The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

October 20, 2009
Audit: Mental Health and Developmental Service employees rack up OT

The Bureau of State Audits has released a report that employees at five entities -- not including the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation -- accounted for at least $1.3 billion of the more than $2.1 billion in overtime pay from 2003-04 to 2007-08.

And of those, the auditors found, a good chunk of that OT went to relatively few workers in a couple of job classes at the departments of Mental Health and Developmental Services. From the report:

For instance, in fiscal year 2007-08, at Mental Health's Napa State Hospital (Napa), 19, or 4 percent, of the 489 nurses in the registered nurse- safety classification averaged $78,000 in regular pay and $99,000 in overtime compensation.

Staffing demands accounted for the reason for the extreme overtime at Napa State Hospital and Sonoma Developmental Center, two facilities auditors examined, and raise concerns that employees working so many hours in safety and public health positions might pose a danger to their own or to their patients' well-being.

The other departments that logged heavy OT: the Highway Patrol, Forestry and Fire Protection and Veterans Affairs.

The report contains this caveat:

State law was changed in February 2009 to no longer allow leave to be counted in computing overtime for the two job classifications we tested. However, this same state law indicates that it may be superceded by agreements ratified subsequent to the law's effective date that once again could contain provisions that allow employees' leave time to be counted as time worked in computing overtime.

Click here to read a summary of the audit. Clicking here will download the full report. And this link opens an audit fact sheet.

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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