Overtime change OK

The Johnstown Town Board recently voted to limit overtime pay, paid at time and a half, for its employees to only situations when employees actually work more than 40 hours in a given week.

This is a common-sense solution to a problem that has been costing the town money. Overtime pay is given to hourly employees as compensation for the burden of working more than the standard work week of 40 hours. Employees at Johnstown, and possibly other municipalities that have no 40-hour work-week policy, previously were able to receive overtime pay at the rate of time and a half during weeks in which they used vacation or sick-time hours.

The Town Board changed the overtime rules in response to comments from the New York state comptroller’s office, which advised the board it could save money by tightening the policy.

Johnstown Highway Superintendent Theodore “TJ” Bradt objected to the overtime change in a letter recently published in The Leader-Herald. Bradt stated it has been the policy of the town since at least 1986 to provide overtime pay at time and a half for situations when an employee works more than the regular 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. during the winter.

That may have seemed reasonable decades ago, when public employees were paid less and the local economy was stronger, but in today’s world, private-sector workers rarely are granted that kind of work schedule and often are forced to change the shape of their workday and their work week to fit the demands of their employers. It seems only fair public employees should work under similar rules as the taxpayers who pay for their jobs.

We praise Johnstown’s board for taking a common-sense approach to overtime pay, and we recommend other governments in Fulton, Montgomery and Hamilton counties do the same.