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Hospital pharmacy hours as per contract are 7:30-2:30. Pharmacist arrives 15-35 mins late daily. I cannot clock in until the pharmacist is there as I’m just a technician and cannot legally work without a pharmacist. In addition, the computer to clock in is inside the locked pharmacy.

My issue is I’m getting to work on time consistently and waiting, unpaid, for about 30 minutes daily, four days a week.

At first, they were adjusting my hours but now they are just late daily and not apologizing and not fixing my time.

I am not a jerk about being on time and even appreciate the idea of flexibility myself, but it feels rude. One thing that I really like about this job is the fact that I get to go in at 7:30 in the morning, which is ideal for me. But it’s clearly not working out that way because they’re late constantly. I have worked with people who are constantly late, and I know that this will not be fixed except perhaps changing the hours of the pharmacy to 8 o’clock. But if it’s 8 o’clock I have a feeling this is a lifestyle problem and they’ll be getting there at 8:15 or 8:30 instead. Also, I don’t think it’s simple to change the hours that we open due to the contract.

I have never had a boss with this problem before, only other coworkers. It’s bothering me and I’m only about 8 weeks in. I’d say it is unintentionally toxic.

How should I handle this situation?

Edit: state of FL. Not government work. I do have periods of unsupervised time in the pharmacy, as the pharmacist has rounds and takes many breaks to smoke outside.

Thanks for all the thoughtful input and suggestions. I was able to request another computer location to be able to clock in when I arrive and this was implemented yesterday, so that should solve my issue.

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    "Basically, I’m getting to work on time consistently and waiting, unpaid, for about 30 minutes daily, four days a week waiting on them to arrive." Where are you based? In the UK, this would be illegal - you were there and ready to work, therefore you must be paid. Feb 26 at 17:16
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    What happens if you clock in at 7:30? Feb 26 at 18:08
  • 7
    In what state/country/jurisdiction is this in? Is this a contract/temp position? Are you considered an employee or a contractor? What does your contract/employee manual say on this issue? What happens for lunch or at the end of the day? Does your pharmacist have to remain present as well? What about bathroom breaks? Are you allowed to remain at your post even when your pharmacist takes a bathroom break? Do you have to clock in on the computer? Is this a technical limitation, or a legal one? Feb 26 at 20:39
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    @sunspharm = Edit your question. Address the questions others have, what would happen if you clocked in, before the pharmacist arrived? It's been established by labor court cases, but admittedly not full established, that company policy of say a security checkpoint counts as being "at work" for the purposes of timecards. Are you denied breaks or is it if you take a break, it's unpaid? Where in the US? Different states have different labor laws. Question is impossible to answer, properly, without some of these questions answered.
    – Donald
    Feb 27 at 15:36
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    To give an accurate and complete answer, we're going to need to know which state you're in, as employment laws vary at least by state (and sometimes by county/city). We, also, need to know if the employer is a government agency, and if so, if it's state or federal. It is, however, much more likely that your employer is not a government. In general, if you're scheduled to start at a specific time and you are there ready to work at that time, then it's unlawful for them to not pay you starting at that time.
    – Makyen
    Feb 27 at 19:45

5 Answers 5

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"Hey, boss, I usually get here at 7:30 but I can't get to the time clock to clock in until the pharmacy is unlocked. I really hate having to bug you to adjust my hours. Is there any way I can clock in before the pharmacy is unlocked or otherwise get my timecard to reflect my actual hours, without needing to ask for help every time?"

From the comments: Send by e-mail/text or do the normal "just following up on our earlier conversation" so you have this in writing, to document that you are actually showing up on time.

