LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles’ Department of Water and Power has paid thousands of employees a total of $35.5 million since 2010 in extra sick days under an unusual program that the utility’s top executive acknowledges has been vulnerable to abuse.
DWP employees benefit from a 32-year-old policy that allows them to take paid days off well beyond the agency’s 10-day-a-year cap on sick days. Last year, 10% of the department’s roughly 10,000 employees took at least 10 extra days off, the data show. More than 220 took an extra 20 working days off, or about a month, according to a Times examination of data obtained under the California Public Records Act.
In fact, records and interviews show, there is no limit to the paid time off DWP employees can take when they say they’re sick, and requirements to provide medical proof of their illness have been loosely enforced.
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 stressed that the average DWP employee takes only 4.4 sick days per year, about the same as the national average.
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