time spent working on different projects by the tenth of an hour. My supervisor essentially told me that she didn't care what hours that I worked, as long as I made any important meetings, and gave her my 40 hours a week. This ended up in a lot of 10-12 hour days at the beginning of the week and leaving relatively early on Thursday/not coming in on Friday. There was also flex-time/9 days-80 hours scheduling so the parking lot on Fridays were pretty desolate.
posted by joydivasian at 12:48 PM on March 26, 2010

9-5 with a one hour paid lunch break is the official policy in my office for everyone from maintenance staff to company officers. A few people come in at 8:30-ish, and others stay till 6:00-ish, but nobody gets bent out of shape if you work strictly 9-5.

It's reasonable to expect people to sometimes work longer hours (finishing an unusually big project, etc.), but if most of your staff is often works more than eight hours, then you are understaffed and need to increase headcount.
posted by paulg at 12:49 PM on March 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

Offically I'm 9 to 5 with a 35 hour work week. There is no way I've ever worked that little though, usually it's closer to 50... with no OT pay.
posted by corpse at 1:06 PM on March 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

elsietheeel: "I work in state government and the hours are really flexible. Personally, I work from 7-3:30 with an unpaid half hour lunch. But I could work anywhere from 6am to 6:30pm as long as there were 8 hours plus an unpaid lunch break (at least a half hour, but could be more). Other options are a 9 hour workday (plus lunch) with an extra day off every two weeks, or a 10 hour, four day workweek."

I worked about 18 months for a PA state government agency, in a unionized clerical position. When I started, I was given an 8:30-4:30 schedule with a half-hour (unpaid) lunch; 37.5 hrs/week. The local version of "flex" scheduling looks like this:
- You still have to work 75 hours per two weeks, naturally.
- You can't work more than 40 hours in a week, even if you work less in the other one. (Yes, I tried this: so that my schedule would be the same each day, I figured out 75 hours / 9 days = 8:15/day, so 41:40 one week and 33:20 the other. They didn't like that.) You have to work 40 hours one week, 35 the other, which works out to 8hx5d one week and 8:45x4 the other (plus lunch, so your 'long week', you'd be in the building 9:15 each day; the other week, you'd be in more days, but 'only' for 8:30....). [This is also the answer to KokuRyu's question.]

Most of the staff, clerical and technical, work 7 to 3 / 7 to 4:15. (Even many of the managers, who aren't allowed to pick this type of schedule, and staff who just hadn't, start at 7.) Many of them live in far suburbs, and could take 40 minutes or longer to get home, so they scheduled themselves so that they would already be in when 'rush hour' started in the morning, and already home by evening rush. Others (a small few) had school-age children and wanted to be home when the kid got off the bus. When I worked to 4:45 and 5, I was usually one of the last five people out of the building. (Hell, even when I left at 4:30, I was usually one of the last out.)
posted by FlyingMonkey at 2:33 PM on March 26, 2010

I get paid for lunch only on a 12-hour shift.
Regular shift, 0720 to 1602 with lunch from 11:38 to 12:20 (calculated in tenths of hours, hence the weird times. Working through lunch, with prior permission, means 0.7 hrs OT or leave early)
10-hr shift, same thing, but come in at 0520
12-hr shift 6am to 6pm, same lunch time.

Blue-collar level work, I guess you'd say, but even the engineers and managers use the same work schedule.

I like getting off work earlier in the evening. Working until 5pm sucks. Working 12's and staying until 6 is ok, but only because of the 4 hrs of OT involved.
posted by ctmf at 2:40 PM on March 26, 2010

8-6 Monday thru Thursday, 8-Noon Friday; one hour unpaid lunch; Architecture firm.
posted by LionIndex at 3:01 PM on March 26, 2010

None of the Government employees I know (20 year DoD civillian) work 9 - 5. By that I mean not one, zero. 2,900 people where I work. In fact when I took the job in 1990 flexible schedule was one big reason. M, Tu, W 6a - 4:30p, Th telework, F off. 4 x 10. I went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see Picaso today on my day off. It would really please me if people on MetaFilter did not do 'LOL gov't employee.' OK?
posted by fixedgear at 3:23 PM on March 26, 2010

At my old non-profit job, we worked 37.5 hr weeks, but that was because our job was kind of depressing and they wanted us to have extra time to be with our families. Or, what I think was the real reason is that they didn't want to make it easy for us to hit overtime when our meetings with clients ran long, which they often did. Overtime was still at over 40 hrs.
posted by ishotjr at 3:24 PM on March 26, 2010

I asked this, more or less, and here's what I/we concluded.
posted by unknowncommand at 6:23 PM on March 26, 2010

Working for a school board my hours were 9-5. I did clock out for 1 hour lunch, but was paid for a 40 hour work week.

Changed jobs and am now a fire dispatcher. Shifts are 12 hours; no specific lunch time. We do break for a meal with one ear cocked to the radio. We are paid for the full 12 hours.
posted by JujuB at 6:54 PM on March 26, 2010

Government employee, our operating hours are officially 9-6 but I'm usually there until 7 or 8 and l'm certainly not the only one.
posted by naoko at 8:48 PM on March 26, 2010

9-5 with a one hour paid lunch break is the official policy in my office for everyone from maintenance staff to company officers. A few people come in at 8:30-ish, and others stay till 6:00-ish, but nobody gets bent out of shape if you work strictly 9-5.

Yup, me too, in central London. We're contracted for 35 hours a week, but there's recently been rumblings to stop the paid lunch hour (effectively making it 37 1/2 hours instead) Personally I'm happier working more hours over fewer days, I hate 9-5, Mon to Fri because it's much harder to maintain momentum. I'm more productive over 9-10 hours for four days than than 7 over 5.
posted by freya_lamb at 9:19 AM on March 27, 2010

Also, when the customer arrives and when *you* arrive might be different things. I am a teacher and the school hours are 8:30-3:30 but we are expected to be there at 8 am to get ready, and some days we have things like morning greeter duty where we have to be downstairs greeting parents at 8:15. So even though I could not have a class to teach before 8:30, there are preparatory things which must be done. My contract states I have to be there until 4:30 (with rare exceptions for things like parent interviews) and I could duck out at 4 or something for an appointment if I had to. Even though classes end at 3:15 or so and kids are dismissed at 3:30, it would be frowned upon to duck out much before 4.
posted by JoannaC at 10:16 AM on March 27, 2010

There are people who still work only 40 hours a week?
posted by Jacqueline at 4:44 PM on March 27, 2010

Australia, Federal Gov employee. Flexible working hours, unpaid lunch. Start anytime between 7-9, lunch between 12-2 and finish anytime between 4-7, but unless you have a bastard of a supervisor, it's more flexible than that.

36:45 hour week, which breaks down to (I kid you not) 7:21 hours per day.

I have a friend who works for the State government who works 7 hour days with flexible hours, though not as flexible as mine.
posted by kjs4 at 7:31 PM on March 28, 2010

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