Moved from salary to hourly- work from home?
  • Citing a new law passed last May, the diocese moved my employee designation from salary to hourly last November. In addition I punch in and out on a time clock. The parish has made it clear that nothing is wrong with my work, they are just following diocesan directives.

    I've been doing my best to get used to it, and so far I'm adapting ok. The one issue I have is that I'm no longer allowed to work from home, and again diocesan policy is being cited. Other music directors have told me they are allowed to work from home and write it on their time card. I would like to ask for 2-3 hrs work from home.

    Does anyone have experience with this? Please advise.
    Thanked by 1Jes
  • It sounds like a good time for a meeting with other DM's at the HR office of the diocese for clarification, including the person who made this decision.

    Are the priests required to clock in before they begin work on their homilies? We do much more than sit at the helm of the boat during the cruise.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,891
    Even though I am salaried, I turn in a time sheet every two weeks to humor the bean counters in the chancery. The number of hours I turn in is irrelevant to any actual time worked. But a time clock? A bit of overkill, I say.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    IIRC, in our California diocese HR/Chancery Ed Admin were given explicit protocols to follow regarding time reporting and overtime concerns (as if there were any.) It seemed that all this was prompted by federal and state authorities exercising as much control over RC bureaucracies as they could manage. Yes, it seems to be an offensive tactic, particularly from the last presidential administration and the current California executive branch.
  • Ingrates!
    A preposterous and gratuitous slap in the face.
    Do these mindless functionaries actually believe that the only work church musicians do for their respective parishes is 'at the office'?

    (Was it time machines in XIXth century Russia!!???)
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • canadashcanadash
    Posts: 1,395
    As a stay at home mother, this would be such a difficult situation for me. Is there any way they could just give you a raise for the times you are in the building to cover the times you are working at home?
  • (Omitted due to not being 'apt'.)
  • Jackson,

    Do you remember where Mary Ann is?
    the responsible people at the chancery,

    The fraternity priests will do their absolute best for you, Mary Ann, so ask for help from the patron saint of the diocese.
  • Mea culpa.

    There really ought to be some recourse.
    This is really beyond contempt.
  • JesJes
    Posts: 510
    MaryAnn regarding the being taken off salary, that truly stinks. Sorry to read that. It sounds like you're in for an interesting number of conversations.

    Regarding working only in the work centre/office.
    To be honest I'd count it a blessing to be able to confine the work to the workplace and to itemise the work hours spent could be very revealing to your parish about what you actually have been doing previously and currently.

    Sorry for digressing here but my experience has always been clocking in time (I've never been salaried in a church music position.) I sometimes found I worked from home (for various employers at the same time) and then it became painful to go home because I never left the workplace because it was expected that emails I could be contactable any time of the day by multiple employers (and in some cases from some employers at night at hideous hours.) In future and at present I have decided to deliberately not take a new position unless there is a fully equipped office space and I'm allowed to confine emails to between 9am and 5pm on site on the day. I have informed my current employers that whilst living in an instant age it is best if I leave responses to between certain hours in the day. It is surprising how many have respected that too. I have worked in jobs that don't have a designated office space for the DoM which is so difficult because I'm asked to leave when an "awkward call in" comes to see the priest who has no private other space to use or I've used my phone data to search the net for music and paid through the roof for the slowest internet connection to get just one pdf file of the piece I need because there is no internet connection available when the communal computer is being used or simply there is no internet connected computer access full stop. There have even been jobs where I have hand written out scores for each chorister because there was no photocopier access or allowance for photocopying. Other employers might expect all the work to be done at home and just not want me to come in unless it is mass time whilst it's nice to do officework on my dining room table with my coffee in my hand at 2pm because I woke up at 1pm it wasn't a lifestyle I could maintain because I might get a call at 3am that caused me to have that sleep time alteration and lose my general health - I often felt in some positions as though I worked unreasonable hours and couldn't divulge that because if they argued where was my proof? - only in the end performance which, lets face it, if your employer doesn't understand precisely the undertaking involved then they aren't going to rely on your honesty.

    So I guess I have some positives that I found when I moved into an office space and left work there when I went home.
    1. They know how hard you work and on what you are working on.
    2. If you are dealing with a bridezilla, a unrealistic bereaving family funeral planner that wants you to sing in a language you have never heard of or a rude email from a colleague... then your employer is easily accessible or can perhaps see your struggle before you can even raise it. Support is just a knock on the door away and delegating tasks is easier than ever before.
    3. Face to face contact in the workplace is great because so much communication is lost without it if it is always correspondence.
    4. Your home is YOUR HOME and nothing else. It's become your chill out place and that home office can be used for whatever you want to use it for now, you don't have to keep it tidy for unexpected visitors. (The embarrassment when a famous bishop from overseas wants to use your bathroom in your house before you could get round to cleaning it is seriously un-measurable!!!)
    5. Your hours are clearer to others around you more than ever before.
    6. In the right environment you can be more efficient and get on with the other things you love. ie you're not as tempted to check facebook in one tab at the same time as checking out cpdl for a bonza motet.
    7. If you're "on church site" you can slip into the church for your prayers instead of driving all the way in.
    8. You can easily separate worktime from family time and that leads to better quality time at both places. My family thanks me now that my face isn't in email during our conversations.
    9. Your home music studio becomes a place of fun creativity rather than that obligatory must learn bars of music shelter.
    10. You are less likely to bother your employer at the wrong time - e.g. you know not to have a conversation with them when it would interrupt something they are doing as opposed to interrupting them with a phone call.