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    Or hours to reflect access to the time clock.
    – keshlam
    Feb 27 at 20:49
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    That wording is good, but I would send it by email (or by text). This way, if this issue still does not get resolved, you have some documentation to prove your side of the story. This is important. I have a family member who was fired for being late/absent, but it turns out it was her manager who was consistently absent, but she couldn't prove her side of the story. Feb 28 at 7:50
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    Also keep pestering them about fixing your hours. They should find it annoying to 1) continously be reminded of this and having to spend time to adjust them and 2) Paying you to wait outside the door instead of doing useful work... maybe they will start coming on time or will simply adjust OP time schedule to avoid the problem.
    – Bakuriu
    Feb 28 at 19:02
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    @keshlam I got the impression that the OP doesn't prefer that solution. I've found that when there's a option that you don't want but might be seen as low resistance by the other party it's better to just never introduce it into the conversation. Feb 28 at 21:24
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    This probably needs to be escalated, as it's the hospital, not the pharmacist, that employs the OP.
    – chepner
    Feb 29 at 18:22
50

Hospital pharmacy hours per contract is 7:30-2:30. Pharmacist arrives 15-35 mins late daily. I cannot clock in until the pharmacist is there as I’m just a technician and cannot legally work without a pharmacist.

You might not legally work without a pharmacist, but you still can get paid without a pharmacist.
What is stopping you from clocking in 7:30? If you can clock in at 7:30 and you have a written agreement that your shift starts at 7:30, then you should clock in at 7:30. If you cannot clock in at 7:30 because of some software limitation or something, then I would raise an HR ticket every time your couldn't clock in at 7:30.
Don't put any blame on the pharmacist, just state the factual, e.g.: "Monday the 26th, my shift started 7:30, but the system didn't allow me to clock in until 7:54. Can you please correct my hours to start at 7:30 that day"

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    As per a comment by the OP "The computer to clock in is in the locked pharmacy"
    – Peter M
    Feb 27 at 17:07
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    @PeterM That still doesn't change the advice to send a message to a superior to inform of this situation. Feb 27 at 20:26
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    @IsmaelMiguel But it does affect "What is stopping you from clocking in 7:30?"
    – Peter M
    Feb 27 at 22:16
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    There is also the potential problem of the technician arriving and the pharmacist being off sick. OK, the technician can't dispense, but he's still turned up and available for work. Should he be denied the entire day? (This isn't an issue with this answer, but an additional point in its favour.) Feb 28 at 9:03
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    Generally speaking I agree with the well-known realism that HR does not represent the interests of the employee, but rather the company, however, in this case, it is almost a necessary fact that the OP should go to HR immediately to report what is happening. Pay and benefits are being affected.
    – CGCampbell
    Feb 28 at 13:31
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You should be able to clock in on time even if you can't do any actual pharmacy work until your supervisor arrives. Take this to the next level of management, whoever supervised your supervisor.

If that doesn't work, you can try asking HR whether the hospital is violating your contract. You might want to talk to a lawyer first, to put some weight behind that implied challenge.

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    I think you meant to write HR.
    – Sherry
    Feb 26 at 17:37
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    You could always sweep the floor, empty the trash cans, refill supplies, etc.. while waiting to be supervised for technician related tasks.
    – Pete B.
    Feb 26 at 19:18
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    @PeteB. As per the OP, their work location is locked until their boss arrives. And the time clock is locked inside their work area.
    – Peter M
    Feb 27 at 17:07
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    Get the time clock relocated, then. If checking in online, see if there is another terminal that could be used. Don't get fixated on one solution; look for others
    – keshlam
    Feb 28 at 0:23
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    You don't need to be doing any task you haven't been told to do, but as soon as you arrive at the workplace at a time you were scheduled to work, you are "working" and need to be paid for that time, regardless of whether your supervisor is there or has anything for you to be doing. To add to what this and the other correct answers are saying, preventing you from recording these hours is wage theft and HR needs to resolve it and pay you back what the business owes you. Feb 28 at 16:24
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(I'm still waiting to hear your answer on some of my questions, but for now, here is a partial answer to your question).

For now, you do need to document what's happening. Keep a log of your exact hours, there are phone apps that can help you do that. And keep track of your unpaid hours.

