Dozens of Iowa community-based corrections managers are taking advantage of an improper loophole to gain up to an extra week of vacation – and what amounts to an additional two weeks of additional sick time – a violation of state rules that has cost taxpayers more than $1 million in the past five years, according to a recent report by the Iowa Auditor’s office.
The state’s 1st, 5th and 6th judicial district departments of correctional services have been awarding as much as 40 percent more vacation to managers than allowed, and the 1st and 6th districts have been awarding as much as 67 percent more sick leave to managers than other districts that abided by maximum state limits, the report said. Two other districts, the 7th and 8th, were found to have improperly classified some managers as field staff, which boosted their vacation accrual.
Officials in those districts thought state maximum limits for vacation and sick leave did not apply to them because they did not consider themselves to be state employees, the audit said. However, the limits do apply because the officials participate in the state’s sick leave insurance program, according to the auditor’s report.
“At a time when Iowa’s entire correctional system, including our prisons and community-based corrections, is severely understaffed, it is highly disturbing to find out about these excessive vacation and sick leave benefits for management employees,” said Danny Homan, president of AFSCME Iowa Council 61, the union representing these district’s employees. Homan is also an AFSCME International vice president.