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I work in a small development team and we have members who are paid hourly and workers who are paid a salary. Recently, it's come to our attention that both the hourly and salary employees are taking advantage of the fact that tardiness was never hugely enforced, and after several attempts to fix that, it's time to put a policy into place.

That being said, we're having trouble coming up with a fair way to implement a policy for both kinds of workers. The hourly workers don't necessarily know which of their colleagues are on salary, and there's no reason to divulge that. One of the few perks of salary over hourly, though, is flexibility. I don't think it's fair to consider 9:01am late (or even after that), especially if the salary workers are staying later and/or working at home at times.

I think that is a fair policy for the hourly workers, but I can see backlash happening when they are questioned for their tardiness, while their peers aren't. What would a good way to handle this?

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    Can you offer the hourly workers some limited flexibility too? If they can take small amounts of TOIL or shift their working hours that might conceal the problem somewhat. But really, why don't you want them to know who's on salary? – Móż Mar 27 '14 at 3:10
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    Is tardiness the issue here, or "time theft"? Excusing tardiness when it's accurately reported is one thing, but an employee claiming they worked a certain number of hours when they didn't is another. There's also the issue of different roles requiring different levels of flexibility for tardiness. If someone is expected to be on the phone supporting customers exactly at 8:00am I'd have a different expectation of them arriving on time than a developer who is working on a project where arriving on time isn't critical. – Dylan Ribb Mar 27 '14 at 3:53
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    Don't be surprised if you lose quite a bit of your staff with this 'policy'. It suggests that the managers don't understand how to manage software development. If you want to avoid a meltdown, talk to managers outside your company that are obviously successful managing programmers, and see what issues they focus on. Some of them won't be concerned about 'hours' at all. – Meredith Poor Mar 27 '14 at 11:25
  • @MeredithPoor - There is no evidence this has anything to do with programmers. – Donald Mar 27 '14 at 12:40
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    @Ramhound the same applies to various extents in other fields. Typically one of the trade-offs with going on salary is you lose overtime but gain some flexibility. Taking away the flexibility would have a cost. – Móż Mar 27 '14 at 21:08
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I think the underlying question is: can you implement two different policies without telling everyone which policy applies to each person?

I don't think you can, since the policy has visible effects.

After the policy you want to have two visibly different groups of people:

  1. salaried staff with flexible hours
  2. hourly staff with fixed start and end times

It's going to be obvious.

In my experience this has not been an issue. I've worked on both sides of that "divide", and I've not seen any problems. Is there some deeper reason why you don't want people to know who is hourly rather than salaried?

  • That makes sense and is pretty much what I figured. The only reason the hourly workers don't need to know is that going salary is more or less merit based, and tension is very possible, but that's just the way it goes. – KJ3 Mar 27 '14 at 3:10
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    @KJ3 you mean people get put on salary on merit? I'd see that as an incentive, especially if there's other benefits. Pay rates, OTOH, there are good reasons to keep quiet about. – Móż Mar 27 '14 at 3:28
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    Gee I would rather get paid for my overtime, so going salaried is not really a benefit unless it comes wiht a large salry increase. – HLGEM Mar 27 '14 at 13:10
  • My experience working in a industrial environment is that when the hourly staff see management coming in late/leaving early is they want those same perks. It creates a divide between management and workers that is not conducive to high productivity. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Mar 27 '14 at 19:23
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First any and all discussions about tardiness with individual employees should happen behind closed doors. Publicly addressing this type of issue is both disrespectful to the employee, and demoralizing to the staff, neither of which result in positive changes in the workplace.

A simple way handle the issue with salaried individuals showing up late is to enforce planned flex time. This means if a worker is going to be late and make up for it by working over they need to plan and advise management of this intent ahead of time.

You should also implement an excused tardiness policy. Occasionally things happen in the morning that can not be planned for. While this should be the exception rather than the rule there should be a policy in place that allows for a limited number of unplanned occurrences. These rules should be enforced uniformly among all staff. This will allow you to keep the fairness but allow for the flexibility you want to allow to your staff.

  • Doesn't that rather depend on the flex time agreement? If the arrangement is "must work 8 hours and be here between 10 and 3", requiring people to notify management in advance if they're going to arrive at 9:05 takes a lot away from that. Especially if the first response is to text a manager as they're leaving home, leading to "notify a day in advance" as the obvious escalation. – Móż Mar 27 '14 at 3:54
  • @Mσᶎ - Every policy has drawback. This policy is fair to those involved. The idea is to stop people from arriving 5 minutes late regularly. If you need to show up at 9:05 make that your regular starting time. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Mar 27 '14 at 13:41
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The only fair way to address this is with documentation stating that if employees are not assembled/working at the appointed time then they are late. The flexibility issue can also be addressed by documenting and filing on record when an employee requests such leniency, it also must address what an employee must do to compensate for any granted leniency. Lateness of employees must also be documented in order to have some weight on promotion or wage raise consideration.

The places I supervised at required that employees be on site 15 minutes prior to the start of their shift in order for them to log into a computer to check for any important messages or emails that were sent during their absence/off time. For non-salary folk this was not considered work and unpaid. For salary folk this was considered part of their salary contract.

No one needs to know or even care who is hourly or salary, but what is needed is a consistent document that covers all employees. Those that abuse/excessively request the flexibility of hours allowed by the policy that you document must also be informed of how their ratings will be affected.

Your goal should be to have employees conform to a unified system. That way there is no possibility of perceived bias nor favoritism. Any errant employee is to be presented with a cold hard text copy of policy documentation that addresses non-conformance of the policy and what result the employee can expect from supervision or the employer.

If you want results, once policy documentation is made and approved, distribute the policy to all that it covers and also hold a mandatory meeting to make sure all employees are aware of the policy going into effect. This way no one will be able to dispute that they were not aware of the change. It would also be a good idea to have each employee sign a printed copy of the document that way it will be solid evidence should someone try to sue with an argument of not being informed.

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    "supervised ... required that employees be on site 15 minutes prior ... to log into a computer ... For non-salary folk this was not considered work". That's a rather surprising statement: it's mandatory unpaid overtime, you tell employees what to do and when to do it. How is that legal? – MSalters Mar 27 '14 at 14:08
  • @MSalters Now that I can't answer. I would classify myself as a front line supervisor, so I was still a small fish in the organization. The side of the house I managed and worked under was all salary, but I knew that the requirement was all inclusive, you'd probably have to ask someone in senior level management or legal folk for a proper answer. – cheawick Mar 28 '14 at 2:12

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