update: my coworker is trying to track my hours and PTO

Remember the letter-writer whose coworker announced that she’d be tracking everyone’s hours and PTO usage, despite seemingly not having been asked to do this by their manager? Here’s the update.

I did end up talking to my boss about the situation because I wanted him to hear from me before my coworker could get to him, plus I wanted to know if it was his idea. If it was, I figured I’d just have to deal with it.

He was a fairly new hire in January and basically had no idea about the norms in the office, so when I told him what was going on, he was aware that she had decided to keep track, but assumed that it was a company policy. So, I told him that it wasn’t and that I was opting out because I know how to keep track of my own time, and he was fine with that. My coworker eventually got over herself and we’re back to normal.

However, my boss never told her not to keep track of peoples PTO and she’s definitely still running a tally. I covered for her one day and saw the chart in Excel; my column was blank. Ironically, I overheard her talking to the boss a day or two ago about how one or our remote colleagues had never used all of her bereavement days when her father passed away earlier this year and that she was going to tell the lady that she was allowed to use them when she traveled to the memorial service next week. Again, shocking to me, but not to anyone else. I still don’t understand why everyone else in the department allows her to get this in depth in their business, but after dealing with her for almost 10 years, I’ve learned that she is the way she is and it’s never going to change.

The best part of all of this is that it’s now all totally irrelevant because our HR department FINALLY rolled out our new automated system where we log our time and enroll in benefits. We can see all of our PTO in one place and it’s private. Somehow, that development irked my coworkers! I of course, am completely thrilled.

{ 53 comments… read them below }

  1. Rubyrose*

    What a busybody! Don’t people like her have enough work to do? I’ve been told, at my new job, that a manager looks at others outlook calendars to see wha they are doing when they schedule themselves as out of office.

    On another note, I love updates. Keep them coming!

    1. Nina*

      “Busybody” was my first thought, too. I can’t see what she gets out of this except for some inane bragging rights that she knows everyone’s hours. But it’s not like she’s getting paid for this task, or officially authorized to do it.

      And since the OP says they have known her for so long, I’m assuming the other coworkers feel the same or are at least pretending to; that she is who she is and this situation is not a hill worth dying on. I would have definitely raised a stink about this. Talk about creepy and intrusive.

      Glad you spoke up OP, and very glad your bosses are using an automated system.

      1. Artemesia*

        While she is doing this, she is not doing actual work. If I were managing a busy body like this I would be wondering if her position was needed and I might bring that up in a conversation with her when I asked her who authorized this activity and why she was doing it?

        1. baseballfan*

          Agreed. Clearly she doesn’t have enough real work to do, and if she is spending material time on this unnecessary task, I as a manager would definitely question it.

    2. cajun2core*


      Sorry to everyone for derailing this tread but I am too curious.

      Does this manager look at everyone’s outlook calendar or just the people that report to him? If it is just the people that report to him, that makes sense. However, if it is everyone’s, that does not make any sense.

      I my current job, I serve as receptionist. Some people have given me access to their calendars so that I know when they are off and find someone else to transfer their calls to. Is there maybe some reason why he needs to know who is in and who is out?

      1. Ham Sandwich*

        I think the point Rubyrose was making is that the manager is looking at the reason why the employees are out, not just that they are out of office. So the manager is checking if they are at the doctor or a funeral when it’s not really their business to know in detail why a person is taking leave. At least, that’s how I read the comment!

  2. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

    OP, any chance that your coworkers are a group of people who *never* take time off *ever* and are very proud of this fact? I can imagine that taking away the opportunity to brag about “I only missed two days last year” without looking like you’re bragging about it could be annoying to people in that mindset.

    1. OP*

      The coworker that keeps tabs on everyone DEFINITELY never takes time off and is totally proud of it. It’s so weird. The rest of us do use our time and think she’s strange.

      1. Sleepy McToiletboots*

        Wait a minute. The coworker who never takes time off is going to encourage the remote worker to take advantage of their bereavement leave? AT THE MEMORIAL SERVICE?!?

        1. BuildMeUp*

          I think the busybody is going to tell the remote worker she can use the bereavement leave to travel to the memorial service – I don’t think the busybody is going to the service herself.

          1. OP*

            right, busybody isn’t going to the service; it’s out of state and she prides herself in never traveling.

  3. Bend & Snap*

    Your boss is a wimp.

    And it sounds like she may have managerial aspirations, as evidenced by giving your coworker permission to use her leave. I can’t believe your boss didn’t tell her to knock it off.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I agree that the boss is coming off as a wimp in this. Sounds like he let it go because he didn’t want to rock the boat.

      As to why the other coworkers were irked at getting new system, that one baffles me. The only thing I can come up with is that they were maybe taking days off and the coworker wasn’t logging them, so they got away with so free PTO.

      1. Juli G.*

        Not so baffling. I don’t think I’ve come across a time tracking system people like yet or find easy to use. It’s always a top 3 HR complaint.

