Specialty Pay Explanation, At a Glance

Nov 8, 2013 4:56 PM

The Associated Press asked the state controller's office to provide five years of data on the specialty pay received by state employees, from 2008 to 2012. The various categories are money that is paid on top of salaries, overtime and normal raises. Many, but not all, of the bonuses are negotiated as part of union contracts.

The data requested by the AP showed that 95,705 workers out of more than 250,000 state employees received the additional special pay in 2012.

The five-year period shows the total payments made by the state increasing dramatically. The payments also came during a span in which thousands of state employees were subject to unpaid furloughs that ranged from one to three days a month. The furloughs began in February 2009 and were phased out in July.

The AP's analysis finds that the total payout for bonus pay has been increasing even as the number of employees collecting it has shrunk:

— In 2012, the state paid $516 million, an average of $5,382 per employee who received the extra pay.

— In 2011, the state paid $500 million, an average of $4,596 per employee.

— In 2010 the state paid $474 million, an average of $4,046 per employee.

— In 2009 the state paid $445 million, an average of $3,736 per employee.

— In 2008, the state paid $373 million, an average of $3,877 per employee.

At the same time, nearly 90 percent of the $830 million in overtime paid to state employees in 2012 was collected by the same employees who received bonus pay.

All the pay differentials are listed on the state human resources website, http://www.calhr.ca.gov/state-hr-professionals/pages/pay-differentials.aspx , although many are given just a one-sentence description that is not easy for non-government employees to understand; some of the categories listed have been phased out. The category also includes allowances for uniforms or mileage and special holiday pay.

Examples of some of the special pay categories include:

— Extra pay for California Highway Patrol officers for riding a motorcycle on the job, training a dog or working as part of a canine unit, working longer-than-standard days (in addition to overtime) and a stipend of 3.5 percent of base pay for time spent putting on protective gear, inspecting weapons and vehicles.

— A $5,000 bonus for state Department of Mental Health workers who transfer to one of three state-run hospitals.

— A recruitment differential that provides annual bonuses of up to $23,316 to top managers at CALFire.


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