Members of mayor Andre Sayegh’s administration worked from home in some cases and did not consistently use the city’s biometric time tracking system, according to municipal records.
Municipal officials released 284 pages of documents in response to a request from the Paterson Times seeking timesheets and attendance records of Sayegh, business administrator Vaughn McKoy, law director Khalifah Shabazz, and economic development director Mike Powell.
Records show McKoy was enrolled into the biometric TimeTrak system on Aug. 1, 2018. He did not consistently use the system.
Shabazz began to use the TimeTrak on Jan. 14, 2019, according to records. Powell’s first use of the TimeTrak was on Jan. 10, 2019.
Some of the handwritten time records raise questions. For example, someone wrote McKoy worked from 7:50 a.m. to 6:25 p.m. on Jul. 4, 2018. It was later crossed out. A second document states McKoy came in at 8:53 a.m. on Nov. 5, 2018, but does not list an exit time.
“The argument that we are executives, we work long hours, we may not start our day in the city but start someplace else for a meeting or otherwise, doesn’t exempt them from creating a common and consistent time record,” said councilman William McKoy. “It’s not an option. Every employee has to report their hours that’s the basis on which we are paying them.”
“Directors have been asked to use a combination of TimeTrak and timesheets to record their hours worked for City business,” said Sayegh in a statement. “The TimeTrak will capture work in the building, and the timesheets will help us track outside meetings – including countless hours in Trenton, time in court representing the city, meetings with residents, and any other meetings offsite on city business that happen during the course of the business day.”
Sayegh faced criticism last month for defending his new personnel director Michele Rawls who did not consistently use the TimeTrak to record her hours. His administration, which came into office in July 2018, created the issue which did not exist under his predecessor.
Both business administrator McKoy and Shabazz also worked from home. For example, business administrator McKoy worked from home from Nov. 19 through 21, 2018.
Shabazz worked remotely on Aug. 3, Aug 6, Sept. 28, Oct. 9, Oct. 19, and Oct. 29, 2018, according to records. She also worked remotely on Jan. 22 and 23, 2019 due to illness.
Members of the City Council condemned the practice of allowing employees to work from home early last year after finding out Sayegh’s predecessor had allowed ex-personnel director Abby Levenson to telecommute.
Municipal officials could not produce written authorization that allowed McKoy and Shabazz to work from home. Sayegh presumably authorized his directors to work from home on a case by case basis, according administration officials.
“We don’t have a policy to allow employees to work from home,” said McKoy, 3rd Ward councilman. He suggested the administration present a policy to the City Council if it wants to allow employees to work from home.
“He knew how his colleagues felt about people working from home,” said Flavio Rivera, councilman at-large, chairman of the personnel committee, referring to Sayegh. “What makes it different now?”
Sayegh was on the council when his colleagues condemned the practice early last year.
Some employees also complained department heads have been reporting to work late and leaving early.
Rivera has said some high-ranking officials were coming to work at noon. Records show several examples.
For example, on Aug. 3, the business administrator clocked in at 9:37 and left at 1:51 p.m. On Oct. 26, he came in at 8 a.m. and left at 1 p.m., according to municipal records. Similarly, the law director clocked in at 12:40 p.m. on Jan. 14. She clocked in at 10:30 on Jan. 17.
“They need to address this situation as soon as possible,” said Rivera.
Sayegh has vowed to address the situation by ensuring his cabinet members record all hours.
“I have also asked my directors to make note in the margins of the time sheets the numerous hours that they work above and beyond – at night and on weekends – that isn’t captured as part of the standard 35 hour payroll week,” said Sayegh. “This work does not replace the 35 hours a week at their desks, in the courtroom, at meetings both during the day and at night, but it just shows that this Administration is working above and beyond to make progress on the many challenges we face.”
In one instance, Sept. 7, 2018, the law director’s timesheet states, “Out did 70 hours.”