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          Completely agree, not that I’ve used that many of them (two). Neither allows an employee to cancel leave requests — in the first case, only HR could do it, and in the second case, only the employee’s manager could do it! So no one would put their time in until the last minute (if at all), since changing your plans meant you had to beg someone else to change your time in the system. And if you forgot to change it, then your PTO bank went down even though you hadn’t actually taken the time off. I have no idea why the programming doesn’t accommodate workers managing their own damn calendars. It seems like it should be fairly simple to have the permissions work so that an employee can change future PTO but can’t remove past PTO, just in case someone wants to abuse the system by requesting a day off, taking it, and then changing the calendar so she keeps her PTO bank the same. But…nope.

          The last system I used, once you entered your PTO, you would see it on a calendar that displayed everybody’s PTO…for the entire 350-person company. You couldn’t just select to see the calendars of people that mattered to you, like your team or your department. So not only was it a pain in the ass to use on an individual level, it was totally unhelpful in team and department PTO planning. I haven’t used the system at my new job enough to know whether it is equally useless, but I wouldn’t be the least shocked if it were.

          And at my current job, if you don’t use the system to track your PTO (note: we also enter PTO on our timesheets after it happens, so it’s not like everybody is taking days off and nobody knows how many), you get a nastygram from HR. Fortunately my boss tells us that the system is f**ing stupid (her words) and we should ignore them.


          1. bibliovore*

            We got an automated system. Good news- no more time sheets.
            Bad news- it is impossible to approve time off and then if plans change, change in system.

          2. HR Noob*

            Would you be willing to share what those systems were? My company is thinking of switching our time-tracking system and I’d love to know which ones aren’t working well for people.

            1. cajun2core*

              I actually like our timesheet system. We enter our hours and at the end of the pay period, our supervisor approves the timesheet. It is easy to use and easy to change (until it is approved – once it is approved by our supervisor, it can’t be changed).

              It does have the capability of requesting time-off but I don’t know how that works since neither of my supervisors have used it that part of it.

              It is:

        2. The Other Dawn*

          I was reading it more as the coworkers were irked in general that that there was a new system, not that they didn’t know how it use it or it wasn’t user-friendly.

      2. OP*

        I should add that my entire department is much older than me and very resistant to both change and technology, so their response to the new system is based in fear of having to learn something new. My boss was a wimp, but was recently laid off and now we don’t know who we report to.

          1. doreen*

            I went through that- although in my case, it was an issue with multiple parts. First, we got electronic timesheets which worked exactly like paper ones- fill in the time worked or leave usage for each day. You can make any changes you want until you submit it. If you need changes after you submit it , you can then ask your supervisor to unsubmit it up until payroll processes it. Leave requests and approvals didn’t change- they continued to be handled however they were before. That was a problem for the people who didn’t want to learn anything new, who didn’t read their email etc. One employee had her supervisor completing her timesheet for well over a year.

            Other people had issues due to other changes ( not solely related to the electronic timesheets) that eliminated their ability to “forget” to deduct leave for time taken off.

    2. sstabeler*

      I interpreted that line moe as her letting the co-worker know that she could use the bereavement leave left to go to the memorial, rather than any other form of PTO.- in other words, it’s less permission, than letting said co-worker know it’s available.

      about keeping track: honestly, the co-worker in question doesn’t seem to be doing it to get anybody into trouble- or give herself leverage over anybody- and stops doing it at people’s request. I’d say it’s not worth making an issue about it any further.

      1. OP*

        I think the believes that she is being helpful. It hasn’t come up since January, so I have no further issues with the practice. If no one else has an issue with her tracking their time, then neither do I as long as she’s not keeping mine.

    3. Observer*

      Julie G is probably on the money. The best of them can be a pain, and some of them can make you jump through ridiculous hoops.

      Also, while the OP recognizes how intrusive her co-worker is being, to a lot of people the automated systems seem a lot worse. AND they may not mind the busybody knowing their business so much because “she’s one of ours” while the giving the faces droids in accounting all this information feels big brotehrish. Never mind that they were seeing it before. Somehow, to many people when you automated, it feels like more information.

  4. Juli G.*

    I’m not going to come down as hard on her as others. It sounds like everyone else had no problem with it (and honestly, I hate keeping track of my time when I was non-exempt so if someone offered to do it for me, I would be thrilled) and the coworker listened to instruction and stopped tracking OP’s time. It sounds like there’s a solution everyone’s happy with.

    1. OP*

      This is totally true. No one else has an issue with it, which only makes me wonder if there is something wrong with me for raising the issue in the first place.

      1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

        There’s not!

        For me it would be one thing if it was an assigned admin duty. But this is another coworker taking it on, and then trying to direct how you could/could not use time.

        Other people may not know her actions cost them days.

        1. OP*

          and this was exactly my issue! If I had listened to her, I would have lost a personal day last year. That’s the only reason this all happened in the first place!

      2. The Expendable Redshirt*

        I don’t think there’s anything wrong with you OP. If I was in your situation, I’d think it was incredibly strange/invasive that a co-worker was monitoring my PTO like that.

