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California state workers hoarding vacation days, creating $3.5-billion debt for taxpayers

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https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-california-government-worker-vacation-payouts-20190307-story.html

 

After 36 years as a California government transportation engineer, Bijan Sartipi retired with much more than a goodbye party: He was paid $405,000 for time off he never used — one of more than 450 state workers who took home six-figure checks when they left their jobs last year.

And Sartipi didn’t top the list — a prison surgeon in Riverside pocketed $456,002.

In a trend that stems from lax enforcement of the state’s cap on vacation accrual, more and more state workers are able to retire with massive payouts for unused vacation and other leave. That could become a budget breaker for California as an aging workforce heads into retirement. During the next recession, California will be obligated to continue the payouts, forcing lawmakers to cut programs to balance the state budget.

 

I guess in CA terms this is not a lot of money but symptomatic, I had not heard of this before, we have had smaller Government entities go bust of course. Just makes me wonder what the total obligations out there is and if people will be happy in the future seeing their future taxes significantly going to pay these obligations off.

 

There will be a lot of pain coming down.


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This is not unheard of around these parts actually. People that leave jobs do it, but also husband has seen coworkers in superior positions take off weeks and months at a time. He's told me some other crazy tales of theft..  but I guess in this case, if the policy is you can keep all the time, who wouldn't take advantage of that, you know?


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   This was agreed to in collective bargaining and these people earned it. No use crying about it after the fact. I knew a lot of people who did this and many of them were never allowed to use all of their vacation days when they wanted to, which was why they were allowed to keep accruing it in the first place.


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18 minutes ago, Boiler said:

https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-california-government-worker-vacation-payouts-20190307-story.html

 

After 36 years as a California government transportation engineer, Bijan Sartipi retired with much more than a goodbye party: He was paid $405,000 for time off he never used — one of more than 450 state workers who took home six-figure checks when they left their jobs last year.

And Sartipi didn’t top the list — a prison surgeon in Riverside pocketed $456,002.

In a trend that stems from lax enforcement of the state’s cap on vacation accrual, more and more state workers are able to retire with massive payouts for unused vacation and other leave. That could become a budget breaker for California as an aging workforce heads into retirement. During the next recession, California will be obligated to continue the payouts, forcing lawmakers to cut programs to balance the state budget.

 

I guess in CA terms this is not a lot of money but symptomatic, I had not heard of this before, we have had smaller Government entities go bust of course. Just makes me wonder what the total obligations out there is and if people will be happy in the future seeing their future taxes significantly going to pay these obligations off.

 

There will be a lot of pain coming down.

All they had to to was to put a cap on it... I am technically a State employee and our State has a cap on vacation accrual.

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Posted (edited)
3 minutes ago, Steeleballz said:

 

   This was agreed to in collective bargaining and these people earned it. No use crying about it after the fact. I knew a lot of people who did this and many of them were never allowed to use all of their vacation days when they wanted to, which was why they were allowed to keep accruing it in the first place.

My sister for instance loses all of her days if she doesn't use them... but she's never allowed to use them when she wants to. In my husband's position he must keep enough vacation hours and use them over the course of the two week winter break.

Edited by yuna628

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10 minutes ago, Steeleballz said:

 

   This was agreed to in collective bargaining and these people earned it. No use crying about it after the fact. I knew a lot of people who did this and many of them were never allowed to use all of their vacation days when they wanted to, which was why they were allowed to keep accruing it in the first place.

I would do the same thing if I had worked there, however like the Pension looming disaster is not really collective bargaining.

 

You see it locally with the School Districts, Union supports friendly applicants who then support Union positions.

 

And of course to make it fair Business support Politicians who will cut them a sweet deal.

 

The problem with this sort of thing is that they kick the can down the road, the Politico's will be long gone and the amounts involved are massive. 

 

The costs was never funded is the real issue. This would not be a problem if money was set aside, it was not.


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7 minutes ago, yuna628 said:

My sister for instance loses all of her days if she doesn't use them... but she's never allowed to use them when she wants to. In my husband's position he must keep enough vacation hours and use them over the course of the two week winter break.

