Forms of Pay for State Employees

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A report from the Office of Legislative Management supports The Sunday Republican's investigation of overpaid state employees, and letters from the Office of Policy and Management direct commissioners to cease practices that overpaid some employees by hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
    OLR RESEARCH REPORT Sandra Norman-Eady, DirectorPhone (860) 240-8400FAX (860) 240-8881 5300Legislative Office BuildingHartford, CT Connecticut General Assembly Office of Legislative Research   June 16, 2010 2010-R-0258 REGULAR PAY AND OTHER FORMS OF PAY FOR STATE EMPLOYEES By: John Moran, Principal AnalystYou asked how certain state employees can earn thousands of dollarsin pay above their regular pay as reported in a recent newspaper article. SUMMARY  T  he article “Top 50 Base Pay v. Actual Pay,” Waterbury Republican American, May 9, 2010, correctly showed 50 state employees who in2009 received significantly more in additional forms of pay than inregular pay. More than 25 received over $100,000 in additional pay,including two who received over $200,000.  The state Comptroller’s Office confirm ed the pay figures for theseemployees. The three largest factors in additional compensation are (1)on-call, off-site pay; (2) on-call, on-site pay; and (3) overtime.In March, the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) and theDepartment of Administrative Services (DAS) informed several stateagencies that it is improper to pay managers and, in most instances,physicians what is called on-call, off-site pay. The agencies were orderedto stop this pay for all managers and, except in certain limited situationsthat require explicit approval, physicians.    June 16, 2010   Page 2 of 10 2010-R-0258 As for both on-call, on-site and overtime pay, these types of compensation are provided for in union contracts that apply to stateresidential facilities that must be staffed 24 hours a day (union contractsonly apply to non-managerial employees). Overtime rose considerably atsome facilities following the state 2009 retirement incentive plan that leftstaff openings. OFF-SITE ON-CALL AND ON-SITE ON-CALL PAY In more than 15 of the cases cited, employees received significantadditional compensation in the form of on-call pay. This is broken intotwo groups: off-site and on-site.Off-site, on-call pay means the employee, usually a physician orpsychiatrist is not at the work site but is available by phone forconsultation if a problem arises with a patient or, in the case of theDepartment of Correction (DOC), a prisoner. On-site, on-call means thephysician or psychiatrist is at the worksite, for example a Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) residential facility, andstays overnight, sleeps at the facility, and is available to respondimmediately for any overnight emergency. While the employee is at thesite, the person may have considerable down time, so they are not paidthe same as they would during their regular working hours. Memoranda Ordering Agencies to Cease Off-Site, On-Call Pay  In March 2010, OPM and DAS sent memoranda to DOC, theDepartment of Children and Families (DCF), and DMHAS ordering themto stop making any further on-call pay to physicians or psychiatrists whoare managers.In 2009, the DOC clinical director received over $250,000 in off-site,on-call pay on top of his regular annual pay of approximately $150,000. The memo to the DOC commissioner reads, in part: “Being on -call (off- site) is part of every manager’s job and managers are expected to work the number of hoursnecessary to get the job done. Just as managers are not toreceive compensatory time when working from home, theyare also not eligible to receive pay (or compensatory time)for on-call duty when off- site.”      June 16, 2010   Page 3 of 10 2010-R-0258  The letter to DOC noted that in 1988 DAS appr oved DOC’s request to make off-site, on-call payments. It also ordered the authorizationsuspended as of April 9, 2010 and stated any future approval will belimited to on-call duty that is performed on-site. (The three OPM-DASmemos are provided at the end of this report as attachments.) The letter to DCF indicated there were two DAS orders that providedguidelines for limited situations when managerial staff can be approvedfor a on call pay by DAS. The letter states that under one order, DCFpaid on-call pay but never obtained DAS approval (this order has sincebeen revised). Under the other order, OPM and DAS indicated too manymanagers were given off-site, on- call pay so the order was rescinded. “As such all on-call payments to non-physician managers must be discontinued immediately,” it said.  Furthermore, the letter stated there is an exception regarding off-site,on-call pay when a physician from one facility covers for a physician atanother facility. Physicians under a union contract can receive off-site,on-call pay only when there is no union physician available (usually dueto illness or vacations) who is assigned to a facility and a physician fromanother facility is needed to temporarily cover. The letter noted that DASonly approves such arrangements when needed and “must not bestructured as an ongoing part of your coverage . . .”   The DMHAS letter cited the agency for not obtaining approval underthe DAS guidelines for on-call pay for managerial staff. As with DCF,DMHAS was ordered to stop making these payments until they wereapproved by DAS.As with DCF, the letter noted the temporary coverage exception thatallows a union physician from another facility to receive off-site, on-callpay when there is no union physician available to cover on-site at thatfacility. Union Contract Provisions for On-Site, On-Call Pay  A number of psychiatrists and physicians at DCF and DMHAS alsoreceived on-site, on-call pay, many well above $100,000 for the year. Thispay is provided for under the Professional Health Care Employees (P-1)and Paraprofessional Health Care Employees (NP-6) Contract, NewEngland Health Care Employees Union, District 1199( ).    June 16, 2010   Page 4 of 10 2010-R-0258  The contract calls for on-site, on-call pay at $80 an hour withestablished shifts. For example, the overnight shift is 16 hours, from4:30 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. and pays $1,280.According to the contract: “Due to the hours and circumstances of these assignments, the psychiatrist and/or physician may have considerable “downtime.” The assignment is not equal to a regular shift of  normal work with a full compliment of duties and functions oneac h shift.”  DMHAS indicated that this on-site night duty provides coverage at in-patient facilities for the hours that a regular doctor is not assigned. Theagency always seeks volunteers to handle this overnight or weekend dutyand the physicians who appeared on the list in the newspaper were those who volunteered more regularly than others. The agency noted that if those individuals did not volunteer, other members of the same union would have filled those duties and been paid accordingly. OVERTIME On the list of 50 employees, 22 were DMHAS employees whoincreased their earnings through overtime and most of the shifts worked were voluntary overtime. Voluntary overtime means the employee choseto come in for an extra shift or to stay on at the end of a shift. In manystate in-patient facilities run by DCF or DMHAS, the agency mustprovide 24-hour care. The workers involved were nurses, LPNs, andmental health assistants.Overtime increased considerably at some facilities following the state2009 retirement incentive plan that left many staff openings. At the same time, DMHAS has been preparing to close Cedarcrest Hospital’s psychiatric wing, Cedar Ridge. Under union contracts, the employees who lose their jobs at Cedar Ridge will be transferred to other DMHASpositions. To keep positions open for these employees and avoid “bumping” of less senior employees by more senior employees, DMHASdid not immediately fill the open positions created by the retirementincentive program. This led to increased overtime for some employees.Furthermore, DMHAS notes that the vast majority of the overtime worked was voluntary. If those staff did not volunteer and the shifts hadto be covered, then mandatory overtime would be used which paysdouble time (rather than time and a half for voluntary overtime).
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