my coworker is trying to track my hours and PTO

A reader writes:

My company requires employees to enter their hours onto departmental Excel spreadsheets that are emailed to our payroll department. Every person in the department can see each other’s hours.

Over the holidays, I was on vacation and my coworker entered my hours without my permission. When I came back, I corrected it to include the use of two personal days and then the rest would be vacation days. In correcting it, I told her that I was going to use the two personal days I had, and she argued with me about it, saying that because we were going to get paid in 2015, I had already lost those 2014 PTO hours. I disagreed and went to ask payroll about it, and confirmed with them that I would be able to use my 2014 hours since it was still 2014 at the time.

She has now created a new spreadsheet where she has announced that she will track all of our PTO usage. She expects us to show her our accrued vacation time from our first paycheck of the year so that she can keep a running tally of our time as we use it. When I asked her why this was necessary, she said that after we had our disagreement, she wanted to know if there was a way that she could have known that I had those days left. So she came up with this new process. I told her that I was not going to participate because I know how to keep my own hours. My position is that it is not her business to know what types of PTO I have available to use. That information is between me, my direct supervisor, and the payroll department. My coworker is not anyone’s supervisor, nor is she payroll.

It seems that I’m the only one in the department that takes issue with this. I’ve asked friends in payroll as well as HR, and they’ve both indicated that this situation is ridiculous. My friend in payroll also indicated that if my boss would like to keep track of our PTO, he can ask them to send a ledger after each pay period. What do you make of this situation? My coworker isn’t speaking to me since I opted out of her new process.

The only way this is reasonable is if your manager has asked her to be in charge of tracking people’s hours … which I doubt is the case since she presumably would have mentioned that if so, although I suppose it’s possible.

Anyway, I’d just ask her directly: “Jane, is this something that Fergus has asked you to do?” Assuming the answer is no, then say, “I don’t want you tracking my hours or my usage of PTO. I handle that with Fergus and with payroll.”

Then, stick to that. If she keeps trying to get info from you for your PTO usage, say no and go on with your day.

In addition to that, though, it might be worth mentioning this to your boss. I’d say something like this: “Jane has decided that she wants to track everyone’s hours and accrued vacation time. I really don’t want to discuss with her when I’m using personal days versus vacation days or when I’ve cleared leaving early with you. Unless this is something you’ve directed her to do, would it be possible to ask her to stop?”

But I wouldn’t get too worked up about it regardless. She sounds like a busy body, and one of the best responses to busy bodies is to just ignore them and starve them of information.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 170 comments… read them below }

  1. AMG*

    You must work with the most laid-back group of people (besides Jane) for you to be the only one that takes issue with this.

      1. Laurel Gray*

        Because Jane hasn’t altered their hours yet. Or changed their clock from 12 hours to 24 hours. Or lowered/raised their desk chair. Or changed their voice mail greeting, or [enter meddling co-worker activity here]

        1. KarenT*

          She changed your clock? And adjusted your chair? And changed your voicemail?
          My blood is boiling just picturing my co-workers doing this stuff to me. Unless you are a child and Jane is your mother, Jane needs to back off.

        2. Gene*

          Changing desk chair height is great sport around here. Did you know with the proper wedge, most chairs will not stay in position, they’ll sink to the bottom; by fiddling with it you can adjust the rate of sink. Not to mention the people with adjustable height desks; a half an inch every time they leave their cube is fun.

          1. KarenT*

            See, as a prank, I think it’s funny. When it’s coming from genuine busybodiness, I would get really annoyed.

          2. sally*

            I don’t even think it’s funny as a prank. If you’re in a professional environment, act like it. Messing with someone’s chair/desk is childish and annoying.

            1. Museum Educator*

              I think it really depends on who you’re doing it to or getting it from, and how far it goes. Some people enjoy blowing off some steam in the office and having a relationship that involves jokes and pranks. Others don’t. No one should do that to someone who doesn’t like it but once you get to know someone, after spending a lot of time with them, you can usually tell who would laugh and who wouldn’t.

              1. Jessa*

                I have an issue with this concept. I don’t care if people don’t mind, it shouldn’t happen in offices because it desensitises people to the ones who DO mind. It’s not appropriate to do that in an office. Period. Full stop.

                The problem is most of the people who do not read this blog, who are not the community here do not care if they’re hurting/bothering someone by playing pranks and stuff, and do not care whether the person is amenable to it. Hence my point is that a blanket ban is better. Most of the people who played pranks in the offices I’ve worked in take malicious glee in the fact that it bothers someone or that someone tries to get management to stop it.

                1. SJP*

                  Yea im with Sally and Jessa on this… Pranks in general (in my opinion) are just so lame I’d struggle to laugh..especially at work, but if people start messing with my desk, or my chair while i’m at work i’d get super crotchety. I have knee and back problems, so for div’s to start messing with my chair which helps alleviate the pain I get, i’d be blowing up every time

                  Can we all just come to a general rule that work is for work and not messing around all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I laugh and talk with my co-workers but to actually start messing around like you were back in school is just not cool

              2. Elizabeth West*

                Maybe, though I’d be pretty miffed if someone messed with my chair. I have it adjusted such that it won’t hurt my back/shoulders–I had to go through a huge rigamarole to get a new ergonomic trackball mouse. It’s finally to where I don’t go home at night in major pain. I might laugh, but then your ass would be on the floor putting it back the way it was.

