DWP Curbs Sick Pay Following Report Absent Workers Cost Taxpayers Millions

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The L.A. Department of Water and Power is overhauling its lenient sick day policy following a report the broken system cost taxpayers $35.5 million.

Employees who call in sick for three consecutive days or more will have to provide proof of illness with a doctor’s note, according to a recently distributed internal bulletin.

The DWP officially grants 10 sick days a year. However, a report published by the L.A. Times last week revealed the policy also permitted workers to take extra days with little consequence.

The Times found that 10 percent of the department’s approximately 10,000 employees took 10 days off or more in 2012. More than 220 took an extra 20 days off, according to the report.

Records also show some employees averaged 38 to 49 sick days each year over the past two years.

In all, the municipal utility has paid workers $35.5 million in extra sick days since 2010, according to the analysis, conducted with information provided under the California Public Records Act.

Responding to the report, DWP Executive Director Ron Nichols said the average worker only takes around 4 1/2 sick days a year, on par with the national average.

According to the DWP, just 2.5 percent of all employees have used a “high number of sick days”.

Nichols did acknowledge abuse of the policy.

DWP spokesman Joe Ramallo told City News Service Nichols and City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana felt the new rule would “significantly reduce the abuse that had occurred”.

The new policy will go into effect Thursday.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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