Report: Calif. state workers flout vacation limits
SACRAMENTO—Managers in California state government agencies routinely flout official limits on saving vacation days, forcing the state to issue payouts of hundreds of thousands of dollars when they retire, according to a Los Angeles Times report.
The Times reported Sunday that 29 percent of 14,000 employees who left state jobs last year had banked more than the regularly permitted accumulation of 80 vacation days.
Retiring prison doctor Fong Lai, for instance, received $594,976, representing 2 1/2 years of unused vacation time. Forestry and Fire Protection administrator Jay Wickizer received $294,440 for the same amount of time. Former parole agent Thomas Berns accrued nearly three years’ worth of time off, receiving a check for $268,990.
The number of employees who benefit from vacation-stashing is even larger because many workers exhaust their vacation stockpiles at the end of their careers, continuing to receive paychecks while not working.
These large payouts are exceptionally costly to the state because they are calculated using the employee’s most current rate of pay, meaning they’re costing the state more than if they were taken when they were earned.
State officials said the problem has largely arisen due to lax oversight and understaffing.
Hiring freezes have meant that key people can’t take time off, and some were granted vacation days instead of raises dating to the administration of Gov. George Deukmejian, said Lynelle Jolley, spokeswoman for the state Department of Personnel Administration.
Most state worker contracts also allow exceptions from vacation caps if employees are needed in an emergency or have assignments of a “critical nature over an extended period of time.”