    1. letter writer*

      It’s funny because I’m actually the laid back person, but everyone else in my little group is unfazed. it’s the strangest thing. I am shocked that no one else is bothered. I watched them all go up to her desk with their paychecks out last week to give her the vacation hours that they carried over from last year.

      1. LizNYC*

        Seriously. I’d mention it to the boss during your next meeting, just sort of as a “I wanted to clue you in to this situation and make sure this wasn’t a directive from you.” Plus, if you are friends with these other people, you could mention that you don’t do this/it’s not required.

      2. Jake*

        Seems likely to me that they just assumed she had be asked/authorized to do it. I might have assumed that if I didn’t have other information. And then, if/when I found out otherwise, I would be suuuuuper annoyed.

          1. INTP*

            Agreed. If they haven’t witnessed or been the victim of any of her craziness yet, they probably don’t even know to question what she asks of them. I probably wouldn’t question my coworker requesting something like that, unless I knew them to be crazy or a control freak, because what are the odds that someone is keeping track of boring payroll stuff of their own volition and on their own time without even being authorized to do so? It takes a true crazy person for this.

            1. Three Thousand*

              This has to be what it is. I wouldn’t expect anyone to bother doing anything like this if they hadn’t been asked to.

        1. BethRA*

          It’s also possible that she’s such a PITA they figured going along (at least for now) is the path of least annoyance.

      3. AvonLady Barksdale*

        They do… what, now??? They show her their paychecks? It is no one’s business how much I make, whether it’s per year or per pay period (I am not that fast at math). This is just weird.

        1. Goldie*

          I’m as shocked at that particular part of it as you are. My coworkers (or anyone else that’s not immediate family) would have to pry my paycheck out of my cold, dead hands (which would be kind of difficult to do since it’s electronic). And they’re lining in front of Jane’s desk to show her their paychecks? How… obedient of them?

          1. Three Thousand*

            But their supervisor knows what they make, and so does payroll. It’s not entirely between you and God how much you get paid. This might not feel that different to them.

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              Sure, but that info tends to be kept private from co-workers unless someone volunteers (aaaand… yes, the co-workers are volunteering). I’m just used to people erring on the side of privacy to avoid bad feelings, especially when someone is a busybody on this level.

              1. Paisley*

                At my husband’s old job (but he just went back to it today HA!) he had a coworker that would flip out if someone drove in with a new car or talked about buying a house. He would go running into the boss’s office and demand to know how much they were getting paid. He would openly discuss how much he was getting paid and it was much more than most people there. When my husband arrived in our new car after replacing our 20 year old vehicle FINALLY this coworker actually demanded he tell him how much the car cost, the payments and how much he was getting paid. My husband laughed and told him it was none of his business. Hubby joked with me last night that if that guy is still there and he demanded to know how much they got hubby back for he would tell him “I told them I wanted .25 more than you are getting and not a penny less”. He isn’t going to obviously but he thought the reaction would be a riot.

                1. Paisley*

                  This coworker is extremely nasty to people too. He was screwing up his work and putting my husband’s name on it all. Hubby was written up for costing the company money and did some digging. He caught this coworker putting hubby’s numbers on his own screw ups. He walked over to the coworker while he was doing this and said “Oh I think you have our numbers confused. Here let me fix that for you” and then changed the numbers to this guy’s. My husband then went to the boss and told him what he just found out. Write up was tossed and the coworker was put on probation.

              2. Jake Viz*

                Speaking about what you make is very unprofessional.

                Passing pay stubs around is also very unprofessional.

                One drama queen control freak garnishing info from the dozen (if I may reuse the term) lemmings in your office.

                Stand your ground. You are absolutely right unless the boss asked her to do this. And you’d know if he did (ask anyways to be sure).

            2. Goldie*

              Good point, that was incorrect wording on my part – but they’re taking their paychecks, not to a supervisor or payroll, but to their teammate. I have no idea what any of my teammates makes and have no desire to know. And I frankly wonder what Jane might end up doing with all that information, now that she is in possession of it.

              1. Paisley*

                Bargaining chip for a raise or promotion? I’ve heard of people creating new responsibilities for themselves to “prove” they deserve either a raise or a promotion. Thankfully usually it backfired since it was misuse of company time.

      4. some1*

        Wierdly, I had a sup once who thought this was helpful. Right after she started as our boss, she sent out a group email to all of her reports noting how much sick, vacation, floating holiday time each of us had (and everyone else was listed). We were all put off, but she had come from a dept where all of this info was tracked on a billboard on the wall for everyone, and apparently no one in that dept had an issue with that being public to everyone

        1. davey1983*

          I would have had a problem with this– I don’t need people looking at what personal or sick days I’m using, “Wow! Davey1983 are you OK– you are going to the doctor an awful lot these days, or is your wife pregnant?”.

          However, I would probably not say anything unless someone else spoke up first, as that is not the hill I want to die on. With bosses like that, there is usually a much bigger issue that will come up/is occurring.

      5. Aunt Vixen*

        I … guess? … I can see a situation where someone keeping track of all that for everyone so everyone didn’t have to keep track of it themselves, for the good of the cause, could be a helpful thing. Like if more than one person had found they were being charged incorrect amounts of PTO and if someone mentioned it and someone else went “hey, me too!” and if a lot of things … then Jane being the sort of group representative of please-treat-us-properly-with-regard-to-PTO could be a solution.

