Controlling unauthorized overtime

Controlling unauthorized overtime

Jan 01, 2006

Q. I have an employee who regularly stays for overtime that I haven't authorized. My attorney says I have to pay her for the time, even though I didn't schedule it. What can I do to keep team members from working unapproved overtime?

"First make sure you're not setting your staff members up to fail," says Dr. Jeff Rothstein, MBA, Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member. "Are your staff members aware that your policy is no overtime without approval? Do you give them a way to track their hours?

"Depending on the type of time-clock system you use, staff members may not be keeping a running tally," Dr. Rothstein says. "So they don't know they're into overtime until it's too late."

Dr. Rothstein suggests a tracking system that provides total hours worked for the week when clocking in and out, so staff members know where they stand. Also, consider scheduling fewer hours, say 35 instead of 40, if staff members consistently stay an extra hour to finish up after closing.

"If infractions continue to happen, even when you've been clear about your policy, treat it like any other infraction at the practice. Give them a formal, verbal warning, followed by a written warning, and then dismissal."

Remember, overtime isn't always bad; you may prefer to keep a smaller, well-trained staff that occasionally gets overtime versus hiring another less-experienced person who isn't as useful, says Dr. Rothstein. "Overtime can be a motivator, too," he says. "You can use it as a reward for certain staff members. And if you run into overtime because of emergency care, be sure to charge the client at least $60 an hour for that extra technician time.

Dr. Jeff Rothstein
"As far as compensation, you must pay up if your staff member works overtime, no matter the circumstances," says Dr. Rothstein. "And you can't count the total of a two-week pay period. For instance, if your technician works 45 hours the first week and 35 the next, you still have to pay overtime for the extra five hours that were put in during first week."