Montgomery County Council cracks down on employee overtime use

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Local,Maryland,Kate Jacobson,Montgomery County

The Montgomery County Council voted Tuesday to adopt more uniform policies regarding sick leave and overtime use after a report showed employee abuse of the payouts.

County Executive Ike Leggett said he is already working to stomp out overtime abuse, as his staff determines how a uniformed sick leave and overtime policy can be adopted across all county departments.

A report released in March raised alarms that county employees were abusing overtime and sick leave. The report showed the county spent $63.3 million on overtime in 18 months and revealed discrepancies in how overtime is handed out.

The council requested Tuesday that Leggett and his staff determine whether there is a reasonable number of regular hours an employee must work to be eligible for overtime, after the report showed some employees were receiving overtime in pay periods when they had not already worked 40 hours. The council also asked the executive and his staff to create more unified policies for how employees can request leave and overtime hours, which currently vary among departments.

County spokesman Patrick Lacefield said Leggett is already exploring options to address overtime issues, but currently his plans are preliminary.

The council also requested that a follow-up report on current overtime and sick leave hours be made in September. Other requests to Leggett's staff include reviewing and revising workers' compensation time and claim practices.

The council specifically asked officials to review the Department of Fire and Rescue Service's leave use and policies. The March report showed that the department racked up the most overtime of any executive-branch department. Fire and Rescue employees had about 379,000 hours of overtime in 18 months, about one-third of the hours for all agencies.

Councilman Phil Andrews, D-Gaithersburg/Rockville, said the report showed the county needed to do a better job of tracking employee hours to ensure no abuse occurs.

"The amount of time employees are available for work is essential to the efficiency of the county," Andrews said. "My concern is we've been on a trend downwards about how many employees are available. We want to ensure taxpayers get value for their dollars."

Lacefield said the county executive takes potential abuse of overtime seriously and will implement the council's requests. He said many factors play into high overtime costs and sick leave hours and that officials have been trying to reduce those numbers for the past four years.

kjacobson@washingtonexaminer.com

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