There’s an increasingly alarming trend in state government. More and more, the State’s Department of Human Resources (DHR) is putting state employees who are “under investigation” for an alleged infraction out on what is termed “paid, administrative leave.”
VSEA grants that, in some cases, the paid-leave option might suffice, but, nowadays, far too many of the employees DHR is putting on paid, administrative leave are finding themselves out of work for months and even years. The citizens of Vermont suffer from the loss of experienced workers and it compounds the situation for the stressed employees left to fill in for the employee out on leave. In addition, it’s costing Vermont taxpayers a lot of money to keep employees out on paid, administrative leave for longer and longer periods of time.
Since 2010, when Governor Peter Shumlin was elected, the amount of money the Department of Human Resources spends annually to put employees out on paid, administrative leave has shot up. How much?
In the year 2000, the State spent $330,381 paying employees out on administrative leave. When Gov. Douglas left office, the dollar amount was approximately $1 million. And from 2011 to 2013, the figure hovers at approximately $1.4 million. This represents a 330% increase from the year 2000 in the amount of money the State is spending annually to compensate employees out on administrative leave. To put that number in context, in the same time period, state health insurance costs, which have been decried as unsustainable, have increased 177%.
Source: Vermont Department of Human Resources
VSEA acknowledges DHR’s right to place an employee deemed to be “under investigation” on paid, administrative leave, but we also strongly believe DHR needs to drastically reduce the length of time some employees are being forced to wait for a resolution. VSEA estimates that the State could save hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, simply by mandating that DHR conduct timely investigations and decrease the wait time for the employees currently out on paid, administrative leave.
Finally, there is a lot of stress for an employee. If you’ve spent the majority of your career working for the State, it is nearly impossible to search for interim employment because your references will know you are under a cloud of impropriety. All employees on paid, administrative leave need to be “ready and available” for work at any time, which means they are a hostage to their phone, waiting and hoping for a call to come back. Worse, even if you are returned to work without being disciplined, your reputation is tarnished, your colleagues are suspect, and sometimes you’ve never even been given the chance to contest the charges against you.
Wait Time For Some Employees Recently Put On Paid, Administrative Leave:
- 2 years – Licensed Practical Nurse, Vermont Veterans’ Home
- 1 year, 6 months – Correctional Facility Shift Supervisor
- 1 year, 4 months – Licensed Nursing Assistant, Vermont Veterans’ Home
- 1 year, 2 months – Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor
- 1 year, 2 months – Psychiatric Technician, Vermont State Hospital
- 1 year, 2 months – Department of Health employee
- 11 months – Custodian, Buildings & General Services
- 10 months – Correctional Officer
- 8 months – Environmental Enforcement Officer
- 6 months – Truck Driver, Agency of Transportation
Call the Governor’s Office today at 802-828-3333 and tell him to demand timely investigations by the Department of Human Resources and an end to retaliation against John Howe and other state employees who blow the whistle on waste, fraud and corruption.