Cost of state employees' unused time off mounts for California

SAN FRANCISCO, March 14 Thu Mar 14, 2013 9:05pm EDT

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SAN FRANCISCO, March 14 (Reuters) - California's liability for unused vacation and leave time for its state employees reached a 30-year high of $3.9 billion in June 2012 and is likely to grow for the foreseeable future, according to a state report released on Thursday.

According to the report by the Legislative Analyst's Office, a non-partisan office serving as a watchdog for California's financial affairs, state leaders could establish a buyback program to reduce leave balances.

Another option is a cap on the number of days of unused time off employees may accrue, the report said.

The rising liability for unused time off banked by state employees reflects how they took fewer vacation days in recent years after furloughs to help balance the state's books.

"They were using their furlough days in lieu of vacation," said Nick Schroeder, an analyst at the Legislative Analyst's Office.

Furloughs cut compensation costs for state employees by about $5 billion between California's 2008-2009 and 2012-2013 fiscal years.

The report also said payments to employees leaving the state workforce reached a 30-year high of $270 million in the 2011-2012 fiscal year, two-thirds more than the year before furloughs began.

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