Open Letter from the Executive Director: The Truth about Bi-Weekly Payroll

Dear Member,

Recently there have been many rumors and much miscommunication about state agencies converting to a bi-weekly payroll system. Some folks are for it, some are against it, but the fact is some agencies are already planning the conversion.

Before this goes any farther, I want to set the record straight: this is not an idea that came from OPEA.

Currently, the Office of State Finance has the authority to require agencies to convert to a bi-weekly payroll system. The new CORE system has a bi-weekly module for reporting work on federal grants. When OSF stops supporting the legacy system, some agencies will be forced to convert to the bi-weekly system.

This year a bill made its way through the House and Senate, and an amendment to that bill would have mandated every agency change to bi-monthly payroll by 2012. That amendment did not protect you, the state employee, and OPEA strongly objected to it. As a result of OPEA’s efforts, the amendment was pulled out of the bill.

At that time, OPEA saw an opportunity to put into place some rules that will protect you when and if an agency decides to mandate the bi-weekly payroll, and keep you from going two weeks without a paycheck.

This new legislation, if passed, allows an employee to sell their sick or annual leave, or comp time to cover that two-week period. Currently, there is no monetary value on sick leave. Should you leave state employment, you are not paid for sick leave. This new legislation changes that, and puts a monetary value on your sick time so that you may use it to cover those two weeks lag time without a check.

Understandably, this is all very confusing. But what it all comes down to is that when your agency decides to go to a bi-weekly payroll, OPEA is working to make sure you have money coming in and won’t go two weeks without a paycheck.

Let me give you a simple example. Let’s say an agency decides to implement the bi-weekly payroll in 2010. The way the law is written now, a state employee would go two weeks without a paycheck. That may not matter to folks on the upper-end of the pay scale. But for most of us, it’s the difference between paying our bills and going hungry.

Example: A state employee would get their full check on December 31, 2009. If an agency converts on January 1, the next check would typically come two weeks later, on January 15th. But since it’s the beginning of the new system, there would be a two-week lag time in which no check would be coming in, so the first money you would see would be a two-week check on January 29. This new OPEA amendment changes that, and
allows you to sell your leave, (sick, annual or comp time), and receive a check on January 15th.

Another part of OPEA’s amendment makes it mandatory for your agency to notify you six months before any payroll change takes place. That allows you time to start saving sick, annual, or comp time to be used during the two week lag period.

Bottom line: OPEA has been working for you and protecting your rights for nearly 35 years. You are the reason we exist, and all of our work is to make sure you have the rights and protection you deserve.

There will undoubtedly be questions and concerns; please know my staff and I are a phone call away, and want to make sure you understand that protecting your rights and your income is what’s important to us.

Read OPEA’s amendment below in its entirety.


Sterling Zearley
OPEA Executive Director

AMENDATORY 62 O.S. 2001, Section 7.6, is amended to read as follows:

Section 7.6
A. There is hereby created in the State Treasury a Payroll Fund which shall be used by the Director of State Finance and State Treasurer to issue a consolidated payroll for ach state department, board, commission, institution or agency of the state. Payrolls of state agencies shall be charged against the Payroll Fund created herein. Each state agency shall prepare summary distributions of the amounts of payrolls to be charged against each fund within the State Treasury and the Director of State Finance shall transfer monies from each fund in the State Treasury to the Payroll Fund amounts as shown on payroll distribution summaries, and shall charge such amounts to the appropriation allotment account affected thereby.

B, As of July 1, 2010, the Office of State Finance shall make available and each state agency, boards, commission, authority, or other entity organized within the executive department of state government shall make available a centralized web-based system to access their personal employment and compensation related information. The provisions of this subsection as it pertains to agencies may be waived by the Director of State Finance in the event that lack of timely access prevents employees from utilizing the centralized system.

C. Except for institutions within the Oklahoma System for Higher Education, state agencies converting to a bi-weekly payroll system shall consult with the Office of State Finance on the timing of the agency’s conversion.
1. State employees hired after January 1, 2010, shall be placed on either the biweekly payroll system or supplemental payroll upon the date of hire.
2. Not later than January 1, 2010, all agencies shall offer either biweekly or supplemental payroll to any employee who chooses to participate.

D. Six months prior to a state agency converting to the biweekly payroll system, it shall create employee payroll conversion banks for the purpose of providing a one time payroll payment to an employee for the gap in payroll payments created by the conversions to the biweekly system.

1. Each state agency shall allow its employees to accumulate up to a maximum of 80 hours for the conversion bank from the following sources:
a. Earned compensatory time, if the agency normally provides its employees compensatory time,
b. Earned annual leave, and
c. Earned sick leave up to a maximum of 40 hours.
2. During the six month period leading up top an agency’s conversion to the biweekly payroll system, all state agencies shall inform, in writing or by electronic means, all their employees of their leave and compensatory time balances on a monthly basis.

E. The Office of State Finance in coordination with the Office of Personnel Management shall establish procedures concerning the conversion.

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