When I wasn’t crying, worrying, chain-smoking, or sleeping over the weekend, I spent a lot of time with my paycheck stubs, blowing up my coworkers’ phones. (Did you miss the story of the crisis I’m dealing with? You can read the first part here.)
For those of you who are interested, I’ll try to explain what I found out. If you’re over my job situation, check back on Wednesday for a post that
may not won’t be such a pathetic whinefest. I’ll warn you ahead of time – this post is LONG and confusing.
I was told there would be no math.
When this was just a part-time job, I made $38 per billed hour and it was paid to me as a flat rate on my paycheck. I assumed it would be the same when I switched to full time.
I am supposed to be paid $42 for every hour I bill for therapy (it was less before because it was a second job within the company). To be considered a full-time employee, I am supposed to bill a minimum of 23 hours every two weeks. Those are the only pieces of information I was given prior to switching jobs, and I thought that was all I needed to know. If I ONLY billed the 23 hours, I should have grossed $966 before taxes. And obviously I’ve been billing much more than that. Yet my paychecks have sucked.
For whatever bullshit reason that no one can explain, my paycheck shows two pay rates. One is $11.38 an hour, which is multiplied by the number of hours I was clocked in during the pay period. The other is a flat rate that varies based on my billing.
When I took this job, NO ONE mentioned the fact that we are expected to be clocked in for 40 hours a week. But apparently we are supposed to bill 23 hours a pay period AND be on the clock for 80 hours to qualify for the “base salary” of $910.40, which is $11.38 X 80. (Stay with me, this gets ridiculously complicated.)
If I bill 35 hours in a pay period and I work 80 hours, 23 of those hours would apply toward the base salary of $910.40. The other 12 would be paid to me at $42 each, so the flat rate on my check stub should show $504. My paycheck would be $1414.40 before taxes.
If, however, I bill 35 hours and I’m only clocked in for 68 hours, the 12 missing hours are subtracted from my billing. (This makes no sense because hours on the clock should have nothing to do with the hours that I spent providing therapy. But this is what they do.) So I’m getting $11.38 X the 68 hours on the clock = $773.84. THEN they are only counting 23 hours of billing, so I’m right at the required 23 and I get nothing toward my flat rate. My entire paycheck is $773.84. Then they take out taxes and benefits.
If you made it through that, you’re either really bored or really weird. Because it would put me to sleep if it wasn’t preventing me from paying my bills.
Anyway, this whole time I’ve been keeping up with my number of billed hours, thinking they were just multiplying them by $42 and paying me. When I saw the weird $11.38 thing on my pay stub, I talked to the director of the finance department, who spent a lot of time trying to explain it to me. But basically, he doesn’t get it either. Some kind of regulation says that we are supposed to be paid an hourly rate because we are employed by a community mental health center and not in private practice. He assured me that it basically evens out – if you divide $910.40 by 23 billed hours, you get $39.58, which is reasonably close to what I’m supposed to make. I have no idea where the other $2.42 goes.
The problem is, nobody told me about this complicated BS formula. No one told me I needed to work 40 hours a week to earn a base salary – I didn’t even know such a thing existed! And even once I knew about it, I still didn’t realize I was being penalized for time off the clock. I don’t understand why it matters how many hours I’m clocked in when this is supposed to be a billable hour position.
Over the weekend, talking to the therapists who have been there for awhile, I realized that I’ve been completely out of the loop. And it pisses me off that I had to chase down this information instead of finding out when I was offered the full-time position.
This isn’t complicated enough. Here’s some more!
As I’ve mentioned before, my pay also fluctuates based on the number of clients I see who don’t have insurance coverage. Their visits are subsidized (at a much lower rate) by the Department of Mental Health (DMH for short) and I can only see so many clients per pay period.
I am assigned 25 DMH units per pay period. A unit is 15 minutes, so that means I can spend 6 hours and 15 minutes every 2 weeks seeing people without insurance. Luckily most of my time at work is spent at a school, where almost all the kids have Medicaid. Out of the 20 hours I spend seeing adults in the clinic, though, probably 15 of those appointments are people with no insurance.
Once I go beyond the 6 hours and 15 minutes allotted to me, I’m not getting paid for DMH clients. If I bill 35 hours and 10 of them are DMH, only 6.25 count. So in actuality, it’s like I only billed 31.25 hours.
Now that I know all this, here’s the plan.
Today is the beginning of a new pay period, so I’m doing an experiment. Today and tomorrow I’ll be working 10 hours. Wednesday and Thursday I’ll work 8 hours. And Friday I’ll be going to school for half a day, even though that’s supposed to be my day off. Same schedule next week. That will give me the stupid 80 hours my employer is so obsessed with, even though I’ll likely be spending most of that time twiddling my thumbs.
I’ll get my check for this pay period on November 19. So help me, if I don’t have a normal paycheck that (1) I can figure out using their arbitrary formula, and (2) I can use to actually pay my bills without taking out a payday loan, I will go crazy. Someone may have to restrain me.
November 19 is almost a month from now. And by then, my emergency fund is going to be completely gone and most (if not all) of the available credit on my cards will be used up. If that paycheck isn’t correct, I honestly have no idea how I’ll make it.
This is a tl;dr post if I ever saw one!
I know this is hopelessly boring for most people. And I apologize. But it’s a 911 emergency in my life, and I can’t keep acting like everything is fine when I’m going absolutely nuts.
You guys have no idea how much I appreciate the comments on my last post. I didn’t respond to very many of them because it kills my soul to know that people pity me and my situation. But it does help to know that you guys care enough to offer some encouragement.
I am requesting prayers, thoughts, good karma, or whatever else you can send my way in the next few weeks. If having this information solves my problem, I’ll keep the crappy new schedule and move on with my life. But if it doesn’t? Well, I can’t even think that far ahead because I’ll have a nervous breakdown. We’ll see how it goes.