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The County’s setup of overtime codes in PeopleSoft led to ongoing inconsistencies and errors in pay calculations dating back to 2012. Overall, these decisions increased pay by nearly $80,000 to more than 500 corrections officers and paramedics in the eight months ending June 2019. Individually, these decisions affected employees differently based on the work they performed. Compounding these issues, corrections officers and paramedics cannot check the accuracy of their pay because their paystubs are confusing, and they do not receive enough information to interpret them. To ensure the County pays staff accurately, consistently, and transparently, we recommend it review PeopleSoft configurations, strengthen quality assurance, improve communication and documentation, and provide employees more detailed pay information.

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Summary

King County must exercise sound financial management, especially with limited general fund dollars, to be an efficient and effective local government. Part of financial management is ensuring that payroll is accurate and aligns with laws, labor contracts, and past practice. Inconsistent pay reduces transparency to employees and taxpayers and increases risk to the County. Washington state requires employers to provide employees with paystubs showing the basis for their pay. This requirement does not, however, state that paystubs shall be sufficiently clear such that employees can verify that they have been paid correctly.

The County’s setup of overtime codes in PeopleSoft led to ongoing inconsistencies and errors in pay calculations dating back to 2012, when it implemented the PeopleSoft payroll system to comply with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). These choices and errors increased overall pay by nearly $80,000 to more than 500 corrections officers and paramedics in the eight months ending June 2019. The impact on most employees was less than $20 per paycheck, but over the eight-month period, these small amounts added up to more than $1,500 for some employees. The types of work employees performed played a factor in how their earnings were affected. We also found that the County underpaid 59 employees, almost all of them by a few cents, and one by $322.

Employees were concerned their pay might be inaccurate but were unable to verify it using paystubs and other available county resources. The paystubs for corrections officers and paramedics are highly complex, in part because of the nature of their work, bargaining and implementation decisions related to pay, and late submissions of information to payroll.

We recommend that the Department of Executive Services (DES) review PeopleSoft configurations, strengthen quality assurance, and improve communication and documentation. DES said that making changes to PeopleSoft configurations may require bargaining since they may amount to past practice. We also recommend that the County improve pay transparency for corrections officers and paramedics by providing more information, such as earnings code descriptions, and improving the timeliness of payroll submissions.

Reports related to this audit

Follow up work is in progress. A report will be available as soon as it is complete.

Currently, there are no related reports to this project.

Audit team

Peter Heineccius, Megan Ko, and Mia Neidhardt conducted this audit. If you have any questions or would like more information, please call the King County Auditor's Office at 206-477-1033 or contact us by email at KCAO@kingcounty.gov.