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Forced to put incorrect time on time sheet Michigan

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  • #16
    Also, it depends on the lawyer. Labor law is a speciality area that many lawyers do not seem to know much about. Certainly the lawyers that employees use that ended up calling up payroll departments that I have managed seem to know little or nothing on the subject. You would think that they could at least read the instructions on the W-4 form, but apparently not.

    The American Payroll Association has a 1,000+ page book called The Payroll Source Book. People who do payroll for a living often call that the "payroll bible". It has pretty much everything anyone would want to know about the federal rules for doing payroll, including hard legal references to the supporting laws, regulations and court decisions. I would assume that HR has similar references sources that anyone who does HR seriously for a living is familar with.
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
    Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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    • #17
      Incorrect hours

      "Can my employer force me to put down incorrect hours, change what I wrote down on the time sheet (without notification) and then make me pay back the money?"

      The first thing I would question is: How is this affecting your taxes, federal W/H and FICA? You are taxed on the gross amount paid and the payback only affects the net amount paid.


      Second would be: How is this being shown on the books of the company?

      Third would be: How can this be legal when it sounds so much like fraud?

      The only reason I can think of that a company would adopt this kind of system is to manipulate the numbers. By showing more hours worked than actually worked would justify budgeted funds for "labor" and then re-allocate the money paid back by the employee to a different fund. That is defrading whomever the company reports financial information. It is overstating "labor" cost.

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      • #18
        I agree with Joann.

        I would recommend, OP, that you keep a daily record of your actual hours worked. If, at some point, you end up not getting paid correctly based on what you actually worked, then I'd file a claim for the unpaid wages with the state DOL. Make the employer explain why your records and theirs don't match.
        I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by joann2001 View Post
          "Can my employer force me to put down incorrect hours, change what I wrote down on the time sheet (without notification) and then make me pay back the money?"

          The first thing I would question is: How is this affecting your taxes, federal W/H and FICA? You are taxed on the gross amount paid and the payback only affects the net amount paid.


          Second would be: How is this being shown on the books of the company?

          Third would be: How can this be legal when it sounds so much like fraud?

          The only reason I can think of that a company would adopt this kind of system is to manipulate the numbers. By showing more hours worked than actually worked would justify budgeted funds for "labor" and then re-allocate the money paid back by the employee to a different fund. That is defrading whomever the company reports financial information. It is overstating "labor" cost.
          Since this is a school system, you better believe the auditors are all over this one and if they were using it to defraud the employees, taxpayers or state/county, it would be apparent. Many school systems pay current as opposed to in arrears and for those who work variable hour jobs, the only way to do this is to guesstimate what the hours will be and square it up on the next check. Believe me when I say I think this is a lousy system and Patty can tell you I've griped about how inefficient it is endlessly, but regardless, it is the one that the majority of school systems use.

          We have had this process audited by the DOL a few years and it passed muster. It stinks but it is legal. We are in the middle of two audits right now (finance and legislative required for school systems)that are not DOL and this practice has been compliant on both of those as well.
          I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by Pattymd View Post
            Experience does count for something, we hope. (Rhetorical answer )

            Your answer is more fact than “rhetorical” Experience counts for more than a bar license.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by ElleMD View Post
              Since this is a school system, you better believe the auditors are all over this one and if they were using it to defraud the employees, taxpayers or state/county, it would be apparent. Many school systems pay current as opposed to in arrears and for those who work variable hour jobs, the only way to do this is to guesstimate what the hours will be and square it up on the next check. Believe me when I say I think this is a lousy system and Patty can tell you I've griped about how inefficient it is endlessly, but regardless, it is the one that the majority of school systems use.

              We have had this process audited by the DOL a few years and it passed muster. It stinks but it is legal. We are in the middle of two audits right now (finance and legislative required for school systems)that are not DOL and this practice has been compliant on both of those as well.
              Thank you for your response. Remember Enron. Their auditors were all over it too. (Not being hard to get along with, lol.)

              I have been in accounting since 1963, 20 of which were in Texas and I've worked with all types of businesses using different payroll systems. I've also been through several audits by the TWFC. True I haven't worked for a school system, yet.

