I-Team Investigates: State overtime update - Part II

The first item on the Assembly Budget Committee?s agenda Tuesday was to get some answers about the state?s overtime pay, specifically at the Department of Human Services.

It was a News 12 New Jersey I-Team report that first shed light on the issue of overtime pay. That investigation found the state spent $250 million on overtime costs this year - $17 million more than last year - at a time when the state was supposed to be cutting costs. The biggest spender was the DHS, with employees earning more than $87 million in overtime.

DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez told committee members that her agency is trying to keep overtime in line. She blamed the increase in part on the state?s decision to give workers a raise.

?We?ve shown a decrease in the amount of hours in both the hospitals and the developmental centers, but an increase in cost,? Velez said.

Committee members also questioned how much some individuals earned in overtime. One trainer at a developmental center has a salary of $42,000. But with overtime, she took home more than $134,000.

DHS officials pointed to the state law that says health care workers can?t be forced to work more than 40 hours a week unless they volunteer. According to the DHS assistant commissioner, some people are constantly volunteering for more hours.

DHS officials were in the hot seat for approximately four hours. However, lawmakers say many questions still remain unanswered. Now, some lawmakers are considering re-writing the state law on mandatory overtime.

I-Team:State Overtime UpdateI-TeamInvestigates: State Overtime Pay

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