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View Full Version : Seeking opinions. Employee failed to report truck damage.


DVS Hardscaper
06-08-2011, 12:41 PM
The other day I started the topic on here called 'Out to Pasture'. I had mentioned that I have an older employee that's been damaging stuff lately.

The other week he ripped a brand new light off of the trailer with the bucket on the skid steer. He didn't report it to me. I discovered it when I unhitched the trailer, and I walked around to check all the lights were fastened tightly. Grab ahold of it and it came off in my hand! It had about 2' of electrical tape inside, holding it together! So that made me
Angry that he didn't tell me about it.

The next day I confronted him and told him I'm ok with things getting damaged, BUT I'm NOT ok with it going unreported. And I told him if anything ever happens again and it's not reported - the cost if the damages were coming out of his pay. It's at the point where I have let many recent damages be swept under the rug, and I can't let any more go undealt with.

So we have the back gates on the dump truck where 2 months ago we just had new beefier pillars fabricated and installed. Sunday afternoon I loaded the truck for Monday, and I opened the gates (3) separate times (I kept remembering we needed more tools), and they opened and closed with one hand and no effort.

Monday we had gravel in the truck and were using the skid steer to scoop it out. Lunch time comes and I go to close one gate and it resisted. I study it and find the cast iron hinge had a clean break. So I call this guy over and show it to him. He denied hitting the hinge with the skid steer.

Ok, so I didn't know what happened.

This am I'm at the Paver plant picking up material. I had a long wait to get loaded and I inspect the gates. This time in the open position. I find fresh, deep scratches in the iron that coincide with a skid steer not backing straight out from behind the truck. With a rub in the iron so deep and wide that it looked like someone took a grinder to it. What happened is the edge of the cutting bar on the bucket had alotta pressure against it.

Ok, so remember on Monday I asked him of he knew anything about the damages. He said he did not know anything. But the scrape is so large, there is NO WAY he didn't know.

This is going to involve 2 new hinges (this time steel, not cast iron) About 3 hrs of labor, 5 hrs if the hinges are fabricted from scratch, which my guy charges $40 / hr, plus he is 40 miles away. Since I warned
my worker that I will back charge him for unreported damages, I'm thinking of charging $200.00 and taking it out of his pay.

What are your thoughts, how would you handle it?
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tadpole
06-08-2011, 02:18 PM
Difficult situation. In the absence of a confession or eye witnesses, it will be hard to prove that this employee is responsible, although he probably is. I don't believe that you can legally levy an employee's wages without proper documentation of their culpability. In addition, this type of action on your part needs to be spelled out in writing as part of the company's employee policies.

PatriotLandscape
06-08-2011, 03:47 PM
Company handbook? Or posted signs saying "you will pay to replace or repair"?

We had a problem of guys losing tools off the truck, dumped at the landfill etc. I posted a sign a year ago Saying that a crew that goes out with a tool and does not return it at the end of the day will. Split the replacement costs. Since then I haven't lost one tool.

If he was warned then charge him. It may seem like your being an ass but it sounds like he is getting reckless with your money and it's time for Him to share the load
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zedosix
06-08-2011, 06:54 PM
I know how you feel Andrew and its not fun to have to confront and get the answers that you know already what you're going to hear. "Not me, I didn't do that". 200 dollars is peanuts compared to having lose an employee who probably works his butt off for you. Sounds like he just doesn't want to admit doing something wrong especially with a boss like you! I've had guys flip excavators right in front of me and still blurt out "damn excavator" like its the one that caused it.
I'm sure any of the guys who've been in business for 2 or 3 decades could write a book on this subject.
Good luck

PROCUT1
06-08-2011, 07:10 PM
By law. No way, no how, no contracts, no waivers, no signs, no written agreements, can you take the money out of his pay.

He can reimburse you if you guys work it out. But do not take it out of his pay.

I repeat. He can reimburse you, if you work it out. But DO NOT TAKE IT OUT OF HIS PAY.

Learned the hard way a few years ago, and that was WITH an employee handbook, with a signed agreement, with a sign in the shop, and with a sticker in the trucks.

An employee cannot sign his rights away even if he agrees to.

DVS Hardscaper
06-08-2011, 07:44 PM
By law. No way, no how, no contracts, no waivers, no signs, no written agreements, can you take the money out of his pay.