  5. Sourire*

    “Your boss is a wimp”

    Probably, BUT at the end OP did say that the other people in the office were upset about the new system, so maybe they weirdly do like busybody’s “help”. I mean I sure as heck wouldn’t, but maybe they like having someone else be able to tell them how many vacation days they have left this year, remind them they have extra bereavement leave to use, whatever. Boss very well could have heard from other employees they like this system. I do kind of doubt it, but OP didn’t actually ask Boss to put a stop to it, she only stated that she specifically wanted to opt-out. So I’m giving Boss a bit of the benefit of the doubt here.

    1. Observer*

      Nevertheless, the boss is a wimp and an idiot. Having someone (non- admin), track everyone’s time is unusual enough that he should have checked on that, rather than just assuming that it’s “company policy.” And, once he did find out it’s not company policy, it would have made sense to him to find out why she is doing this and to make sure that it’s not having a major impact on her ability to do her actual job. It may not be all the big of a deal, if she’s not insisting on tracking time where she’s told to back off. But, it’s odd enough that a good manager should want to know what’s up.

    1. ReluctantBizOwner*

      It is crazy-making. I’ve got a coworker, a longtime employee, who orders people around like she’s a supervisor-and rumor has it she keeps a ledger of employees infractions. (Which I can believe, she runs off to a manager whenever she comes across someone taking a personal call or chit chatting around the coffee pot.) Several years ago she was briefly a supervisor on another team. It was every bit as nightmarish for them as you can imagine. She was demoted and transferred back to her old position. I’m delighted my promotion resulted in my no longer having to work with her on a regular basis. You really do have to starve them of information.

      1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

        Ugh… I had a coworker who felt like she was better suited for the assistant manager position in our department than the current assistant manager.

        Because she was better, she used to keep a time record of one everyone went to lunch and how long they were gone. Never mind that it took us 5 minutes to get to the time clock (and door) so we were always gone 40 minutes, which my department head was okay with!

        1. ReluctantBizOwner*

          That sounds familiar! Break policing! With our busybody its with the smokers. Never mind people would get caught on a call or something come time for their break, and would take it late. If she was around when you came back in, you could feel her glare boring holes in your body. Employees made a game of betting what and when she’d run off toward the supervisor’s desk. It’s astonishing that anyone would think that kind of behavior would make anyone take them seriously.

          1. Tamsin*

            I can understand in a way, though, the impulses that might have led to such behavior — for example, there is a coworker who in just the past three months has taken more than double the amount of time off that anyone who has been here only 2 years has actually earned. I notice it, and try not to let it be any of my business, but frankly, when she then also took off for Thanksgiving it pissed me off, it’s always vacation for her, too — how and why is she so much more the special snowflake than literally anyone else here? But whatever. Good for her? Anyway. It’s simmering things like this that I could see (in an abstract way) eventually leading one to maybe wanting to do what the OP’s coworker started doing.

            1. YawningDodo*

              Good on you for not letting it be any of your business. Your post got my hackles up a little bit because I took a fairly long vacation this fall and a couple other days besides…and I took unpaid time in order to do it. Were a coworker to side-eye my practices I’m sure they could convince themselves that I was getting special treatment/extra time when in reality I took a solid hit to the wallet in order to be able to devote as much time as I wanted to a family trip — and then my annual vacation allotment reset at exactly the right time for me to turn around and take actual paid vacation for some other things the next month, because my start date is in the fall. You don’t know the full situation, because situations like that are between a person and their supervisor, and that’s as it should be.

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          We had a receptionist who started tracking people’s time like that, and god the hoops we used to jump through to keep from walking past her desk and giving her the satisfaction! We got to where anyone who went on lunch or break would go out a back hallway and down a back staircase to catch the elevator on another floor so she wouldn’t see us getting on it.

          1. V-Rex*

            I’d have made a game of it. Let her see you walk in several times in a row but never leave, or leave and come back the alternate way. Have a distinctive briefcase that you carry out and pass to a coworker who’s coming back in. Change something about your outfit right before you come back multiple times in a day.

  6. I Wonder As I Wander*

    It’s a minor red flag to me that your coworker feels entitled to information that is clearly not her business. Makes me wonder if there are other areas where she might also be trying to access or track information that is not her business.

        1. A Bug!*

          “Let me prove how good an assistant manager I would be by doing something that would be a waste of an assistant manager’s time, instead of doing the job you actually are paying me for.”

      1. Crake*

        I was about to come here and say that the whole situation feels very “Angela Martin”, but Dwight is a much better comparison.

    1. OP*

      It’s partially because about 25 years ago, she used to have HR and payroll responsibilities, back when our company was owned by a completely different organization and even though we’re a totally new entity at this point, she still feels like her “HR and payroll skills” are still relevant today. So when all of this came up and she told me that I couldn’t use a 2014 personal day during the last pay period of 2014 (to be paid in 2015) she was mad that I went to the actual payroll department to find out if that was true or not.

  7. Granny K*

    Wow. If a co-worker had crossed the line and suggested when/how I could use my bereavement time right after my father had died, I don’t think I would have handled it very politely. Contrary to what this person might think, just because you assign yourself certain tasks in the office doesn’t mean you’re in charge.

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