Hawaiian Senator attempts to change payroll law to deter salary overpayments Hawaiian Senator attempts to change payroll law to deter salary overpayments

Hawaiian Senator attempts to change payroll law to deter salary overpayments
08 Mar 2018

Hawaiian officials are working to reclaim the balances on nearly US$1.4 million in salary overpayments that were mistakenly made to public employees as far back as the 1990s.

According to The State, the outstanding amount across all state departments stood at about US$394,700 at the end of December. Sums ranged from US$387,542 last November to a high of US$613,883 in March, according to the Department of Accounting and General Services, which administers the state's payroll.

Democratic State Senator Donna Mercado Kim complained that the sums were too high and introduced legislation aimed at encouraging state departments to be more aggressive in recovering the balances owed and to do more to deter salary overpayments in the first place.

The problem was that state departments were not taking advantage of an existing state law that enabled indebtedness to the state, including salary overpayments, to be promptly recovered via payroll, she said.

Most of the overpayments took place when employees called in sick and took holidays without having enough in hand or having exhausted their paid leave. "So when you use up all of your leave but you take sick leave anyway or go on vacation, the system doesn't pick that up. When the payroll goes in, you get paid the full amount," Kim explained.

Kim's Bill would require state agencies to deduct overpayment costs from their annual budget requests to the Legislature and place employees who exhaust their sick leave on a manual payroll system. An earlier provision that would have enabled the state Employees' Retirement System to garnish the pensions of retirees owing it money has been removed.

Of the US$394,700 outstanding overpayment balance at the end of last year, more than US$204,000 was the responsibility of the Department of Education; the Department of Health (US$60,023); the Department of Land and Natural Resources (US$57,108); and the University of Hawaii (US$28,195).

The Department of Education said it had already taken steps to improve oversight and prevent overpayments. It reminded employees to report and submit proper documents when requesting a leave of absence and said it had established a training unit to help schools with better tracking and monitoring of employee leave benefits.

The Bill has now cleared the Senate Committees on Government Operations, Labor and Ways and Means and is heading for a full vote in the Senate.

 

Hawaiian officials are working to reclaim the balances on nearly US$1.4 million in salary overpayments that were mistakenly made to public employees as far back as the 1990s.

According to The State, the outstanding amount across all state departments stood at about US$394,700 at the end of December. Sums ranged from US$387,542 last November to a high of US$613,883 in March, according to the Department of Accounting and General Services, which administers the state's payroll.

Democratic State Senator Donna Mercado Kim complained that the sums were too high and introduced legislation aimed at encouraging state departments to be more aggressive in recovering the balances owed and to do more to deter salary overpayments in the first place.

The problem was that state departments were not taking advantage of an existing state law that enabled indebtedness to the state, including salary overpayments, to be promptly recovered via payroll, she said.

Most of the overpayments took place when employees called in sick and took holidays without having enough in hand or having exhausted their paid leave. "So when you use up all of your leave but you take sick leave anyway or go on vacation, the system doesn't pick that up. When the payroll goes in, you get paid the full amount," Kim explained.

Kim's Bill would require state agencies to deduct overpayment costs from their annual budget requests to the Legislature and place employees who exhaust their sick leave on a manual payroll system. An earlier provision that would have enabled the state Employees' Retirement System to garnish the pensions of retirees owing it money has been removed.

Of the US$394,700 outstanding overpayment balance at the end of last year, more than US$204,000 was the responsibility of the Department of Education; the Department of Health (US$60,023); the Department of Land and Natural Resources (US$57,108); and the University of Hawaii (US$28,195).

The Department of Education said it had already taken steps to improve oversight and prevent overpayments. It reminded employees to report and submit proper documents when requesting a leave of absence and said it had established a training unit to help schools with better tracking and monitoring of employee leave benefits.

The Bill has now cleared the Senate Committees on Government Operations, Labor and Ways and Means and is heading for a full vote in the Senate.

 

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