    It sounds like you don't have 24/7 employers (which I wonder could be a reason for a diocese to ask parishes to put these "on grounds" rules in place - more for the protection of their employees from that 24/7 expectation some employers have) so I would suggest discussing with your superiors directly and share your concerns about what you've heard on the grapevine and describe your reasons why you'd like to work from home for 2-3 hours. Perhaps the best place to start might be why the office is not always the most suitable place?

    Otherwise perhaps it would be apt to suggest you'll need some additional items added to the office in order for you to be able to work only at the work place. I know I can't do practice without going home often but if my office had say another instrument in it... I may also require a phone line or internet speed or some storage place for the three wall length bookshelves of references and music I have at home to be moved to the office, plus maybe I might need those pieces of music at the office not to be my personal supply. If they are thinking in dollars then sadly speaking in dollars might be the only way to logically explain your requirement for "homework" hours to be considered as a cheaper or more viable option. If you can make the office suit your requirements to do the whole job then you wont need to go home, you just log your overtime at the workplace.

    Have you got yourself a newly written up contract? It would be a good idea to get this and this might help you to itemise work utensils or hours required per expected job outcome.

    If your need for going home is based around children or children's school hours etc. then what I have said probably won't be all that helpful but it is good to remind your workplace that as a place of pastoral care it is important that they consider your family commitments which sadly may mean doing less work and getting paid less (worst case scenario I hope) or it might mean they become more flexible and give you that time at home.

    I hope this is helpful sorry if it's a TLDR situation.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,301
    (Was it time machines in XIXth century Russia!!???)

    Thanked by 2Spriggo Ben Yanke
  • In the San Diego liturgical desert, we don't have a diocesan music director any longer.

    The fraternity priests have been very good to me, which is why I'm adapting to using a time clock even though I have a BM and an MM and I'm a professional. The one glitch so far is the need to do a little from home. I could make two hours work just fine.

    Not looking at music at all between Thursday night and Sunday morning is really weird. I direct three choirs on Sunday morning, with two Missa Cantatas back to back. This means a lot of propers and a lot of balls in the air. Those two hours would really help me be more on top of my game, and provide more stable leadership for the program.

    Yes, I will pray to the patron saint of our diocese, aka St. Didacus. Great idea.
    Thanked by 2canadash CHGiffen
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,687
    Well, employers often need to be confronted of receiving the fruits of what they asked for. That may also serve a greater good in the long run.
  • I am guessing the change in status was made in reference to the law found here?

    So far, that law has never been allowed to come into effect, and I would be surprised if it does in the new administration—as it was highly opposed by the business community in general. More details can be found at the top of the page in the above link.

    On the other topic, I believe the Diocese is well within it's rights to have a local policy that does not permit working from home. If they do allow it, you would either simply keep a time card, or work a fixed schedule. When the roll out for the big change in minimum salary for full-time, exempt employees was happening, the government issued guidance explicitly pointing out that a full-time, non-exempt employee does not have to punch in/out, and can just have a schedule of what their normal hours are—but had to notify the payroll administrators if there was any change or overtime.

    Here's an interesting document giving advice to a business considering allowing workers to work from home on what they should consider. It's certainly interesting.
    Thanked by 3CHGiffen Jes BruceL
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,573
    Here is the May 2016 Forum Discussion ...
    Thanked by 1Jes
  • JesJes
    Posts: 510
    Is there a reason why the 2 hours practice could not be done in the workplace between Thursday and Sunday?

    I have had an agreement with a church before where I come in daily to practice and clock in and out and it's been great. They generally don't mind what time provided it doesn't clash with anything and if it's after hours that I lock all the church doors properly after I'm done. It allows me to let home be home and church work be church work. Hi

    Is it a case of travelling the distance? Is there a closer church in the diocese where you could practice and still have that count as clocked hours?

    Unfortunately the statement "it's just more convenient at home" very rarely is successful as a viable argument. With a job I took in a rural illequipped place it was way easier to manage personal practice in my home which is a good 3 hours drive away from that particular church. That was a time convenience was a valid argument. I also recall being locked in a beachside carpark late on a Saturday night and unable to source my precise location for a taxi ride and it wasn't convenient to come into work on that Sunday morning because in order to do so I would have to hike a number of steep sand dunes or risk getting electrocuted by the fence to get to a spot where a taxi could pick me up from or wait until 9am when the gate would be unlocked. Whilst I considered it a valid excuse that wasn't a valid excuse according to the priest. Travelling up to an hour in Melbourne Aus is not considered to be an inconvenience but travel expenses can be claimed on tax when completing casual work where you are paid only for your hours at the workplace and not the travel. If there is a significant commute to make to practice at the church then generally there is some travel expenses paid in addition to the hours. If any travel expense is paid for that job then no travel expenses are claimable.