He can reimburse you if you guys work it out. But do not take it out of his pay.

I repeat. He can reimburse you, if you work it out. But DO NOT TAKE IT OUT OF HIS PAY.

Learned the hard way a few years ago, and that was WITH an employee handbook, with a signed agreement, with a sign in the shop, and with a sticker in the trucks.

An employee cannot sign his rights away even if he agrees to.


There has to be accountability. Either that or they get fired.

I have a buddy that is management at a huge national trucking company. If the driver breaks a pallet of eggs - it comes out of his pay. Damages a truckk up to a certain dollar amount - comes out of his pay. Damages a truck over a certain dollar amount - terminated.

Damaging things is one thing.

Damaging and NOT reporting is another.

LOL - the other week when be broke that $5 light - I found out today he made another employee tape up the light. The other employee told him he had to tell me. And the one that broke the light said he would, which he never did. So why did he quickly have it taped up if he was planning to tell me?!

I'm think I'm answering my own concern, he's becomming a liability. Back in 2005 I had a guy that in 6 months did $2,000 damage to various things (client's houses, my personal work truck, etc). I'm not the type to get upset, but I need to remind myself I'm a businessman, not their cousin.


,


.

tadpole
06-08-2011, 08:59 PM
You definitely answered your own question. When an employee becomes a non-salvageable liability, termination is really the only option.

OutdoorCreations
06-08-2011, 09:26 PM
I always threaten guys with "guess who is working for free tomorrow" when something is gets broken or lost because of their stupidity.

DVS Hardscaper
06-08-2011, 10:03 PM
I always threaten guys with "guess who is working for free tomorrow" when something is gets broken or lost because of their stupidity.

That's funny! I use the same line - "working for free"!
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SoCalLandscapeMgmt
06-09-2011, 01:44 PM
Start a paper trail right now. You need to write the guy up with a formal written warning that states what happened, what the plan is to prevent it from happening again and the consequences if the same thing happens again. Both you and the employee needs to sign the warning and he gets a copy and you put a copy in his employee file. I know in CA by law we are not able to deduct any type of thing like this from an employees wages. A paper trail will be your best resource when you end up having to fire the guy. It's indisputable (especially with his signature on the warnings) and it will keep you out of trouble if he comes after you for something once you terminate him.

SoCalLandscapeMgmt
06-09-2011, 01:45 PM
If you want a copy of the form we use send me a PM

Dr.NewEarth
06-09-2011, 02:43 PM
In British Columbia, it doesn't matter what sort of written or oral agreement we have with an employee. If the employee does damage, our laws state that we "Cannot"
deduct any money for damages from their paycheque.

The laws of the land over-ride any private agreements

Why is the guy being a goof though? Is he drinking too much at night?
If he's been working for you for a while, he should have your respect and own up
so that things can be taken care of.

Hey, what if that hinge had busted and
the gate had fallen on some-one?

tadpole
06-09-2011, 02:43 PM
Start a paper trail right now. You need to write the guy up with a formal written warning that states what happened, what the plan is to prevent it from happening again and the consequences if the same thing happens again. Both you and the employee needs to sign the warning and he gets a copy and you put a copy in his employee file. I know in CA by law we are not able to deduct any type of thing like this from an employees wages. A paper trail will be your best resource when you end up having to fire the guy. It's indisputable (especially with his signature on the warnings) and it will keep you out of trouble if he comes after you for something once you terminate him.

Dan is Spot-on. CYA!

DVS Hardscaper
06-09-2011, 07:03 PM
In British Columbia, it doesn't matter what sort of written or oral agreement we have with an employee. If the employee does damage, our laws state that we "Cannot"
deduct any money for damages from their paycheque.

The laws of the land over-ride any private agreements

Why is the guy being a goof though? Is he drinking too much at night?
If he's been working for you for a while, he should have your respect and own up
so that things can be taken care of.

Hey, what if that hinge had busted and
the gate had fallen on some-one?


More like what if the truck hits a rough bridge abutment and the other hinge breaks, falls off on the interstate.

You think you have a good employee that you trust and respect, and find out they could really care less.


,


.

SoCalLandscapeMgmt
06-09-2011, 07:14 PM
You think you have a good employee that you trust and respect, and find out they could really care less.

