Interested in linking to "Who's responsible for employee attendance?"?
You may use the Headline, Deck, Byline and URL of this article on your Web site. To link to this article, select and copy the HTML code below and paste it on your own Web site.
Bill O’Faire was the supervisor in the electronic assembly department in Acme’s appliance manufacturing plant. Because Bill had been with Acme for about 25 years, he was assigned to be mentor and trainer for Annie Getchurgunn, a recent masters-level college graduate, who elected to go into manufacturing rather than to sit at a computer all day at some high-tech firm. Part of their job involved recording the attendance and hours worked for each of the 35 employees in the electronic assembly department.
Every week they forwarded the personnel data they gathered along with summaries of departmental throughput and various other reports to Jerry Bome, the plant manager. Jerry, in turn, condensed similar information from other manufacturing departments into a plant-wide summary that Acme’s upper management used as a gauge of overall plant operations and profitability. Jerry also included a one-page narrative of the weekly activity highlights. Nearly every week, he mentioned there was an excessive work backlog in the electronic assembly department.
Upper management began asking Jerry why productivity in the electronic assembly department was so much lower than for the rest of the plant. Jerry had to admit that workers there often were absent, arrived late and left early. When asked to explain that assertion in light of the nearly 100% perfect attendance data that appeared in the weekly attendance reports, Jerry had no response.
Acme’s upper management initiated an audit that revealed numerous attendance discrepancies, errors and misrepresentations that were traced to Bill, Annie and Jerry. Upper management ultimately fired Bill and Jerry because it found the attendance records sufficiently unreliable to be essentially worthless. Annie was transferred to a clerical job in Acme’s accounting department.
Bill filed suit, contending that he was a victim of age discrimination. At trial, Acme argued that Bill was terminated because of his failure to maintain accurate attendance records. Bill, on the other hand, claimed the argument was a pretext for blatant age discrimination because he was able to prove that his job involved aggregating the self-reported attendance data the plant-floor workers turned in each week.
How could this situation have been prevented? How many layers of reporting are appropriate? Is it really worthwhile to keep such close track of employee attendance and on-site presence? Let us know what you think.
This situation could have been prevented if Jerry Bome had done his job. As the plant manager Jerry saw the reports and actually wrote the weekly narrative stating the excessive work backlog in the electronics assembly department. As plant manager Jerry should have found out why workers were absent, arriving late and leaving early in that department. Is that not something every plant manager would want to know about a department not meeting production goals? Jerry should have had a response for upper management when asked why one report shows nearly 100% attendance and Jerry states that workers were often absent or not on the job.
The number of layers of reporting considered appropriate should and will be decided by each company. In this case it would seem that there were at least three sets of eyes looking at the attendance data. I can understand why Bill and Annie may not interpret the data. They may feel that it is only their job to gather and send the data to Jerry. Jerry had all the information and should have looked into the matter well before upper management asked about the situation.
I believe it is very critical to keep track of employee attendance and on-site presence. If for no other reason it is critical for an employer to know who is in the building in case of an emergency. How can you determine if all employees get out of a building that is on fire if you do not know how many employees are in the building. That alone makes it necessary to keep accurate records of who is in the building. Pay is another reason. If an employee is expected to work 35, 40 or some number of hours and they are not, management should know that. I think Acme should have fired only Jerry and left Bill and Annie in their positions with a new leader to guide them.
Jeffrey L. Strasser, Bacova Guild
(540) 863-2656, firstname.lastname@example.org
I assume Bill’s case rests on the fact that he was terminated while Annie was not, and that they both were equally guilty or equally innocent of whatever they were accused of. Given the same level of guilt or innocence, the older worker was fired, while the younger worker was not. That smells of age discrimination.
The question is who had knowledge of the attendance misrepresentations, as well as who was responsible for ensuring that the records were accurate. If Bill knew that the records were erroneous and willfully passed on the phony records as being accurate then I see no reason why he should not have been terminated. Apparently Jerry knew, so one assumes that Bill knew. Could the same be said for Annie? Did she willfully pass on attendance records that she knew were fraudulent? If she did, she probably deserved the same punishment as did Bill.