We recently reached out to Commissioner Parker about the department’s decision to move away from the 28-day work schedule. We thank the commissioner for taking the time to answer the following questions from TSEA.
1) Can you elaborate on the department’s decision to move away from the 28-day work schedule?
The Department always committed to reviewing the 28-day work schedule after it’s been in place for a while. As Commissioner, I wanted to gather more feedback from those it directly affected – those on the front line in our prisons. I also wanted to evaluate the potential costs/savings to ensure the department was making the best business decision related to overtime dollars. I asked each Warden to converse with their staff and get their thoughts on which schedule would be most beneficial for their prison and them personally. Overwhelmingly we heard that the 14-day time period would work best for the staff. Weighing all options and considering relevant factors, I felt providing the prisons with a couple scheduling options was the best decision.
In addition, we reached out to Edison again to see how long it would take to change over from the 28-day to another work schedule. Their ability to accommodate this change has shortened greatly and that allows us to move forward with this change.
2. How will this affect impacted employees?
I believe that employees will benefit from this change. It allows us to keep certain benefits we gained under the 28-day time period like shift briefings and rotating days off. In addition to these benefits, staff will also receive their overtime pay more quickly than before. Without any overtime, a normal work week will have officers working no more than three days in a row and they will have a three-day weekend every other week. This is critical because our team works in a high stress environment and need time to recharge their batteries and enjoy some work-life balance.
3. How do you anticipate this will affect overtime in general, as well as the timing of when employees are paid for overtime hours?
Well, while the state pay periods will remain the same, the time between overtime worked and being paid for it will reduce. And honestly, that is the number one complaint that we heard about 28-day – that the time between OT worked and OT received in their checks was too long. This change to 14-day addresses that issue.
The truth is in this business, we will always have mission critical posts that need to be constantly maintained. If someone calls out sick, is on vacation or if we have a vacancy; we still have to operate safe and secure prisons and will need people to fill in on these mandatory posts. But now when an officer works overtime, they will not have such a long lag time between when they worked and when they get paid.
4. Which facilities are affected by this change and what will the new schedules be for each facility?
I am still in the process of going around and talking to each facility but so far all but two of the state prisons have indicated that they are interested in the 14-day schedule. Morgan County and Deberry Special Needs Facility have requested to return to the 5/2 40 hour workweek schedule.
5. Is there anything else you’d like to say to or share with TSEA members and state employees?
As a state employee for more than 30 years, I appreciate the work done by TeamTDOC throughout the state. We have a hard job that is often misunderstood and misconstrued, but the 6-thousand TDOC employees are truly some of the best employees