Section 8. Payroll Procedures and Compensation
8.01 EMPLOYMENT EFFECTIVE DATES AND OTHER PRELIMINARY MATTERS
8.011 The County Auditor establishes procedures for payroll forms and documents. Departments must complete and retain information about the appointment, compensation, and separation of employees. The Texas Payday Act does not apply to Harris County.
8.012 No employment is effective until:
• the County Budget Officer approves the use of funds;
• the Department completes and signs the employee compensation form;
• the person completes and signs the direct deposit or pay card form (the County does not issue pay checks); and
• the person begins Active Duty.
8.013 Department Heads have discretion to allow employees to begin active duty at any time.
8.014 Employees under 18 years old and unmarried when they start work must have their parent or guardian complete the I-9 and sign a parental release and indemnification agreement on County Auditor Form 3399.
8.015 Departments must send copies of the signed Employee Compensation form, Change in Status form, and all other forms required by law or the Auditor, to the Auditor’s Office immediately upon completion.
8.016 The Auditor verifies that the employment conforms to the maximum salary approved by Commissioners Court. The Department Head can set the employee’s salary at any level up to the approved budget maximum for the position.
8.017 If your name, address, telephone number, or emergency contact change, update the information in the STARS Employee Self-Service portal or tell your department payroll person immediately.
8.02 CHANGES IN STATUS
8.021 Position control changes and changes in status (new positions, title changes, rate of pay, hours required, etc.) are prospective only and generally become effective on the first day of a pay period.
8.022 Department Heads must ensure all Temporary Positions do not exceed the maximum allocated hours authorized by Commissioners Court.
8.03 PAY OF ELECTED OR APPOINTED OFFICIALS
8.031 The County will prorate the pay of elected or appointed officials who vacate their positions prior to the end of their term based on the number of normal business days (Monday-Friday) in bi-weekly pay periods.
8.04 HOURS ACTUALLY WORKED
No federal or state law entitles County employees to regularly scheduled breaks. Many departments, though, allow employees to take breaks during the day. Check with your supervisor to find out what your department’s policy is. Breaks longer than 20 minutes are not paid.
8.042 Meal Periods
No federal or state law entitles County employees to meal periods. When meal periods are taken, they should be for at least 30 minutes. If a non-exempt employee is not completely relieved of duty during the meal period, the time is paid. Supervisors are responsible for making sure non-exempt employees who put a meal period on their timesheets did not actually work during that time.
Normally, time spent commuting to and from work is not counted as Hours Actually Worked, even if you travel from home to an outlying job site. This is true whether you work at one work site or at different work sites. Generally, you are not at work until you reach the job site. But, if you have to report to a meeting place to receive instructions, perform other work there, or pick up tools, the travel from that meeting place to the work site is included in Hours Actually Worked.
8.044 Travel During the Workday
Time spent traveling directly from one work site to another work site during the workday is included in Hours Actually Worked.
Example: Sarah usually works from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1001 Preston. One day she has a business meeting at 9 a.m. in Baytown and drives from home directly to the meeting. Her workday does not begin until she gets to the meeting place in Baytown. After the meeting, Sarah drives directly to 1001 Preston. Her travel time from the meeting in Baytown directly to her office at 1001 Preston counts as Hours Actually Worked.
8.045 Out-of-County Travel
8.0451 One Day Trips
As a general rule, all travel time on a one-day out-of-County trip is included in Hours Actually Worked (except for meal periods or time spent traveling from home to a mode of public transportation, if applicable).
8.0452 Overnight Trips
Travel time, excluding meal periods, during normal working hours (even on non-working days) on an overnight out-of-County trip is included in Hours Actually Worked. Travel time as a passenger in any type of vehicle outside of regular working hours is not work time. However, if you are offered public transportation (for example, air, bus, or train fare) but ask to drive yourself, your Department Head chooses whether to count as Hours Actually Worked the time spent driving or the time that would have counted as Hours Actually Worked if you had used the public transportation.
