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Metro Newsroom

Mayor Orders Citywide Review of Overtime Policies

Wednesday December 7, 2011

Action follows information that some employees
double their salary with OT

Saying he’s concerned that overtime pay is unnecessarily costing taxpayers millions of dollars each year, Mayor Greg Fischer today ordered a citywide review of overtime policies and procedures.

His action follows information that 550 employees — or 10 percent of the city workforce — have earned more than $15,000 in overtime this year. In addition, three city employees have earned more than $50,000 in overtime pay this year alone.

“There are instances in which overtime is scheduled and absolutely necessary to keep our city functioning, but unfortunately it seems as though overtime pay is, at the very least, overused and, at worst, abused,” Fischer said. “At a time when we are facing another shortfall for this fiscal year – and we expect to face another significant shortfall next year – the old ways of dealing with overtime are no longer acceptable.”

Fischer today sent a memo to Chief Financial Officer Steve Rowland and Human Resources Director Kellie Watson asking them for information including:

· A list of employees by department who have earned more than 15% of their base salary in overtime;

· A review of city policies on sick leave, medical leave and overtime compensation and comparing those to other cities and the private sector;

· A review of labor agreements relative to sick time, medical leave and overtime and what role, if any, they play in overtime.

Fischer said he wants to understand the root causes of overtime compensation and find ways to reduce it to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being spent in the most fiscally-responsible ways. The mayor also wants to ensure that managers are properly trained to avoid overtime when possible. “We must have the data to understand the issues,” he said.

The review of overtime should be completed by Jan. 10, Fischer said in his letter to Rowland and Watson.

Rowland said some overtime pay is scheduled and built into departmental budgets – such as overtime for firefighters who, by the nature of their jobs, work long hours because they stay overnight in firehouses. Other overtime is not scheduled and Rowland believes that unscheduled overtime can be brought under more control.

Earlier this year, when Fischer discovered that overtime pay was an issue in Public Works, he authorized the hiring of 15 new people for garbage and recycling collection routes. That move is expected to save $335,000 annually.