Considering coding is as much a hobby as it is a "job" to most developers can I ask what sort of overtime people work and do you get paid for it or do you do it for the love of it ?


If it's for business I don't work overtime, as I don't get paid for it, if its for fun I don't get paid...
The last part of the above kinda' makes me sad....


Technically, I don't work overtime as I'm a salaried employee. I am consistently at the office 42-45 hours per week, but the University also allows me to take a class each semester so it balances out. I don't count the time I spend checking email outside of hours.

EDIT I wouldn't ordinarily track this, but the University make me. :-(

+5  A: 

I try to keep a healthy balance of work to home life. If something is urgent and deadlines are looming then I don't mind putting in the extra hours. After all it's a "one-off". However I don't make a habbit of staying late everynight (except the odd 10 / 15 mins here or there). It can only have a negative impact on your life.

Mark Ingram
+30  A: 

My opinion

Always paid. I never understood people that like to work without being paid. They are so much other thing in life outside the programming that you can do. If the owner or the manager cannot plan it's project without having to have their employees do overtime "free" I think it's not the programmer fault. Programmer should be reward (over time money). The business do money, why should they do more money because they do not paid they employees... we are in 2008 not in 1950 where people was working for nothing ;)

This is some bad reason to do overtime for free:

"If you like your job, you should do overtime for free"

I like my job that's not the problem. But I think it's a question of respect. If your contract says you are paid x$/hours, this rate doesn't decrease because you do a lot of "free" time. More, if your employer likes you, they wouldn't ask you to work for free.

"The project won't finish in time if I do not do any overtime"

Is that the programmer fault? I think it's the manager fault... it's easy to plan a project for 6 months and know that anyway a bunch of programmers will work like hell at the end for free... a real good manager plan some extra time and will accept at the end if HE did a schedule error to paid them.

"My job is my life"

Well, a really enjoy programming too, but if you start doing only programming you will miss a lot of thing in life and I have to say that the most impressive programmer I saw in my life had more knowledge about other thing than only programming : because they do something else.

"Everybody does it at my job"

If everybody does something it doesn't mean it's the right thing to do. Alright you can give 1 hour some time, but it shouldn't become a habit. Your quality life will go down. I suggest you change your work to see something else. You can have a very good relationship with programmer that do not do a lot of overtime for free somewhere else for sure. And, if everybody does it, I think the boss/manager have a big planning problem...

Daok, I would note that while the project may not finish and it won't be my fault, I can still get blamed. I realize this is indicative of troubling issues in the company I work for. But that's why I did it recently. I wasn't even thanked by the VP over my group.
You can be blamed if you waste your time. But if you do your best everyday I do not see how you could be blamed (as a programmer)?
If you provide the estimates, then it can be considered in a way to be your fault. I would think so, myself. If I give an estimate of one week and it starts getting closer to that time, I may stay an extra half hour or two to get it done. Your credibility is valuable.
Daok, other people aren't always reasonable about things. I did my best everyday (and then some). I took a little flack because we wound up being a little late, though I was right at one month (a little over). It's unfortunate, but people here have a way of ignoring dependencies.
So in your opinion, as soon as you hear the "bell" you stop what you are doing and go home even if that means "losing" all the logic that you had in your mind at that time to finish something...Jobs that start at x hour and end at y hour aren't in my point of view for programmers.
João Augusto
It's ok Joao, at the end of our life we will be both fine and would have enjoy programming. The difference will be that I will had more money because everytime I was paid when you were not. It's not an issue for me. Peace.
You are right peacedog. This is why if you did your best and other haven't you shouldn't feel bad and just leave home. You can offer to stay but just remind them that you must be paid. Even, if you have done some mistake... everybody do mistake and you shouldn't be penalized for it with not been pay
João Augusto: If I'm in a "groove" I might stay late, but I'm coming in late or leaving early the next day.
Coding can be compared to building a house. If you where the client, and you told the builder to be done by 2morrow?Or, after he's built the kitchen, decide you want it on the other side and stil have the project done on time? What do you think his reaction would be? Is that not the reaction you should have? I always say, given enought time and resources, anything is possible. Maybe its just me, but I get the feeling people are watching too many "build-off" shows, Amercian Hot_rod etc etc and thinking this is how it should be.
Your house builder will find a way to charge you more by telling that YOU have selected to add something more custom and it will require them more time etc. Often overtime is require because initial specification has changed or has been really bad evaluated. If you want to use the "building house" analogy : the guy who hold the hammer will be paid overtime if his job have badly evaluated OR the client want additional stuff.
+12  A: 

Absolutely zero. As a contractor, I don't get paid for time off, so I don't work for free either.

Winston Smith
+1  A: 

If you like your job and your projects, working overtimes it's kinda of automatic...

