Montgomery Council asks Leggett to tighten up on employee leave and overtime rules

The Montgomery County Council on Tuesday endorsed a series of recommendations based on a recent report that said lax management and abuse of sick leave policies have cost the county tens of millions in overtime pay.

The study, by the council’s Office of Legislative Oversight, found that about 70 percent of the county’s overtime costs are generated by fire and police agencies, which must provide 24-hour staffing. Researchers cited evidence that overtime and sick leave policies are abused, with frequent use of sick leave or overtime before or after a holiday or weekend. In other instances, employees who were denied requested leave called in sick on the day the leave was denied.

The study also found that more than 500 police and fire personnel collected overtime pay even though they had worked less than half of their regular hours in a given pay period.

The council, acting on recommendations from its Public Safety and Government Operations and Fiscal Policy committees, asked County Executive Isiah Leggett to report back in September with options for improving overtime and sick leave management. This includes determining whether there is a reasonable number of hours an employee should work before being able to earn overtime. The council also asked for a more in-depth analysis of Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service’s use of leave and its record-keeping.

Patrick Lacefield, a spokesman for Leggett, said the executive has already been working to address these issues but “will be happy to report back on some things.”

Bill Turque, who covers Montgomery County government and politics, has spent more than thirty years as a reporter and editor for The Washington Post, Newsweek, the Dallas Times Herald and The Kansas City Star.

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