ALBANY — And you think you spend a lot of time in the office.
One state worker last year logged 3,600 hours of overtime last year — an additional 69 hours a week — that brought her $231,000 in overtime payments alone,
The worker, Denise Williams, a security training assistant the Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center in Manhattan, ended up making nearly $322,000 in earnings in 2019, the most in overtime of any state worker in New York, records showed.
It was the second year in a row she topped the overtime earners list, the records obtained by the USA TODAY Network New York through a Freedom of Information request showed.
In 2018, Williams registered 3,560 hours of overtime last year, leading to $200,000 in overtime alone. She could not be reached for comment Thursday at the center.
Three state workers raked in more than 3,000 hours in overtime in 2019, prompting Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli to caution state agencies to take care when allowing overtime.
"All of the state's top overtime earners work at state medical or correctional facilities, working thousands of additional hours in overtime," DiNapoli said in a statement.
"We need to make sure agencies are managing overtime efficiently and not putting staff or patients in danger as they clock in so many extra hours."
The state's medical centers and prisons have long had the highest overtime costs because they need to operate around the clock.
The Office of Mental Health, which oversees the psychiatric centers, said overtime is only used in order to comply with minimum staffing requirements.
"Our procedures are driven by staff seniority and union requirements, and the agency is required by union agreements to exhaust voluntary overtime opportunities before mandating employees to work overtime,” the agency said.
Freeman Klopott, a spokesman for the state Budget Division, said the state has limited overtime.
“State spending on agencies has been nearly flat under this administration — as average annual spending growth has remained below 2% making it possible to lower income tax rates for every New Yorker," he said in a statement.
"Agencies use overtime carefully and only when needed. The alternative would be a larger, more bloated, more expensive, and less efficient state bureaucracy that New York taxpayers simply can’t afford.”
Of the top 25 overtime earners in state government last year, all but one were paid more than $200,000 between their salaries and overtime.
How overtime is calculated in New York is more than simply hours worked, allowing employees to get overtime in various ways.
Union workers, for example, can get overtime once they hit 40 hours of work in a week.
But union contracts let workers use vacation time, then work a later shift in the same day to get the overtime.
So, for instance, overtime can build up using vacation time after 40 hours. In other words, a state employee does not need to necessarily put in 16 hour days all year long to hit overtime: It can be a combination of time off and extra hours worked.
CSEA, the state's largest public-workers union, said overtime is the result of limited staffing.
“We can’t comment on these individuals specifically as we don’t represent them, but in general overtime is a problem because of structural staffing deficits. Until that is corrected, overtime will continue to be high,” CSEA spokesman Mark Kotzin said in a statement.