In my personal experience (10 years in the same company) I don't work x hours per day, I work for objectives, so sometimes I can leave work at 13:00 pm or at 06:00 am.

João Augusto
"If you like your job" that make no sense, I like it but not to do stuff for free for someone who will do money on my back. You have a one side "love" relationship with your job... You give and not receive. To use word like you : If your job like what you do, why doesn't they pay you?
As I writed, some people work for objectives and not for x hours per day. So I can either work 1 hour in 1 day and go home or work 12 hours in a day.Regarding "money" issues, at my company sometimes you get can get another salaray in the same month as a bonus.
João Augusto
+2  A: 

Working for a company that actually does not allow you to take overtime and compensate it even the next day (all you work over 8.5h a day is not payed nor compensated). You can imagine what this does to the morale of the people. Everybody leaves after 8.5h exact. Projects are late. Emergencies are put off until tomorrow. I'm on a one year contract with good pay for the 8.5h, so I do not mind.

In the past I had other employers that even counted my long commute (1.5h each way by train) as work time, at least one way. Overtime was always compensated, seldomly payed in cash.

Between these two extrems, I usually got payed for overtime, but put in extra hours if the company needed it and treated its people nicely and fair. All in moderation though, as I strongly believe that I work to live, not live to work (so does my wife and my children). Also studies have shown that working more then 40h a week regularily is counterproductive in programming, as we need more time to fix erros we introduced when tired out mentally then what we gained in these extra hours.

So, whether payed for overtime or not - avoid them as much as possible - to the best of your employer, your relationships and yourself.

Ralph Rickenbach
+1  A: 

I definately don't like to work without getting paid. However, I had a November 3rd deadline for a project that was estimated to take one month in August. We were promised the spec within a week, and that was the last week fo August. The Spec was handed to me in the second week of October, despite my boss and I constantly agitating and pushing for it.

Naturally, the spec was larger in scope than we had previously been lead to believe (our "one month" estimate was to be revised once we got the spec and hammered out the approach I was to take). I made a month, but it wasn't until into November (the November 3rd "hard" deadline was moved back for a variety of reasons that were beyond my control and understanding).

I put in a goodly amount of overtime during that period. I'd say 50+ hours easy. I didn't want to, but then there's very little I can do about a release date with minimal wiggle room and people who ignored you back in August when you explained you needed the spec NOW, not in a few weeks. Or that all bets were off when the spec arrived. Etc.

I am fortunate in that I don't generally have to put a lot of extra time in here.

+1  A: 

Right now, I'm an intern and I only get paid for up to 40 hours a week, so no overtime. I think that it would be difficult for me to work on a job and not get paid, unless I really liked the project and it means something to me personally. I suppose it is possible, but it would be dependent on the project and the people I have to work with (if I don't like the people, I'm going to minimize the time I'm with them as much as possible).

Thomas Owens
+2  A: 

I was hired at a salary for 40hr/week. I try to stick to that as much as possible. I will occasionally give them up to 45hr/week if the project/schedule needs that time and do it without compensation. However, if I need to go over 45 then I "bill" them for everything over 40, this usually gets paid back as flex time rather than salary.

I'm lucky that there haven't been too many jobs that demanded a certain number of hours. Mostly the policy has been "as long as the work is getting done." So if I'm working too many hours, that's my fault.

"So if I'm working too many hours, that's my fault." This works just fine until the expectations for how much work should be done are unreasonable.

Strictly speaking, none. I'm salaried, I have core hours but the concept of overtime is not present in my contract.

I arrive at more or less the same time every day, ditto for when I leave. Some evenings I leave later, some mornings I arrive later. There is normally quite a signifant gap in between these two times in which I do try to get things done, I try to also not work 100% for the time that I am in the office; 10-11 hour days of zero distractions and no relaxation get really wearing, really quickly.

Equally, slacking off on Stack Overflow all the time isn't going to finish projects.

My basic opinion is that people can worry about overtime when they spend no time goofing off during their real time.


At the internships I've had I've always been salaried. If I was working on something that I was really focused on I’d often take it home and put in an extra one to three hours. I probably did this one time a week. I didn’t get paid extra for it, but figure it balances out with the time I spend on facebook or Slashdot in the morning while drinking my first cup of coffee since I’m not a morning person and need that 20 minutes of down time before I start working.


I do very little unpaid overtime. I'll do the odd few hours here and there but expect some leeway when I'm late for work in return.

When I started my career I had the impression that the deadlines and specifications I was given were well calculated and absolute. This made me feel guilty if I was having trouble meeting them, as a result I would often sit there for hours struggling with something without seeking help. It took me several years to work out that this wasn't needed.

I think far too many programmers are afraid to ask for paid overtime or deadline extensions. In my experience, I've found that as long as you are polite about it, most bosses are prepared to negotiate overtime pay or time in lieu. Plus they often have other ways to get jobs completed faster (giving work to someone else, changing the spec, paying for a 3rd party component etc).

