I am the manager of a department of nine, four of whom (including myself) are exempt employees. The exempt staff has, for years, altered their schedules to cover the vacations, absences, and terminations of other staff, both exempt and non-exempt. This has never been a problem before. Two of the exempt staff work five day, eight hour work-weeks, while the other two work four day, ten hour work-weeks.
A few weeks ago, one of the 5/8 employees covered the shift of the 4/10 staffer who went on vacation. The Friday of the second week of the switched schedule coincided with a federal holiday. The employee had already worked the altered shift for that week, but for some reason payroll said that they were not allowed to do that, and switched it to PTO time. I explained to them that, for years, this was the way we worked, and they replied that it didn’t matter. I now have a meeting set with HR next week to discuss this matter and get some long-term guidance, but, somehow, this doesn’t seem right to me.
The individual was assigned to (even though s/he volunteered to take the assignment) a different shift. They worked their expected workload (40 hours) and at least another four hours on top of that. I understand that exempt status is intended to ensure that certain professional roles are carried out properly, irregardless of the time needed to complete them, at a basically fixed rate of pay; but to force someone to take PTO time when they have already altered their shift (at personal inconvenience to them and their family) and have met the required forty hours seems to be an abuse of the exempt status.
Am I off base here?
You are not off base. I’m going to tell you the Evil HR Lady’s First Rule of managing exempt employee time off: Don’t tell anyone what you are doing. Just do it.
I know I’ve just set some micromanagers into serious twitch mode. Your want to give an exempt employee a comp day? Just do it. Don’t tell HR. Don’t tell payroll. Just do it.
But, this doesn’t help you now. Here is what payroll is thinking: Bob is scheduled to work Mon-Friday. He did not work Friday. We did not receive any official paperwork changing Bob’s schedule. Therefore, he must use a PTO day.
Now, why you have to use a PTO day for a Federal holiday is beyond me. It seems like either the company is open (in which case you don’t mention to payroll that Bob didn’t work), or the company is closed (in which case everyone gets it off). But, apparently your company doesn’t work like that.
I’m also going to go out on a limb here and bet that your company requires time cards for exempt employees. I both like and dislike this policy. On the like side, it makes tracking vacation easier and you can also see how many hours your exempt staff is putting in, which can help you evaluate necessary changes to the job. On the other hand, they are exempt for a reason. Let them do their jobs and leave them alone. When it comes down to it, I dislike time tracking for exempt employees more than I like it.
Now, hopefully your HR person will have a clue and she’ll work it out with payroll and Bob will get his PTO day restored. If he doesn’t, this is where you follow the rule I listed above: Just don’t tell anyone.
The next time Bob takes a week off (or a day off, or whatever) just report to payroll that he took one less day then he really did.
Oh dear, I’m encouraging lying, which I say never to do. I think I’m having an ethical problem here. What I’m really saying is that sometimes policy is so stupid that there is only one logical way around it.
To give payroll credit, though. How were they supposed to know that Bob had an arrangement with you? And they have to follow zillions of government imposed rules and no one ever thanks them–they only get yelled at when something goes wrong. And a lot of times, the thing that went “wrong” is actually legally correct, but they get blamed for it. (Like it’s payroll’s fault that the government requires them to garnish your wages for alimony for your soon to be ex-husband who quit his job and ran off with the biker girl that lived next door.)
But, I think HR will be able to straighten it out. I hope. For the record, I would have been able to straighten it out. But, I’ve always worked with rational pay roll people.