Payroll, Paychecks, and People: Jessica’s Story

Medical office

Jessica had worked temporarily for Dr. Bean two weeks, and had two more weeks until her work order was completed. The permanent staff was getting paid this Thursday – a day Jessica was not scheduled to work. The following week the office would be closed.

Jessica expected a check in the mail over the weekend from Dr. Bean’s office. When It hadn’t arrived by Monday, she called the office to leave a message – hoping that someone would be checking the messages while the office was closed.

“Hello, this is Jessica. I understand the office is closed this week and that the pay period ended last week. I was just wondering when I might expect my paycheck. Will it be mailed to me?”

The temp agency called Jessica the next day, Tuesday.

“Hi. This is Keri from Temporary Professionals. We received a call from Heidi at Dr. Bean’s office who wanted me to pass along a message to you. Your paycheck is in the mail.”

Cliche’ yet appropriate, Jessica thought. However, as the days passed with no paycheck, the cliche’ seemed to prove true to its reputation of insincerity and dishonesty. There would be no point in leaving another message at the office so late in the week.

By Monday morning – now 10 days after the pay period ended – Jessica was worried about how long it might take to fix the problem or find the lost check. She sought out the office manager and stated her concern.

“Heidi, I never received my paycheck. I heard from the agency that you’d sent it out, but I never got it.”

“I sent it.”

“Do you know what address it was sent to? Perhaps it went to the wrong place,” Jessica inquired.

“Well,” Heidi said. “Kelly sent it out. She does payroll. I’ll have to call her. If it went to the wrong address, then we’ll see if Kelly can put a stop on the check and reissue one for you. I’ll give her a call this morning.”

“Thanks.”

Lunch was several hours later, and Heidi had not mentioned the paycheck issue to Jessica again. Just before going to lunch, Jessica approached Heidi a second time.

“Heidi, did you get a chance to speak with Kelly yet?”

“No. I’ll do that right now.”

Jessica expected to have news from Heidi when she came back from lunch, but Heidi was busy and didn’t report anything. Another hour passed, and Jessica noticed an employee list on the wall near the desk she was working from. Kelly’s name and cell number was on the list.

Doctor-Phone

“Hello, Kelly. This is Jessica, who has been doing some temporary work at Dr.Bean’s office. Heidi said she was going to call you about an issue with my paycheck, have you spoken with her today?”

“No. What’s going on?”

“I didn’t receive my paycheck from the last period. I was told last Monday that it had gone out in the mail, but I haven’t gotten it yet a week later.”

“I left your check in the outgoing mail on Friday, and I told Heidi it was there. I don’t know if she sent it out then or later. If it didn’t go out, then it still might be sitting there. Has the mail gone out today?”

The mail had been taken to the post office that morning. Jessica had minded the desk while Melanie left to get mail from last week.

“Oh, no! Is there a chance that it just went out today???” Jessica was disappointed to think that her paycheck may have slipped from her grasp. Maybe Heidi was not truthful in her statement the check is in the mail one week ago.

Kelly asked, “Is there anything else I can do for you?”

“I guess not. If it just went out today, then I won’t get it for a few more days yet. Ugh!”

Kelly offered a solution, “If you don’t get it by today, then we can reissue you another check tomorrow.”

Jessica began to feel as if the paycheck she worked hard to earn and deserved to have, was not sent when she was told it was. Why would she get the check today when it had not come everyday last week?

Why didn’t they call me that Thursday it was processed and give me the option to come pick it up? Jessica thought. She was aware of the law – Dr. Bean legally had 30 days to pay her. That would be fine had she not been told it was on it’s way to her.

As the minutes passed, Jessica was feeling more and more mistreated. And it wasn’t the first time. Just three months earlier this same scenario played out with a different temporary employer. That office had also claimed her check was in the mail, but each day that passed, and with each day it didn’t arrive, she felt more and more betrayed. Finally, when the legal 30 days was up, Jessica walked into the office to ask for her paycheck. Oh, the run around that occurred, and the passing of the buck she witnessed confirmed to her that they had no intention of paying her. Excuse and defensive excuse after another made it easy to see that she was being lied to. Was it happening again????

After a few more minutes of stewing over the situation, Jessica approached Dr. Bean in his office.

“Dr. Bean, may I talk to you about something?”

After his approval, Jessica continued.

“I didn’t get my paycheck.”

“What? Say that again?” Dr. Bean asked.

“I didn’t get my paycheck, and Heidi says it was sent, and she was going to talk with Kelly but she didn’t…”

He interrupted. “I know nothing about payroll. I don’t even know how to do payroll. You’ll have to talk with Kelly about that.”

“I did talk with Kelly, and no one seems to know where it is.”

“Well, I don’t have any solution for you. I don’t know anything about payroll. Do you have a solution? Why are you telling me this?”

“Dr. Bean, the solution I would suggest is to put a stop on the first check since we don’t know where it is and reissue a check for me.”

“I don’t know how to figure out payroll. I never write checks.”

“If I called Kelly and learned the amount the check was written for, would you write a new check? Do you have a checkbook here?” Jessica asked.

“Hold on. Let’s figure out what’s going on here.” He stormed out of the room, and Jessica assumed he’d be heading to Heidi. She was right.

A few minutes later, Heidi approached Jessica at the desk where she’d been working and said, “I need to use your desk so I can call Kelly.”

Mailbox

It was 5:00 now. Jessica used her cell phone to call home. “Please check the mail. Is there a check for me from Dr. Bean?”

“Yes. It’s post marked with Saturday’s date – just last Saturday.”

UGH! There was no way Jessica’s check would take one week to get to her mailbox if it had been mailed out when Heidi said it had been. Jessica felt lied to, and worse – she’d gotten the run-around because no one wanted to confess that they’d not been telling the truth! It appeared to Jessica that paying temporary employees was not a priority at this practice.

“I mailed it on Monday. I don’t know why it would take so long to get to you,” Heidi explained. “I would never lie to you, Jessica. I would not try to deceive you in any way. I didn’t mail it at the post office, though. I put it in an outgoing mailbox at Safeway. I guess I don’t know when their mail is picked up.”

“Heidi, it’s just not possible that it would take that long to get to me and contain a post mark from this past Saturday.” Jessica replied.

Jessica worked two more hours that day, finding it hard to do. She was thankful her check had been found, but she was still feeling upset that no one else associated with Dr. Bean saw reason for her to be upset about not being paid when she was told she would be.

Jessica had creditors who’d been calling her about monies owed them. Getting her paycheck was necessary to pay her overdue bills. She was experiencing a financial crunch, and waiting for her paycheck, then worrying that she may not get it for a few more days was very disheartening.

The next day, Heidi explained that she and Kelly had been offended by Jessica’s actions and attitude. Jessica was surprised to learn that THEY were offended. Didn’t they understand what SHE was feeling?

Heidi confessed that Jessica’s check was likely left in the outgoing mail at the office for the entire week the office was closed until Heidi had come into the office the Friday before, saw a pile of mail to go out, and took it to Safeway.

“I didn’t see your check in the pile of mail, but I can only assume it was in there. It probably went out five days after I told you it had.”

No apology came from Heidi. She simply said, “I would never lie to you. There would be no reason for us to hold your check.”


 

Are there lessons to be learned from Jessica’s story?

How did it make you feel?

Who is in the right?

Who is in the wrong?

What, if anything, should have been done differently?