Martin Brown

Being salaried, there is not any overtime to be had. However, I do occasionally get a comp day for putting in extra time - usually when it is in a visible situation (weekend release, etc.).

That said, I still work about sixty hours a week. I put in about 45 of it in the office, and the other 15 on the train. The train time, though, is completely reserved for proof-of-concept work. It is the time that I can explore new technologies and how they apply to what we are doing and try to come up with solutions for problems that never get prioritized enough to make it into a release.

That's the wonderful thing about taking public transport. Sure, your commute is longer (most of the time anyway). However, you can actually *use* the time.
Exactly. And there are no meetings and phone calls, or any other real distractions. It is actually the most productive time of my day.
+2  A: 

I'm a salaried employee, and thus, try to avoid overtime like the plague, regardless of how much I enjoy working on the project. If I do work overtime, which is not very often, it is compensated with flex-time. I think as you get older, the work-life balance becomes increasingly important.

Honestly, I prefer flex time to paid OT anyway (I can choose). My kids aren't going to be young forever, so my time with them is precious.
+7  A: 

None. My employer pays overtime.

Next question: How much paid overtime do I typically work in a week? None.

I have a life outside of work. I have a wife and three kids, and a nice house I'm paying a lot of money for and would like to see once in a while. That's what I work for. If there's a true emergency or final push, then fine, I'll put in some OT and help out. However, people died fighting for the 40 hour work week for us. I'm not going to throw that away.


I get paid overtime.

As a side note: My job does not define who I am.


I get the job done. I'm in the office 42-50 hours most weeks and feel free to goof off whenever I need to clear my head. Sometimes that's not at all sometimes it's quite a bit. I work a 60 hour week a couple times each year. That's how the business goes and I'm OK with my total compensation package without worrying about whether I get paid overtime. We do have a terrible vacation package but they're flexible about a few hours of time off to get stuff done outside of work.


I never used to have a problem with doing overtime, but that was when I was working in a company that could give and take. I put the hours in and in return I could leave early, not come in some times, etc.

Now I will not do it. But that is mostly because my current position has an overtime policy where they will ask you to do overtime to cover the fact that a project needs to be done, and there is not enough time to complete it. This is more often than not noted in the planning stages. However; they only pay you 40% of your hourly rate. Being slightly late to work, needing time off for illness, doctors and dentist appointments always require you to come back in on a Saturday/Sunday, take as holiday or result in meetings with the HR department.

A little give goes a long way in my opinion.

Barry Jones
+1  A: 

When I get really into a project and there are huge opportunities for me to learn, I do a lot of unpaid overtime. Because then the project not only becomes paid, but Im also benefiting hugely.


Today, I'm a freelancer and generally bill hourly, so I only do unpaid work when I agree to take a project on a fixed bid and go over the time estimate that I based my bid on.

Many years ago, when I took my first salaried job, I told the owner (it was a small programming shop) that I didn't believe in doing unpaid overtime. He said that he agreed with my philosophy on it.

A year and a half later, most of the company was dedicated to a single large project which was seriously past due. Pretty much everything else was being put on hold to get this one done and the owner eventually declared that everyone was required to put in a minimum of 60 hrs/week until it was finished. I continued working 40 hrs/week and he never said a word to me about it.

Establishing your ground rules up front is very important.

Dave Sherohman

The company i work for doesn't do any unpaid work for its customers so i just follow the culture they have created.


About 4 to 5 hours / week . It's not that bad , if you enjoy the people you're working with .


I wish people in Asian countries can learn from you guys. People here are either have no power to speak up or they are too thirsty for money. Poor boy. :-S

Timothy Chung

I don't have set work hours. I get my stuff done, however long it takes. The concept of overtime doesn't apply.

That said, in the past when I did have an 8-5 job, I've worked tons of unpaid overtime. I enjoy my job, so when I have no roadblocks, I tend to go all out.

Hear that, managers? Keep your people happy and free of stupid distractions/wastes of time, and we'll show you some serious productivity.

Mike Pateras

I may work a lot of unpaid overtime if I am simply interested in learning about something, but that is because I want to do it. And I'll do it at home most of the time.

However, I have had to discipline myself to quit trying to be the "rescuer" and work overtime to fix problems due to poor scheduling, poor staffing or poor training. This doesn't mean I won't occasionally help out. I look at it like this - if I'm in the office and someone needs help carrying something, of course I am going to lend a hand. If they don't hire someone to run the mail room I don't feel obligated to be there at 7 a.m. and take deliveries.

I charge a fair hourly rate and I'm worth it. Time given to a company is not time given to my four kids or spent earning money to pay for tuition, etc. I'd rather give it to my family. Or sit on the couch with a martini and the New York Times, or go to the beach, or ..