For Whom Does Your Time Clock Toll in Business and at Work?

Over the years, the Times Union has reported on various stories of timesheet fraud by New York state employees:

  • ALBANY – A court complaint charges former SUNY Research Foundation head John O’Connor and Susan Bruno, daughter of ex-Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno, falsified documents to have Bruno paid roughly $165,000 in taxpayer money for time where she did not show up for her purported job. She skipped work in one instance to be at her father’s home as the phones were tested “for bugs and so forth.” (Source:  Albany Times Union.)
  • UTICA — A former director of the New York prison system’s food operations who admitted defrauding the state out of $100,000 by skipping work shifts and collecting pay for the time off has avoided jail time. (Source:  Albany Times Union.)
  • ALBANY – Christopher Keim stole $35,823 in salary and benefits by drinking while he was supposed to be on the job as a state biologist, DiNapoli said earlier. He had worked at DEC since 2007 and was paid $56,550 a year.In the other case, OMIG clerk Bobbie Barbour, 34, was arrested by the Inspector General’s office on charges of filing false paperwork certifying that she was at work when she was actually en route to a vacation, the inspector general said.One allegation includes a trip to an adult resort in Cancun, Mexico.In another instance, Barbour, of East Greenbush, reported she was working when she was at the Turning Stone Casino, where she won more than $200. In another instance she was in small claims court, the inspector general said. The charge alleges Barbour was paid more than $1,000 to which she was not entitled. (Source:  Albany Times Union.)

Now, I’ve worked in a number of sectors, in both union and nonunion environments. I think we can all agree that as NYS taxpayers, the above is not the best use of our tax dollars. And it’s not just the employees stealing time who are disciplined / terminated:  their respective supervisors signing off on their falsified timesheets are equally culpable for condoning such conduct.

Which makes this recent news item both troubling, and puzzling:

  • ALBANY— Employees at the state Department of Labor are complaining that their bosses are taking attendance — as in grade school — in an effort to crack down on what they say is chronic tardiness. If workers use up more than the 15 minutes of tardiness grace time in a two-week period, they’re singled out and questioned. Some of these disputes involve subtleties that speak to the exquisitely detailed nature of state agency labor contracts.The employees in question belong to the state Public Employees Federation. Per their contract, PEF members aren’t required to “punch a time clock or record attendance with a timekeeper.” 

The flap comes some two months after employees at another state agency, the Department of Environmental Conservation, filed a grievance regarding the use of surveillance cameras in disputes over whether workers in the agency’s downtown Albany office were taking excessively long lunch breaks. (In response to the Christopher Keim case mentioned above.)  (Source:  Albany Times Union.)

Which begs the question:  how are the union contract terms and related agency policies written and implemented to prevent timesheet fraud? Isn’t it in the best interest of all involved stakeholders (union leadership included) to prevent the theft of tax dollars?

How are the policies in your workplace written to protect all stakeholders from timesheet fraud and theft? Or: for whom does your time clock toll, in business and at work?



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