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Exempt employee has been abusing leave Georgia

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  • Exempt employee has been abusing leave Georgia

    I work for a small company (under 20 employees). The president of the company is concerned that our office manager (an exempt employee) has been taking too much time off. He asked me to pull and review her 2008 time sheets.

    She currently receives three weeks of vacation and five days of sick/personal time per year. Upon reviewing her 2008 time sheets, she exceeded her vacation/sick/personal time by 75 hours. I also pulled her time sheets for 2009 ytd, and found that she is coding time off to 'negative comp time' instead of using her vacation or sick/personal time.

    This has slipped through the cracks because she, as the office manager, is the person who keeps track of time sheets and calls in payroll. Going forward, all employees will have to forward their time sheets to me (the company accountant) in addition to the office manager.

    My question is this - Is there any way we can legally get those 75 hours back? I don't think we can dock her pay, but can we require her to repay those hours from her 2009 vacation/sick bank?

    Thanks for any input!

  • #2
    In your state, I don't see any problem with offsetting her 2009 entitlements with the 2008 time taken in excess of what was allowed.

    You can set up a little Excel worksheet or Access database to track this going forward. Best practices provide for not allowing employees to "go negative".

    "Negative comp time"? Do you have a policy of providing for exempt employees earning compensatory time?
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    • #3
      Thanks for your quick response. I will definitely set up an Excel spreadsheet to track this going forward.

      Yes, we do allow exempt employees to accrue comp time. Until last year, the entire staff was paid hourly. We had quite a bit of abuse concerning overtime (employees working unnecessary, unapproved overtime when they wanted to earn extra money), so we converted all qualified employees from non-exempt to exempt and offered comp time in lieu of overtime. Now it seems we've opened another can of worms...

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      • #4
        Yeah, and the worms are squirming. No good deed, and all that stuff.

        Some district courts have decided that accruing comp time hour-for-hour for exempt employees can jeopardize the exemption; not sure if the district court for Georgia is one of those.

        If I may, let me suggest another option. Do away with comp time. Let the employees take what they've earned, then drop it. Reward exceptional "above and beyond" with some other type of compensation, such as dinner at a nice place, sports tickets, lump sum cash bonus, etc. (of course, all of these are taxable). Truly exempt employees are paid for their knowledge, not their hours worked and should not expect some type of benefit for working a few hours extra here and there. Of course, you can also be lenient with the ones who don't abuse it, work a lot of extra hours, then need a couple of hours off for an appointment; in that case, you could just let it go, at the discretion of management.
        I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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        • #5
          Sorry to bother you, but I have one more question. If we have the employee 'repay' her hours from her 2009 bank, are we only allowed to collect for full days of absence (given that she is exempt), or can we collect for partial days as well? As you can probably tell, this isn't my area of expertise , and I want to keep everything legit.

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          • #6
            Can you give me an example? I want to make sure I'm understanding the situation correctly.
            I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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            • #7
              Sure. She started the year with 40 hours of sick/personal leave, and 120 hours of vacation. She exhausted her sick/personal time by 1/27/08. She exhausted her vacation time by 8/10/08.

              From then until the the end of the year, she took an additional 75 hours of leave. Four days were full days she was sick or out of town, but the remaining 43 hours came from days she worked half days, came in an hour or two late, left an hour or two early, etc.

              As an exempt employee, I think she's entitled to be paid her full salary as long as she shows up at work. However, these shortened days add up to over a week of extra time off!

              Would we only be able to take four days from her 2009 vacation bank (to cover the four full days she was absent but paid), or could we take the whole 75 hours?

              I hope I'm making some sense

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              • #8
                As an exempt employee, she must be paid when she works a partial day, unless the partial day absence is intermittent FMLA leave. However, the law cares not a whit about how that is accomplished; you are certainly allowed to use time off in partial day increments. That's what it's for, after all.

                There would be no violation of law to offset the entire excess hours to this year's entitlement.

                May I also suggest one more thing? In addition to not letting employees "go negative", if you are not already doing so, accrue the proportionate amount of leave each pay period. Do not give it all "up front".
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                • #9
                  Thank you so much Pattymd; you have been very helpful!

                  That's a very good suggestion about accruing the leave; I will be sure to pass that idea on to our president tomorrow.

                  Again, thank you. I really felt in over my head on this, and you've helped me greatly!

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                  • #10
                    You're certainly welcome.
                    I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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