        Except that (a) that doesn’t sound like what’s happening here, and (b) even in that lots-of-ifs scenario, it would still be wrong not to take no for an answer.

        1. Jessa*

          Yes but that kind of keeping track is an HR/Personnel dept function. And a smart employee tracks their own anyway. Even if there’s a computer system for it. Simply because mistakes happen and if there’s only one record, you have no proof.

        2. Mabel*

          Plus, the OP said that Jane wasn’t speaking to him/her since s/he declined to participate in the spreadsheet-of-PTO. If Jane was asked to keep track, why would she give the OP the silent treatment? From the description in the letter, I would guess that Jane would be happy to tell the OP that the boss asked her to do it.

      6. Lisbonslady*

        Wow… I’ve seen someone like this before, people were afraid to confront her, she was the EA to the boss. Maybe they are assuming Fergus wants this done this way. There is no way I would show my pay stub to anyone!

      7. Jen S. 2.0*

        What the WHAT?!


        Under no circumstances would I hand a coworker my paycheck, and I work for the government where my salary is public record. WHO are these people who work with, and who raised them?

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Laid back != lemming, though. I’m very laid back, but when I’ve had crazy requests like this, I usually just say something like “no thanks, I got it.” As I’ve said here before, don’t justify yourself when people make crazy requests, it’s like explaining to a telemarketer why you don’t need a Chocolate Teapot Cozy; they’ve probably been doing it long enough to have a counter-argument to anything you could possibly say if you try to give them an actual reason.

      I probably wouldn’t bother going to the boss with this myself. I’m betting someone who is a control freak like that will soon start trying to deny leave or demanding ever more detailed spreadsheets, and the rest of the people who just didn’t want to get into it with her will soon tell her to take a long walk off of a short pier into shark infested waters while wearing bacon pants.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          I can’t claim credit for it, it was a product of Carolyn Hax’s online chat on the Washington Post.

  2. PEBCAK*

    It still seems to be a problem that other people can edit YOUR spreadsheet entries. I’d push a little harder on getting a better system in place.

    1. Ellipsis*

      No kidding! I don’t know what constraints the employer has or whether they could invest in real payroll software, but what’s keeping them from just collecting a spreadsheet from each employee individually? A little more work for payroll, a LOT of potential issues averted, especially with the laws necessitating accurate pay.

    2. letter writer*

      TOTALLY agree! I can’t believe that in 2015, we don’t have a real time card system. This is not the first time that there’s been issues with people meddling on other employee’s time sheets.

      1. Lily*

        I don’t know if this would work for your office, but when we take scheduled time off (i.e., not a sick day) our office has a simple little form we have to fill out and get our manager to sign in advance — and you indicate on that form how you want to distribute your off days among your personal/vacation time (we also have comp days that have to be accounted for). That way payroll has an advance record of what you want, and can also track reserved PTO.

        Yeah, my biggest concern here is how your coworker came to the conclusion it was her job to put your timesheet in, and why payroll let her do it.

      2. AW*

        This is not the first time that there’s been issues with people meddling on other employee’s time sheets.

        Holy crap, how have they not fixed this? Doesn’t this expose the company itself to potential lawsuits?!?!

      3. Observer*

        For crying out loud – why not at least tell everyone how to password protect their time sheets? How does HR / management really not realize what a ticking time bomb this is. I can see why management might not do anything about your coworker who wants to track everyone’s time. But this is a whole different issue.

      4. lowercase holly*

        is everyone’s time on one worksheet or individual sheets within one workbook? i think you can lock one sheet within an excel workbook so no one can change it.

    3. fposte*

      Yeah, and that would be one of the concerns I’d raise–“She’s changed my time reporting without permission and actually made it inaccurate; I think it’s important that my time reports remain under my control so that they can avoid those kind of errors in future.”

      1. Mike C.*

        Oh yes, this is a good thing to bring up in public.

        “She’s gone against company policy and tried to improperly reduce my compensation. Is she going after my paycheck next?”

      2. BRR*

        This was my thought. I can’t believe the system is so open. I trust my coworkers but one wrong move could mess up mine or everybody’s PTO.

      3. Jessa*

        I cannot believe that someone non management/HR has access to be able to make those changes. I mean the OP could be accused of payroll fraud if they decided that the OP made the changes.

    4. Goldie*

      One of my old jobs was with a small startup. We were told to submit our timesheets, in Excel, every week, which I did. Imagine my surprise when I was looking for some business documents on a shared drive and found most of my coworkers’ timesheets on it too! I could’ve read them all, changed them, created new ones for each of my coworkers, what have you. They must’ve kept them on there voluntarily, too – I had mine on my hard drive and no one ever complained. So weird.

      1. Mouse of Evil*

        I ran into that once too. There was a shared drive where everyone kept stuff that needed to be shared (duh), but we all *could* save things to our own hard drives. Apparently many of my co-workers just didn’t care that they had things with names like “graduation pics 2010” and “timesheet.xls” sitting on the shared drive, or they didn’t know they could save to their hard drives. I suspect the default save location was the shared drive and they just never bothered looking for another location.

        1. EvilQueenRegina*

          I ran into it once where someone had left to transfer internally, and it happened that she had never had her access to her old job’s shared drive removed. She started saving lots of personal things like her resume, her payslips, applications for quiz shows, blank job applications and other random things. It went on for months before it was found out – a work file got dragged and dropped into the file called “downloads” that she was saving it all in and all this stuff was found while retrieving that.