Welcome to the last two years of my life! Wait until they start to sue you on made up work comp claims!

DVS Hardscaper
06-09-2011, 07:15 PM
Start a paper trail right now. You need to write the guy up with a formal written warning that states what happened, what the plan is to prevent it from happening again and the consequences if the same thing happens again. Both you and the employee needs to sign the warning and he gets a copy and you put a copy in his employee file. I know in CA by law we are not able to deduct any type of thing like this from an employees wages. A paper trail will be your best resource when you end up having to fire the guy. It's indisputable (especially with his signature on the warnings) and it will keep you out of trouble if he comes after you for something once you terminate him.


I do need to crack down with writting people up.

He is officially gone, and won't be back.

There have been many things leading up to this.

HaHa - the other month I arrived at a job and caught him installing pavers with only one line in the sand (not two perpidicular). And he was starting in the freakin middle of the patio! With the excaption of Arbel pavers......we NEVER START IN THE MIDDLE :hammerhead: And thats when I started thinking his age is getting the better of him.

Last week we used a paver that had 4 sizes (blu). On the outer perimeter he had (5) 12x12 pavers in a line, and we're neatly mitered. I showed up and right off the bat made them pull the pavers up and mix other sizes in. The laborer told me "I asked him 3 times if this is ok, and he said yes, I knew you would make us re-do it".



,



,

PROCUT1
06-09-2011, 07:57 PM
Pay less money per hour.

Then offer a monthly bonus to the crew.

No damages, on schedule, they get a bonus.

You can deduct damages out of the bonus.

AzLawnMan
06-14-2011, 12:27 AM
You said it, you have to write them up and document everything. I had alot of equipment beeing stolen one year and I talked with my payroll company that alos offers an HR department and they wrote up a Handbook for me and I had my lawyer look at it and he said it will never fly and I am opening up myself up for a lawsuit. My lawyer told me, in no way can you charge an employee for damage they cause, stolen equipment, lost equipment, crashed vehicles, etc etc, even if they are drunk or stoned. Simple reason he told me, "That is why you have insurance, and that is the cost of doing business." Is it fair for us? Nope, but he is right. So document all problems and have the employee sign the write up, but do not fire him, demote him and his pay, get him to leave on his own.

DVS Hardscaper
06-14-2011, 11:42 PM
I reviewed some labor laws.

In MD an employer MAY withold money for damages.......ONLY if the employee agrees to it in writing.

The law is not 100% clear and subject to interpertation.

I interpret this as saying, that if upon hiring if I sign the employee handbook agree to pay for damages - this will not hold in court.

However, if I damage company property and I do $200 damage. Boss comes to me and says "ok, you can pay $200 for the damages in which you'll need to sign this form agreeing to have it withheld from your check, or you can pay nothing and be terminated"

I read the MD law 3-4 times and it wasn't clear about if the signed form is a generic form signed upon hiring, or a signed form specifically relating to damages at hand.

I will suspect it's SPECIFIC to damages at hand. As in all reality, if I'm an employee and accused of $1000 in damages that I for sure DID NOT do, yet my boss wants to blame me and take it from my check - it would not be fair because he would then have that right to do so when I infact did not do the damages.

So, to me it makes sense that the law is intended for a case by case basis, where the employee agrees to pay for specific specified damages.

We all have employee break shovels. We all have bird brain employees that'll try to use screw drivers to pull pavers up, and the screw driver tip breaks. We will have lights on the trailers and trucks get broken. That stuff I can live with and I don't blink an eye when it happens.

But when damages occur that involve sending the truck/equipment off for repairs, and it's not reported - that to me is DISRESPECT, neglegence, an AN EGG SUCKING DOG. And the employee needs to be held accountable.

Check your labor laws!

SoCalLandscapeMgmt
06-16-2011, 12:09 AM
I would run it by a labor law attorney. We have several laws here that are very open to different interpretation so once we had our employee handbook drafted we sent it to our labor law attorney and had him review and change it. There were a few things that he clarified for us that I can see how they could have been hard to enforce should we had been challenged on them. I think it was the best $500 or $600 I ever spent to have him look it all over. Now having the thing translated to spanish was a whole other expensive ordeal!