Time cards vs time clock - any suggestions?
  • Hi, I'm the bookkeeper for our parish (I used to sing in choir in high school - I learned that the worst place to be is at the end of the bleachers :-) ). Anyway our diocese has moved us to a new payroll system which is causing issues regarding the musicians. In the past, they filled out paper timecards and were paid on an 'event' basis. I.E. for each Mass they would be compensated with a set amount and would receive credit for 2 hours of work. The hours were for the purpose of accruing sick pay - the only benefit they receive. Now, the new system wants them to clock in and out using a phone app. Then I will have to adjust their time so they still get the 2 hours - because there's no way in the new system to pay 'event' pay. And, neither the app (nor even the computer log-in time clock) have a space for the musician to mark if they're singing at a wedding or funeral.
    So, I'm probably going to recommend to the business manager that we continue using the paper time cards until the diocese fires me. After the chaos caused by the diocese failing to provide adequate phone or e-mail support during the crucial first payroll processing, I would be happy to be fired.
    I thought I would reach out to this forum to see if anyone has any suggestions/comments on using a time clock vs. time cards. What I'd really like is an app that the musicians can fill in like they fill in the paper time card - i.e. just marking which Mass they performed at, etc. Thanks in advance for any comments, suggestions or just prayers. FYI - Saint Winifred is the unofficial patron saint of payroll clerks. Hope you're all having a very Happy and Healthy New Year.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen tomjaw
  • TCJ
    Posts: 977
    We use paper, although I believe the digital option is available. For me an app would be a nightmare because I don't have a phone that can use apps.
  • Requiring musicians to use time cards or any of the other methods you cite is the most preposterous thing I have heard of ever. Of course, while this doesn't help to solve your particular dilemma, it underlines the widespread lack of respect and value that 'the authorities' have for church music and church musicians, none of whom count the hours spent in making and preparing music for a parish's or cathedral's liturgical needs. The hours of such men and women are uncountable and they should not be held accountable for them. I apologise again that this doesn't solve your problem - but it's a problem that betrays a philistine calumny and should not exist. A musician's work is accomplished in untold and uncounted hours at the church, at home, and elswhere, for which few are given an appropriate salary.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,181
    Welcome, MarieTodd!

    Is there any possibility that the app would allow for a worker to 'punch in' under different work categories (wedding/funeral/Sunday) with different pay rates? If so, that might spare you the need to adjust their hours so much.

    For now, as an old I.T. guy, I'd say: don't despair! If you've only gone through one payroll cycle so far, that's no reason to give up on resolving the problems. While there may not be any wonder-worker I.T. people at your diocesan HR department, the problems you're experiencing are probably the same at every other parish, and that should provide a motivation for them to improve the procedures.
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 693
    Sometimes when I worked as a temp in the business world the time sheets I filled out had to signed by my supervisor else I wouldn't get paid. If you are paying the musicians per event then whether they clock in via an app or you sign off on a time sheet it isn't worth arguing about especially if they still get paid for the event or in your case for 2 hours. I would agree with chonak, don't give up on the app.
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 542
    Is it possible to pay the musicians an amount different than what it calculates for rate X hours? If it is, maybe you could have them mark a Mass as 1 hour, funeral as 2, wedding as 3, if those each pay $150, 200, and 250 - just some way to differentiate them.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,500
    Just as an aside, corporate rollouts almost never provide adequate support.
    Thanked by 2MarieTodd CHGiffen
  • Why would the diocese roll out a new payroll system which didn't adequately reproduce even the results of a paper trail.... when most dioceses are already strapped for money?
    Thanked by 1MarieTodd
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,409
    You don't imagine the corporate goals of Accounts or HR have anything to do with the goals of the Diocese!
  • The diocese had to change payroll systems because the previous one went bankrupt and was sold - due to the corrupt behavior of its owner. So, the diocese changed to a large monolithic payroll system that forces you into their mold rather than working with the customer. The app only allows people to clock in and out - like an old-fashioned time clock - so there is nowhere for the musician to indicate what they're doing or to differentiate between jobs. I, as the person inputting physical time cards, can differentiate between jobs and make sure the musician is getting paid the agreed upon rate. Thanks for the comments so far. I appreciate the input.
  • Marie,

    Let me see if I understand this correctly. In many places, two Masses in the same parish aren't the same, celebrated on the same day, but the payroll system has no flexibility in it? Am I alone in thinking this is exactly backwards to how the situation ought to be?

