Is there hope for this worker, or should I just get rid of him?


I made arrangements for a recent college grad to come in and help us out with some part time development as an independent contractor.

The guy does decent work when he's here, but he rarely can drag himself out of bed before 1pm. Some days he doesn't show up until 4pm. Regardless of the time he started, he always leaves along with everyone else in the office.

Since he's a contractor I can't legally tell him what hours to work... but I'm not about to offer to make him an employee with his track record thus far. I've just recently started turning the heat up on him in other ways, with mixed results.

Is there hope for turning this guy around, or should I just tell him to get lost and find someone new? I worry about doing that because it's really hard to find programming talent in my area.

Motivation Management Employees Human Resources

asked Aug 13 '13 at 02:23
186 points
  • Does he know you are displeased? Have you told him this, or are you just stuffing it? – Mark0978 7 years ago

7 Answers


It seems to me that the only problem you're having with this guy is him showing at odd hours and leaving early. He is part time? Did you discuss how many hours per week he is supposed to work? Is there a minimum and is he meeting it?

Now, those questions are completely irrelevant. This is: how is his work? Is he delivering results? Are you getting your money's worth from him? You can't force developers to be productive from 9 to 5. People have different times during the day when they are most productive (mine are after 2pm until about 8pm). You may have a blessing in disguise here. The guy shows up only at times when he is productive the most and you're only paying for good hours. Your standard 9-5 employees are getting paid to also surf the web, chat at the water cooler and daydream. If he is delivering results, keep him and let him be.

answered Aug 13 '13 at 02:45
Lyman Zerga
278 points
  • Agree! but just other employees may not start following his routine. – Jaczjill 7 years ago
  • You fail to address the fact that he leaves with everybody else. Even though he might have another productive schedule, that schedule can't be so magic that it always ends when everybody else goes home. – Jgauffin 7 years ago
  • Given the apparent mistrust towards the guy, I don't see how he may be allowed to remain in the office by himself after the other minions are dismissed. – Lyman Zerga 7 years ago


Your job is to manage your employees and contractors. It seems like you are not managing your contractors, using the excuse that they are "contractors".

Set a work completion schedule for the task(s) your contractor is working on. Go over the schedule with him and make sure he is aware of the schedule and agrees with it. If he doesn't make the deadlines, warn him once, and then let him go.

answered Aug 13 '13 at 02:31
Gary E
12,510 points


He is a contractor. If your only complaint is his hours, and not the quality of work he performs or deadlines, you don't really have much to stand on. If you offer him a chance to earn his way to being an employee by acting as an employee while still a contractor, you could find yourself in some trouble. If it effectively sounds like you are wanting to end the contract because of the hours he works, it can be interpreted as dictating what hours he should work.

If the problem is the quantity of work he does, set specific deadlines by which you need specific goals met. If his choice of time to work means that he can't make them, then you end the contract because he is not keeping up with his side of the business. But do not tie this to his hours worked, only to his missed deadlines, as otherwise it may look like the contract was based on you setting his hours, which is a situation you want to avoid even if you have a good chance of explaining your way out.

Also to note, if he has to come into your office and work with your equipment, then even though you may not be telling him what hours to work, the tax authorities in your local may still decide that is 'good enough' to say he was an employee, which you want to avoid. Given that you are already in this situation (and thus he may have a case even if you terminated the contract now), you likely should consider contacting your lawyer as to what should be done to remedy this.

If you want to offer a 'contract with possible employment' deal, you probably should consult with your lawyer to know the limitations of such a deal.

answered Aug 13 '13 at 06:00
41 points


Have you talked to him about meeting your expectations in terms of hours in the office? If not, there is no hope for him changing since he doesn't know he should.

I don't know what country you are in or what laws in your area would apply, I think you should review his contract. What does the contract stipulate in terms of hours per week/day? Is he working independently our with the team? While you may not have a legal right to tell him when to work, you certainly should have right to terminate the contract if he is not performing to your standards. He should know that his contract can be terminated, so it is not about your legal rights to set hours.

Requiring co-workers, employee or contractor, to work similar hours is not unreasonable. It's not just about his work, but the team's work and he should be treated the same in these scenarios for the good of the team. If he can't work with the team, I would strongly consider letting him go anyway. If he is working less than half a day (as it sounds), then in my book he is not working with the team.

answered Aug 13 '13 at 03:30
Cdk Moose
429 points


My suggestion, get rid of him. I have had one such person my company too. Brilliant is the only word I would describe him, but he was too indisciplined. I could not schedule meetings which needed him, nor could I tell the clients when the work will be complete. He would go on leave without any information and would give horrible reasons for the same - example: 'I did not feel like coming to office today', ' Got drunk last night, hangover still on'. This was very frustrating. I kept on going with him for around 6 months giving excuses that he was brilliant and just needed some discipline.

I realised I wasted more time waiting for him or getting frustrated rather than concentrating on my work. Such rouge elements infect other team members too.

After I got rid of him, I was at peace, doing much better work and was able to adhere to my schedule. Luckily I found his replacement, who was disciplined as well as knowledgeable.

answered Aug 13 '13 at 13:26
Nitin Srivastava
171 points


Well, it's up to you to decide what kind of workplace you want to create, but late hours is common for engineers. Particularly the bright ones. Unless you really need him in meetings advising and/or bouncing ideas off other people, then you should make his tasks project- and timeline-based, meaning that he needs to get task X done by certain date. As long as he does it, it doesn't matter what hours he works. As someone else said, you're paying him for his productive hours.

answered Aug 13 '13 at 06:36
131 points


It's not only about how many hours he stays at the work, it's about quality of his work and whether he delivers(ie. it might take some guy 6 hours a finish a job other guy could do in 3 hours).

answered Aug 13 '13 at 04:23
95 points
  • The second half of this answer is self-promotion. – rbwhitaker 7 years ago
  • It was indeed, had no clou there was anything wrong with it though, it was very much on topic. Edited it out anyway. – Foxx 7 years ago

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