If The Time Clock Is Wrong, Can They Dock Me?

Question:

I am aware that employers can dock employees for lateness; however, what recourse do I have if the time clock is four minutes fast? I have brought the fact of the time clock being fast to management, and their response was for me to set my clock to the time clock. Also, can they deduct from my overtime instead of my regular time if I am late to work?

Signed,

Docked

Answer:

Dear Docked:

The issue is twofold: is your clock actually correct? For the time being, no. Move your clock ahead five minutes and you won’t be late. Secondly, they are correct in deducting the time from your overtime. If you owe them, say 15 minutes, then you would not deduct from regular time, since you have already exceeded the 40 hours. If you worked 45 hours and 15 minutes total time, then they are correct in deducting from the total, not the subtotal of 40 hours.

Time management is a collaborative process. Think WEGO

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Is Why I Take A Sick Day My Business?

Question:

In the state of Illinois, can an employer ask an employee why they are taking a sick day?

Signed,

Can They Ask?

Answer:

Dear Can They Ask?:

It depends if the question is job-related or casual conversation or if your presence is required for performance of necessary tasks, in other words, your presence is required. If you’re looking for cause in an action, look elsewhere. Could it be that this person was just showing concern? Worried that something is seriously wrong? Offering assistance. Rather than taking your present position, try ignoring or just saying “It’s personal, thank you for your concern.”

My present position quip referred to the defensive nature of the person asking this question. One should try not to jump to conclusions when all the facts aren’t in. Trying to guess other’s motives usually lands us in trouble. The answer to when or how a sick day is excused and whether they need a Doctor’s “Excuse” depends on the company. Some companies deduct merit points for sick days; some require an excuse. This person should look in their employee handbook for the answer to the question. The handbook might say three sick days per 125 workdays is allowed or 5 sick days per year. How each is handled SHOULD be in the book.

A positive mental attitude thinks WEGO.

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Can We Defuse A Hostile Work Environment?

Question:

Where do I locate information and skills to defuse a hostile and possible explosive work place environment?

In our current situation there is a hostile environment, a toxic waste dump site if you will. It seems to grow at alarming rate, and we want to get rid of this before it grows out further into the facility or before something escalates into a violent episode.

We are lowly hourly employees, who have to cope with this and want so badly to change it; to change the environment to one where you are afraid to go up into the lab for fear of what will find or what will happen next.

Yes, two of us have presented HR with a proposal to blend into 5-minute safety meetings some training techniques for anger management and other useful techniques that have been found in books and on websites. Since we have just gained approval from HR and are scheduled to give our first “retraining talk” Monday. So far two immediate supervisors and our Safety Manager seem to be behind us 100%. This one segment of our team is made up of three very strong personalities–two who seem to want everything done their way and the third that runs with one who shouts the loudest. Each of the three believe that they are “right” and “in charge” There is no teamship, no understanding, and communication is limited to the one who is loudest. This is not a good work environment at all. Gossip, innuendo, backbiting, and finger pointing are rampant.

Two of us have been researching, searching and asking for help, for support and ideas to promote harmony and end to the hostility. I have been searching help on the Internet. Since we are two hourly employees presenting this proposal, we have no financial resources at our disposal at this point. Perhaps that is what impressed out HR Manager thus far. However, we need more training and education to better enable us to destroy this emotional toxic waste dump.

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Demoted After Pregnancy Leave

Question:

Here’s my story. I was working 3rd shift as a plate-maker for a local printing company. When I became pregnant, I notified my boss that I would no longer be able to work those hours once the baby came.

When I returned from maternity leave, I was given a different job, one that was physically more challenging, bur not as mentally challenging. I was put in the factory. Along with this “demotion”, as I like to call it, I was also given a pay cut that was almost a third of my wages. Is this legal?

I have worked for this company for over 13 years and I can’t believe they did this. Is there anything I can do? Please help!

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I’m Pregnant; Am I In A Protected Class?

Question:

I have announced that I am pregnant and due in April 2006. Our hospital is undergoing serious financial hardship and laying off people. Can I be laid off in my condition or am I in a “protected” status?

Signed,

Lass With Special Class?

Answer:

Dear Lass With Special Class?:

Congratulations. Unless there are specific Company policies that provide special consideration for pregnant employees, they would not be in a “protected” status. Become familiar with FMLA. There are leaves available to employees who qualify up to 12 weeks. You cannot be laid off if you are on a leave of absence as provided by FMLA, but that is not the case prior to an approved leave of absence. Best of luck. Workplace policies and practices should promote and protect the best interests of all stakeholders–employees, shareholders, owners, suppliers, customers, and the community and environment–That is WEGO mindedness.

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Should A Boss’ Warning Be In Writing?

Question:

Should the employer give a copy of warning to the employee?

