Part of a manager’s job is to ensure everyone is following the rules. However, they should also create a cooperative environment with high employee morale. Often the manager sets the culture of their department, so if they seem to be unreasonable and punitive, they create a toxic environment that will eventually generate some backlash. This was the case with a man who worked in construction.
The original poster (OP) wrote about a situation on an online forum when his former boss was upset that employees were arriving a few minutes late to the job site. The boss announced one morning, “If you aren’t standing in front of me at 6 o’clock when we start, then I’m docking 15 minutes from your time for the day.” The next day, OP accidentally forgot his tape measure in the car and had to return from the job site to get it. As a result, he was a couple of minutes late. His boss got him in trouble and said he was serious about his talk yesterday and said he would dock him 15 minutes of pay.
So OP took off his tool belt and sat down on a bucket. His boss asked him why he wasn’t getting to work, to which he replied, “I’m not getting paid until 6:15am, so I “m not doing any work unto 6:15am. I enjoy what I do, but I don’t do it for free.” His boss started to argue with him until OP said, “If you’re telling me to work without paying me then that’s against the law. You really wanna open the company and yourself up to that kind of risk? Maybe I’m the kind to sue, maybe I’m not, but if you keep on telling me to work after you docked my time, then we’re gonna find out one way or the other.”
The boss went silent after that. The problem is, all the employees realized that they could do the same if they were going to be a few minutes late. OP says over the next few days, employees who would be a few minutes late and get docked anyway would message the boss and say they would arrive at 6:15am. In protest, they would sit in their cars until they arrived at the site at precisely 6:15am.
They ended up losing productivity in the morning and employee morale since the boss decided it was better to lose 15 minutes rather than 2 minutes. After a few weeks of this ongoing situation, OP’s boss got in trouble with upper management over the loss of productivity and how obvious the docked time sheets were looking like there was an issue. OP believes it reflected poorly on his boss, and they were actually missing deadlines because of it. After his boss received his ‘slap on the wrist,’ he changed his policy. OP says they were able to catch up on their work reasonably quickly after the policy change.
However, it made OP the target of his boss’s wrath. OP missed some days of work due to his mother getting injured and him taking time off to support her. Within a couple of months, his boss managed to rack up enough reasons to get away with firing OP.
OP didn’t realize he would encourage everyone to protest the way he had and now wonders if he should have just kept his mouth shut and accepted the consequences of being late.
Several readers commented that OP’s situation is relatable across different industries. In many cases, remote workers are being forced by management to come back into the office because they feel a loss of control. However, if workers are less productive, it would be obvious whether they are physically working in the office or at home.
Another reader had a similar situation and handled it a little differently.
“I had a job try to pull this- started a new policy that if you clocked in late at 8:01 am, they ’rounded’ your time to 8:15 to attempt to dock your pay. At first, I started clocking out at 5:01 pm to see if that would also ’round up’ since my logic was you’d have to apply the rule uniformly.” When she mentioned this to management, in addition to the breach of labor laws for rounding incorrectly, they dropped the policy.
However, OP’s protest, whether he was right or not, cost him his job.
What do you think? Was OP wrong to protest when he was docked 15 minutes the first time? Was there a better way for him to handle the situation?
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This post originally appeared on Reddit.