Leaving Work Early for the Long Weekend? Proceed Carefully

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By on May 23, 2012 in Current Events with 134 Comments

If you are planning on cutting out of work early to get a jump on the Memorial Day weekend, you may want to think twice about how you record the time on your time card.

John P. Mahoney, a partner and chair of the Labor and Employment Law Practice Group at Tully Rinckey PLLC, had a word of caution for any federal employees who might be considering leaving work early and padding their time cards to indicate they worked a full shift.

“A few minutes saved could end up marring years of federal civil service. I implore federal employees to refrain from leaving early this Friday before Memorial Day without a supervisor’s written permission. Since the GSA scandal, agency supervisors have been on the lookout for anyone who wastes tax dollars. Employees who leave work early before a holiday weekend are easy targets.”

Federal employees who sneak out of work could be charged with absence without leave, conduct unbecoming of a federal employee or falsification which could result in penalties ranging from suspension to removal. Mahoney points to an MSPB case from 2011 in which an employee was suspended for cheating on a time card. In Raco v. Social Security Administration, the Merit Systems Protection Board ruled that an SSA employee with 22 discrepancies on her credit hour forms – mostly less than five minutes each – deserved a 14-day suspension.

If leaving early, federal employees are encouraged to obtain e-mail confirmation from a supervisor and advised not to rely on a verbal agreement. If they are charged with an offense for leaving early, an attorney may be able to defend them by showing that the leave was not unauthorized or that the employee did not intend to defraud the government.

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About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce.