Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

New York State
Department of Correctional Services
Glenn S. Goord, Commissioner

Office of Public Information
[518] 457-8182

For immediate release:

Wednesday, April 12, 2000

Commissioner orders creation of statewide rules for employee shift swaps

Commissioner Glenn S. Goord announced today that he was reluctantly ordering the development of a structured statewide policy on shift swapping amongst most security personnel in light of a Comptroller's audit critical of the old swapping policy at the Adirondack Correctional Facility.

"I do so reluctantly because I know the vast majority of our employees realize that no one should be allowed an open-ended opportunity to swap shifts. They know swaps should be repaid within a reasonable amount of time to ensure each employee is properly compensated in salary, earned time off plus retirement and other benefits. The vast majority of our employees agree with and follow these rules. But there is a small percentage which does not. These abusers have tainted a local-option system that worked well for their peers. As the Comptroller's report concludes: the time for a statewide policy has come," Commissioner Goord said.

A state arbitrator has ruled that security staff swapping is a term and condition of employment. Thus, the final guidelines for swapping procedures must be discussed and finalized among the Department, the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association which represents Officers and Sergeants and Council 82, representing Lieutenants. Captains and above are Management Confidential employees and do not participate in shift swapping. The Department will initiate discussions with the unions within the next few weeks.

Commissioner Goord said he has ordered his staff to ensure statewide compliance with federal and state rules for swapping. Those policies are to include a maximum time period for the repayment of swaps at each facility, a limit on the number of unrepaid swaps outstanding per Officer and strict oversight of the program to ensure compliance. The policy will ban cash for swapping as well as barring "two for one" shift swaps.

The Comptroller found deficiencies in the pre-1999 swapping policy at Adirondack. Auditors said they had found 10 cases among the facility's 192 Correction Officers where large numbers of swapped shifts were not paid back from 1995-98. In 1998, the Superintendent at Adirondack also began examining swapping policies there, which led to the implementation of new policies at the facility in April 1999. Since then, all swaps must be repaid within one year. The swapping privileges of Officers with large numbers of swaps owed were suspended in October of 1999 until past swaps are repaid.

Swapping, also known as exchange time in federal rules and regulations, allows peace officers to trade shifts among themselves. Today's audit, while critical of Adirondack, also lauded the swapping policies at other facilities such as Fishkill and Mohawk. Traditionally, each correctional facility developed its own swapping policies with local union officials. The practice allows Officers to swap shifts so that each can take time off when they want it without loss of pay or use of accruals, in return for later working another shift for the Officer who filled in for them. For the state, the more than 20-year-old practice means the swapping Officer is on duty at straight pay - rather than paying overtime, leaving a security post uncovered or closing another, less-vital security post to cover for the Officer who wanted the shift off.