New Orleans Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux has weighed in on a proposed change to the city's emergency overtime policy, urging the New Orleans Civil Service Commission to adopt a policy that has recently earned his own office some criticism.
This week, the city's Civil Service Department proposed an elimination of emergency overtime pay for employees who make more than $100,000. The rule change was prompted by news reports showing that some of the city's highest paid employees took home hundreds of thousands in additional pay for hours worked during the Hurricane Isaac emergency declaration.
In a letter addressed to commission chairman the Rev. Kevin Wildes, Quatrevaux today suggested that the commission instead adopt a "comp time" policy, awarding time off for extra hours.
"I am writing to suggest that the Commission consider a rule change to institute a leave policy of awarding compensatory time, which would be applicable both in emergency situations and in situations where employees are required to work outside of their normal duty hours in addition to their regular day time duties," the letter reads.
Quatrevaux's office recently suspended its own comp time policy after the Civil Service Department said it violated city law. The department discovered the OIG policy, which was four years old, only after the office had the city Finance Department change an employee's payroll record to show she was working when, in fact, she was off. The off-time was granted to the employee, Deputy Police Monitor Simone Levine, to make up for hours she worked beyond her 35-hour week. Levine — like many other salaried employees — is not eligible for overtime pay.
Quatrevaux, who notes that city code allows him to set his own pay policy, has disputed the department's initial findings. (The department has disputed that it counts as a pay policy and has further argued that city charter would require City Council approval to institute such a policy, which OIG has not received.) He has nevertheless suspended the policy while an inquiry is pending.
Read Quatrevaux's letter: PL_-_CSC_rule_change_121220.pdf