Clock in systems overpayment

clock in systems operator error allows unauthorised overpayment of overtime.

Saturday, December 7, 2013 –
By Tammy Helm

 shutterstock_20101417The problem appears to be a glitch in the time of the county’s clock in system. Reed said he asked about 11 employees to submit their time to him by Nov. 22 and he would “edit” their hours in. Time was collected earlier to accommodate the Thanksgiving holiday. He signed off on their paperwork and submitted it to the payroll clerk. Those employees then clocked in and out as they normally would on Nov. 22 and 23.” I assumed, and I believe everybody else assumes, too, that when the supervisor signs off on that, it freezes the time center,” Reed said.He said even if an employee uses the time system after he’s made the entry, the system won’t accept the employee’s input.Or, that’s how it should work.Reed discovered those employees clocked in Nov. 22 and 23 and the time was transmitted through the time system, even though he had signed off on their time. That means employees got paid for those hours twice, or in some cases, got paid hours they shouldn’t have been paid for.

“Do you think this is the first time it’s happened, or has it been happening all along?” Commission Chairman Allen Warren said.

Johnson said it’s rare for the payroll clerk to ask supervisors to sign off on payroll sheets early. County Clerk Kendell Mason said this is the first time.

Reed said according to his records, the jail should have had about 110 hours of overtime this pay period, which is less than the allotted 150 hours. The system glitch accounts for about 88 overtime hours.

“I understand that 11 or 15 of my employees were overpaid, some drastically overpaid,” Reed said later. “We’re going to get back to, you’re going to have to pay it back. It’s the end of the year, right around Christmas. We’ve got to figure out what we’re going to do so I can be prepared to tell my employees, who, again, it wasn’t their fault, it wasn’t our fault, it wasn’t really anybody’s fault, it’s the way the cookie crumbles. How are we going to take care of that?”

Johnson said the error should be taken care of by the end of the month, but she suggested making the adjustment on the last paycheck. There are two more pay periods this month.

“This paycheck is important to a lot of folks because it’s Christmastime,” Johnson said.

Second District Commissioner Barbara Albright suggested employees be asked if they want the repayment taken out of the next two paychecks.

Mason promised to have a list of those employees and how much they were overpaid prepared by Monday.

Other overtime hours have occurred as employees arrive 15 minutes early and leave 15 minutes later than their shift. That time is spent getting briefed by the previous employee, or briefing the next employ coming on duty.

A bigger issue, according to Reed, is the county’s pay schedule. Like the sheriff’s office, the jail is manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with many jail employees working 11 days in a pay period, while other county employees work 10.

County employees are paid twice a month, which means jail staff end up with more hours each pay period. Reed recommended the county go to an every-other-week pay schedule.

As an example, Reed said one employee had 18.83 hours of overtime during the last pay period. Of that, 8.25 was from the last pay period. Another employee had 21 hours of overtime, with 12 of those hours from the last pay period. A third employee has 31 hours overtime, but eight of those hours were from the last pay period.

“When I go down my list, I’ve got roughly 50 hours of overtime that should have been on last time, but because of how our pay periods end and start, you can’t pick,” Reed said.

He said 11 employees worked 11 days in one pay period.

“That’s automatically going to throw overtime in,” Reed said.

Johnson said the issue is, a jail employee may work regular hours, but the payroll clerk has to do a “look back” to include all hours in each pay period.

Johnson asked if the county could change from paying twice a month to every other week, which would give employees 26 paychecks instead of 24.

“It would eliminate some of that look back,” Johnson said.

Reed said currently, the county has a long pay period and a short pay period.

The pay period also makes it difficult for employees to know how much their paycheck is going to be. She suggested those employees be paid hourly.

“They could have a pretty good idea what their gross is going to be,” Johnson said. “I think then, if you have that, and you have an employee all of a sudden have more gross pay, I do think the employee at that point would have a duty to come to their supervisor and say, ‘Hey, I think something is screwed up on my paycheck.'”

She said Miller and Reed would agree the employees who were paid double didn’t realize they had been because they didn’t know what their check should have been.

Reed said it would be easier for him to keep track of overtime if the pay schedule is changed.

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Summary: Any clock in system is only as good as the people chosen to operate it.  Adequate training in the setup and implementation of your chosen clock in system is an important part of the installation process. Periodic re-training and refresher sessions are recommended for existing and new software administrators.

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