              The thing that bothered me on the original question was that the employee was required to enter erroneous times, more than he actually worked. I've re-read the responses, but I'm still very confused as to how this system works.
              If the pay period is after the date worked, then why is an estimate required? What is the end result they are trying to achieve? There are many cases when an estimate of time would be called for, but not on a regular bases.
              Last edited by joann2001; 09-13-2007, 04:45 PM.

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              • #22
                Paying "current" means that if the pay period ends on the 15th and end of month, that payments are issued on the same date. Since payroll obviously cannot prepare an accurate payment based on time that has not actually finished occuring yet, it means that an estimate of some type of used. Corrections of actual hours worked (including overtime) occured into the next payroll.

                I cannot speak to school district practices, but this is generally considered to be a "old" payroll practice derived when computer resources were scarce and expensive and it took a long time to process a payroll. It was also more commonly used with salaried employees. The last time I did this type of payroll was in the mid 1980s for a manufacturing company. It is a lot of extra work, computer resources are very inexpensive these days and most companies no longer use this method.

                It is more common these days to "lag" the payroll, where for example the pay periods end on say the 8th and 23rd, the pay dates are 15th and end of month (say plus 7-8 calendar days), and the payments are as accurate as the time accounting data that was submitted. It is also vastly less time consuming to process a payroll then it used to be.

                Public sector payrolls are often fairly different then private sector payrolls. They tend to use comp time instead of paid overtime and they often have a much more likely to use salaried payment methods not subject to reductions for base hours not worked. "Current" method payrolls are still ugly but less so under these conditions.
                Last edited by DAW; 09-13-2007, 05:23 PM.
                "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
                Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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                • #23
                  Welcome to a school system. The technology for the kids may be state of the art, but our practices are at least 20 years behind the times. My goal is to bring us up to the turn of the 20th century before the decade is out. Can you say, manual timesheets? The sooner I can get rid of those, the better. And I don't even work in payroll. I'm in a profesional organization with other HR professionals from school systems and sadly, salary nonexempt paying current is the standard practice.
                  I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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                  • #24
                    One thing not often recognized, even among payroll professionals, is just how "industry" specific payroll is sometimes. While pretty much everyone is subject to the federal FLSA law, there are a huge number of industry or practice specific legal restrictions used by some employers and not others. Often payroll people all use the same words, but they do not really mean the same thing. For example, I have not used paper timesheets since the mid 1980s, and the "current" payroll I mentioned was considered pretty "old school" even when we were using it. There are of course many differences between public and private sector payroll rules, but even among private sector employers, you can have huge legal differences. A restaurant, a factory and a nursing home may be all private sector but face very different payroll related legal requirements.

                    One common and reocurring problem with answering labor law questions is that exactly what the employer does for a living often affects the answer to questions asked.
                    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
                    Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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                    • #25
                      Current time payroll

                      Thank you DAW for that information. I can understand the logic behind it and the hardship for payroll in using that system.

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                      • #26
                        Original question

                        Originally posted by jemrei6 View Post
                        I work for the transportation dept of a local school. For the first 4 weeks of school, my employer has decided that all bus aides must put down 6.75 hours and drivers 7.25 hours each day. Last year my actual work time was 5.75 hours so that's what I put down. My employer changed the hours to 6.75 and then made me pay back the over-payment. Can my employer force me to put down incorrect hours, change what I wrote down on the time sheet (without notification) and then make me pay back the money? After the 4th week, we are timed and our hours stay the same until we gain or lose a student and are retimed.
                        This all makes more sense to me now. So, I'll try to respond to Jem's question. If I'm wrong, please correct me.

                        The employer has determined that it takes an approximate amount of time to travel to and from the start point. There is also an estimate of the amount of time it takes to board/de-board 1 student.

                        They take the number of students enrolled that will be riding the bus, times the amount of board/de-board time for 1 student. They add that time to the travel time. This calculation gives them an estimate as to the total time for one day. That is the 6.75 hrs.

                        They are using this estimate for the first 4 weeks of school. By the end of the 4 weeks enrollment should have stabilized. At that time they will retime the route and that gives them a more accurate knowledge of the time it takes to run the route. As the enrollment changes the estimate will change.

                        Both you and the employer are estimating the time it will take for you to run your route. Yours is based on a previous year and theirs on a knowledge of an estimated number of students that will ride the bus. The adjustment is fair. But, I would still recommend that you make sure that the adjustment is being made to the hours worked and not the amount paid.

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