OIG Audit Confirms
Improper Deletion Of Employees’ Clock Rings
Executive Vice President
(This article appeared in the July/August 2011 issue
The American Postal Worker magazine.)
A recent report by the postal service’s office of inspector general (OIG) confirms the union’s suspicion that supervisors have been depriving employees of overtime pay they were entitled to receive by improperly altering time and attendance records.
“Management controls over time and attendance at the locations included in our audit were not adequate to ensure employees’ workhours were reported accurately,” the OIG wrote. “As a result, we could not determine with certainty the reasons supervisors altered employee time and attendance records.”
The OIG’s March 31 audit was conducted in response to a congressional request and other inquiries following allegations that supervisors were altering time and attendance records, and employees were not receiving the pay they earned.
This is not the first time the Postal Service has faced accusations of tampering with employee time records: In 2005, employees in Florida settled a class-action lawsuit over “disallowed” overtime. The APWU filed a national- level grievance, which is currently awaiting arbitration. In 2010, the National Association of Letter Carriers filed a lawsuit over disallowed overtime, but the court found insufficient evidence to certify a class action.
The Postal Service uses the Time and Attendance Collection System (TACS) to collect information for payment processing, but supervisors are able to delete or edit the information once it has been entered. For example, if a supervisor observes or “has reason to know” that an employee did not work while “on the clock,” the supervisor may disallow any time the employee recorded.
However, postal regulations require that a PS Form 1017-A, Time Disallowance Record, must be completed when management disallows an employee time. The form, which supervisors are prompted by TACS to complete, must include the reason and the date the employee was notified. During its audit, the OIG found that supervisors failed to complete the required PS Form 1017-A, and, in some cases failed to complete the PS Form 3971 leave request forms.
In Gastonia, NC, and Dover, NH, management neglected to provide any of the disallowed time records. In Gahanna, OH, out of 61 cases in which supervisors deleted employees’ time entries, management was only able to provide 43 of the disallowed time records; of those records, 31 were incomplete. No employee in any of these locations was ever notified that their workhours were disallowed. OIG noted a grievance that awarded employees overtime pay as a result of management’s failure to support disallowed time with PS Forms 1017-A.
During the investigation, the OIG reviewed PS Forms 3971 for random pay periods for employees in Gastonia, Salem, OR, and Carol Stream, IL. Out of 137 employees at the four locations, the OIG found that 68 percent were missing PS Forms 3971 for leave taken. A grievance was filed because management failed to print out the required forms and have them signed.
Deletion of Clock Rings by Supervisors
The OIG also found that in Gastonia, Dover, and Parkville, MO, employee clock rings were deleted to conform to management reports or established time limits for specific tasks, including the distribution of mail to post office boxes or detached box units, and the distribution and spreading of mail and sorted bundles.
Supervisors also deleted any employee time over the five minute leeway regular employees are allowed. (Postal regulations provide that a deviation may be allowed from the schedule time for each clock ring up to five minutes; however, part-time flexibles, casuals, and temporary employees are paid based on their actual recorded time.)
In addition, postal regulations provide that “If an employee works in an ‘overtime’ status by exceeding the scheduled tour hours by more than five minutes, they are paid for their actual clock time, unless the time is disallowed.” However, as previously mentioned, management must complete PS Form 1017-A when time is disallowed.
The OIG expressed concern over the liability management could face as a result of grievances when management fails to follow policies and procedures over time and attendance. The following are some of the examples the OIG cited of improper clock ring deletions:
A supervisor at the Dover, NH post office entered an end time of 3 p.m. for a part-time flexible employee working at a higher level. However, the record showed that the employee badge was swiped at 3:30 p.m., 30 minutes after the time the supervisor input. The employee was not paid for the 30 minutes of overtime. The OIG concluded that there was no support for this deletion.
An employee clocked out for lunch at 12:06 p.m., and returned from lunch at 12:39 p.m. (a total of 33 minutes). However, the supervisor deleted the “in” lunch time and re-entered the clock ring at 1:21 p.m., deleting 42 minutes. This resulted in the employee receiving eight minutes of overtime pay instead of 50 minutes.
A supervisor deleted a part-time flexible employee’s end time swipes at 5:15 p.m. and 5:16 p.m., and entered an end time of 4:00 p.m. This action resulted in the employee being underpaid for one hour and 15 minutes.
In Parkville, MO, the OIG took nine deletions from a statistical sample of employees’ clock rings. OIG was told by the manager that clock rings were corrected to conform to management reports and other established time limits for each operation. The OIG wrote, “For example, swipes to operation codes 769, Station Branch Box Section and 241, F4 Allied Distribution, were deleted because only one hour per day can be charged per clerk, despite employees stating they spent more time on this operation. In addition, changes were made based on the amount of time that could be charged to operation code 240, Manual Distribution Branch. This appears to be outright fraud.
Additionally, in Salem, OR, employees’ out-of-schedule workhours were manually tabulated by supervisors incorrectly, resulting in out-of-schedule premium hours not being calculated.
An OIG inspection at the facility revealed that a supervisor “incorrectly calculated out-of-scheduled premium hours and underpaid the employee by 9 hours.”
Monitor Your Work Hours
Because each violation has its own set of facts, it is imperative that employees monitor their records carefully to ensure that the Postal Service is complying with proper timekeeping policies and procedures. Employees should keep their own record of hours worked each day, and file a grievance if your paycheck doesn’t match your records.