  3. ThursdaysGeek*

    She’s not talking to you now — so what’s the problem? :) Ok, I guess it could be a problem if you need to communicate about work, but if you’re working independently, I’d continue to be pleasant and say hi, and let her give you the silent treatment.

    1. Lefty*

      From personal experience, the best way to combat the silent treatment is to pretend you don’t notice. That drives that type of person bat guano crazy. I’ll even throw in a joke or a comment about the weather or something to really drive home the point that I don’t realize they’re not speaking to me. You can practically see them twisting into a knot inside.

  4. letter writer*

    I am totally enjoying the silent treatment. It’s been about a full week now and it’s really great. We don’t really have overlapping responsibilities, so this totally works for me. I chuckle to myself every morning after I say hi to her and she doesn’t say anything back.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Good for you! I always say that the best revenge on someone like that is to completely ignore their shenanigans and act as cheerful as f*ck. Makes them look even more bat$#!+ insane. :D

    2. Lisbonslady*

      Childish much? Glaf you are enjoying the silence! Why join her on the train to crazy town of you don’t have to.

      But I will agree with a few other comments that a control freak will usually continue to act out and keep finding things to control. You would think the fact she made a mistake would have encouraged her to back off but people like this aren’t burdened with common sense of any kind.

      I just keep coming back to ‘wow’…

  5. Nanc*

    You know, if Jane spent as much time doing her actual work as she does doing stuff that’s neither part of her job nor contributes to the bottom-line in any way, she’d be much more productive.

    Oh lordy, I’ve become my mother (from whom I learned may awesome things about managing people!) although she always said this in a much more diplomatic manner.

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      Maybe she doesn’t have enough work to do, and she’s come up with this non-work to make herself look busier than she is.

    2. Turanga Leela*

      No kidding. If I were Jane’s boss, and I heard she was spending her time like this, I would not be happy.

  6. Laurel Gray*

    Hey Jane, mind your f****** business dude.

    Everyone having access to how much time their coworkers have taken off in one spreadsheet like that is BAD BAD BAD. For many reasons. I know when my colleagues take days off, some may even take on average of one day a month (and why not, they earned it!) but to actually see the raw data of their PTO and regular working hours almost seems like an invasion of privacy. I have always felt like hours worked and time off is between the employee and their direct manager/supervisor.

    1. Colette*

      I’d be concerned about how they track things that aren’t PTO – for example, is FMLA tracked there? What’s going to happen if Jane starts harassing someone for taking leave she believes they’re not entitled to?

      1. Laurel Gray*

        Great point! I do not believe in this system and I think it does more harm than good even if it may appear to be streamlining payroll.

    2. jordanjay29*

      This is one of the issues with Big Data. Everyone produces data like this (usually by merely existing), and on its face, it’s usually not harmful. Noticing that Frank took today off is probably not going to impact your life very much at all. But when this data starts getting collated, tracked, analyzed, and the trends and patterns become available (especially to the public, or “public” like outside of the people who really need to know), everyone has a chance to be an amateur analyst. This can lead to resentment and frustration towards Frank and other coworkers, when it’s really none of your business in the first place and rather its the business of Frank’s manager.

      Facebook, Google and other online entities can do something very similar with the data that you produce (and sometimes willingly submit) online. It’s amazing what kind of psychological profile one can build about someone just based off their public posts, now imagine adding in someone’s browser history, search terms, email/chat messages, saved documents, and so forth. These companies do this all in the name of serving you better, more accurate advertisements, but someone could easily do something more malicious with this data.

      Just like Frank’s coworkers.

      1. Elfie*

        My business is data quality, and the one thing that really concerns me about the Big Data world is nobody, but nobody, talks about quality. It’s all data-grabbing, but since it’s virtually impossible to get to 100% data quality, then some of that information is plain wrong!

        Although that’s a bit of a side-track to the discussion point. OP, Jane is mental. I have a somewhat similar issue with a co-worker, although in my case it’s because my boss retired and hasn’t been replaced yet, so I’m effectively reporting into a vacancy. I’ve publicly stated that I want the job, but Co-Worker hasn’t, and is now doing everything in her power to act in that capacity (to the point at which she’s effectively taking over my workload on certain things). I’m not happy about it, in the slightest. Is there any chance that Jane is doing this to maybe show that she’s ready for more responsibility, can see the bigger picture, wants to step up into your boss’s (or a supervisory) role? She’s going about it totally the wrong way, if that’s the case, but maybe she thinks she’s demonstrating her potential or something.

  7. fposte*

    Sometimes I fantasize that I am independently wealthy and I take a job like this just so I can screw with people who are asking for it without caring that I’ll get fired.

    I would put many entertaining things on Jane’s time sheet.

    1. Revanche*

      LOL. There are many ways I like to imagine people getting their comeuppance and now am imagining you as an independently wealthy Bruce Wayne type with a secret identity as the Workplace Avenger.

    2. Mike C.*

      Change a few of the entries from “Entered amount” to “Entered Amount*RAND()”. Have all the formulas reference each other so that a single change or recalculation screws everything up. Seriously, have fun, go while.

      See if you can make a circular argument.

      1. fposte*

        We might have to team up, since I was just thinking about text. 1-2: “Jane was in the office from but spent most of her time recounting sitcom plots to her annoyed co-workers.” 3-4: “Jane left for ‘the bathroom’ with the handsome UPS guy and came back disheveled.” If it messes with cell size, all the better.

