University Park employees paychecks delayed after banking email sent to terminated employee

Ted Slowik / Daily Southtown/Chicago Tribune/TNS

University Park employees weren’t paid on time when their Aug. 23 payday came around because a banking confirmation email was sent to an employee who had been terminated, officials said.

In mid-August, the village employee tasked with handling payroll was terminated, said Trustee Theo Brooks, who declined to comment why that employee was fired.

Village Manager Elizabeth Scott reached out to the bank the village uses for payroll to inform officials the employee no longer works for the village, so the payroll confirmation email should be sent to a different employee, Brooks said.

But bank officials still sent the payroll confirmation email to the terminated employee, Brooks said, which led to the delay. The employees received their paychecks by midnight Aug. 24, he said, after Scott went to the bank to ensure employees were paid.

“It was an outside party, not the village, that made the mistake,” Brooks said. “It was very minor. But, in the interim, you had people waiting on their money.”

The village has about 80 employees and all employees’ checks were delayed, Brooks said.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the union that represents about 30 village employees, said in a statement it filed a grievance for the termination of the payroll employee “whose wrongful firing” caused the problem.

AFSCME staff representative Norm Neely said in the statement the union took action to ensure members were paid.

“What’s more, management should restore the employee they wrongfully fired so this never happens again,” Neely said.

Trustee Donna Fulcher said the paycheck delay was a one-time incident that was resolved quickly.

“They didn’t get their checks until the next day,” Fulcher said. “It was nothing that was consistent. It was fixed.”

Scott declined to comment after the Aug. 29 special Village Board meeting and a follow-up phone call. Mayor Joseph Roudez did not return requests for comment.

Brooks said Sept. 6 was the most recent payday and he hadn’t heard of any payroll issues. The union representatives confirmed all members were paid on time.

At the board’s July 25 meeting, the board approved the use of a new payroll system, Paycom, that will help improve the process, Brooks said.

“This is an example of us going to a new system to make sure that payroll is done correctly,” Brooks said. “We’re trying to come up to date and up to speed.”

At the July meeting, Scott recommend the village cut ties with ADP, which Brooks said was the payroll system the village has used for years.

ADP charges $5,300 a month, Scott said, and the village has experienced issues with police and fire Medicare payments.

“It’s difficult to work with them,” Scott said. “There’s real issues.”

Paycom will charge $3,400 a month, Scott said, and will take between 10 to 12 weeks to implement. Paycom comes with new features, she said, such as automatically sending out notifications about continued health care insurance employees can maintain after leaving a job.

The new features will cut down on costs for litigation, arbitration and grievances, Scott said.

“By far, Paycom far exceed expectations,” Scott said. “Paycom just blew me out of the water compared to what we have now.”

In 2016, the village laid off members of its Finance Department, shrinking it from seven employees to two employees, Brooks said, and leaving the department without a director.

“The village has been operating without a finance director. Since then, analysis by the village manager shows we need a finance director,” Brooks said. “What I like is it’s an opportunity for the Finance Department to take a step in the right direction.”

On Aug. 23, the village posted on its Facebook page it is accepting resumes and applications for a finance director.