Despite large amounts of overtime paid to employees at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School, there doesn’t seem to be evidence that more-senior employees are taking advantage of overtime to increase their retirement pensions.
Because both base pay and overtime pay are factored into state pension payments, the more overtime an employee works, the more he or she could earn in retirement. State pensions are based on an employees three highest-earning 12-month periods.
We looked at overtime earnings among youth services officers, the front-line staff members responsible for maintaining order and security at CJTS, and their supervisors for the fiscal year 2015. The data was provided by the Office of the State Comptroller.
Last year, $3.2 million was spent on overtime at CJTS. Of that, 80% went to these front-line staff and supervisors. One youth services officer, a 17-year employee earned $69,700 in overtime, bringing his income to just over $130,000. He was among eight employees who earned more than $40,000 in overtime.
When overtime is necessary at CJTS, shifts are offered to employees with the most years of service. When not enough staff volunteer to work, the union contract for youth services officers mandates employees with the shortest tenure be required to work. If an employee refuses to work assigned overtime, they could face disciplinary action.
We compared overtime earnings with employees’ years of service to see if senior employees were earning more in overtime pay and found only a weak correlation (0.231) between years of service and overtime income for the officers. We found a weak negative correlation (-0.117) for unit leaders.
There are limitations to the data. For instance, when calculating the highest three years of income, a year can be any 12-month period, according to a summary of retirement benefits for hazardous-duty employees. We looked at one fiscal year, not employees’ top earnings over any 12-month period.
The data provided by the comptroller’s office also doesn’t differentiate between which overtime hours were mandatory and which were voluntary.