(CNS): There are currently 56 police officers enjoying extended paid holidays because the RCIPS got into a potentially costly situation regarding the build-up of what is known as ‘comp time’. At the end of December 2016 police officers had racked up almost 52,000 hours of overtime, extra work or vacation time that they had not been able to take for operational reasons. The time owed to officers was well beyond what is allowed within the RCIPS policy and the police management was facing a potential bill of more than $1.16 million if they were to pay staff for that time instead of letting them take leave.
The details about why so many police officers are enjoying long holidays were revealed in the Legislative Assembly last week, as parliamentary questions posed to the new administration kicked-off during the first meeting of this new government.
Arden McLean, the opposition member for East End, asked how many officers were on this extended paid leave and why. Gloria McField-Nixon, who was acting for the deputy governor, told the LA that during the new police commissioner’s review of the service he directed personnel to take accrued leave in excess of 75 hours before the end of this year.
Time owed ranged from just over 250 hours to as much as 1,100 hours or more for some officers. The acting DG said there were many reasons for the build-up of the comp time over a number of years but there was no proper budget provision to pay officers for time worked instead of taking the time off.
McField-Nixon said that in the past management had tried to buy out the time from officers at a cut hourly rate of 50%, but she said that was complicated by salary increases, cost of living allowances and other issues that made it very costly for government coffers. In addition, she said, not all officers accepted the cash offers for their accrued time.
But having made the decision to have officers take extended leave, she said, there were new problems and the situation was being closely reviewed to see what effect having so many officers on leave had on the ones who were at work and whether they were now being forced to rack up more hours because they were filling in for their colleagues enjoying time off.
“Three months in, the situation has stabilised,” McField-Nixon said. She explained that the RCIPS was looking at the rate of accrual because there were previously no processes in place to monitor how comp time was mounting up. However, management is watching the build up now and a senior officer will have to approve the extra hours worked by officers in the future, she said.