Erie County Executive Chris Collins has told his managers to hire “regular part-time” workers over full-timers as much as possible.
Regular part-time employees work slightly fewer hours in a week, but their paid time off is half that of a full-time, rank-and-file employee.
Because the so-called RPT works more hours each year, Collins estimates the government can derive a $700,000 annual benefit by filling all jobs that open up with an RPT.
Regular part-timers can work up to 39 hours a week at the same hourly rate as fulltime employees, and they have union protection. But they earn half the holiday pay and half the vacation, sick leave and personal leave.
RPTs still collect fully paid health insurance for themselves and their families, unlike an even lesser class of parttimers; those working fewer than 20 hours collect no health benefits and no paid leave.
“An RPT employee delivers better value to the taxpayer,” Collins said Wednesday, stressing that he will not change the status of any current worker. “It is my intention that the vast majority of our new hires be RPT.”
Regular part-time workers have been used for years throughout county government and at Erie County Medical Center. But Collins wants to bring the use of RPTs to a new level. Hiring them should be the norm and hiring full-timers the exception, he said.
“It’s the time-off provisions that are embedded in some of the county’s employment practices that are making us noncompetitive and need to be dealt with,” he said.
Collins imposed his wish at a meeting of his high-level commissioners last week and later said he hopes the county’s elected department heads — the county clerk, district attorney, comptroller and sheriff — try to do the same with their new hires.
He said he does not need County Legislature approval to start offering vacancies as regular part time, even if they were budgeted at full time.
“The sooner we start this process, the sooner we start saving the taxpayers money,” he said.