8.05 TIME RECORDS, DEDUCTIONS, AND CORRECTIONS
8.051 All employees are required to submit their work hours in a timely manner. Failure to submit your time by the payroll deadline may result in a delayed payment. Supervisors review time records for accuracy. Department Heads are responsible for preparing timely and accurate time records and submitting their payroll to the Auditor.
8.052 You must report your time accurately and check your records each pay period to make sure the County processed it (including time, benefits, and incentives) correctly. Report any issues to your payroll clerk.
8.053 Except for certain qualified changes under the County’s Group Health and Related Benefit plan(s) and those required by law, payroll deductions are effective on the date requested by the employee or in the pay period processed by the County Auditor, whichever is later.
8.054 Except for corrections, payrolls are final upon approval by the Department Head. Department Heads must submit changes that may result in an overpayment to a terminated employee immediately. Department Heads submit other changes as a supplemental payroll. Payroll changes or corrections are limited to the 2 preceding pay periods, except as required by law (e.g. Workers’ Compensation) or court order. The County Auditor or designee may inspect time records at any time and may make payroll deductions for any overpayments.
8.055 You cannot reclaim vacation hours accrued beyond the maximum or expired floating holiday hours through a supplemental payroll.
8.06 UNEXCUSED ABSENCES AND DISCIPLINARY SUSPENSIONS
8.061 Harris County is accountable to the taxpayers for spending public funds; therefore, our pay system is based on principles of public accountability that prohibit the government from paying employees unless they actually perform work or have Paid Leave available. Thus, even Exempt Employees are subject to deductions for partial-day absences.
8.062 Department Heads may choose whether to allow an employee to substitute Paid Leave for Dock Time.
8.063 Department Heads may suspend employees without pay or terminate their employment for disciplinary purposes, including unexcused absences and excessive absenteeism. Non-Exempt Employees may be suspended for any period of time. Department Heads may only suspend Exempt Employees in accordance with the Salary Basis Rules below. Department Heads with questions about this policy should contact the Harris County Attorney’s Office.
8.07 SALARY BASIS RULES AND SAFE HARBOR PROVISION
8.071 Exempt Employees are treated differently in the public sector than in the private sector with regard to certain salary deductions. Deductions may be made under the following circumstances.
a. When an Exempt Employee does not work at all in a workweek;
b. When an Exempt Employee begins or ends employment in the middle of a workweek;
c. When an Exempt Employee is absent for personal reasons (including illness or injury) and:
- has not asked for Paid Leave;
- has asked for Paid Leave, but the request was denied;
- has exhausted all Paid Leave; or
- has chosen not to use Paid Leave;
d. When an Exempt Employee is suspended in increments of one full workweek for any reason;
e. When an Exempt Employee is suspended for any period of time for violating a safety rule of major significance, including those rules relating to the prevention of serious danger in the workplace or other employees.
f. When an Exempt Employee is suspended in full day increments for violating a written workplace conduct rule (other than absenteeism or performance);
g. When an Exempt Employee takes Unpaid Leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act; and
h. When a Department Head orders a furlough for budgetary reasons.
8.072 Harris County prohibits Department Heads from making or authorizing improper deductions from an Exempt Employee’s salary. Be aware of this policy and report any improper deductions to your supervisor or to the Auditor’s Office Payroll Director. We will review it and correct any mistakes. Retaliation against employees who file a report under this section is prohibited.
8.08 DUAL COUNTY EMPLOYMENT
8.081 Generally, an employee cannot work for two departments at the same time. If a department wants to hire someone who is already employed by another County Department, the Department Head must first submit a written request to Commissioners Court.
8.09 LONGEVITY PAY
8.091 Department Heads and Regular Position Employees receive Longevity Pay equal to $60 per year for each full year of Creditable Service, subject to a maximum credit of 30 years. State district court judges, masters, and referees do not receive Longevity Pay.
8.092 For purposes of determining Longevity Pay, Creditable Service is calculated on the first day of the Fiscal Year. Fractional years are not considered. Longevity Pay increases begin with the first paycheck after the beginning of the fiscal year.
8.10 SOCIAL SECURITY
8.101 The County participates in the Social Security and Medicare programs.