Orange County Seal

Published: Jan. 24, 2014 Updated: Jan. 25, 2014 8:17 a.m.

Orange County firefighters can boost overtime pay by counting vacation hours as time worked – a lucrative perk that costs taxpayers millions, and which at least one elected official says must go.

“This is an accounting gimmick used to generate significant overtime costs,” said La Palma Councilmember Gerard Goedhart, who represents the city on the Orange County Fire Authority’s board of directors. “This is a loophole that many agencies have closed, yet OCFA continues to allow it. This costs the Authority millions and must be closed as part of the next negotiations.”

This clause has been around for the better part of 20 years and has been a common feature in firefighters’ contracts, officials said. It’s no gimmick, said Joe Kerr, president of the Orange County Professional Firefighters Association.

“Yes, for the purposes of determining premium overtime, paid time off including paid time given pursuant to California Labor Code 4850 shall be calculated as hours worked,” Kerr told us by email. “This benefit is in 99 percent of all California firefighter contracts for several reasons.

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