My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Monday Mailbag: Not allowed to report overtime

Subject: Overtime pay

Message Body:
I work in Houston, and want to post anonymously due to not wanting a backlash, and loss of job.  I am a position of management for the Census, and what is being done is illegal.  We are expected to produce high numbers, in a short amount of period.  The worse part about it, is we are NOT expected to receive overtime.  We have been instructed to doctor our time cards,  in order to not be paid overtime (ie putting hours worked on the next weeks timecard).  The Census employee manual specifically states that this should not happen.  I hope this is brought to attention, to bring Census employees their rightful due.

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21 Responses to “Monday Mailbag: Not allowed to report overtime”

  1. Insider Says:

    It’s a fact. Same deal goes with my Area Manager, unless you’re a manager in the “in crowd”.

  2. Insider Says:

    One caveat – we can work the extra hours, but we can’t carry the excess hours over.

  3. Dave Says:

  4. Dave Says:

    PLEASE click on link-too long to keep re-typing..

  5. anonymous Says:

    Dear Houston Manager, I’m sorry you had to under-claim your hours just to keep your job. If you read the posts on AOL Confessions of a Census Worker 6/9/10, you’ll find many managers, FOS, administrators who also had issues I, too, “donated” work, did not claimn cell phone expenses, under-claimed mileage, etc.

  6. MotleyCrewLeader Says:

    This always bothers me. They nickle and time those working in the trenches and fire those who go over 40 hours.Yet Politicians and public servants on a daily basis abuse the system. You have Taxpayer funded pensions being paid to cops and fire firefighters that are outrageous.

  7. nerfoo Says:

    In our training, we were told, repeatedly, that we are not to go over 40 hours in a week. I believe that the census was trying to avoid people spending too much taxpayer money unnecessarily :-)

    “No overtime”, was the mantra throughout training week. When asked, they said that overtime could only be worked if it was approved in advance by your supervisor. Of course, that supervisor, that guy just one level up from you, was responsible for making sure everyone one level down did not exceed a 40 hour work week. And, while supervising those hours was a time-consuming part of his job (imagine 10-20 people a day, calling in at random times, to tell you how many hours they worked that day), that guy just one level up had to make sure that *he* wasn’t exceeding 40 hours and that he was still getting his job done as thoroughly as possible.

    And, of course, there’s someone one level up from that guy, doing the same for all the guys one level down from him, too.

    So, the mandate from day one was ‘No overtime’, but, of course, that’s not always possible when you move up the ranks and still try to maintain some oversight and supervision.

    I know that some of the CLAs in my CLD sometimes moved an hour or two from this week’s 308′s to next week’s 308s, in order to avoid getting our CL in trouble for inadvertently letting them go over 40 hours.

    Sure, they could have, legally, demanded their OT pay, but they understood the ‘no overtime’ policy going in as well as the CL did -and- they were grownups able to count their own hours, too. So, colleague to colleague, all of us working together to get this job done, they moved some hours around.

    And, sure, they could have, legally and ethically, voice their qualms about falsifying their 308′s. But, again, they knew that what they were doing was only making things easier for their colleague, the CL -and- saving the census some money.

    The person who sent in this email tip could have done the same when his boss asked him to move his hours around. Or, of course, he could have said ‘No’ to working the overtime that he knew he wasn’t supposed to be working and wouldn’t be paid for. There are laws protecting workers in our country. Those laws apply to federal employees, too. So the emailer would have been well within his rights if he had said ‘No’ to either working the extra hours or not getting paid overtime for them.

    I’m wondering how big of a problem this really is, overall, though. Say you had 3 extra hours this week because of the pressure to get the job done. You move them to next week. Are you then able to manage keeping it under 37 hours next week? If so, is it because there’s less pressure next week? Or is it because you figured out how to work more efficiently?

  8. dave Says:

    your last paragraph-according to census rules-is grounds for immediate termination. It’s called maniplulation of hours & is a HUGE NO NO!
    I think illegal too, but its the census. Y should they care about laws or reprisals?

  9. pranita veeria Says:

    This “problem” runs rampant throughtout the boroughs of New York…..started in Ad Can, and progressed through NRFU…and sanctioned with the blessing of ARCM Cenac and her two boobs….Lopez and Palladino

  10. Maiasaura Says:

    Why bother to falsify 308′s by shifting hours to the next week when I’ve never worked less than 40 hours a week since I became a crew leader?

