OIG Report: Jefferson Parish paying too much overtime - FOX 8, WVUE, fox8live.com, weather, app, news, saints

OIG Report: Jefferson Parish paying too much overtime

Jefferson Parish Inspector General's seal Jefferson Parish Inspector General's seal

An audit by the Jefferson Parish Office of the Inspector General shows the parish could save up to $850,000 in overtime pay by restructuring schedules and policies.

JP Inspector General David McClintock said the parish paid out nearly $8.5 million in overtime in 2014. A big portion of that went to employees who don’t usually get overtime.

“There were 249 employees that were in the exempt class, which under federal law is not typically required to be paid overtime," McClintock said. "They were paid $1.5 million, so essentially we saw 8 percent of the parish workforce receiving 18-to-20 percent of the overtime compensation."

According to the audit, the disproportionate amount of overtime pay comes from some exempt employees being on “standby” in case of an emergency.

The OIG found the Water Department, Department of Parkways, the Drainage Department, the Animal Shelter, and Parks and Recreation had most of the “standby” pay, which means the exempt employees on standby in those departments were paid while they were off the clock, even if there was no emergency.

“When they're off work, but they may be called back in, they're paid one hour in compensation for every six hours that they're on standby," McClintock said. "I think the readers will see, if they read the report, that there is not a very strong correlation in the number of hours on standby and the number of hours that people are called back in."

The Deputy Chief Operating Officer for Jefferson Parish, Natalie Newton, said the parish is grateful for the OIG’s report and it hopes to make some changes, but doesn’t expect that to happen any time soon.

“The first priority is never to put public safety at a compromise, that's not something we're willing to do ever," Newton said. "But we do feel that ... we could better manage how the overtime pay is issued out."

Newton argues, even departments like Parks and Recreation need employees on standby to ensure public safety, but the audit show those departments aren’t typically needed outside of work hours to protect the public.

“It's different in different shops, but in most cases it was a fairly rare event that they were called back in,” McClintock said.

The parish admits, if employees were paid more, it’d be easier to ask them to be on standby without extra pay and the OIG thinks that overall pay may have something to do with excessive overtime.

“I think that the report and the responses indicate that it's a much broader set of causes that led to this and in some cases, the parish may not have kept up on the classifications, the pay scale, and it may be being used as a supplement of pay,” McClintock said.

The parish said they’ll wait until a reclassification of employees expected from the federal government this summer and a pay study currently underway before making any changes.

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