Employee Forced To Reimburse Due To Error
September 21, 2012 8:24 PM Subscribe
What can I do to help prevent an employee I supervise from having to reimburse a ton of money due to an error in my supervisor's office?
posted by Joey Michaels to work & money (39 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
This is a bit long and I'm going to be a little vague about a few details for "there is no anonymity on the Internet" reasons. I'm happy to answer questions for clarification and will respond privately if I think answering them publicly could turn this into an even bigger problem.
Two years ago, our organization announced a major change in our schedule. There were a number of important adjustments we had to make, but one employee in particular was going to have her hours changed somewhat.
In discussing things with her immediate supervisor (I'm one level of middle management removed from her), we agreed that the amount of work she did was so high and the importance of her to the company was so great that, despite this change in hours, this employee should be paid the same amount.
In March 2011, I contacted my immediate supervisor and proposed that this employee should maintain the same salary despite the change in hours. My immediate supervisor said "let's meet." When we met, she agreed that this was the right decision and said "I'll see what I can do."
In August of 2011 (when the new schedule was officially implemented), I sent a reminder e-mail to my immediate supervisor.
Well, I didn't hear back from her, but when the first pay period came, my employee was being paid the same. I didn't think much of it at the time, just "Oh, it was taken care of, good." This was my immediate supervisor's standard way of working.
This past August 2012, a new supervisor took over my immediate supervisor's position. In the meantime, we'd discovered that there were about a dozen absolutely essential things that my old immediate supervisor had promised us that she'd never followed up on, so my department was already in a bit of disarray.
My employee got her first August paycheck and there was huge drop in pay - around $15K calculated for the whole fiscal year. I called the new supervisor and he said "that's what she should be paid according to the contract."
I shared the email trail with him and he felt that my previous supervisor had overstepped her bounds by keeping her pay the same. I made the arguments that this employee had a unique, very hard to replace skill sets and (furthermore) that we'd probably need three different people to cover all of the different things she did - a significant increase in cost.
Well, long story short, he went to the CFO and the CFO decided that not only should we pay this employee the $15K for this fiscal year, but that the her pay last year was actually based on a clerical error in our immediate supervisor's office. He announced that he was going to expect this employee to pay back the 15K.
"We can stretch it out over three years, though," he explained, "to cushion the blow."
He and the big boss also explained to me that their lawyer said they had the right to take this money back and that they'd taken back (much smaller) amount of over-payments before.
I expressed that I have a serious moral issue with this, but the CFO explained to me that this was like asking the Supermarket to reimburse you if you overpaid them accidentally. He doesn't feel he's punishing the employee or that she's done anything wrong, its just its the organization's money. Doesn't matter who made the mistake, its the organization's money.
This employee went from $50K a year last year to $35K a year in August due to this "clerical error." Spreading out $15K over three years reduces her salary to $30K a year. She's doing the exact same amount of work. I estimate that replacing her will cost our organization at least $75K a year.
I asked if they could take it out of my salary instead and they went on about how the auditors wouldn't like that or some such nonsense, essentially saying that wasn't an option.
I'm this close to submitting my letter of resignation over this situation. I find it morally repugnant and its not helped when the Big Boss says things like "its a shame she's such a great employee or this wouldn't be so hard."
Any advice about how I can help protect this extremely valuable employee?