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KEEP YOUR CHIN UP, YOUR NOSE CLEAN, AND YOUR DUCKS ALWAYS IN A ROW 

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KEEP YOUR CHIN UP, YOUR NOSE CLEAN, AND YOUR DUCKS ALWAYS IN A ROW 

That’s what it’s all about when you are working in the field of education. And if you plan to retire from teaching in the state of Florida, having all your ducks in a row is beneficial for a smooth transition. H thought he had all those ducks trained. He was wrong. 

When you are told by the director of personnel you are on the right track, you pretty much assume she knows what she is talking about. At a meeting last year for DROP participants and retirees-to-be, he was told he had to be employed for fourteen years and one day in Florida to be able to collect the leave time he had acquired while teaching. Otherwise, he would only be paid for fifty percent of that time. He was short by one year and was led to believe if he transferred the time he had on the books in south Florida to Walton County, he would be eligible. 

That fourteen years and one day should have been a clue right there. The day would not affect him, but why tack on that one day unless to eliminate many hopefuls?  He jumped through their hoops and transferred those two years. By the skin of his teeth he had qualified. We thought. 

This afternoon when he went in to sign his retirement papers he was told he would only get paid at the fifty percent rate for leave time because those fourteen years and one day of accrued leave time had to be from Walton County. They weren’t. Seems as though the director of personnel’s secretary is better informed than she is.  

They didn’t tell him he could sell back his leave time for this year (he had 7 days on the books) at eighty percent and recoup a little of that lost money. Is it even worth the effort? 

That’s not all the bad news that unfolded on the table today. His health insurance will be ending on May 31st – his termination date – instead of July 31st which is the end of the school year. He will get his June and July checks though because he is a twelve month employee. They won’t deduct the portion he pays for health insurance out of those last two checks. Is that really fair? It’s a good thing he’s up to date on his doctors appointments and I just refilled his prescriptions on the three-month plan. 

Do I have a reason to rant? You bet I do. We aren’t talking a few piddly days or pocket change on that leave time. He has 719.87 days on the books which adds up to the tune of about six months pay!  

H hardly ever took any time off – even when he was sick. Getting the band on the field or prepared for a performance always took precidence. This money would have been rolled over with his DROP money into an anuity for retirement income and it was a huge chunk of change we had counted on. 

How many others have been led astray in this fiasco? He knows of a few. We will be ok. We planned ahead and weren’t expecting that windfall until last year.  It’s just very depressing to not get what you were promised. You can’t fight city hall.  

With five more days left to work I wonder when the other shoe will fall. I’m sure Walton County is laughing all the way to the bank. 

~Elle

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About Elle Knowles

Elle Knowles lives in the Florida Panhandle with her husband and off-at-college-most-of-the-time son. She has four daughters, one son, and eleven beautiful grandchildren. 'Crossing the Line' is her first novel. The sequel 'What Line' is a work in progress.

19 responses »

  1. Sounds almost as if he was willfully misled. I thought retirement was complicated in France, but what you describe is even worse! If, as you say, there’s no recourse, all you can do is try to forget and move on. But that’s tough – it’s making me mad just to read it!

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    • It makes me mad every time I think about it Curtis. We could have paid for a couple of years of school for Andrew with that, or paid off my new car, added to an annuity…the list goes on. I guess it could be worse. Our neighbor across the street is retiring in June from the University of Florida retirement system, has over 900 hours of leave time, and will only get paid for 25% of it! They entice you with a lot and then get you in the end!

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  2. Whew, this is awful. I know that I’d be really upset if something like this happened to me. My thoughts are with you and your husband.

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  3. It’s good not to use too much energy dwelling, but still…is he a member of a union? Perhaps the union rep can intervene on his behalf. They should absolutely make good on what you were promised, even if it was incorrect.

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    • It’s his word against hers Jill, so there isn’t much use in making a fuss. We should have probably done more homework. And they should have more qualified personnel! We will survive!

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      • Yep. I get it. But I’m with Kate-when I worked in HR we always gave people the benefit of the doubt in these matters. We always wanted them to leave (or stay, as the case may be) feeling really good about our firm. My exit interview question was always “what would you tell a friend who was thinking about working here?” I felt like my job was to get a positive answer to that whenever possible. Now I’m pissed off on your behalf! I know you’ll be OK, but it’s the principle of the thing, especially for someone who spent his career helping kids…

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  4. Wow that sucks so badly. Where was the union rep during those negotiations? It’s horrible how employees are treated now, you give your whole life in loyalty and get so much less back.

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  5. My husband was (and occasionally still is) amazed how unclear the retirement information from the big company he retired from was. It almost felt like they were trying to give themselves an out just in case. Even if you get things in writing, it can be written in a way that furthers the confusion. I’m sorry this happened to you, but glad that it wasn’t anything you couldn’t recover from.

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  6. Have always loved the image of, ducks in a row. Wonder where it comes from.

    It’s amazing how often we’re not given the right information. It happens too frequently, and H, after all his years of service to the betterment of kids, deserves what’s rightfully his.

    Kate is right, despite being pissed, you’re handling it well.

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  7. He could meet with the HR manager who gave him the incorrect information. I always like that stuff in writing but that boat has left the dock. I love that you seem to have a good (but annoyed as is expected) attitude about this. When I worked in the HR field, we made all our exit policies very clear and followed with paperwork well before the retirement date so if there was any need for changes they could be made. If we made an error and gave wrong info we also stood by that.

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    • This is Walton County so we shouldn’t take stock in much they say or do. They do need to educate their employees better. Her secretary knew more than she did. That’s sometimes the case. It is in writing in the contract he was told yesterday, but when you are told one thing especially if it positive who wants to looking for trouble in the fine print. If he had gone to fill out those papers 2 months ago it would have been the same outcome. He just prolonged the bad news so to speak! I wonder how many people have missed the boat by one day though. Where does that one day even come from? Lol!

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