Maryland county underpays staff by up to $5 million over two decades Maryland county underpays staff by up to $5 million over two decades

Maryland county underpays staff by up to $5 million over two decades
25 May 2018

Maryland’s Anne Arundel County unintentionally underpaid current and former employees’ overtime for as much as two decades and may owe them up to US$5 million.

According to Capital Gazette, county executive Steve Schuh said the problem was only picked up when a new payroll vendor, ADP, spotted the error. An investigation is now underway but will take months, as forensic auditors track down each person who was underpaid. 

The Office of Personnel said in an email to county staff: "We will keep affected employees updated as to the audit results, and all eligible employees will be reimbursed accordingly."

Schuh said the incident was unlike anything he had ever seen before in government or the private sector. "I’ve seen malfeasance and fraud and mistakes, and I’ve seen payroll errors... they happen, mistakes happen," he explained. "I’ve never seen a miscalculation for such a protracted period of time."

Those most likely to have been affected are public safety employees: police and fire departments that have large overtime budgets because officers and firefighters regularly put in extra hours.

County auditor Jodee Dickinson said that reports focusing on overtime pay never explored the system’s rate calculations.

"It all has got to do with resources and time," she said. "There are probably a thousand things to do here... when we have a staff this size we focus on issues that come before us."

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

Maryland’s Anne Arundel County unintentionally underpaid current and former employees’ overtime for as much as two decades and may owe them up to US$5 million.

According to Capital Gazette, county executive Steve Schuh said the problem was only picked up when a new payroll vendor, ADP, spotted the error. An investigation is now underway but will take months, as forensic auditors track down each person who was underpaid. 

The Office of Personnel said in an email to county staff: "We will keep affected employees updated as to the audit results, and all eligible employees will be reimbursed accordingly."

Schuh said the incident was unlike anything he had ever seen before in government or the private sector. "I’ve seen malfeasance and fraud and mistakes, and I’ve seen payroll errors... they happen, mistakes happen," he explained. "I’ve never seen a miscalculation for such a protracted period of time."

Those most likely to have been affected are public safety employees: police and fire departments that have large overtime budgets because officers and firefighters regularly put in extra hours.

County auditor Jodee Dickinson said that reports focusing on overtime pay never explored the system’s rate calculations.

"It all has got to do with resources and time," she said. "There are probably a thousand things to do here... when we have a staff this size we focus on issues that come before us."

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

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