    3. puddin*

      I do the same. I call this my “Puddin Island” fantasy realm. I act as kind of an Equalizer for the business world.

    4. jordanjay29*

      Sinister Thought: You might escape detection longer if you just change small things over a long period of time. Like Jane worked 7 hour and 45 minutes yesterday, not 7 hours and 47 minutes. It’s shocking how much time 2 minutes per day adds up over a period of weeks.

      Not that I’m advocating this or anything.

      1. Natalie*

        There are actually quite a few people that troll wikipedia this way – they just change a date here and a middle initial there. It’s fairly hard to spot.

  8. Mike C.*

    I’m all for coworkers having frank discussions about comparative pay and benefits but being told to hand over a pay stub? Are you kidding me? Tell her to get lost and that she has no business in your affairs.

    Be clear about this, and do it publicly if you can. She should feel shame and embarrassment for taking it this far.

  9. brightstar*

    There’s a typo in the 2nd sentence of the next to last paragraph, it should be discuss and currently says discus.

  10. Ann Furthermore*

    I’d be tempted to photo-shop and then print out a mocked up copy of my paystub, showing that I make something like $700K per year, and get 12 weeks of vacation. Or I’d make the numbers on the very uppermost limits of believable, and then enjoy watching Jane get all worked up thinking about how unfair it is that I make so much more than she does, and get so much more vacation time. In the perfect world, she’d go to the boss to complain about the injustice of it all, and end up making a complete fool of herself.

    Not only is my vacation time none of anyone else’s business, I would tell Jane to get bent because showing her my paystub means that she’d also be able to get a pretty good idea of how much I make, which is none of anyone’s business except for mine, my boss’s, and payroll’s.

    1. jordanjay29*

      I’d love to be a fly on the wall for that conversation between Jane and the boss. Especially if this is the first time that the boss learns that Jane is tracking PTO.

  11. Iro*

    I’m going to diverge from AAM just slightly. I would approach this more from fposte’s suggestion above “She’s changed my time reporting without permission and actually made it inaccurate; I think it’s important that my time reports remain under my control so that they can avoid those kind of errors in future.”

    I only say that because, if others aren’t complaining, and you are newer and/or don’t have a stellar close relationship with your supervisor you could get pegged as a complainer if you do not focus on the business impact of this.

    Just my two sense!

    1. Mike C.*

      Complaining about something like a coworker trying to reduce your vacation time doesn’t get you marked as a “complainer” by normal people.

      1. Iro*

        True. However we don’t know what sort of environement she may be working in so I thought I should throw this out there. I worked for 2 years in a very disfunctional department so I tend to be more cautious about “complaining” than others and focus on the business impacts.

    2. Rayner*

      I don’t agree with that last part – the Op’s entitled to all of her job perks, from insurance help to time off and if someone outside of management is short changing her out of that kind of stuff, it’s not bad for her to point it out from a personal perspective. Business perspective is good but not everything is for the business.

      My thoughts, anyway.

  12. AndersonDarling*

    When I was an admin, I had to track PTO/Sick time on a spreadsheet. It was awful. People wouldn’t remember to tell me, or they wouldn’t say if it was PTO/Sick/ or military leave (we had a national guard), and it really wasn’t my business anyway.
    Before I left, I saw that the spreadsheet had miscalculated someone’s times and they ended up with 2 more vacation days than they should have. Ops.
    No one should choose to track a department’s time off. It is so much more work than it looks like on the surface.

    1. Iro*

      Yeah. We all independently tracked our PTO on a department spreadsheet (apart from the system PTO tracker) and my supervisor would go in and edit my entries which actually resulted in my having 2 days less PTO on the department tracker than I actually had in the system.

      These DIY trackers are rarely very accurate. I feel like management is better off suggesting best practices if they are concerned about PTO being used and not entered. Frank conversations like “I expect you to enter all planned PTO at least a week in advance” or “Please review your PTO at the end of each month to insure all days off are accurately entered” goes a long way.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      The only reason I think that’s acceptable is that you were an admin. I used to track time so my boss wouldn’t have to. I was lucky, though– people never balked and they trusted me to keep their info to myself, and I only had five people to track. I’m getting the impression Jane has no authority here, and this task wasn’t assigned to her, and this is just bizarre.

  13. Rayner*

    What an absolute dipstick of monsterous proportions. I would have such a hard time to keep my temper with someone like her, OP. Kudos on keeping yours.

    And , frankly, is there a big loss to her not talking to you? I can’t imagine she’s a joy to be around if her idea of being productive is to be an uninvited, unwelcome hall monitor. Why do you think your coworkers are agreeing to her monitoring hours? Is she that intimidating / persuasive?

    Only solution I can see to making sure this doesn’t happen again is to keep stringent records of your time and your hours worked on a separate spreadsheet so you can check if she alters it again in the future. Last thing you want is for her to change them on you again and leave you out of pocket.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Welcome to the office busybody… every office seems to have one! LOL!
      I can’t fathom why she’s doing this, unless there was a manager that asked her too. Even if so, going in and changing someone’s timesheet? Crazy and wrong.

    2. RJ*

      The silent treatment is not how adults behave in a professional environment because it’s petty and childish. Normal, functional work environments do not operate in this manner. Emotionally healthy adults are able to treat everyone with civility and at least a basic level of respect and courtesy, even if they don’t personally like that person.