 

  The last unionized job I had, we used to have a soft cap sort of. It was 400 hours IIRC. You would stop accruing at that point unless they couldn't allow you to take vacation. There were several reasons  for that, but usually it was due to not having enough staff. So people ended up way over 400, and usually it was the people who were 55+.  Vacation wasn't payed out at retirement, but it could be used to retire early and still qualify for full benefits and pension. So if someone was going to retire at 65 and they had a year of vacation save, they could retire at 64. Which to me, is no different than just taking a 1 year vacation at 64. You are coming to the same end. It's not like they are getting something they didn't earn.

 

  Where I am right now they changed to a hard cap of 240 hours. They did this because so many people were quitting with 500+ hours saved that it was taking huge unforeseen chunks out of the annual budget to pay them out. Again though, something they had earned and were entitled to get. 


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2 minutes ago, Boiler said:

I would do the same thing if I had worked there, however like the Pension looming disaster is not really collective bargaining.

 

You see it locally with the School Districts, Union supports friendly applicants who then support Union positions.

 

And of course to make it fair Business support Politicians who will cut them a sweet deal.

 

The problem with this sort of thing is that they kick the can down the road, the Politico's will be long gone and the amounts involved are massive. 

 

The costs was never funded is the real issue. This would not be a problem if money was set aside, it was not.

 

  This is true. They seem to have never given any though to the fact that people would rather accrue time than use it. I try to take most of mine as I go if I can. 


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I have heard of this here in MI and as @Steeleballz stated, it is generally part of a collective bargaining agreement.  What was also interesting in MI was that with the municipal pension system also agreed upon, the pension was a percentage of the last two or three years average salary, so workers would save their vacation time, then take it in a lump sum at retirement effectively boosting their salary that last year and increasing their pension.


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5 minutes ago, Steeleballz said:

 

  This is true. They seem to have never given any though to the fact that people would rather accrue time than use it. I try to take most of mine as I go if I can. 

I have a really hard time believing that, I have not worked for Government but from memory the longest I had to take time was 2 months into the next year, I do remember once under very exceptional circumstances they paid someone who was not able to take it.

 

Basic mathematics. And HR policy.


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That is the interesting thing.  A lot of private companies do not allow vacation time accrual, but often in government jobs it is allowed.


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Just now, Boiler said:

I have a really hard time believing that, I have not worked for Government but from memory the longest I had to take time was 2 months into the next year, I do remember once under very exceptional circumstances they paid someone who was not able to take it.

 

Basic mathematics. And HR policy.

 

 My current job is not government. Up until a few years ago, we were not capped in accrual, and they would also pay you out at the end of the year (if you requested) for anything above 240 hours. Due to too many people saving up time and then quitting, we are now capped at 240 hours, and people stop accruing immediately upon reaching that amount. There is no longer a payout option while you are still employed, but all vacation is payed out at your current rate of pay when you quit or retire. 


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A Public Company would need to accrue for it in their books, not seemingly a Government entity.


“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

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2 minutes ago, Bill & Katya said:

That is the interesting thing.  A lot of private companies do not allow vacation time accrual, but often in government jobs it is allowed.

 

  I think more private companies are getting away from allowing it as much, or putting a cap on it. Our company gave the reason that they want people to use it to be "happy and healthy blah blah blah etc". The other reason though is it costs a lot, especially when you consider that we are often going to be paid for time off at a higher rate than we earned it (assuming annual salary increase etc.) and the longer you are accruing, the more that increase will be. 

 

  That said though, I have only worked for private companies for the last 20 years, and they have all allowed accrual up to either a maximum limit or unlimited. We were not required to use it or lose it by a certain time, although I have heard of this. Probably depends on what is the norm for the field of work.


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13 minutes ago, Boiler said:

I have a really hard time believing that, I have not worked for Government but from memory the longest I had to take time was 2 months into the next year, I do remember once under very exceptional circumstances they paid someone who was not able to take it.

 

Basic mathematics. And HR policy.

Well if you can accrue time, and you work in a very busy environment, and you have the ability to take off massive amounts of that time in one go with no consequences? Why wouldn't you save it up and take it? That's generally what the higher-ups at hubby's place do.


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