And will you please fix the fax machine while you're at it?

And will you please fix the fax machine while you’re at it?

This totally speaks to personal freedom and being able to manage your own time.

My wife works for what is quickly becoming a notorious (to us anyhow) Christian daycare facility in Brentwood, TN. I use the term ‘Christian’ lightly, as some of their business practices are far from resembling anything that Jesus would do, it appears to be nothing more than a clever marketing device, but we’ve grown accustomed to this living in the south. There are a LOT of issues that she has been dealing with over the last several months of working there, but the battle that she is currently fighting involves what the Department of Labor calls ‘Off Duty Waiting Time’.

See, the way that the laws for day care facilities are setup in Tennessee (as in most states), they are required to maintain a strict care giver to child ratio depending on the age of the children. For my wife’s age group, the ratio is 1 to 14. When she first started working there, they would frequently be so understaffed that there were as many as 25 infants, toddlers and small children in a room with a single teacher. This presents safety issues and should concern any parent who brings their children to any day care facility, but from what I understand this problem has been resolved because the facility that she works for is dropping in numbers and they value the impact of Tennesse’s ‘Star System’, which evaluates day care quality:

Unfortunately, this has nothing to do with the quality of the facility from the perspective of how they treat their employees (which is directly related to why the facility is losing customers), it only pertains to issues important to parents and children… particularly for cleanliness and safety… and quite honestly it is only important to them prior to the day that the auditor shows up to give the star rating.

But I am off topic.

The issue that my wife is dealing with now is related to how she and her other co-workers are scheduled and the lack of respect that is given for their time.

Let me back up…

Our mornings are pretty typical of most families. We have a 4 year old boy who goes to day care at the same facility… and takes his time getting dressed close to the warmest place in the house. I work from home, so I get to watch / help my lovely wife rush around while she gets ready, gets our son ready, eats breakfast, reads some email, grabs some coffee… and then runs out the door only to drive in traffic for 45+ minutes before arriving at her work on time when scheduled.

And that’s when the fun starts… because they usually won’t allow her to clock in. FOR HOURS. They do this to every teacher who works there. They show up when scheduled, but can only clock in when enough kids arrive to push the ratio out of balance.

Worse, the inferred (read threatened) expectation is that the teachers should be working in their rooms on lesson plans, cleaning, etc… while they wait until the teacher to child ratio comes up to a level where another teacher is needed.

Information about ‘Off Duty Waiting Time’ can be found on the Department of Labor website here, but the summary of it is that it is considered ‘worked time’ that the employees should be paid for if:

  1. You are not completely relieved from duty;
  2. The periods are not long enough to enable you to use the time effectively for your own purposes;
  3. You not are definitely told in advance that you may leave the job; and
  4. You not are advised of the time that you are required to return to work.

Understand, she is not a salaried employee … she is an hourly employee. She only makes money if she is able to clock in. There are hundreds of other things that she could be doing with the hours that they are stealing from her. She could sleep in, work out, spend more time with her family, catch up with work from her second job, avoid traffic in the morning, etc… Instead, she is expected to rush in a panic to pack our child into a car to drive 45+ minutes in traffic … only to show up and be told that she can’t clock in for an hour or more because of an issue that the facility itself has caused.

End Rant.