The scam is simple: Call in sick to get a day off, but then pick the next shift which puts you into overtime status. You still have your day off, but your next day is at time-and-a half.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel uncovered this clever scam run by Wisconsin prison guards. The story starts off with one sergeant at the Green Bay Correctional Institution. In October 2006, he came in for an overtime shift (or two) on the days he was scheduled to be off. But within a day or two of those overtime shifts, he would call in sick. He had a total of 4 sick days that month, meaning that he did get days off, yet he got huge overtime pay. The newspaper says he had 17 sick days in 2006 that came just after he worked overtime on a day he was scheduled to be off. He earned a total of $117,764 in 2006.
Another guard working at Redgranite Correctional used 23 days of sick leave. She was paid $97,280 in 2006. $52,042 of that pay was for overtime.
Here are some of the key points mentioned in the newspaper article:
- Eight of the 20 highest-paid officers in 2006 called in sick for a shift and then picked up the immediate next shift at least once. That meant they worked eight hours but were paid for 16, eight of them at time and a half.
- Officers on average use about 100 hours – or 12.5 days – of sick leave a year. That’s more than 50% above the average for all state employees.
- Officers can use almost three weeks of sick leave a year before their bosses put them on a watch list for potential abuse.
In 2006, 26 prison guards more than doubled their wages due to overtime. 14 of them made six figures. Sorry, but if there is a need for prison guards, let’s just hire them. The cost to hire a new guard would be far lower than paying all this overtime.
And I just have to ask if any management employee of the State of Wisconsin looks at payroll records? Does a prison guard earning six figures raise any eyebrows? I mean, what prison guard do you know who makes six figures a year? That’s unusual, isn’t it? And shouldn’t such pay at least get management asking questions?