      For a variety of reasons, I have chosen to stay in my work environment although it is terribly dysfunctional. The senior employee in our tiny department doesn’t bother to hide his contempt for me, and feels free to use the silent treatment. When he started with the silent treatment, I initially thought it meant that I was free to ignore him in return. Boy, was I wrong!

      To get revenge, he told our supervisor that I was “causing stress” and my supervisor came down hard on me. Now, I’m the one who has to “be the bigger person” and be polite towards him. I always say good morning, ask how his weekend was, etc. He pointedly avoids talking to me, aside from occasionally giving a terse, barely-civil response. Obviously, he never asks me how my weekend was or bothers to say good morning. I guess this makes him feel like a big man. They say that it’s the rudest people who are the ones who need kindness and grace the most.

      It is a demoralizing work environment to have to be polite and cordial towards someone who is dysfunctional, shitty, and rude, but since the alternative is to stoop to the level of an extraordinarily miserable human being, I choose to take the high road. It’s not always easy. Short of strong management taking charge and implementing big changes, the only way that dysfunction within an organization will ever be eradicated is by having normal people modeling functional behavior and working towards incremental change management to change the dysfunctional culture.

      1. Rayner*

        I… Never said the silent treatment was an appropriate thing to do? Just said to enjoy the benefits of someone else being a prat?

      2. Jeanne*

        I had one of these. Someone complained I wasn’t “nice” enough. I was told to act “more professional.” Each time I would greet this person she would look the other way and not respond. I finally stopped since you can’t win with a**holes.

        1. RJ*

          Exactly. Even if you work with a bunch of a**holes, do you really want to be just like them? Jim Rohn once said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Unless you are consciously aware to take the high road, and remain mindful and in control of your own behavior, there is a very real risk of becoming just like them!

      3. peanut butter kisses*

        I did the almost silent treatment with another co-worker years ago. I spoke with her if it was business related and tried to remain cordial at all times but I would never initiate social chit chat. She was and still is poison. She would gossip and twist what you said into something else all the time to make herself look good. Every time I speak with her now, I am very very careful about what I say and I discount a great deal of what she says.

  14. Daisy*

    Start your own spreadsheet recording every time she’s an interfering fuckwit. Send her a notification when she’s over her allowance of fuckwittery for the year.

    1. UK HR Bod*

      There are so very many people I would like to do this for. It would take all my time and then some though!

  15. Kelly White*

    I’d say something to the boss now.

    If it were my office, I could easily see, two months from now, Jane saying, “Well, OP is the only one not giving me her info”, sort of making it seem like you are the crazy one.

    I’d want to nip it in the bud.

    1. Adam*

      I really hope the OP’s office isn’t that crazy. If the co-worker in question did come up with this spreadsheet all on her own I’d be disappointed if the bosses first reaction isn’t “And why are you doing this?”

    2. Well*

      So much this. Especially if Jane is holding a grudge (which, with the

      One thing I sometimes like to do is to imagine a crazy alternate universe, bizzaro-version of AAM, where the object of grievances write in instead of the actual letter-writer. In your case, Jane would write in about her uncooperative co-worker who is preventing her from handling (what she sees as) one of her job responsibilities. Her co-worker rightly pointed out a mistake she made, and she’s tried to address her co-workers concerns by implementing a new system…but the co-worker isn’t cooperative! Everybody else on the team is pitching in to make it work, but this one co-worker is obstinate. Help!

      To be clear, I realize that isn’t a fair representation of the situation – Jane sounds like a total busybody. But that’s probably how she’s going to message it when she raises it with your boss. She’s not going to say “Hey, boss, you know how I’m a busybody? Well, I demanded pay stubs from everyone so I could see their existing vacation balances and letter writer refused to hand hers over. Can you believe it?!”

      Instead, she’ll say something like “everybody in the department has been very helpful in giving me all the info I need, except letter writer, who said she was opting out. How would you like me to handle that?”

      So I’d raise it with your boss sooner (mentioning all of the dimensions of your concerns – that you hadn’t realized it was part of Jane’s responsibilities at all, that Jane’s already entered some of your hours in error, and that you’re concerned about privacy, because pay stubs really ought to be private.)

      1. Well*

        Oops, typo in the very first sentence – my point was that with the whole “silent treatment” thing it sounds like Jane is likely the kind of person who holds a grudge, and I’d expect her to raise this with your boss in the least-evenhanded way possible.

  16. Adam*

    It always boggles my mind how much people can care about something that is absolutely 0% their own business. If this person works herself up this much over non-issues like this I wouldn’t be surprised if she had a heart attack before she hit age 50.

    If I were in the letter writer’s position my normally laid back self would be steaming too.

  17. Gem*

    I mean, its bad enough you’re having to use a spreadsheet over a proper timesheet system, but someone taking over because she got something wrong and is now being all control-freaky over it?

    Rude, and weird, and really, bring this up with your manager, because this is a world of no.

  18. Seal*

    I’m going to disagree slightly with Alison’s approach (something I don’t usually do!). It sounds like the bigger issues is how hours are reported. The fact that employees in your office are required to enter their hours on a shared departmental Excel spreadsheet that anyone can edit is positively mind-blowing. What if the OP hadn’t caught her coworker’s edits before it was submitted to payroll? What if someone else was intentionally altering a coworker’s hours in an attempt to get them fired? What if someone was intentionally padding their own hours worked in an attempt to defraud the business? I would bypass the nutjob coworker entirely and take this straight to the boss and HR and make sure to point out exactly how many ways this system could backfire spectacularly on them. Then I would use the coworker’s meddling as Exhibit A.

