Kaufman County exempt employees are no longer required to fill out time sheets thanks to a motion unanimously passed by the Kaufman County Commissioners Court last week.
Prior to last week’s ruling of the commissioners court, all county employees, including exempt employees defined by the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act, were required to fill out time sheets notating their work hours. However, Kaufman County Judge Hal Richards noted that many employees were not complying with the policy, leading him to question its existence.
“What started this is I found out, because of the time sheets that I was getting from department heads, some were doing it, some weren’t, some would forget, and then when the time sheets were due we’d have to go in and that’s when I started to ask ‘Why are we even doing this?’” Richards said during the meeting of the court. “I’ve never heard of an exempt employee having to punch in or out.”
“It sounds like a waste of time,” Precinct 2 commissioner Skeet Phillips agreed.
Precinct 1 commissioner Mike Hunt expressed concern that the Kaufman County employee handbook does not specifically outline what constitutes an exempt employee which may have contributed to the lack of consistency with regards to filled out time sheets. However, exempt employees are defined in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act as employees who are paid at least $23,600 per year ($455 per week), are on a salary basis rather than an hourly wage, and perform exempt job duties including executive job duties, professional job duties and administrative job duties. As a part of the motion passed by the court, the definition of what constitutes an exempt employee will be added to the employee handbook and will be discussed with future hires going forward.
As a part of the reviewing process of the county’s exempt employee policy, Kaufman County Human Resources Director Mary Westbrook conducted inquires with surrounding counties. She found that none of the counties that responded required their exempt employees to punch the clock. Despite this, Kaufman County Sheriff Bryan Beavers voiced
his dissent with the commissioners’ decision as a matter of parity between all employees.
“I’m probably the odd duck in here, but I deal with exempt employees,” Beavers said. “I think we’ve got to hold our people accountable to make sure they’re doing the job and punching in and punching out every day. I ask my employees to punch in and I would ask that we require our exempt employees to punch in. Why am I going to hold somebody accountable and not somebody else? I punch in the clock like everybody else because I ask my employees to do it.”
“Yeah, but if you’ve surveyed seven counties and none of them are requiring exempt employees to do that and I’ve never heard of exempt employees doing that…” Richards responded. “I think the proof in the pudding is that we didn’t have a lot of compliance, probably because it’s hard to make people do stuff if it doesn’t make any sense to them. The idea is if you are a self-directed, salaried, exempt person, you should be measured by what you’re producing, not necessarily by whether you take an hour for lunch or an hour and a half for lunch or skip lunch.”