Bill to protect state employee leave signed into law

Oklahoma Politics

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A bill that protects the leave of state employees following an emergency declaration has been signed into law.

Senate Bill 282 was authored by Sen. Frank Simpson, R-Springer.

Sen. Simpson said the legislation is necessary to not punish full-time state employees required to work overtime and unable to take off during state emergencies.

“While most of the state was shut down during the pandemic last year, our state agencies kept working virtually. While some agencies’ workloads were not significantly impacted, others were overwhelmed with a historic outreach of need from citizens forcing them to work 24/7 accruing hundreds of hours of annual leave and comp time,” Simpson said. “Since the pandemic is ongoing, many were unable to use their leave and unfairly lost everything over the statutory caps at the end of the year. Senate Bill 282 will ensure that during future emergencies, state employees will be given an extra year after the emergency is terminated to use their hard-earned leave.”

Current law says state employees are allowed to accrue a set amount of annual leave based on their years of service.

The employee has until Dec. 31 to use excess annual leave or it is lost, once the cap is exceeded.

“For state employees with less than five years of service, the limit is 240 hours. Those with five or more years of service can accrue up to 480 hours,” the news release states.

“We must do better by our nearly 33,000 hardworking public servants. They’re underpaid—approximately 12% below market value according to some studies—and being able to accrue annual leave and comp time is one of their perks for having to work longer than normal hours,” Simpson said. “We need to protect them and honor their service by allowing them an extra year to use their well-deserved vacation time.”

The measure was signed into law on Thursday by Gov. Kevin Stitt.

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