    As for the meddling coworker, the next time she asks about your hours ask her how is this POSSIBLY any of her business and don’t break eye contact. If she tries to make up some dumb excuse, repeat the question. She’ll back down pretty quickly.

    1. Judy*

      It does seem odd that there’s no way to trace the payroll information. Anyone could do anything with it.

      1. Adonday Veeah*

        This. If PTO is being tracked in payroll (and it is, if it’s showing up on pay stubs), then it can be called up at any time for any employee. Nobody needs a spreadsheet for any reason. The only question is, who in your company can call up that report. Most likely someone in your payroll department.

    2. Anon Accountant*

      Yes this! I can see this exact scenario playing out and think the boss needs to rethink this system. I absolutely can see a coworker intentionally altering a coworker’s hours or an unintentional error of where someone needs to correct their hours but accidentally corrects Lucinda’s instead. Isn’t there an admin in payroll or someone in payroll that can handle this?

      Each employee track their hours, the boss sign off on the timesheets and then forward it to payroll? Or another time tracking software? Some companies use paper timesheets, Excel sheets, and even where you log your hours worked through a software program.

  19. soitgoes*

    I wonder if there’s some sort of favoritism in this workplace that the OP isn’t (or maybe is) privy to. Maybe the coworker is noticing that some employees are allowed to take time away without putting it in as a personal day. It’s not the OP’s problem to solve, but pinpointing the source of the OP’s nosiness might point things toward a solution. I know that if I had to follow rules and others didn’t, I would start mentally tracking stuff.

    1. Shell*

      Even if that was the case, mentally tracking stuff is a long way from demanding everyone’s paystubs.

      1. L McD*

        Yeah, unfortunately at this point I think the well has been poisoned by Jane’s bizarre overreaching. There are a lot of things that need to be addressed here (notably the spreadsheet system itself, Jane’s behavior, and the fact that everyone’s going along with it), but I think digging too deeply into “well, WHY is Jane doing this?” would probably only encourage her. If the manager is going to investigate, it should be done without her knowledge or involvement IMHO. I feel like I’ve known a lot of Janes in my time, and if she gets a whiff of anything like that, she’ll take it as a justification and possibly ramp up her behavior.

    2. Colette*

      Even if that’s the case, there’s no way it’s going to go away if the coworker points it out. (And there may be valid reasons for it, anyway.)

    3. KerryOwl*

      But as has been discussed her previously, sometimes employees do get “special treatment” but it’s warranted, because they’re a high performer, or for some other reason of which only the employee and her manager know. It’s senseless to try and make sure that everything is “fair” in your workplace (or in life). Just keep your eyes on your own paper.

  20. Tiffany In Houston*

    In a past life I worked on a billable project, where you had to put in your own hours/PTO and if any one else did it for you, it could be considered fraud. The only exceptions to this rule were the project admin and/or payroll, who had the authority to make corrections or put in time for someone who was out on leave. We could actually get fired by putting on someone else’s time.

    1. Jubilance*

      Agreed – I don’t understand how this company is doing this. Even old school timesheets w/hrs worked & time off would be better than what they have now.

  21. Allison*

    I wonder if, in her mind, she saw a problem that needed a solution, and simply created what she felt was a better way to keep things organized to avoid future disagreements, that it hasn’t even occurred to her that people’s PTO use is personal and not something she has any business keeping track of.

    1. Sarah Nicole*

      Some people truly don’t understand boundaries like this, so I feel this is very possible. Even though it would annoy the hell out of me, you bring up a good point about her wanting to help in some way rather than just being nosy. Also, I don’t think it has helped the situation for management to have this process to begin with – it’s not a good idea to pass around a spreadsheet about hours that is editable by all. If that wasn’t happening, I don’t think this problem would have come up in the first place.

    2. misanony*

      This entire article is eerily similar to what’s happening at my job now. Hourly workers must submit time cards (hand written with time in/out, Sick, vacation, etc.). Usually a designated someone in the Admin group will inter office them to payroll for our department. Recently the task was assigned to a different hourly Group member. One day I found a folder on our shared drive with ALL of our scanned time cards available for anyone to see! I didn’t know why it was anyone’s business how much OT or sick time I’d used. I asked my managers about it, they didn’t even know he was doing this! Then it was deleted a week later and a manager said it was “taken care of”. Three weeks later, he’s started doing it again. I’m feeling annoyed. If I go to management again will they just think I’m the one whose bent out of shape or will they see how invasive this is? I actually think allowing coworkers who are not manager level/not HR to see and be responsible for peer level members’ time is unprofessional and risky. There were several email scans where he’d forgotten to send my pay card and then *emailed* it to HR. So now my work history is in his email outbox. /sigh

  22. Gene*

    We each have our own spreadsheet that, after we and our supervisor initial it, gets sent to our local Admin Goddess, who then enters the data into the City-wide payroll system. Every two weeks we get a summary and have to sign it as truthful, with accompanying supervisor’s signature. Yeah, it’s a pile-o’-paper, but it leaves an auditable trail.

