Avoyelles Police Jury to revise employee leave policy

Will cap annual leave at 240 hours, ‘comp’ time at 160
   Facing a potential liability of over $150,000 in accumulated annual and compensatory (“comp”) time for parish employees, the Avoyelles Police Jury wants to put a cap on those  hours.
  The issue brought several parish maintenance employees to the jury’s monthly meeting on Dec. 13, who were concerned about rumors that the Police Jury was going to take away earned annual leave and comp time hours. Police Jury President Charles Jones assured the employees that they would not lose hours already accumulated.
  Jones said the auditor pointed out that those accumulated hours should be considered a financial liability in the jury’s accounting because “we will have to pay that at some time in the future.” The issue was discussed in the jury committee meeting on Dec. 8 and was referred to District Attorney Charles Riddle for review to ensure any policy adopted complies with all applicable laws.
  Jones said employees used to be able to accumulate 960 hours of annual leave. That was reduced to 480 hours five years ago. The current plan would reduce the maximum accumulated hours at 240. 
  There is currently no limit on comp time, which is time given to an employee in lieu of being paid overtime for hours worked in excess of their 40-hour work week. The proposed policy would set a 160-hour cap on comp time.
 
Two years to use leave time
  The proposed policy would give employees two years to bring their annual and comp time hours under the new limits. Jones said Riddle is reviewing how the jury can legally handle the issue of  earned leave and comp time hours for those employees currently over the limit.
   Long-time employees were “grandfathered” under whatever policy they were hired, so they did not lose leave time over the limit. The Police Jury must pay employees for their accumulated annual leave when they resign or retire. Employees are not paid for the comp time, but those hours are still considered a financial liability.
   For example, if an employee with 160 hours of comp time decides to retire, he would have the right to use those earned hours. The parish would have to pay the employee while he was on leave prior to his retirement date. If an employee resigns, the parish must pay any earned annual leave but would not owe the employee for any comp time they had not used.
   Jones said accumulated annual leave has been costly in the past and could be costly in the future.
  “Some employees have looked at annual leave as their 401-K for retirement,” Juror Henry Moreau, the Personnel Committee chairman, said.  “That is not its purpose. It is supposed to provide employees time to spend with their families.”
   There have been cases in the past where the Police Jury had to pay over $20,000 for accumulated leave time for a retiring employee, Jones noted. If two long-time employees retire in a year, it can result in an unbudgeted cost of several thousand dollars that the jury is legally required to pay.
   “Nobody is trying to take anything away from the employees,” Jones said. “This is just about trying to manage future costs.”
   “I will fight for you to see that you don’t lose anything,” Juror John Earles told the employees.
  “The problem with comp time is that while the employee is using those accumulated hours before retiring, we either have nobody doing that job or we have to hire someone to do that job,” Jones said. “We end up paying twice for that position until he uses up his comp time and retires.”

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