Department of Correctional Services

Administration of Workers' Compensation Leave (Follow-Up Report)

If the correction officers employed by the Department of Correctional Services are injured on the job and unable to return to work because of the injury, they are allowed by their collective bargaining agreement to be placed on workers’ compensation leave at full pay for up to six months. In audit report 2002-S-35, we analyzed the officers’ use of workers’ compensation leave and found that about three-quarters of the claims filed, and about three-quarters of the leave days taken, related to injuries not caused by contact with inmates. We also determined that the amount of workers’ compensation leave taken by the officers increased by 37 percent between 1997 and 2002, primarily because the average length of the absences increased from about 24 days to nearly 35 days per claim. Our detailed examination of 14 correctional facilities confirmed that long-term absences were highly significant, as 88 percent of the workers’ compensation leave days at these facilities related to long-term absences, which were an average of 5.3 months in length.

We recommended actions that could be taken to reduce both the length and the number of long-term absences. The most effective action would be to modify, through the collective bargaining process, the negotiated benefit that allows the officers to receive up to six months of leave at full pay for any job-related injury without any charge to their leave accruals. When we followed up on these matters with Department officials, we found that some of our recommendations had been implemented, but it had been too late to introduce new proposals in the collective bargaining process then underway.

For a complete copy of Report 2004-F-36 click here.