March 3, 2014
Maragos: End Lengthy Grievances of Terminated Employees Still Receiving Health Benefits
Mineola, NY- The Comptroller’s Office sent a letter to the Office of Labor Relations requesting that grievances by terminated employees seeking to be reinstated be expedited in order to reduce the current average annual cost of over $230,000 for health benefits coverage. This action is a follow up to a recent audit of the County’s Health Insurance Costs which discovered disciplinary procedures for 14 terminated employees whose cases have lingered for an average of over 3 years and one as long as nine years while the County is continuing to pay for their health benefits.
“The high costs for employee Health Insurance can no longer be overlooked as an insignificant expense in lengthy employee termination grievance arbitrations,” said Comptroller George Maragos. “Labor Relations needs to be mindful of this cost and put in place procedures to expedite resolution of employee grievances so that the County does not continue to pay longer than absolutely necessarily for terminated employee health benefits.”
Given the high cost of continued health, dental and vision insurance coverage during the grievance period, we recommended that the Office of Labor Relations promulgate procedures that expedite termination grievances. The Comptroller’s Health Insurance Unit has already implemented a practice in which the Office of Labor Relations is asked to formally certify that former employees who are receiving health insurance as the result of a grievance are still entitled to receive the health insurance. According to labor agreements, terminated employees can maintain their health, vision and dental insurance, fully paid by the County, by filing a grievance for reinstatement.
Comptroller George Maragos urged the Department of Labor Relations to take immediate steps to resolve all outstanding disciplinary cases of terminated employees and to put procedures in place to resolve future cases expeditiously. A further review should be conducted to investigate whether the case that has languished for 9 ½ years has been handled appropriately.
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