Dec. 29, 2003 – Government employees can take a deep breath after their Christmas spending. The next government payday will be two weeks after the last, on Jan. 8, after all.
A bill passed by the 25th Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Charles W. Turnbull last July reduces the number of government pay periods to 24 from 26 per year — making check issuance twice monthly, as opposed to every two weeks effective as of the start of 2004.
However, the conversion has been put on hold by Finance Commissioner Bernice Turnbull.
The commissioner told Gov. Turnbull that an analysis of the changes required to put the legislation into effect led her to conclude that implementation should be delayed pending resolution of several issues. According to a Government House release, she forwarded the analysis to the governor on Oct. 22.
For one thing, the commissioner said, the V.I. Code sets the pay cycle at a base 80 hours per period. For twice-monthly pay periods, the hours would be different for each cycle. And, she said, annual leave and sick leave currently are calculated on an 80-hour cycle.
Also, Commissioner Turnbull said, bargaining agreements with unions representing government workers differ in the terms negotiated for hours worked for instance, night differentials and overtime earnings after a number of hours. "The government may be required to re-negotiate some provisions of these collective bargaining agreements if the change to 24 pay periods is implemented," she said.
The Legislature's minority leader, Sen. Usie Richards, wrote the governor on Dec. 19 asking him to delay the changeover until after January so that it would not cause an "undue hardship" financially on government employees so shortly after Christmas. He pointed out the last December pay period was on the 24th, and that if the bill were to be implemented on Jan. 1, employees would have a three-week wait until Jan. 15 for their next checks.
Government House spokeswoman Rina Roebuck had no comment on Richards' letter, except that she could not say whether the governor had received it.
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