State Workers' Unused Time Costs Ohio $96.3 Million

Friday, 30 Mar 2012 08:58 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Ohio has spent $96.3 million in the past two years paying off state employees who cashed out their accrued paid time off after leaving their jobs, a process mostly unknown in the private sector.
 
The payouts, mostly for unused sick or vacation time, went to 11,593 of the state’s non-university employees, the Dayton Daily News reports. About 350 employees received more than $40,000 each, according to Ohio Department of Administrative Services; five received more than $100,000.
 
The payouts also included $250,000 to 35 employees, who cashed out unused time off when they transferred to different state jobs where accrued leaves were prohibited.
 
Private businesses often have “use it or lose it” policies, but many of Ohio’s government employees can accrue up to three years of vacation time. Sick time can accrue indefinitely.
 
Kevin Holtsberry, executive director of the conservative Buckeye Institute, a Columbus-based think tank, said the payouts are excessive.
 
“It speaks to a funding issue, in a time when it’s harder and harder to pay taxes to cover the cost of government. Why should one sector get something that almost no one else gets?” Holtsberry told the Daily News. “To me, it’s almost indefensible.”
 
But Sally Meckling, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Civil Service Employee Association, described the payouts as late-career incentives for hard-working employees. She said half the association’s 30,000 members work “24/7 jobs” at places like prisons and health centers, making it hard to get time off.

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