Saturday, December 20, 2008

An Apology Would Go a Long Way

Back in March of 2006 I stumbled upon a great job. A job I would have killed for when I first moved to Ottawa as a recent Canadian Studies graduate. My dream had been to work for the Federal Government and one day be a foreign diplomat. But really, what I did when I moved to Ottawa 17 years ago and my professional journey is quite a fun story and I do plan on blogging about it soon...but let's jump to Tuesday December 16, 2008.

I arrived at work at my normal time, fired up my computers and open my email. BAM! I am pretty sure a two-by-four came swinging out of my computer and smacked in the face. BAM!

The email was from my compensation advisor apparently she had "revised all overtime forms sent" to her and had determined I had been "overpaid on most of them." Blah. Blah. Blah. $529.62. Blah. Blah. Blah. "We are allowed to collect at a rate of 10% of your pay per pay...until the full amount is recovered". Blah. Blah. Blah.


OK, deep breath. Calm down, Laura. Deep breath!

My contract specifically states that my hours of work will be "20 hours per week, from Monday to Friday. [My] hours of work are 4 a.m. to 8 a.m...Willing to work overtime on a regular basis is a condition of employment for this position. By acceptance of this offer [I am] also accepting this condition."

So, since March 2006 I have been asked to work overtime on the weekends. Anytime there was a "big news story of federal government interest" a member of our team was asked to come in to work on the weekend. You see, my job is to watch TV news, listen to radio news and analyse front pages of newspapers across the country. I help create a multi-media report that federal government employees and federal politicians can access - but the cool part, no matter your political party affiliation, is that my main "customer" is the Prime Minister of Canada and his staff.

For example, recently PM Harper was in Peru and I was asked to work weekend hours in order to to keep the Prime Minister's communication staff up to date on the coverage happening in Canada. They were briefing him each morning and wanted our report by 6am each day. I volunteered to come in and complete the report.

Back in 2006, the very first time I was asked to work a weekend my then boss joked, "well, at least you get overtime pay". Then the first time I worked both a Saturday and Sunday my boss corrected my overtime sheet to have the Saturday hours paid at 1.5 rate and the Sunday hours to be paid at the 2.0 rate. They used the terms "first rest day" and "second rest day". So, this has always been the practice. Work the weekend - get 1.5 or even 2.5 pay rate for coming in on the weekend.

What is also important is that not only did my manager sign off on the overtime sheets, so did his manager. At times sending it back to me to make corrections - like for my November time sheet. I claimed the 1.5 rate for my Saturday hours and the 2.0 rate for my Sunday hours AND my premium pay for working outside the "normal business day" (it is $2.00 an hour for any hour after 5pm and before 8am). My form was sent back to me and I was actually told (JUST LAST WEEK!) that I only qualify for the 1.5 and 2.0 overtime rate and that premium pay is not paid on overtime weekend hours.

So, compensation girl has determined that SOME of my old time sheets were corrected and some were not. According to her calculations I owe them for 9 shifts, some dating back to July of 2006, in which I claimed the 1.5 or 2.0 rate. She also determined that they owe me money for four hours I worked, but was not paid for properly.

Is your head spinning????? Mine is. And I am fuming.

I am mad at myself for not scrutinizing my pay cheques. They were higher when I worked extra hours, and I just figured it was all correct. I am mad at myself for no researching the Collective Agreement and figuring out my rights and pay levels.

I am furious with the 5 managers I have had in the last 3 years - yes, 5- for not knowing the nuisances of having a part-time employee. I am mad that I was told to fill in my forms a specific way and that TWO levels of management signed off on them - leading me to believe they were correct.

I am extremely upset at the compensation advisers. Why did they not inform me of discrepancies on my forms and the corrections they made to correct them. If notification would have occurred the first time this happened, then we would not be in this mess. If when it occurred a second time or a third time or a million times they should have contact me AND my management. They should have realized there was a lack of communication and understanding of the pay rate scale.

But you know what make me the most upset? Is that in all the correspondence between my boss on this fiasco, he has never once said sorry. Not once. All I want is a, "Damn-it Laura, sorry this happened..." Or, "This absolutely sucks, I'm sorry I never caught the error." Or, "My bad. Sorry." Or, "Hey, it is Christmas, and you know, it is my fault this happened, so, here is $500, pay off the debt! Merry Christmas! Sorry."

Heck. I would take a simple sorry. Sorry. SORRY.

Well, excuse me while I dry my tears of anger and go ice the huge welt and bruise the two-by-four left...and as I start to budget better since my pay is about to be garnished.

A. Simple. Apology. Would. Go. A. Long. Way.


Amy said...

Only in the freakin' gov't would this happen.

I've had something similar happen... and it makes me sooo mad.

Not to generalize, but I've never enjoyed the pay and comp people. Its THEM that should have caught the mistake, not necessarily your manager. That is THEIR speciality.

I hope it gets better soon Laura!

Melissa said...

Oh Laura...that is such bull$hit. It's not as if you were trying to screw someone, you were just doing as you were told.

So many things are written off today, you would think they could write off $ isn't a big deal to a company but it sure is to a family.

They probably won't tell you their sorry but I will...I'm really sorry your going through this right in time for the holidays!

Tara R. said...

That totally sucks! This was not your fault, you shouldn't be punished. They should consider it a bonus for working all that overtime. Dangit!

Momisodes said...

Oh geez! I am so sorry this happened. I was also incredibly negligent about checking my hours and paychecks at my last job. Turns out, most of the time, their time clocks would omit entire day's worth of pay! Ugh.

OHmommy said...

Oh dude I am so sorry, that sucks! I doubt they will ever say they are sorry/ I hope it gets better.

forgetfulone said...

Oh, man! I would be so upset, and my head is spinning! What a freakin' mess, and it sucks! So appropriate that my word verification for leaving this comment is sucks (h). I kid you not. sucksh

InTheFastLane said...

That is sooo frustrating! And to have it happen at this time of year? Seems like there is plenty of frustration to go around.

A Buns Life said...

I am so, so sorry!!

Anonymous said...

that just sucks. i am sorry!