    If it is a case where the practice can't be done at the workplace due to a lack of resources which is why you're inconvenienced then I really would suggest telling them you need better resources to do the job at work.

    Prayers are being sent out for you. It sounds like you're an intelligent person and will work things out. I know the frustration of being a Masters graduate and not be salaried and it can be a pain but my experience has taught me to be very careful about contracts, working environments, and also that articulating the why for something I require or desire is really important.


  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,191
    As the part-time assistant organist, I'm paid by the hour, which means I play 3 Masses with warmups in between for a whopping $125 total for the day. The going stipend for a sub is $100 PER SERVICE. I'm also paid the same hourly rate to file choir music as to accompany rehearsals or work with soloists. After all, it's all the same , isn't it. ISN'T IT!?!?

    When I made noise about it, I was actually told by the DM, "If all you do is play the organ you're under paid. And when you do the filing of the music you're way overpaid. So in order to make a salary we originally offered you, you have to do the whole job. That's the only way it balances out."


    By the way, the DoL regs that caused all this are 1) currently subject to a federal court injunction, 2) were NEVER intended to effect part-time employees, 3) say nothing about continuing to pay a regular salary to those who must submit time cards, 4) do not require employees to ONLY pay employees for the hours they work, and 5) were designed to PROTECT the EMPLOYEE from abuses, NOT put employers at a financial advantage by getting more work for less pay.

    In short, the Catholic Church is twisting the regulations to their advantage in a way not envisioned by the regs. And, they're ignoring the law by continuing to enforce regulations that are currently under injunction.

    But then again, the Church never saw a law it couldn't get around.

    This is the last Catholic parish I will ever work for, ever again. I won't even accept substitute gigs after I leave my current position.

    And after I do leave, I wish them luck finding a suitable replacement who will agree to work under the condition they've imposed, and double luck to any fool who accepts the job.
    Thanked by 3MarkS CharlesW eft94530
  • MaryAnn Carr Wilson, pray to God for gratitude that you are employed in the position you have, Many would be pleased to have what you already do, despite a petty inconvenience.
    Thanked by 1Spriggo
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,191
    The Church does a good job of preaching social justice and the right and dignity of fair compensation for productive work, but fails time and again in their practice of those virtues.

    I also find the "humility and gratitude" argument far too facile in light of the circumstances presented here and elsewhere by colleagues.
  • I also find the "humility and gratitude" argument far better than not having a job.

    We all can be replaced at any time without reason.

    There's an old saying "One monkey don't make a whole show".

    I guess some of us have been blessed not to have to learn this lesson in the difficult way.....
  • I think that one can give thanks for the work one has, particularly when there are many who have no work.
    I don't think, though, that this means pretending that one is not being done a gratuitous injustice.
    David Andrew is spot on with his observation.

    Just because there are those who have no work does not excuse the indignity shown to those who do. There is no necessary corollary here. The work that church musicians do far exceeds what they are paid to do, salaried or not, and they certainly are being demeaned by being expected to punch a time keeper. Maybe they should not do anything that exceeds so much as a minute more than the strict amount of time shown on the clock. I think that we can all attest that the Church's liturgy and music would suffer immensely. Some work is quantifiable, Some work is not, and church music is in that category. (On the other hand, maybe 'the Church' wouldn't care - it seems all too often that it doesn't.)

  • BruceL
    Posts: 997
    MACW wish I would have seen this before I saw you this past weekend!

    This sort of thing makes me irate. Neither the diocese, the parish, nor you are getting a good deal not being able to work partially from home. Furthermore, it seems some functionary at the diocese is trying to keep timesheets to justify his/her existence in that bureaucracy. Here, the parishes keep timesheets, not the diocese, which makes much more sense.

    Signed, salaried employee who couldn't do this job without working from home about 5-6 hours a week (usually while my wife is off working her hourly job!)
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Typically, a business offers benefits only to employees who must work X number of hours to qualify.

    This may have nothing do with the situation, but there are part-time Catholic parish positions in which employees get $13,000 in annual health insurance and a paycheck of only $45 a week.

    Forcing the parish to prove the number of hours actually worked by the employee might in some situations prove benefits were being given to employees not working the required number of hours required for benefits coverage - if benefits possibly are paid part by the church and the other part supplemented by the diocese.

    This would weed out abuses by pastors and administrators.
    Thanked by 1eft94530
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,304
    Off topic I hope that $13000 covers the whole family, it's five times the per capita cost of the UK universal health care service at £2060.
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,031
    Just in my situation, the diocesan health plan that covers my family and me recently had a 10% reduction in annual premium, so it is cheaper than it was last year. The current, complete, after-reduction, annual cost of our family health insurance plan is over $22,000 per year.