Avoid overtime woes through proper workplace atmosphere and communication
Overtime! It is hard to believe that one word could cause so much confusion and create so many problems.
As a supervisor, youï¿½re responsible for seeing that employees accurately record the time they work and receive overtime when itï¿½s due. The ï¿½Donï¿½t give much thought to overtime?ï¿½ article in this issue of LeadingEdition covers the details of recording and paying overtime properly. This article looks at alleviating confusion through workplace atmosphere, communication, and expectation setting.
Frequently, employees tell us that their department ï¿½does not allow overtime.ï¿½ Unfortunately, this phrase is sometimes a euphemism meaning that employees may be required to work overtime, but that they will not be paid for it. Employees fear that their supervisors will reprimand them if they show overtime on their time sheets, so they work the hours and donï¿½t record them.
In addition to the fact that this practice is illegal, it creates an atmosphere that is bad for morale and productivity. Employees who feel they have been ï¿½cheatedï¿½ out of pay will not be as productive or willing to go the extra mile. Fearing retribution for recording overtime, employees may carry that feeling over into the rest of their job, coming to fear that their supervisor may retaliate against them anytime they do something ï¿½wrong.ï¿½ This creates a hostile and intimidating workplace.
Instead, you should create an atmosphere where employees feel respected, knowing that you will deal with them in a fair, honest, and equitable manner. Additionally, supervisors should foster a workplace where employees feel comfortable bringing up situations where they need more hours to complete assigned work.
Communication and expectation setting work hand-in-hand when it comes to overtime. Sometimes a supervisor does not realize that an employee is working overtime and so does not ask questions when extra time is not recorded. An employee may work overtime without mentioning it out of fear the supervisor will think the employee is incapable of doing the job. In other circumstances, an employee may decline to record overtime out of goodness of heart, believing that the department cannot afford to pay for the extra time.
Upon hiring an employee and at various times throughout the employeeï¿½s tenure, the supervisor should be sure the employee understands the following:
Discipline and diligence
If you encounter a situation where an employee continues to work extra time after you've told them not to, you need to discipline the employee. This discipline could go as far as terminating the employeeï¿½s employment if he or she refuses to stop working extra time. Claiming that you told the employee not to work extra time, but that the employee ï¿½just wouldnï¿½t listenï¿½ is not an acceptable defense; the department is still liable.
Supervisors need to remain attentive to the time worked by their staff. Stopping at the normal quitting time, but spending another 15 minutes putting things away or sending a few last minute e-mails is still working. Likewise staff who read a book while waiting for a ride may be eligible for overtime if they answer the phone or direct staff or students during this time.
In all cases, itï¿½s the supervisorï¿½s responsibility to manage the overtime of their employees. Often unpaid overtime issues come up quite innocently when an employee is talking with Human Resources on another matter. When this happens, Internal Audit is called into the case to assess the situation. Giving proper attention to workplace atmosphere, communication, and expectation setting can help avoid problems.
The Compensation and Classification staff in Human Resource Services can answer your questions about overtime rules and procedures. The Human Resource Services Employee Relations staff is available to help if you want more information or need assistance with workplace atmosphere, communication, or discipline issues.
- Tom Ganz and Sharon Williams
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LeadingEdition is an electronic newsletter for Purdue University supervisors. It is produced and distributed by Purdue University Human Resources four times annually. If you have questions, comments or suggestions relating to the newsletter, please call 49-41679 or email us. Thank you.