Mayor, council members call for probe of DWP sick-pay policy

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and other officials are calling for an investigation into the Department of Water and Power's unlimited sick-pay policy.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Top Los Angeles officials including Mayor Eric Garcetti are calling for an investigation into the Department of Water and Power’s unlimited sick-pay policy.

The policy, which was first reported by The Times on Friday, allows employees at the utility to take paid days off well beyond the agency’s 10-days-a-year cap on sick days.

Since 2010, the utility has paid $35.5 million in extra sick days, a Times investigation found. Last year, 10% of the department’s roughly 10,000 employees took at least 10 extra days off, and more than 220 employees took at least 20 extra working days off.


DATABASE: Explore DWP salaries

In a motion submitted at Friday’s City Council meeting, Councilman Paul Koretz said the policy should be investigated “promptly and publicly.”

“Clearly, this policy permits abuse and lack of accountability, with the city and the city’s ratepayers all at risk,” said the motion, which was seconded by council members Paul Krekorian and Mitch O’Farrell. It calls for DWP managers and the utility’s ratepayer advocate to report back to the council regarding the policy “and any possible abuses and reforms” within 30 days.

Garcetti, speaking to reporters after a public event at City Hall, said he also has concerns about the policy. He said he believes it should be “changed” and “made better.”

DISCUSSION: DWP’s sick pay

In response to The Times’ investigation, DWP officials said they were not around when the sick-pay policy was adopted in 1981, and that they could not find a written rationale for the unlimited extra days. Since 2010, workers have taken 103,802 extra sick days, the equivalent of 415 years.


After reviewing data compiled for The Times, DWP Executive Director Ron Nichols said this week that “there appear to be some people who are abusing [the policy].” But he also stressed that the average DWP employee takes only 4.4 sick days per year, about the same as the national average.

Koretz said the revelation of the sick-day policy was a “a step back” for an agency that has often faced criticism for it’s lack of transparency and it’s well-compensated employees.

“These are exactly the kinds of things that have to be rooted out for the DWP to be the transparent, honest and effective organization we want it be,” Koretz said.


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