State audit finds Riverside County's temporary employee program innovative

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A state audit focusing on six local governments' use of temporary employees found that Riverside County channeled the highest percentage of employees into permanent jobs and paid temporary employees wages comparable to their permanent counterparts.

Our temporary employees are well paid and gain the experience they need to compete on level ground for permanent jobs.

State Auditor Elaine Howle determined that the concerns which prompted the report, such as allegations about inappropriate use of temporary employees and the lack of permanent job opportunities, were largely unfounded. The audit, released on April 23, confirmed the county's position about its Temporary Assignment Program (TAP): it is an innovative approach to meet temporary staffing needs that saves taxpayer money, said Human Resources Director Ron Komers.

"We are pleased that an outside expert has confirmed our program's success," Komers said. "Our temporary employees are well paid and gain the experience they need to compete on level ground for permanent jobs."

The Board of Supervisors approved the creation of a county-managed temporary employee pool in 1998 to reduce costs from the use of private staffing agencies. The county's TAP program is estimated to save $8 million a year.

The audit looked at payroll data from 2003 through 2007. Komers said the county already has implemented an auditor's recommendation to better track the number of temporary employees who exceed the program's 1,000-hour limit. A sampling of 39 employees who appeared to exceed the limit showed that 37 either were approved to work the extra hours or held per diem positions that automatically are exempted from the cap, the auditor's report said.

Komers said software that would enable the county to better track temporary employees is being evaluated.

Riverside County's temporary employees represent 16 percent of the workforce, less than any other county or city included in the study. Hourly wages were comparable to those of permanent staff and most employees surveyed by the state said they preferred their temporary status.

Temporary employees make 5.5 percent less than their permanent counterparts, but still take home more money because they don't contribute to Social Security. Temporary employees participate in pension plans that replace the federal retirement program, with benefits kicking in when the employee retires at 65 years old. Short-term employees have the option of cashing out the lump sum value of their retirement benefit.

A copy of the state auditor's report is available at: http://www.bsa.ca.gov/reports/agency/80.

With almost 20,000 employees, Riverside County is the largest employer in the region. For more information about the TAP program, visit http://www.rc-hr.com.

Contact:
Lys Mendez
Public Information Specialist
County of Riverside
(951) 955-1179

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