I have some issues with how public employees are compensated, but in the abstract this does not strike me as particularly unreasonable.
A contract negotiated between California Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration and the politically powerful prison guards’ union could prove costly to taxpayers because it lets guards bank unlimited vacation time that must be paid out when they retire, a legislative analyst said Tuesday.
The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office said the average correctional officer already has nearly 19 weeks of accumulated leave time, currently valued at $600 million. Adding more time will cost the state in the long run, said fiscal and policy analyst Nick Schroeder, though he couldn’t say how soon or how much.
By and large, I don’t think that leave time should be capped for anybody. I’ve worked at places that re-set everything to 0 at the end of the year. This has a couple of effects, one detrimental to the company and one helpful to it. Detrimentally, one employer did a lot of business in December in order to accommodate new laws to take effect in January, and it wasn’t good for people to take time off in December (meanwhile, January and February were usually slow months). But they turned this to their advantage because they would simply deny vacation time. You can’t have everybody out at the busiest time of the year, after all. Of course, the end result was that those that were the best forward thinkers and had the seniority would be the ones to request and get the time off. So during the most important time of the year, you had the new people and the people who didn’t think ahead.
The logistical problems at my former job are only a part of the story. The thing is, unless you’re willing to guarantee time off when asked, it’s simply not fair to limit accrued time off. Either their presence is important or it is not. If it’s importance, and you don’t want the headaches of having to pay them for a year after they leave the company, then pay them at the end of the year for any accrued time they didn’t utilize. Or if they’re not that important, force them to take the time. Instead, you have a problem like this:
“It’s virtually impossible for those employees to get time off,” she said. “They’re in this catch-22 where they can’t use the time off they have, so it’s become impossible for them to not exceed the cap.”
That being said, this is part of the problem:
The contract gives guards more than eight weeks off work annually, including the unpaid leave, making it more likely they will bank time to be paid out on retirement, according to the legislative analysis.
They shouldn’t have that kind of time if they can’t use it. The money should be rolled up into their salary. Of course, if the money is there. Which, in California, it isn’t. Now really isn’t the time to be asking for new benefits.