Measure to Compensate State Employees for Unpaid Leave Passes
Mike Seals - March 8, 2021 10:56 pm
OKLAHOMA CITY – The House today unanimously advanced a measure that would allow any state employee who accrues excess annual leave they are unable to use to be compensated for it.
House Bill 2294, referred to as the “use it or lose it” bill, would require state agencies, beginning July 1, 2022, to pay employees for excess leave time at the end of the 12-month period in which the leave was accrued if it has not been used.
“We are trying to fix the issue of employees losing the hours they gain because they are simply unable to take leave,” said the bill’s author, Rep. Dustin Roberts, R-Durant. “We saw an abundance of this in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Roberts said currently state employees can accrue up to 480 hours of leave, but anything over that they lose completely if it is not used. He amended the measure to take effect at the beginning of fiscal year 2022 to give agencies and employees more than a full year to prepare for the new system.
He said his true hope is that state employees will use the leave they accrue, but this bill will ensure they are compensated if they are unable to take off the time they’ve earned.
The Oklahoma Public Employees Association supports the measure saying at this time there are nearly 3,200 state employees that could be impacted by this legislation. OPEA said this could even be used as a cost-saving measure as most employees are paid out for their accrued annual leave upon retirement, up to the 480-hour cap. By having agencies buy down leave prior to an employee’s retirement, the sums paid out can be lowered, the association said.
HB 2294 passed by a vote of 98-0. It moves to the state Senate where it is authored by Sen. John Michael Montgomery, R-Lawton.