The Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako’s overtime compensation policy is generally consistent with that of other local governments in Northern B.C., though most do not pay senior employees for additional time spent on regular duties.
Information provided recently by the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) indicates that nine of its employees – most of them senior staff members who manage departments – received significant overtime remuneration last year. Most of that additional expense, which totaled more than $100,000, was earned in connection with the regional district’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), which stayed open for 92 days in 2014 and resulted in 1,001.17 hours of staff overtime.
Gail Chapman, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) for the RDBN, said last week that Emergency Management B.C., created in 2006 to be the lead provincial agency for all emergency management activities in the province, covered overtime expenses incurred by the regional district in connection with the EOC. She said, however, that some senior employees did receive overtime compensation for performing their regular duties.
“Emergency Management B.C. paid for the RDBN OT,” she stressed. “As a result of the huge amount of staff time spent dealing with emergencies (EOC), there was some necessary RD OT to deal with RD work that had to be completed. Also, we were short a total of five staff throughout the year, which impacted staff workloads as well. It definitely was a nightmare year for us.”
Chapman couldn’t say exactly how much of the overtime expense incurred by the regional district in 2014 related to regular staff duties. “(The) greater was definitely Emergency Management B.C. OT,” she said, adding that “some OT was taken as time-off and not paid out.”
A survey of several regional districts in Northern B.C. last week revealed that most senior staff members who manage human resources or make key executive decisions are not eligible for overtime remuneration. This is in keeping with B.C.’s Employment Standards Act (ESA), which states that employees defined as ‘managers’ or ‘executives’ need not receive additional remuneration for time worked in excess of their regular hours of employment.
The only exception, according to most spokesmen for the regional districts surveyed, relates to overtime worked in emergency situations.
“The CAO does not receive OT for the performance of their regular duties,” Renee McCloskey, manager of external relations for the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George, stated. “There is one exception where OT is payable, and this is when fulfilling an operational role in an activated Emergency Operations Centre incident.”
McCloskey said the same rule applies to the regional district’s department heads and managers. “In lieu of OT, managers receive additional vacation leave, and where a manager works a significant amount of OT in filling in for others, they may be granted additional leave,” McCloskey explained. “Our general managers and managers would fit the bill for the ESA ‘managers’ and ‘executives.’ Why? Because their duties and responsibilities are the same as those that allow for exemption.”
The Cariboo Regional District has a similar policy. CAO Janis Bell indicated that she isn’t paid for overtime and neither are her department heads – unless they spend time manning an EOC.
“The exception to the ‘no overtime rule’ is related to when we have an active Emergency Operations Centre dealing with fires, floods, or other events that imperil our residents, in which case overtime compensation is paid to both union and exempt staff through Emergency Management BC,” she explained. “In 2014, of course, we had the Mount Polley incident, which took up a significant amount of staff resources for a prolonged period.”
Verna Wickie, treasurer for the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine, made no mention of overtime paid to senior employees during emergency situations. “(There is) no overtime to any manager,” stated Wickie emphatically. “They receive two weeks in lieu of overtime. This is the policy and has been for many years, and is part of their employment.”
According the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako’s most recent Statement of Financial Information – Cheryl Anderson, Hans Berndorff, Gail Chapman, Janine Dougall, Deborah Jones-Middleton, Jason Llewellyn, Rory McKenzie, Corrine Swenson, and Richard Wainwright – had combined wages and overtime totaling slightly more than $1.032 million for the year ended Dec. 31, 2014. The combined earnings of the nine employees in question represented nearly 41 per cent of the total remuneration of $2,541,925.48 paid to all regional district employees in 2014. Information supplied by the regional district suggested that the nine employees in question earned a combined $115,693 in overtime pay last year.
Chapman’s reported 2014 earnings of $207,044.56 were $48,962.65 higher than her base salary of $158,082, while the $138,812.48 paid to Berndorff last year was $23,957.48 more than his base salary of $114,855.