Signed,

Warned

Answer:

Dear Warned:

Whether or not the employee receives “a copy” of a warning is dictated by company policy. In the disciplinary process, the first step is usually a verbal “warning.” Often there is a record of this action, but it is considered supervisor notes. The next step is usually a “written” warning. At this point, the employee should be given a copy of the written warning. If the supervisor does not offer a copy of the written warning, the employee should ask for one. A copy may be requested by the employee of the initial verbal warning that in most cases, the employer would be glad to give you some form of documentation of the action taken. Always feel free to discuss disciplinary actions with the employer in order to have a clear understanding of your exceptions.

Self interest is natural and best realized when thinking beyond ego to WEGO.

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Can A Former Boss Smear My Future?

Question:

I have been working in a very stressful environment. The last 4 months, my manager and a co-worker have caused me a lot of trouble. It seemed no matter how hard I work or how complex a problem I solve, I never get any recognition. Rather it always goes to the co-worker. Now I have two very good job offers and I have given my notice here at current job. The boss is raving mad that I am leaving – because deep inside, he knows that I have handled a lot of complex projects that nobody else can manage now. He has made me out to be monster in just this one week. I am not very worried because they were not treating me any better before. I am only worried about what he could do. Is there any way such a vengeful person can ruin my career? Can he find out my new employer and try to harm my chances there? If so, what are my rights? Is there any agency like the BBB (for businesses) to whom I can complain? Accepted A New Job “When there is a hill to climb, waiting will not make it smaller”

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What If You Are Caught Fudging Hours Worked?

Question:

If an employer found out you were not being honest about the amount of hours you were getting paid for, what legal action could they take against you?

Signed,

What If

Answer:

Dear What If:

Other than termination, the company could have their accountants figure out the amount of monies lost and if it reaches a figure worth going after then they will. Secondly, the criminal charges in each state differ with the amount fraudulently taken. In Illinois for example its $1200 before it becomes a felony. The operative word is felony. You don’t want to be charged with one. If you do get charged with a felony, plea-bargain it down to a misdemeanor. Why do you ask?

If you think about what is good for all, the issue of cheating gives way to honesty. Think WEGO.

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Why Do Exempt Have To Clock In?

Question:

Why do exempt people have to clock in? We at the city have to punch a time clock even though we are exempt… (salary people)

Signed,

Why?

Answer:

Dear Why?:

Companies must have a method for tracking attendance of all employees. The time clock is a very efficient way of doing so. Even salaried employees must request time off for holidays, vacations, paid days off, sick leave, etc. although it may be unusual for them to have to punch a time clock at your place of work. At the Timken Company, a maker of special steel and bearings of Canton, even top executives punch in. The time clock punch would be the record to determine if you were not at work; if not, then are you absent or have an approved day off, etc. Is there any real good reason why exempt employees are better than those who work and are paid by the hour? Our signature WEGO symbolizes equal responsibility. Good luck. Gerald Allen, Guest Respondent with HR experience& Bill Gorden The Workplace Doctors Follow Up: But why not punch out? Is it because those of us working 70 hours could later prove that we are not candidates for salary and sue? Most people punch in and out. They only allow us to punch once. Follow Up Advice There are very strict labor laws that determine whether or not a position may be classified as exempt or “salaried.”

The attached information will help. If you do not meet the requirements of being classified as “Salaried,” you should discuss this matter with you company Supervisor immediately. Study this information to learn if it applies to your situation, and then meet with your city administration’s personnel officer or your union if you have one. Voice what you feel is unfair and seek a resolution.

