The Department of Human Services (DHS) has informed employees that it intends to convert from a monthly to bi-weekly payroll schedule beginning June 16, 2014. By announcing it this week, DHS has complied with the requirement that employees be notified of the change at least six months prior to its implementation. This and other requirements were enacted with the passage of HB1111 in 2009.
With this conversion there will be a three-to-four week time period between employees’ last monthly check and their first bi-weekly check of the new payroll. This lag can create cash flow problems for some employees since their household budget is based on a monthly payroll. To minimize complications for employees, the law says agencies must allow their employees to “bank” up to 80 hours of earned annual leave, sick leave, or earned compensation time (if the agency normally provides employees compensation time). Employees may use up to 40 hours of sick leave toward the 80 hours. Employees may “cash in” the hours when the conversion occurs to make up for the lag in pay.
State agencies decide their own payroll schedule. They are not mandated by state law to use a certain schedule and agencies use the schedule that best meets their needs. Most state agencies already operate on a bi-weekly payroll system and some agencies have converted in the past few years. Prior to the passage of HB 1111, on which OPEA worked with legislators to enact, agencies making the switch did not have to give employees early notice nor did they have to provide the opportunity to “cash out” leave.
DHS has said in its correspondence to employees that the benefits of the bi-weekly payroll include employees being paid more frequently , employees no longer need to maintain minimum leave balances and they have earlier access to leave because of bi-weekly accrual. They also said that one half of employees surveyed earlier in the year supported the change. However, some employees have expressed frustration about the conversion to DHS and OPEA.
DHS has told employees that they will provide them with additional information about the change in the future. If you are an OPEA member and have questions about the change please contact OPEA Associate Director Haley Blood.]]>