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Need a feature to prevent contractors entering manual hours

The should be an option when employing a contractor on oDesk to prevent then entering manual hours.

I have had several situations where contractors have entered manual hours for the work they have done. However, there is no way to verify the actual work completed. There is no way to prevent them from entering manual hours, and forcing them to use the Work Diary.

While it is possible to dispute the manual hours, it is not desirable to do this for many reasons. One is because it becomes difficult to determine how much effort went into a task without seeing the work diary, and another is that it is never desirable to dispute a job - it should always be the last resort. Because there is no way to prevent contractors entering manual work hours, it is setting up a situation that may result in a dispute.

Vote Result

Score: 6.1, Votes: 7
I agree it would be nice

I agree it would be nice if oDesk did that but let me ask you a question. When you hire someone, do you tell them up front that under no circumstances should they enter manual hours? If you tell them that right off the bat you should have no issue. Especially if you say you will not pay for any hours entered manually.

I did not get your point...

Manual hours are never billed to the client. So why are you objecting? Let the contractors add as many manual hours as they want. oDesk will never bill you unless you want them to bill you. Getting my point?

Just found an excellent answer for your query in the knowledge base center:

So I should have said it like this...

that oDesk does not bill the manual hours to the client automatically since these hours are not "guaranteed" by the oDesk billing system. Sounds good now? Obviously, one has to rely on the client whether he's willing to pay or not which is not guaranteed (from the client's side) either. However, if you discuss and explain the work done within those manual hours then many considerate clients would even pay. You never know.

I didn't explain it thoroughly (mistake accepted) but never intended to misguide anyone. Sorry for the inconvenience if anyone had in understanding my advice.
My apologies.

You are still wrong

oDesk DOES automatically bill manual hours to the client. They are definitely billed, believe me, I have been on both ends of this.

The client can dispute them and if he does, they will be removed. That is the only difference.
Please stop giving out wrong advice!!

I DO NOT INTEND do give a

I DO NOT INTEND do give a wrong advice to anyone. Sheesh!

I am not sure about what you said. I need the confirmation from the moderators. I will wait for their reply.

Oh my god

Have you been a client whose contractors enter manual time?
I am a client and one of my trusted contractors enters manual times, It is billed to me without my having to do anything about it.
But no do not believe me, I have only been here 5 years with over 5500 hours worked. (some of it was manually entered time!!) and have hired 19 people.
Just believe what you want.
Read this:


We strongly recommend you keep your manual time to a minimum, because manual time is not verifiable, and therefore not guaranteed.

If your client files a dispute against your manual time, the Dispute Specialist will rule in favor of your client.

then read what it means by "guaranteed".
Please note, it is up to the client to review the work diary and file a dispute.
I give up on you and your mister know it all attitude.

Why don't people understand this that...

I was not clear about this. YES ofcourse I would trust you. Why wouldn't I? I do not have any attitude so don't judge me negatively. Can you hear my experience now?

I had a full-time virtual assistance job previously in which my client asked me to work for 30+ hours. I was working 40 hours a week. Once the work limit exceeded to 41 hours a week. The client told me to delete that manual hour as he'll not pay it because he is not obligated to pay that hour from oDesk. I said fine then. I deleted it. Since I was the project manager, I was handling the oDesk account as a hiring manager as well. I hired contractors over here and kept track on the screenshots (all were hired on hourly contracts). The client said that he's not obligated to pay the manual hours and it is in the oDesk's policy as well so I used to ask the team members to delete the manual hours accordingly.

To summarize, the client told me that "if a contractor added a manual hour then it is his/her personal choice, however, oDesk does not bill the hours to the client so it is a useless thing to do".

Till now, my mind set was working according to what he taught me. Since you and Junelle have pointed out the original policy to me, now I will act accordingly.

No that's different :)

The "extra" hour DOES have to be approved and it's not "manual" it is recorded through the system and it's "browned out" in your time log. If you want the client to pay for it then they have to manually approve it.

Manual time (normal manual time) works like this: I have a client who prefers weekly billing and asked me to manually log my "time" based on what we agreed to for payment on an article. Therefore I go to my work diary and I manually add the time using the "add manual time" button on the screen.