And the more corroborating documentation, the better. Some apps will even add time-stamped GPS tracking during your commute hours to corroborate your clock-in and clock-out times. And either keep a paper journal at home, or take pictures of your parking receipts, fueling receipt, bridge tolls/transponder logs, transit card logs, and store those items/photos in chronological order. Again, the more corroborating evidence, the better. Just be sure to have all of this backed up on the cloud in case something happens to your phone. And be sure to have all of this organized from the get go, since it's more difficult to organize such information after the fact.

At first, they were adjusting my hours, which I think basically means they were falsifying their own time.

You probably know this already, but do not say this part to anyone in your company.

Now if someone in HR/legal offers this as a potential solution, that's fine, but even then, just play dumb, do not volunteer the fact that this is what your boss did at the beginning. Just say that your boss would probably have a problem with falsifying his own hours (which is technically the truth, it's just not the whole truth).

I cannot clock in until the pharmacist is there as I’m just a technician and cannot legally work without a pharmacist.

Please verify everything you've been told and try to find the primary source of that information. Go over your contract, read the employee manual, go over the rules of the pharmacist trade, carefully read any relevant any laws in your jurisdiction. Do not trust everything you're told. Verify it.

I'll just give you a made-up example, since I know nothing about the law and nothing about pharmacies in general. Let's say there is a law that says that technicians aren't allowed to be in the presence of controlled substances without having a supervising pharmacist present. Now, I don't know if such a law exists, but for the sake argument, let's say that's the case.

Once you know the reasoning behind the rule, and once you've actually verified that it's true, then you will be a much better position to find an alternative solution.

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    As per a comment by the OP "The computer to clock in is in the locked pharmacy"
    – Peter M
    Feb 27 at 17:09
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    Ask if the time clock can be moved or if online accessed from another terminal? It isn't a controlled substance, it shouldn't need to be protected.
    – keshlam
    Feb 27 at 20:51
  • Well, those computers do contain confidential patient information, so may be create a separate system for tracking hours, and I doubt that the manager has this kind of authority to change the system. But in either case, at the end of the day, that's a lot of work to be done just to cover for the manager just because he can't seem to do his job and actually show up on time. Feb 29 at 0:41
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...waiting, unpaid, for about 30 minutes daily, four days a week. ...and not fixing my time.

Well, this is entirely unfair: you're showing up at the time requested, so morally they need to pay you for that, and it's very likely (depending on your jurisdiction) that they legally must pay you for that time. The other answers address this in more detail, but I'd suggest you not simply live with taking what amounts to a 5% pay cut. (I assume here you're being paid hourly.)

But this seems to be the crux of the problem:

It’s bothering me and I’m only about 8 weeks in. I’d say it is unintentionally toxic.

You're upset because something isn't working smoothly. This happens to me all the time, too: I'm always finding situations at work where something could be done better, or more smoothly, or more efficiently (or all of those), and I find it annoying when I encounter strong resistance to fixing such things. (Really annoying at times; I've left jobs over this.)

But the best thing you can do, once you've sent (gentle) suggestions up the chain about fixing such things, is to change your mindset a bit. Every business has certain inefficiencies in it, and other people in the business will prioritise fixing them differently from you. If you can bring yourself around to thinking of this as Just One of Those Things that is is one of the many drags on business that isn't doing enough harm to make others co-operate to get it changed, and see it as just natural business overhead, you can hopefully find it less "toxic"; you're just getting paid for a different part of the job: waiting at the start of the day and dealing with the administrative hassle of getting your hours updated to the correct start time after you clock in. Every job has in it some stuff we enjoy less than than the core work of the job, and you have to balance the value of making a fuss over this to try to fix it with just living with it in order to get along better with the other people involved in this area of your workplace.

This may expose you to complaints from hospital patrons who expect the pharmacy to be open and serving customers during the stated hours: for them you should sympathise, point out that you are a "lowly" tech that cannot fix this problem, and suggest someone else (the pharmacist, hospital management, whatever seems best and least likely to blow back on you) they can talk to about this.

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