  11. lagirl Says:

    not really news stephen. It’s been like this all along.

  12. TR Says:

    Posts like this make me happy I said NO when they called me to be an FOS. The money would have been great, but I don’t want to and probably can’t make a career out of being a census worker.

  13. FL-RI Says:

    How can you shift hours around if you are routinely over 40 each week?

    I haven’t had any issues with this since we get barely enough work to meet the required 20 hours

  14. me Says:

    Assistant Managers are considered salaried employees – yet, as mentioned, we are REQUIRED to complete and sign a time card stating we only work 40 hours a week.

    I have only recieved 1/2 comp time, for a meeting after hours that was required by the RCC.

    All the other time, and any assistant manager knows we work a lot more than 40 hours a week, is a donation of sorts – too bad we do not get a write off.

    To make matters worse, we’re being crunched to meet impossible goals and objectives while being told there is no bonus for us – but there is for RCC and above staff.

    True or not, does not matter, I’m happy to be working and the lessons learned about OUR government will NEVER be forgotten.

    THEY seemed to of fogotten, WE are TAX PAYING CITIZENS and WE SHALL NOT FORGET THIS.

  15. me Says:

    above – 1/2 hour of comp is all I have ever received, for countless and thankless hours of literally grueling work with ever changing goals and objectives.

    They do not teach this stuff in college and it would never fly in private industry.


  16. Insider Says:

    My Area Manager FIRMLY believes in “donated time”. The only deal is that it’s the LCO managers that get to do the “donating”. Too bad the IG can’t step up and earn his pay.

  17. California FOS Says:

    As a FOS, I was allowed a 5-hour “pool” of preauthorized overtime throughout NRFU, for a total of 45 hours a week. Crew leaders get the same 5-hour pool. At the FOS level, I routinely worked 65-70 hours in a week and reported 45. About half of my CLs claimed the 5 extra hours each week; the other half claimed between 0 and 4 of the extra hours each week, and there was one week where one crew leader claimed 37 hours but that’s probably just because she was out of town for 3 days for a prescheduled commitment. My feeling is that it MAY be possible for crew leaders to manage their time and keep their work hours to 45 or less, but certainly at the FOS level and higher, it is unreasonable to expect that. As far as I’m concerned, anyone at the FOS level or higher ought to be hired as exempt (salaried) employees from the outset, so this nationwide smoke-and-mirrors game can be put to an end before it even starts.

  18. DairylandCL Says:

    me – With about 45 years of experience in both the public and private sectors let me assure you that no employer wants to part with a nickel more than they can get away with. Never say never.

  19. CL In LA Says:

    This was a rampant problem here in my former LCO here in LA County. Shame on the Census for taking advantage of a bad economy and the desperation of it’s part time workers. It’s a catch 22: Don’t work over 40 hours or you’re fired, Be available 24/7 or you’re Fired. If you don’t get your work done within 40 hours, guess what? FIRED! All the while the message crystal clear: under-report your hours and be thankful you still have a job. As a Crew Leader, I worked the entire phase of NRFU without a single day off! Looking back,there might have been things I could have done faster, but I was concerned with doing a great job and thought putting a few extra hours to keep my stress level down and keep things running smoothly would be worth it. Unfortunately, the LCO kept throwing additional time wasting requirements at us crew leaders. I personally had 18 enumerators reporting to me. Just meeting with each enumerators plus my useless FOS took 25 hours a week! Add travel time and needless trips to the LCO and there was almost no time for the the actual paperwork. I spoke with fellow crew leaders and each of us was averaging 50-60 hours per week! I am very proud of my achievements working for the Census, but any success we had will be overshadowed by the web of incompetence we were working under. I’m afraid to even write Census on my resume!

  20. peggy Says:

    I am looking for FOS’s accross the country to participate in a class action lawsuit regarding our unpaid overtime. Please contact me here. I must run now… will attemp to make contact again soon

  21. DelEmma Says:

    I am looking for any NY Census employees who want to file a class action suit for unpaid overtime.
    Please contact me.