Lolo says all required to follow overtime and comp time rules or face termination

SAYS FAULT OF SOME DIRECTORS AND MANAGEMENT STAFF
fili@samoanews.com

Now that the Executive Branch workforce has returned to a full 80-hour pay period, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has set by executive order the regulating and controlling of over- time and compensatory time; and all are required to follow or be subjected to termination if violations continue.

During a cabinet meeting last week, the governor announced the executive order — which went into effect Oct. 2nd — that sets the administration’s over- time and compensatory time rules.

In the three-page executive order, the governor explained that the continual incurring of overtime and comp-time has an effect on efforts to stabilize and manage ASG’s financial condition.

He pointed to a major factor contributing to the persistent failure to manage overtime and comp-time is the lack of commitment of directors and management staff of some government agencies to diligently address the issue and take necessary steps to prevent its occurrence.

“The taking of an extreme step became necessary early this year in the form of reduction in working hours, as a partial consequence of some directors’ failure to control the payment of unnecessary and un-budgeted overtime,” Lolo said, adding that as of Oct. 1st — which was also the start of the new fiscal year (2018) — all ASG employees returned to the standard 40-hour workweek.

“This decision requires the establishment of effective controls over the incurring of over- time and compensatory time,” the governor said.

OVERTIME POLICIES

According to Lolo, it’ s the “general policy” of ASG not to incur overtime. And if over- time is unavoidable, the director “must seek permission” to incur overtime from the governor or the lieutenant governor, before it happens.

“Overtime requests must be thoroughly justified in writing,” the governor said, and reminded directors that working hours for all ASG employees is 7:30a.m. - 4p.m. Monday to Friday, with a lunch break of 30 minutes, for a total workday of 8 hours. “Employees must clock out and clock back in during their lunch break for which their time is not compensated.”

The governor emphasized that if employees choose to take lunch for more than 30 minutes, they will need to adjust this by working additional time to meet their 8-hour workday obligation.

He reminded directors that the federal Fair Labor Standards Act provides for a 15 minute break during mid-morning and again during mid-afternoon. These breaks are part of an employees’ compensated work time and overtime incurred during declared holidays is subject to prevailing rules and regulations.
The governor detailed a director’s responsibilities to ensure 40 hours will not be exceeded and anticipate whether overtime will be required.

The director is to thoroughly explain to all employees “under your administrative purview, these overtime policies and impress upon them that disciplinary action will be taken if they fail to comply,” Lolo said, who stressed that employees must be made aware that punching in before 7:30a.m or punching out after 4p.m. is “prohibited” unless specifically authorized by the director.

“Furthermore, cooperate with the Human Resources Department director in pursing disciplinary action including termination of employment for repeated violations,” he tells directors and agency heads.

COMP-TIME POLICIES

While it’ s the general policy of ASG not to incur compensatory time, the governor explained that if this is unavoidable, the director must seek permission from him or the lieutenant governor. Compensatory time request must be thoroughly justified in writing — it must be pre-approved. And, “if compensatory time is incurred, it must be taken within a reasonable time which should not exceed 60 days from the date when it’s incurred,” the governor explained and noted that “exempt employees” as defined in the Fair Labor Standards Act and criteria established by Human Resources will not be required to clock in or clock out from their respective workplace.

Lolo urges directors to compel employees to take time off to reduce their compensatory time hours in a manner that does not unduly disrupt the delivery of service of the respective agency.

Directors are told to report to the governor and lieutenant governor any challenges faced by agencies attributed to the implementation of these policies.

OVERALL DUTIES

Lolo said the successful enforcement of these policies is dependent on the commitment and due diligence exercised by directors. “It is imperative that directors pay close attention to actual time cards to determine policy violations,” he said, adding that US Department of Labor investigations and sub- sequent findings are based primarily on time cards.

To comply with prevailing policies, Lolo said some agencies have developed a practice of not submitting 80 hours per pay period, but maintaining internal logs to keep hours in excess of the standard 80-hour pay period.

“This practice shall cease immediately,” the governor said.

He told directors to “take ownership of this issue and become personally involved in resolving it” in their respective agencies.

Lolo told directors they “should take judicious notice that they will be held personally responsible for any future violations of these policies.”

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