    If there’s no modification tracking on the spreadsheet, what will happen when someone says, “Hey! I didn’t take 16 hours of PTO two months, why am I being charged for it? I want it back.” If there is tracking, wait for Jane to walk away from her computer, open it, totally mess it up, save, and close it.

      1. Gene*

        Yep, we are SO screwed when she retires in March. Over the last 15 years our remote site has gone from four admin people to one; luckily, the one we have is terminally organized. We’ll miss her.

  23. SRMJ*

    why would anybody WANT to take that on? that just sounds complicated and tedious, never mind that it’s not information she should have any expectation of entitlement to. so bizarre. another one where I’d like to sit down and pick her brain for a while.

    1. SRMJ*

      oh my mind was so blown I forgot the part at the beginning about the shared spreadsheet, visible to all, that the employees are required to use. but still…she takes it upon herself to go in and edit stuff? that’s bonkers. mind is still blown.

    2. Another Lauren*

      Reading all the comments and this is what I keep coming back to. I mean there are many issues with this whole situation, but I just cannot fathom why someone would WANT to do this. It seems like a boatload of extra work, and tedious at that. Not to mention that I have honestly never thought about how much time off a coworker is taking. Seriously, if they are getting their work done and it’s not affecting me, who cares? If they aren’t getting their work done and it is affecting me, take it up with your/their manager. I just can’t understand the mindset that leads to “I’ll just track everyone’s time off – there, I fixed it”. I mean even when I’ve not had enough to do at work, this is not something that would occur to me to pass the time….

  24. PowerStruggles*

    Seriously, and what about the fact that she’s wasting time presumably on the clock to do this task that’s not even her job. This is what I’d also mention to management.

  25. DMented Kitty*

    My first thought to Ms Busybody would be, “Um… Who died and made you Queen of PTO Tracking?”

    Seriously none of her business, unless that new PTO tracking process is mandated by HR/Boss.

  26. Katie the Fed*

    You know what’s worse than working with an office busybody? MANAGING the office busybody. I briefly (thankfully no longer) had this, and it was ALWAYS something. Once she figured out I wasn’t receptive to her reporting on colleagues to me, she turned on me and tried to come up with things on me to tell other people.

    Toxic people.

  27. Preston*

    Letter Writer:
    I am going to give you the G rated reaponse. Tell Ms PTO Spreadsheet Crazylady that “until I hear you are in charge of the PTO I will continue to process my own… thanks.”

    Now if you need PG or R rated versions… :)

    But seriously that would annoy me to no end. You may want to mention it to your manager.

  28. SuzanneM*

    I used to work at University where our paper time sheets were sent out through the mailroom. These time sheets had our names, employee ID (not SSN), and leave balances. My issue was that they weren’t sent in an envelope, but just for anyone to see and read. I was the only one who thought this was odd and intrusive, and was stunned that others didn’t see a privacy issue with it. If I choose to mention how many hours I have, that’s one thing…. but nobody else should know (other than boss, HR, etc) without my permission.

    1. Csarndt*

      OTOH, this system let us figure out that our department chair never stopped paying his little pet when she quit her job. For months.

  29. Purple Dragon*

    I agree with the WTF on this but that doesn’t help. And I love a lot of the suggestions above.

    My only suggestion is: After you enter your details on the spreadsheet take a screen shot and save it somewhere. That way if Jane changes something you have a record of what you entered. People like this will try and turn their errors back on you when the proverbial hits the fan.

    Good luck and I hope the insanity is dealt with soon.

  30. Not So NewReader*

    They are paying two people to do the same work. Someone in payroll/HR already has this cover.

    OP, I graduated from the school of “If you give a person an inch they will take a mile”. It could be just me, but if she gets away with this, she will try even more invasive antics.

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with checking in with the boss-“Am I missing something here? Did you tell CrazyLady to start tracking our PTO?” Even if the boss says yes, you can still inquire about alterations on your submissions.

    A good boss will say “We already have someone to do that work. I will speak to her.”
    But even a fair to lousy boss will say “Why is CrazyLady taking over my job?”

    Don’t give it a second thought about your coworkers that complied with her request. That is up to them to sort all that out.

    1. Ed*

      “OP, I graduated from the school of “If you give a person an inch they will take a mile”. It could be just me, but if she gets away with this, she will try even more invasive antics.”

      I agree 100%. Allowing her to track your PTO is inviting her to manage other parts of your life/job. I’ve seen people overstep like this and eventually turn it into a management position because it became clear to upper management that they are already controlling the office (a natural leader!!). Even if I wasn’t OP (who had a previous conflict), I can’t imagine showing my pay stub to a co-worker who told me in advance they wanted to see it to track my hours (you know, because I’m a big fat liar). That must be one seriously laid back group of people working there.

  31. Ed*

    There have been people at every place I’ve worked that have played it fast and loose with their personal/vacation time. They always seem to be off yet miraculously still have time (and A LOT of it) left at the end of the year. Most companies aren’t super strict about tracking it so it doesn’t necessarily require forging paperwork or anything. My current job at a Fortune 500 company doesn’t track it at all so everyone is basically on the honor system.

    I figure it’s not my problem if our manager doesn’t notice (and they probably do). It’s more likely that the managers like not keeping close track of remaining PTO days because a) it’s a big hassle and b) they also want to take extra time off that is not subtracted from their PTO days. The only way it would bother me is if I directly shared work with someone and got stuck doing extra because they were always off.

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