You are talking about apples and oranges: OVERTIME is NOT manual and IT MUST be approved before being paid.


... finally... got it Smile

Manual time (normal manual time) works like this: I have a client who prefers weekly billing and asked me to manually log my "time" based on what we agreed to for payment on an article. Therefore I go to my work diary and I manually add the time using the "add manual time" button on the screen.

Till now, I was mixing the manual hours with overtime hours which caused all the confusion... these are two different things... got it...

Thanks Doreen for such a clear answer.


You're very welcome. As soon as I saw your description I understood your confusion Smile

Where's the 'Like' button?

'Liked'. Smile

Did it occur to you that work

Did it occur to you that work is not just typing on a keyboard?

Extremely good point

Konstantin S. wrote:
Did it occur to you that work is not just typing on a keyboard?

THIS exactly. Granted, I have yet to take an hourly contract (though I do have some I am hoping on), however; were I to take an hourly contract for reviewing a published book, I would most certainly expect to be able to log manual hours for the time it takes to READ that book (in cases of physical publications).

Granted, I could simply have my team app open the entire time, but even so, the complaint that the time in unverifiable will not change. Thus the work diary enters into play. I could log the manual hours alongside work diary notes that include quotes from sections of the book I am reviewing. This helps to create a verifiable manual log.

This would also cover any research done from physical sources (some of us DO own a full set of Encyclopedias as well as many other publications in order to complete our source work) and it is not impossible to make notes in the work diary.

While this obviously doesn't cover every situation, is should be a perfectly good example as to why manual hours are sometimes necessary. Just make sure your contractors are keeping appropriate work diary notes to go with those manual hours and there should not be a problem. If it is still an issue, file a dispute.

Kathrin, that won't work.

It would be horrendously difficult to log time while reading a book, as the application does not record periods in which there was no keyboard or mouse activity. So just leaving the team app running while reading the book wouldn't work at all.

That's one of the situations where it is vital to clarify all details with the client before even starting a project.

If I were to take on a project to review a book I would suggest to the client that there should be a pre-determined payment for reading the book (best to base this on the wordcount) and that this should be paid in form of "bonus payments" - probably half before starting to read and the other half once it's been read if it's some epic saga, or all up front if it's just a thin volume.

Once that's done the "hourly" part of the job can begin which could be tracked as normal via the team app.

That way there would be no need for any manual hours to be added at all, and you'd not have to sit there while reading the book tapping aimlessly on the keyboard with your spare hand to stop the app from automatically stopping the tracking!

Very true. I was thinking

Very true. I was thinking more along the lines that if they insist on it being hourly during reading, a simple work diary log of notations could be kept along the way. Mind you, they'd best hope for a fast reader if they insist on hourly in such a cases.

My example just happened to be the first instance that popped into my head, which is not always the best one (anyone want to send some coffee? Cupboard is bare of it.)

I do agree that even attempting to use the team app would be a stretch, but it's certainly a situation where manual hours would work if absolutely necessary.

Not all work are done with a Computer.


There are jobs that deals with manual research,(not via google) field research. Or task such as personal liaising with local suppliers, private or gov't office or any form of leg work that have to be done out of base and expenses such as transpo, goodwill money and or representation if needed.

I feel the communication and understanding between the client and contractor is important. How the work will be done, what will it entail, how long does it take from point a to point b, etc. If there are mutual understanding and agreement, I see no problem as I am experiencing now.

Phone Work

Phone work is another example of work that is hard to track via the work diary.

When I do phone work I'm still on my computer with a PDF or notepad open & I hope it's tracking the time even though I'm not typing away every minute.

I asked what I should do & the answer I received from oDesk wasn't satisfactory to me.

They wanted me to guess how many hours it would be (umm, yes that's logical to me) & then add the manual hours & have the client approve it, or discuss it with the client ahead of time. All of these suggestions can cause a whole host of issues if the client is new & has trust issues. I can imagine that others might take advantage of this.

It all worked out in the end, but there is a lot of phone work out there, & I'm not sure how others track time.


Just Curious, What kind of work did you gave....

Hi Dean,

Am just curious, what kind of work did you commissioned your contractor?