Excessive Overtime At State Institutions Raises Concerns
Officials in Missouri are coming under fire after an audit revealed that workers at institutions for people with disabilities are working for weeks on end while racking up excessive overtime pay.
The Missouri Department of Mental Health doled out $47.8 million in overtime pay over the last three years, according to a recently released report from state auditor Susan Montee.
Since no policies existed to limit overtime, some employees were able to cash in big. In one case a direct care worker at a residential facility clocked 6,075 hours of overtime in just two years. The extra work essentially tripled the employee’s pay for that period allowing them to take home an additional $98,874.
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Aside from being costly to the state, such reliance on overtime could lead to safety concerns, the audit pointed out.
“Employees working excessive amounts of overtime could compromise the health and safety of both clients and themselves by increasing the risk of medical errors, accidents, injuries, poor performance and other problems,” the report said.
While mental health officials acknowledged that it might be better to hire additional staffers than to rely on overtime, they cited difficulties in finding qualified candidates for direct care positions as one reason overtime is so common.
Nonetheless, the Department of Mental Health said in response to the audit that they are developing policies to limit the number of overtime hours an employee can work and studying whether or not making additional hires would be “cost effective and feasible.”