    Maybe it's beyond the scope of your responsibilities, but is there a reason musicians aren't salaried?

    Now, since the situation is time card/ time clock, do you understand the fundamental difference to be that one allows for many duties for one employee to be housed in one place and the other requires a separate card for each unique rate of pay?
    Thanked by 1MarieTodd
  • jcr
    Posts: 132
    There is an attitude that is prevalent regarding musicians and some few other kinds of work that since the parishioners or the DRE, or the custodian, or the secretary, or even some disgruntled choir member doesn't see the work that is done and the "worker" isn't observed at the organ or in an office on a 40 hr. schedule that no work has been done.

    Several years ago I did a brief, informal survey of practices regarding substitute organists due to a discussion with our Pastor at that time. I was astounded at some of the responses I received. "Boy! I wish I was an organist. $80 for one hour of work." "My business manager is driving me crazy with making me count up 40 hrs each week. I can't count time spent with wedding couples or families preparing for funerals because I'm paid by them and not the Parish." and on and on.

    I explained to an exceptionally obnoxious woman at one parish that when you pay the organist you are not paying for one hour. You are paying for 20 years of study, thousands of hours of practice and study under the sometimes humiliating guidance of a teacher or teachers, and usually a good number of years of additional practice and study beyond that. She, of course, didn't get it.

    It is of course absurd. Here is another. Some many years ago, now, the faculty of a Catholic Liberal Arts College was told that the Academic Dean wanted every one of the faculty to punch a time clock to make sure that everyone was putting in their 40 hrs. To this I, and several others, agreed to cut back on our time. I suggested that she might have some trouble finding someone to take my Fri. morning class if I had to spend too much time advising students, or in meetings, or whatever whimsical assignment I might receive that week. She backed down, but I never believed for a minute that she was quite serious about it.

  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,500
    One sees the time clock mentality in some want ads:

    Music Director, Master's degree in organ or choral conducting, 5 Masses per weekend, 2 choirs, maintain instruments and library. Part time position.
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,306
    Very little gets me as upset as this topic: musicians aren’t like secretaries or custodians, and our hours of work cannot be counted the same way. When I’m researching choral pieces or playing through SATB scores at the piano at home, that’s work, even though no one at the parish saw me do it.

    I was told by the school-parish HR director in 2018 that even though I had to be at work for...

    —school Masses at 7:15am 3 days per week
    —Saturday Masses from 4:30pm-6:30pm every week
    —Sunday Masses from 7:30am-11:45am every week
    —The noon and 5pm Sunday Masses also, if the other organist couldn’t make it (for no extra stipend)
    —adult choir rehearsal from 6:30pm-9:30pm (the actual rehearsal was 7-9) every week
    —all the typical holiday work that we do (Christmas, Triduum, etc.)

    ...that I also had to maintain 8-5 office hours every weekday, M-F, because that was expected of all “exempt” employees without exception. What a bunch of malarkey! I told them I wouldn’t remain in a position which had those requirements, and that they would never find someone foolish enough to accept those terms. They were begging me to stay after my last day because — SURPRISE! — no one wanted that absurd 7-days-per-week-plus-holidays job. Naturally, I declined to remain.
  • TCJ
    Posts: 977
    At a past job, someone insinuated that I was getting paid too much because I only clocked 9 hours a week (Masses were only considered 1 hour for the time sheet). While it was a part time job, I was still putting about 25 hours per week into the job.

    The mentality is everywhere. I have had a number of people express surprise that I can support a family just working at the church. They seem to think that aside from Mass, I do nothing, and therefore must be paid nothing.
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,640
    Such people should be invited on a Wednesday morning to prepare everything for the evening’s rehearsal and perform as organist and choirmaster on the following weekend.

