Am I To Be Penalized For Going Over Vacation Time?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about vacation extended:

I started my present job in April of 2008. In my offer letter, I was given 9 vacation days. The company policy was that an employee can roll over 7 days of unused vacation time to the next year. I do recall keeping track of my time and being careful to know how many days I have remaining. An employee in my department, an administrative assistant, is responsible for recording when employees in the department are present, take a vacation day, are sick etc.

Every two weeks, the administrative assistant gives me a sheet that shows my attendance for each day of the last two weeks. I confirm it is correct, then I sign it and next the Manager signs.At the end of 2008, the administrative assistant told me that I had 1.5 days to rollover to 2009. So starting in 2009, I would have 10 days, plus 1.5 totaling 11.5. I had stopped keeping track of my vacation days, as sometimes I would take it in half-day increments. As a result, I just went with the 1.5 days that the administrative assistant advised, figuring that it sounded about right and she was keeping track of the time.As it turns out,

I only had .5 days to rollover and I found this out the hard way. I received my paycheck last Thursday and it was short $172—-one full day’s worth of work. My paycheck said (unpaid vacation time -7 hours. I asked the admin. assistant how could this happen. She said she would research it. She consulted payroll, which said that I only had gone over my allotted vacation time for 2009 by one day. I was really upset at getting a reduced check without any warning. I really needed the money. I had been expecting it and made plans for the money. It was a disappointment not to get it. I asked my Manager if there was any way I could be paid. I am not sure how something like this gets handled.

Was I wrong to blindly assume that the admin. assistant was right in telling me I had 1.5 rollover hours? Who is to blame? I told my Manager that a mistake was made, and I asked if I can use an available sick day or borrow a vacation day from next year or get excused with pay. He said he would discuss it with the Manager of HR.There is nothing on our paycheck or anywhere that tells an employee how much vacation or sick time is remaining. I would assume that a situation like this happens from time to time. Does the employee just not get paid and be ok with it? I’m not ok with it. I went with the advice of someone I thought was a viable source. Am I to blame for not keeping track of my own time? In the event that HR tells me there is no way I can get paid, do I just accept this and walk away? Do I have a right to be upset? How can I prevent this from happening again? Can you advise? Thank you.

Signed, Upset At Being Docked

DearĀ Upset At Being Docked:

Accept it if you don’t have hard records. Your choice is to yell and scream or to mumble and grumble. Accept it and keep duplicate records from now on. I know you are not ok with it or this advice, but it seems to me you have pursued this matter to the best of your ability and she said/I said argument can only make you look like a troublesome member of your work group. This problem could be the thing that causes your workplace to post vacation days on your pay stub. Some places do. I know it is of little comfort; however, what if after stating your displeasure, you were a truly enthusiastic employee; one that made your boss and coworkers’ job easier and more effective? What if?

What if you imagined you were the boss and brought a complaint such as yours? What would you do and then what would you want the employee to do? Working together is not free from mistakes, misunderstandings, and injustice. How we react is not to simply bite our tongue. Rather, as you did, we professionally voice our case. And if we lose we accept that gracefully. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. That is what you and your coworkers and managers want.

William Gorden