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Employment Today™


Dear Kathryn:

I feel as though my employer is using my credit cards as additional cash flow for the company. He is constantly asking to me to pick up and pay for office supplies that have totaled over $600; gas up the company vehicle, and in general act as the petty cash account. I eventually get paid after four weeks of turning in my expense report. I was hired as an office manager, never expecting to have to use my own personal credit or to skip grocery shopping because I had to pay for office stuff. I don't get paid interest on the money I outlay and not having my credit cards free to use for my own necessities and emergencies is killing me! I've even had two reports kicked back asking for more backup on the purchases which delayed my payment another week.

I brought this to my boss's attention and to corporate headquarters and all they say is they process the T&E statements as fast as they can. I think this is strange that an office manager is expected to carry this kind of responsibility and I don't want to be forced to do this any longer.

TERRIE R., Middletown, CT

Dear Terrie:

Regional offices and smaller companies sometimes request this of an office manager. However, typically they have either a more efficient repay system or a real petty cash fund on which to rely. My suggestion is to tell your boss that your credit card and personal cash is simply 100% committed and thus unavailable for the company's needs. I suggest that you open commercial accounts with vendors to handle the regularly needed supplies. Negotiate a better rate with one vendor vs. another to show you've been proactive, trying to save the company money.

Next, inquire with various corporate credit cards requesting low limits that you would be responsible for. Again, shop for low interest rates and ask about special perks your Company might gain by using the credit cards. Certainly, air miles, free hotel nights and free gifts are just small samples that your company would be interested in.

Last, make sure there is a reasonable petty cash fund that only you are responsible for. These are easy, reasonable solutions and your request for these should be granted. If this falls on deaf ears, ask the company to advance you the funds needed each month to pick up the tabs they require. That should change their way of operating. Good luck.

Dear Kathryn:

This time of year, I feel like I should be in my black robe, playing Judge Judy. The difference between Judge Judy and me is that she seems to enjoy being the arbiter. Nothing I dread more is again on the horizon-year-end reviews.

I must to do forty-one of those horrible meetings and know darn well the folks receiving them are not in wild anticipation of my feedback. Given I have to conduct these reviews; I'm counting on your help to deliver my synopsis of their work, attitudes and future potential. There have been a few employees that I should have spoken to about behaviors and performances long before this year-end review, but hating confrontation, hadn't.

I would like to deliver my verdicts, quickly and hopefully, more effective than in previous years. This black robe is worse then wearing the Santa Suit at our annual holiday party!

PAUL W., Cromwell, CT

Dear Paul:

I can understand your angst as it's not only depressing anticipating forty something reviews, but at the holiday time of year to boot!

I've got good some good direction for you that will make this round of reviews easier, and hopeful, more productive. First, have a plan that is not only going to deliver the good and less positive feed- back, with solutions in mind. While you'll certainly invite the employee first to give you their suggestions to improve, you want to be prepared with your direction also.

When you're giving negative critiquing, don't just tell them they perform this particular function badly, back it up with examples. You're not trying to make the individual feel terrible, but to have them recognize the problem. By understand- ing where they went wrong, they'll be more acceptable and positive about fixing it. Even if you feel the employee's work habits and performance were really quite horrid, make the review balanced. This means cite both the positive and the negative work. Remember, if they are so terrible, you wouldn't bother doing the review, right? You'd be firing them.

Last, pick up this great new read entitled, Tell Me How I'm Doing, A Fable About The Importance of Giving Feedback by Richard Williams, PHD. It's a quick, easy read with some terrific suggestions to make these reviews productive, and not so dreaded.

Dear Kathryn:

I respond like a jack-in-the-box when my employer lifts his little finger, only to get shafted in my paycheck! Who wants to get woken up at 6am and called into work, especially after working a double the night before, only to get paid for 90 minutes?! I'm a nurse in a non-union environment and my administrator has made my life beyond miserable.

I have to be available to jump in my car and show for duty when someone doesn't come in or calls in sick. I agreed to it so I'm not complaining, but I am cranky about not getting properly compensated for my efforts and time!

There have three instances where I've been called into work, only to find out they didn't need me. I not only have been awoken after a few hours sleep to jump into my car to get over here, I've twice cancelled plans and ticked my husband off in order to fulfill my obligation. To make matters worse, they only paid me from the time I came to the facility to when they told me they didn't need me.

Shouldn't they be paying me a of minimum of four hours for my quick responsiveness, gas and interruption of my life? There should be more reward for me when they have me on automatic dial-up like this! What's the story here?


Dear Elizabeth:

In your non-union environment, unfortunately, your employer needs to only follow State Statutes.

According to Section 31-60-11, your employer need only pay you to the nearest unit of 15 minutes from the time you received the phone call to the time you arrived and they told you that your working wasn't needed. It sounds as though your employer is following the law to the letter.

In an interesting development that stood in opposition to the CT State Statute, the Town of Tolland convinced a Superior Court judge to start their time clock running only once the employee reported to work, not from when the call came in.

The Town stated that they would call many employees to report for duty, such as maintenance workers during a snow storm. They didn't know who was going to work where or when and many times, some of those called, didn't work and were sent home. Because the employee showed up but didn't have a specific assignment, and was dismissed, the town claimed they didn't have to pay the employee. The judge agreed! Obviously this is an example (rare, it is) that not all Statutes are written in stone, and employees and employers shouldn't take anything for granted.