Glitch gives cops unearned time off

Royal Cayman Islands Police Service employees who got to take some unearned time off within the past year will have to give the government back that time in the coming months.

According to information obtained by the Caymanian Compass, some $1.7 million in unearned ‘time in lieu,’ also known as compensatory time off, has been taken in the police service.

The issue, referred to as a glitch by a RCIPS spokesperson, was actually discovered by a police service employee during an internal audit of the civil service Time Recording System forms.

The police have notified the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs about the problem, and the portfolio is checking to see whether this has occurred in any other areas of the Cayman Islands civil service.

The problem gets a bit technical, but it boils down to people taking days off and not having that time deducted from compensatory hours already earned.

‘The RCIPS found that the recording system allowed for an error resulting in time due balances not always being reduced when staff took time off,’ a statement issued by the department read.

For instance, a worker who had accumulated 50 hours of overtime might make a request for two days off. They would normally have to subtract 15 hours (7.5 hours each day) from their accumulated overtime, leaving them with a remaining balance of 35 hours.

The RCIPS audit determined that deduction wasn’t occurring on some employees’ Time Recording System forms.

Most government employees, including those at RCIPS, have to fill out TRS sheets each day to document what they spent their time doing. The TRS form is a computerised spread sheet contained within the government’s intranet.

If an employee works more than 7.5 hours in a day, or if they work during what would normally be an off day, they can put in requests for compensatory time or overtime. Those requests must be reviewed and approved by their supervisors.

One of the columns in the TRS forms, labelled ‘work item,’ requires government employees to state what kind of work they performed that day. This was generally done on most of the TRS forms that were reviewed by the audit, according to the RCIPS.

However, in some cases, employees neglected to describe the type of time off they were requesting for the work in another column on the TRS form labelled ‘type.’ If the employee chose ‘regular time’ in that column, rather than ‘comp time’ or ‘overtime,’ the extra hours they had accumulated would not be added, if they were earned, or deducted, if they had been used.

‘The RCIPS is greatly affected as the service does not routinely pay overtime, but works under the overtime accumulated/time owed system,’ the police service statement read. ‘The error has meant that time due balances recorded for some staff did not accurately reflect the true amount of time owed.’

The police service is now checking time owed and updating the figures to reflect the accurate hours worked. In cases where employees actually took more time off than they were owed, they will have to subtract future overtime hours to make up that balance.

Police spokesperson Deborah Denis said the police service will not have to pay money for any unearned compensatory hours back to the government, nor would police officers paycheques be docked for any unearned time taken.

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