A former sheriff of Clark County is facing multiple criminal charges for allegedly requiring people who worked for him to work on his personal property. The employees were reportedly required to do chores involving the former sheriff’s home, car, rental property and other locations while they were supposed to be working for the county.
This isn’t just extremely unprofessional managerial behavior. When that manager is a public employee, it’s illegal. This month, the former sheriff was charged with theft, official misconduct, corrupt business influence, obstruction of justice and ghost employment.
The Ghost Employment Rule
Indiana has something called the Ghost Employment Rule. It states, “A state officer, employee or special state appointee shall not engage in, or direct others to engage in, work other than the performance of official duties during working hours, except as permitted by general written agency, departmental or institutional policy or regulation.”
As you can see, the rule applies not just to those who require employees do something outside their “official duties.” It applies to anyone who does something (professionally or personally) while they’re supposed to be on the job without getting the appropriate authorization. Of course, that’s a good rule of thumb in any occupation, whether you’re a public or private employee.
What if you work in the private sector?
Things can get a little blurrier if you work in the private sector and have a boss who is constantly asking you to handle personal matters for them — unless that’s your job. Sometimes companies can get away with this when a job description says something like “and other duties, as assigned.” Those in administrative roles often consider this part of their job duties.
However, if those personal chores end up taking time away from what an employee is supposed to be doing for the company, it’s likely not helping the business. It’s likely not helping their career in the long run either.
What should you do?
If you’re a public employee whose boss is requiring them to violate the ghost employment rule, it’s crucial to speak up and, if necessary, go to someone else in authority. If you suffer discrimination or retaliation as a result, it’s wise to get legal guidance to protect your rights.
If you’re in the private sector, as noted, your course of action may be less clear. If you’re not able to resolve the matter within your workplace, finding out what options you have can be helpful.