Executive Exemption To qualify for the executive employee exemption, all of the following tests must be met: The employee must be compensated on a salary basis (as defined in the regulations) at a rate not less than $455 per week; The employee’s primary duty must be managing the enterprise, or managing a customarily recognized department or subdivision of the enterprise; The employee must customarily and regularly direct the work of at least two or more other full-time employees or their equivalent; and The employee must have the authority to hire or fire other employees, or the employee’s suggestions and recommendations as to the hiring, firing, advancement, promotion or any other change of status of other employees must be given particular weight. Administrative Exemption To qualify for the administrative employee exemption, all of the following tests must be met: The employee must be compensated on a salary or fee basis (as defined in the regulations) at a rate not less than $455 per week; The employee’s primary duty must be the performance of office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer or the employer’s customers; and The employee’s primary duty includes the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance. Professional Exemption To qualify for the learned professional employee exemption, all of the following tests must be met: The employee must be compensated on a salary or fee basis (as defined in the regulations) at a rate not less than $455 per week; The employee’s primary duty must be the performance of work requiring advanced knowledge, defined as work which is predominantly intellectual in character and which includes work requiring the consistent exercise of discretion and judgment; The advanced knowledge must be in a field of science or learning; and The advanced knowledge must be customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction. To qualify for the creative professional employee exemption, all of the following tests must be met: The employee must be compensated on a salary or fee basis (as defined in the regulations) at a rate not less than $455 per week; The employee’s primary duty must be the performance of work requiring invention, imagination, originality or talent in a recognized field of artistic or creative endeavor. Computer Employee Exemption To qualify for the computer employee exemption, the following tests must be met: The employee must be compensated either on a salary or fee basis (as defined in the regulations) at a rate not less than $455 per week or, if compensated on an hourly basis, at a rate not less than $27.63 an hour; The employee must be employed as a computer systems analyst, computer programmer, software engineer or other similarly skilled worker in the computer field performing the duties described below; The employee’s primary duty must consist of: 1) The application of systems analysis techniques and procedures, including consulting with users, to determine hardware, software or system functional specifications; 2) The design, development, documentation, analysis, creation, testing or modification of computer systems or programs, including prototypes, based on and related to user or system design specifications; 3) The design, documentation, testing, creation or modification of computer programs related to machine operating systems; or 4) A combination of the aforementioned duties, the performance of which requires the same level of skills. Outside Sales Exemption To qualify for the outside sales employee exemption, all of the following tests must be met: The employee’s primary duty must be making sales (as defined in the FLSA), or obtaining orders or contracts for services or for the use of facilities for which a consideration will be paid by the client or customer; and The employee must be customarily and regularly engaged away from the employer’s place or places of business. Highly Compensated Employees Highly compensated employees performing office or non-manual work and paid total annual compensation of $100,000 or more (which must include at least $455 per week paid on a salary or fee basis) are exempt from the FLSA if they customarily and regularly perform at least one of the duties of an exempt executive, administrative or professional employee identified in the standard tests for exemption. Blue Collar Workers The exemptions provided by FLSA Section 13(a)(1) apply only to “white collar” employees who meet the salary and duties tests set forth in the Part 541 regulations. The exemptions do not apply to manual laborers or other “blue collar” workers who perform work involving repetitive operations with their hands, physical skill and energy. FLSA-covered, non-management employees in production, maintenance, construction and similar occupations such as carpenters, electricians, mechanics, plumbers, iron workers, craftsmen, operating engineers, longshoremen, construction workers and laborers are entitled to minimum wage and overtime premium pay under the FLSA, and are not exempt under the Part 541 regulations no matter how highly paid they might be. Police, Fire Fighters, Paramedics & Other First Responders The exemptions also do not apply to police officers, detectives, deputy sheriffs, state troopers, highway patrol officers, investigators, inspectors, correctional officers, parole or probation officers, park rangers, fire fighters, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, ambulance personnel, rescue workers, hazardous materials workers and similar employees, regardless of rank or pay level, who perform work such as preventing, controlling or extinguishing fires of any type; rescuing fire, crime or accident victims; preventing or detecting crimes; conducting investigations or inspections for violations of law; performing surveillance; pursuing, restraining and apprehending suspects; detaining or supervising suspected and convicted criminals, including those on probation or parole; interviewing witnesses; interrogating and fingerprinting suspects; preparing investigative reports; or other similar work. Other Laws & Collective Bargaining Agreements The FLSA provides minimum standards that may be exceeded, but cannot be waived or reduced. Employers must comply, for example, with any Federal, State or municipal laws, regulations or ordinances establishing a higher minimum wage or lower maximum workweek than those established under the FLSA. Similarly, employers may, on their own initiative or under a collective bargaining agreement, provide a higher wage, shorter workweek, or higher overtime premium than provided under the FLSA. While collective bargaining agreements cannot waive or reduce FLSA protections, nothing in the FLSA or the Part 541 regulation relieves employers from their contractual obligations under such bargaining agreements. Where to Obtain Additional Information The Department of Labor provides this information to enhance public access to information on its programs. This publication is for general information and is not to be considered

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Doctor’s Excuse Required?

Question:

I’d like to know how many days do you have to miss work before your employer could ask for a doctor’s note?

Signed,

Excuse Me

Answer:

Dear Excuse Me:

A required doctor’s excuse for missed days in an individual company policy. As a general rule, many companies require a doctor’s excuse after three days of consecutive absence. Of course, an employee would be expected to call in for each day during this period of absence. I know of some companies that require a doctor’s excuse for each day of absence considered “Sick Day” absence. The thought is that the employee is sick enough to go to the doctor or well enough to come to work. If you do not know when the doctor’s excuse is required concerning absences, you should review your employee handbook or discuss it with your supervisor, a human resources person, or an appropriate person in supervision/management. Should you know not the number of days allowed by your company before the doctor excuse is required and you have concerns about the fairness of the policy, discuss the matter with you immediate supervisor or someone in management. You may be an instrument of change should a change be appropriate. Best of luck. Putting yourself in management’s shoes is the beginning of thinking WEGO.

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