When you look at medical or life insurance policies there are generally two layers to them. There is the big concept, large-type section and, of course, the infamous minute detail, small-print section where the gnashing of arcane points is explicitly called out with mathematical precision. Written Pay & Leave Policies in most companies are the same with the big ideas called out in the HR/PR Policy docs and the hair-splitting details called out in…well? Where are all those pay precedence, rounding precision, cascade sequence, over limit, allow less than zero policies documented? In most companies you actually have to look at the configuration code – Payrules, Workrules, Paycodes, Leave Cascades, etc to know what will really happen when various work and leave hours are run thru the mill. Is this best practice?
When Improvizations does Kronos-related implementation audits we look at both sides of the Policy/System coin. That is, we make sure all pay policies have corresponding configuration to implement them and we seek out the authoritative policy (or regulation, or contract, or LoA, or person) for configuration we find implemented. As you might imagine, we come up short on the written policy side most often. That is, we can’t find justification for how the system is configured or, just as often, we see the code doing something significant on which the written policy is either vague or completely silent.
In some cases it is easy to blame the policy writers for using such vague or ambiguous language. More often than not, however, a lack of precision comes from the confluence of many policies that result in a cartesian product set of options for interpretation. Ooops… sorry, Here I am writing a simple blog and I slipped into an algebraic metaphor to more accurately make my point. That is a large part of my point—it doesn’t take long in most ‘policy rich’ environments to get everyone gathering around the whiteboard walking thru an example case to figure out exactly what is supposed to happen in the system. This is hard to avoid while keeping the policy docs from looking like, well, the fine print on your medical insurance policy. HR likes to keep things ‘People Friendly’ after all.
In other cases I’m more apt to blame the IT folks for ‘hiding’ a judgment call situation in the code. When a developer has to resolve a situation with greater precision or granularity than the policy docs specify they often seek out a subject matter expert. Or maybe just the closest person to them in the cold dark corner of the PR conference room they are camped out in. They may be right, or they may be wrong—that’s not my point. The point is that the code is hardly the best place to document (for people) the specifics of a significant pay or leave situation. Not to mention that if it is wrong but benefits the employee you will 1.) Never hear about it and 2.) Not be able to undo it in many states as it has become part of their ‘regular rate of pay’.
So how do we make HR/PR policy documents with sufficient precision to be authoritative in all cases without peppering them with algebraic gems such as this definition of a Cartesian product:
And if you don’t think some company's Pay Polices get at least this complicated you need to hang out at KronosWorks more often. One attendee I spoke with had 180 collective bargaining agreements in place—ONE HUNDRED and EIGHTY! How she isn’t a nervous wreck and has the time to attend conferences will be the subject of lot more study. Short of that, however, I have still seen many good ideas for bridging the Policy/Configuration gap in situations that may be closer to your organization’s scale and complexity.
In non-union shops, it should be much easier to add clarification to the policy docs via an appendix or what some companies call a ‘case evaluation’ or ‘case examples’. These shine a spotlight on what our frozen developer over in the PR conference room ran into and, with the cooperation of the policy makers, add text to the policy docs that can adjudicate key situations. I have also seen “Interpretations” sections get added that go beyond mere definitions but give guidance for situations that would otherwise break-up the flow of the main sections of the policy manual.
In union-shops we often see Letters of Agreement (LoA's) that get added to the pile. This is because the master Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA's) often have set cycles (often multiple years in span) that can’t be changed mid-term. The LoA has the regulatory power of a CBA and is very useful for clarifying a point glossed over at 2:00am when the arbiters just wanted to go home and is surprisingly easy to get if you get the proper governance in place. A smaller, less formal, version of a LoA can be used in any company as long as the proper parties get involved.
In small organizations with very simple pay and leave policies the classic Pay Policy Handbook can be sufficient. Perhaps I am bias by my purview but in the age of increased regulation, mergers and yes—massively powerful software like Kronos, this is not the future. If you are running the latest and greatest HR/PR/LEAVE Software (AKA Kronos) but your Policy docs look more like the Magna Carta it is time you re-thought your policy on policies.