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Overstaffing and Underscheduling


Sometimes my library job confuses me. It’s a county job, so perhaps we can blame all this on bureaucracy. I’ll outline what I find confusing and maybe you can give your feedback on it. Maybe I’m not crazy. Bosses, business owners, and plain old employees with common sense…tell me what you think!

Here are the rules about scheduling:

  • Aides may work for 12 hours a week.
  • Shifts are to be no less than 3 hours (but they’re always 4).
  • Aides may work an additional 4 hours a week if they take a Sunday shift.
  • You may not work more than 32 hours every 2 weeks (average 16 per week, but you can make up a missed shift in the second week…but you can’t make it up outside that pay period.)

Ok, maybe they just don’t need much staff, right? The full-timers can cover it all?

Well, there are about 12 aides…as near as I can tell.

Why not make it so that aides can work 16-20 hours per week (or *gasp* 20-24) and cut back on staffing. In fact, we’re apparently 2 aides short, so why not let us all take on 1 extra shift?

Is this government charity because they want as many people as possible to be able to have this job? Is it government stupidity which meant that a library with greater staffing needs has to add jobs?

Even with 20 hours per week, they wouldn’t have to pay us benefits. Plus, they’d have fewer employees to do in payroll each week.

My last library position (different county) allowed a max of 50 hours every 2 weeks. That made more sense–it was fully part-time. We also had a similar circulation and fewer part-timers. I just don’t understand.

As it is, I volunteered for Sunday shifts so that I can earn a little money. It actually works really well with the church we started going to—which is across the street and has 11am services which get out around 12:30. We didn’t even pick it for that, but it’s handy.

If I were running this business, something would be different here.

photo by vieuxbandit

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January 27, 2008 at 1:01 pm


CanadianSaver January 26, 2008 at 9:39 pm

Oh that is odd yeah, I can’t understand the reasoning either!

Sounds like a cool job 🙂

Early Retirement Extreme January 26, 2008 at 10:02 pm

I’m guessing that that would turn it into a full time job even if it isn’t and they would have to pay health insurance due to some government regulation, but I don’t know. Could also be a union thing? Finally it could be that they just want some throughput on the positions e.g. make them temporary by restricting the freedom rather than saying officially that one can’t be an aide forever?

JB January 26, 2008 at 10:57 pm

Maybe they overstaff to and underschedule so they don’t have to rely on one person too much. For example, if one employee quits, they still have plenty of other people to fill in and won’t have to rush to train someone.

Bita January 26, 2008 at 11:22 pm

I agree with Early Retirement Extreme. It’s because what you mentioned earlier that if a person worked 20 hours depending on the company policy they would have to offer benefits. With the health care system in the US the way it is since it is owned by private companies health insurance premiums are really high. I’m not sure if it’s the law, but where I work you are entitled to benefits if you work 20 or more hours. The only reason why the would do staffing like this is that they don’t really mind having more people or they are doing this on purpose to not pay out benefits. If you would like to work more hours and would like benefits ask the library if you can work more than 20 hours a week if that’s what you want. I would recommend not bringing up benefits to see what they say and then go from there.

Dad January 27, 2008 at 12:45 am

My first thought is that at some time in the (distance?) past, it made sense for the situation at the time but no longer makes as much sense. Bureaucracies EVERYwhere tend to do that. Second, watching out for getting into a legal situation where they have to offer benefits also is a likely issue. The laws involved are probably complicated enough that you need to be a full-time bureaucrat to figure it out (PhDs in Rocket Science or almost anything else need not apply, understanding bureaucratese is a special art form. Check with a long timer there is see if it has been this way long or is something recent?

fathersez January 27, 2008 at 1:12 am

Trying to understand how a Gomen or any of its countless subs works is a pointless exercise.

They have their own way of creating chaos out of order.

We just have to go with the flow.

RacerX January 27, 2008 at 1:20 am

At least there is work there and the libraries are open. Ours closed for six months due to lack of funding. Actually it was due to poor fund planning.

But I would bet that the schedule deals with benefits kicking in, or over x-hours you have the right to join a union.

SavingDiva January 27, 2008 at 1:13 pm

I think I agree with the other commenters. It’s probably due to not wanting to give benefits to the aides…and then the Sunday shift thing…I would just guess that it’s because people don’t like to work on Sunday 🙂

Catherine Lawson January 27, 2008 at 1:53 pm

It seems mad that they have these rules. It would be easier to have fewer staff and keep the rest of you happy by giving you the extra hours you need.

Jim January 28, 2008 at 5:56 pm

The difference bewteen 16 hours (832 a year) and 20 hours (1040 a year) could qulify you for benefits such as sick time 401k plans, etc.

The other thing is Family Medical Leave Act. In Wisconsin if an employee has more than 1000 hours a year an is employed for 52 weeks they qualify for the State FMLA. (Federal is 1250 hours.) So by keeping workers under 1000 hours they do not have to give them time off for birth/adoption of a child or illness of the employee or a family member. Thus the company can terminate the employee if they cannot work their shift.

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