    It only takes a few hours. Surely they have the requisite skills and can handle it with ease.
    Thanked by 3Kathy Liam MarieTodd
  • francis
    Posts: 10,707
    anyone who puts you on a clock doesn't deserve a dedicated musician... and if that is what you are, walk... to a position that will appreciate who you are, and remunerate you as such.
    Thanked by 1MarieTodd
  • A former employer switched from time sheets to a time clock because they thought that their employees were recording more that actual hours worked. In reality,the employees were arriving at 7:50 a.m., but had been recording 8:00 a.m. Likewise at the end of the day. The extra minutes added up, and the time clock ended up costing them a substantial amount in additional wages.
  • Chris Garton-Zavesky - yes, it's a very backward setup. What I don't know is whether the payroll system has that capability and the diocese isn't willing to pay for it, or whether the capability is not there. There is a salaried Music Director and a salaried Organist, however the other Musicians do not get paid enough to qualify as a salaried employee in our state. My parish has already made a lot of cuts (due to the sexual abuse scandal resulting in a dramatic decrease in attendance and collections). Several positions have been doubled up. The Musicians are underpaid for their skills - sadly I have no control over that. Yes, the time card allows the employee to mark what they're doing - i.e. Wedding, Funeral, regular Mass - they can write what they need to, including whose Wedding or Funeral - which is information I need to collect. The time clock only collects one piece of data - the time punched in or out. I think there's a place on the computer that lets an employee comment, however I don't know if that's available on the app.
    FYI - I appreciate all the input because it will help me explain to my boss why we are continuing the use of paper timecards (or even having people e-mail me their time) rather than using the timeclock version. Because we have committed to using a set time for Masses - so they can accrue sick time - using a time clock won't work. I suspect that trying to tell the Musicians that they will only accrue sick time based on the time clock information will cause a problem. I'll dump that problem on my boss. Thanks!
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 1,155
    Have the musicians clock in for all the time they spend preparing for Mass and special events (i.e rehearsals, practice, voice lessons, etc.) They will soon have much more than the 2 hours for Mass built up.
    Thanked by 1MarieTodd
  • No doubt the incredibly deep wounds caused by the sex abuse crisis will be healed by imposing ever more ridiculous and onerous burdens on those who still choose to work for the church. Yes, I would put my money on time cards and punch clocks bringing the church back from the brink of the abyss...

    Sorry if that is bitter, but this stuff is so silly. If someone wants to cheat your system, they will (e.g. just because they "clocked in", are they actually working during that time?). If they have the integrity to not cheat your system, then they will not. In other words, these systems are either unnecessary, or, if necessary, ineffective. What actually matters is having some idea why you hired someone, and what you expect them to do, and then the ability to evaluate whether they have in fact done that. I wish more Catholic HR types would ask themselves why people are working for them in the first place, and then maybe have the gratitude and imagination to treat those workers in a sensible way. END RANT.

    Irish tenor - good for you! I hope you were able to move to a better place.
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,204
    This is precisely why I retired from full time church music. I have a DMA and years of experience. You want to pay me by the hour? No.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,955
    Our diocese started time sheets a couple of years ago. The local parish had nothing to do with it and it came from some bean counter in the chancery. I don't care since I am salaried. I could turn in 2 or 30 hours and my pay would be the same. The whole thing is pointless.
    Thanked by 1MarieTodd
  • For what it's worth, I get paid "hourly", as in for example, $100 per hour. An hour is a mass, rehearsal, or whatever similar event. Anything that would demand more than that pay rate would be billed in multiples; 1.5, 2, 3 hours, etc. So a typical week sees me working 4 "hours". However, when I report my hours, I simply report the masses I played for, rehearsals I had, then the accountant takes it from there.

    For those who would rather see salary, I choose to be paid "hourly" for those busy times of the year when I have to turn down other possible work to make way for church obligations.
    Thanked by 1MarieTodd