My vacation mailbox

by Evil HR Lady on March 31, 2012

I got a few emails while I was off doing fun and exciting things like taxes and watching television (more about that later). Surprisingly, I didn’t win the British lottery every day, and only got 10 or 15 solicitations for great business deals involving me turning over my bank account information so that I could help out a Nigerian princess. Boy there are a lot of Nigerian princesses out there!

But, I thought I’d answer a few quick questions here. I’m publishing it today because April 1 is April fool’s day and I didn’t want anyone to think I’m joking. This is HR. We don’t joke about anything.

Are we required to keep time records of an exempt employee?  If an exempt employee calls out can I take from her PTO bank?

One of the perks of being exempt is that your hours shouldn’t be excessively tracked. If you’re five minutes later it shouldn’t make a difference as long as your job is getting done. (And that 5 minutes doesn’t matter for our job–if you’re a Kindergarten teacher you better be there when all the little darlings show up.) But, yes, as a manager, you need to be aware of where your employees are.

So, to make a long answer short, yes. When an exempt employee calls out for a whole day, or a half day, you should take it from her PTO bank. That’s the purpose of PTO. Technically you can deduct smaller amounts from the PTO bank as well, but if you do that, I’ll come through the internet and slap you upside the head.

 While the literature about workplace harassment has dealt with harassment from supervisors and colleagues, have there been any studies about HR departments as an extension of management harassing the entire workforce?

At the university where I’m employed, all faculty members are hereby prevented from achieving a promotion as a result of HR imposing theoretically impossible standards, and also for evaluations that presumably have been created so that no one can pass them.

Do you have any thoughts on this matter?

Yes, my thought is that I don’t believe it. What’s the purpose of preventing every single faculty member from being promoted? If there truly is no way for anyone to get promoted then your institution has just issued a ban on promotions.

It happens. Salary caps and all that good stuff.

HR isn’t an independent organization. They report up to the university president. If their policies make it impossible for anyone to be promoted you need to take it up with your department chair and then, if that doesn’t work, the university president.

There’s no law against banning promotions. And there’s no law against HR being jerks, as long as they are equal opportunity jerks, which it sounds like they are. But, I suspect this has more to do with finances than a runaway HR person. If it is runaway HR, the university hierarchy should be able to deal with it.

HR is NEVER the boss.

What should HR do when our problem is HR?  I report to a real bully of a manager and she is viewed as such a valued, hard-working resource by her Director and VP.  Everyone knows she has horrible interpersonal skills and should not be managing people.  She is an encyclopedia of knowledge regarding law, policy and just my company’s tribal knowledge.  But, she has tormented me for years now (6 1/2) and it’s not just her. 

The director is so full of himself and his career path, nobody dares cross him.  He has the VP, who is so far removed at this point, totally fooled.  Most of us work across the country and never see each other but once a year.  I don’t even work in an office, which is definitely a perk.  BUT, I just celebrated 10 yrs with my company and I don’t really want to leave for something else and really shouldn’t have to, in my opinion.

We are demoralized and done fighting.  Once I had a family to support, I realized I must pick my battles.  I just really wonder what recourse does HR have when HR is the problem?!?  Thank you

Your recourse is the same as the last question–HR is NEVER the boss. Your problem is not with her, but with her boss, who allows this behavior. He likes what she does. He rewards her behavior. He’s chosen her over you.

But, if you are not on site, isn’t it possible to just mainly ignore her? Is she on your case every day? I mean, when she calls, just start playing Cut the Rope (another vacation past time!) while she blathers on about how terrible you are or what have you. You’ve been there 10 years and don’t want to leave. You can’t make her boss fix her, as he is fully away of the problem. (And if he’s not aware, why haven’t you told him?)

Chances of finding another telecommuting job? Slim. Chances of her winning if you loudly protest? High. Decide if the perk of telecommuting is worth the pain of dealing with her. If it’s not, start looking for a new job.


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