City Issues $26K+ In Back Pay To Current, Former Zoo Workers

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The City of Topeka issued backpay Friday to 23 current and former Topeka Zoo employees.

The move followed a U.S. Department of Labor audit that found discrepancies in time and attendance records from March 2010 to March 2012. The Topeka Zoo was selected for a review this past spring as part of a DOL Wage and Hour Division effort to review labor practices at zoos in the Midwest.

The checks totaled $26,037.73. They ranged from $49.90 to $4,046.19. The city says the money was owed to 15 current zoo employees, three city workers now in other positions with the city, and five former city employees.

The DOL audit found employees would clock in and out, but also submit written time sheets, which often did not match.

The zoo has changed its payroll policies as a result of the audit. The city says the time card with time punches is now the official payroll record and the zoo no longer estimates time before the end of a payroll period.

In addition, the city is in the process of rolling out a new time and attendance tracking system for all of its 1300 employees. The city says it began writing the new policies and procedures more than a year ago - before the zoo audit - recognizing those practices were not uniform.

Complete news release from the City of Topeka:

The City of Topeka Friday paid 23 current and former employees of the Topeka Zoo for back pay following a U.S. Department of Labor audit that found discrepancies in time and attendance records over a two year period.

In response, the City is in the process of rolling out a new time and attendance tracking system it began developing over a year ago, writing policies and procedures tailored to every work group for its 1,300 employees, and training supervisors on both the system and policies.

The Topeka Zoo was selected to be reviewed by the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division this past spring as part of an effort to review the labor practices of various zoos in the Midwest. The DOL is tasked with enforcement of the national Fair Labor Standards Act. The review covered a two-year measuring period, from March of 2010 to March of 2012. The review was a full compliance audit that included review of employee status (exempt or non-exempt), review of payroll records, and a site inspection particularly as to under-18 year age employee duties.

The DOL faulted the Zoo’s time and attendance record keeping process, noting that employees had clocked in and out for work but also submitted written time sheets. Several times the two didn’t match and employees were paid based on the written entries. The City provided all documentation requested by the auditors and no penalties were assessed.

On Friday, checks ranging from $49.90 to $4,046.19, totaling $26,037.73, were distributed to 15 current Zoo employees, three City employees who no longer work at the Zoo but did during the time period audited, and five individuals who are no longer employed with the City. The audit included 50 individuals.

In direct response to the audit, the Zoo has changed two key procedures. One, the time card with time punches is now the official payroll record, and two, the Zoo no longer estimates time before the end of a pay period.

The City, recognizing that its time and attendance policies, processes and procedures were not uniform, began in March, 2011 – a year before the Zoo’s audit – planning to purchase and implement a new system. The implementation of this system has started and is expected to take about a year before it is fully implemented.

Each City employee will utilize the workforce management system, either by punching a time card or submitting a leave request. The vendor, IntelliTime Systems Corporation, will assist the City with implementing the scheduling system that will integrate with existing computer applications. The system proposed is specifically designed for the environment found in government agencies where state and federal work rules are supplemented by union, scheduling and grant reporting rules.

IntelliTime specializes in large complex public sector and public safety workforce automation solutions and all of its clients are public sector organizations.


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