Payroll mistake led to $3.5M in overpayment to EMS workers; NYC wants it back
Only the 20 members who volunteered for the behavioral health response team were supposed to receive bonuses; instead, all 3,590 employees received the payments
Kristin F. Dalton
Staten Island Advance
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The city is demanding that EMS workers repay the combined $3.5 million they were accidentally overpaid, the Daily News reported.
Some workers saw an increase of a few hundred dollars in their paychecks, but there were a handful of employees who received as much as $10,000 — all dependent on the amount of overtime they worked between March and August, according to the report.
The front page of today's New York Daily News. pic.twitter.com/f7WBBdrkSs— NYC EMS Watch (@NYCEMSwatch) October 9, 2021
Only the 20 EMTs, paramedics and officers who volunteer for the Behavioral Health Emergency Assistance Response Division (B-HEARD), were supposed to receive monetary bonuses, but a clerical error in the payroll department led to all 3,590 employees getting paid, the report said.
The bonuses were an incentive for employees to join the program, according to the report. The mistake was discovered over the summer and immediately stopped.
The city is giving the workers the option of repaying the money with a one-time lumpsum payment or in small installments, however, the president of the Uniformed EMS Officers Local Union 3621 says he's against the lump sum payment, according to the report.
Vincent Variale told the Daily News, "We're against the city taking it out in one lump sum. A lot of our members are living paycheck to paycheck. If they give it to us in installments, they should take it in installments.
Variale said he's telling union members to not spend the money, which at the time, was assumed the added cash was the result of the contract agreement they'd been waiting for.
"I told them to consider it an interest-free loan because at some point the city is going to take it back," he told the Daily News.
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