What is Delinquent Off-Duty Pay? (and how to stop it...)
Much is being asked of police officers in this day and age. They are expected to act as protectors, peacemakers, social workers, and behavioral psychologists all while facing the most dangerous facets of our society head-on.
Note that nowhere in the above list is “debt collector.” Yet, that is precisely the role that agencies are forced to take in communities around the country. Law enforcement officers across the nation are either compensated months late, or not at all for the hours worked off-duty for a private company.
It seems unthinkable; the idea that a private company would hire the services of an off-duty police officer knowing full well they lack the ability to compensate them, or simply not caring about paying them in a timely manner if at all. However, it is a risk that tens of thousands of officers face, and a reality that many must deal with every day. Officers work millions of hours in off-duty work every year, many of which are linked to issues with delinquency.
At first thought, one might point out the fact that not paying someone for labor is illegal. Who is more equipped to address legal matters than law enforcement professionals themselves? It seems as though the act of not paying them for hours worked would have immediate consequences. Furthermore, a sworn officer is granted their authority by the government. It would make sense that the government, an entity powered solely by its ability to collect funds, might step in to protect the officer in case of this eventuality. Unfortunately, the reality is not so simple.
It is widely assumed by law that when an officer is off-duty they are no longer acting on behalf of an agency and are merely a private citizen making the decision to work an extra job. This assumption is what makes dealing with delinquent payments extremely difficult for all parties involved. From the city, to the agency, to the officer, to the private company, and everyone in between; determining precisely who exactly incurs the damage for a lack of payment can be nearly impossible and in some cases take years to determine. Most of the time it is the officer who is the victim.
Some may ask themselves how this can be? Couldn’t the government or department would pay the officer in the interim? While that might be a fortunate turn of events, for most communities it simply is not possible. Most agency and/or local government budgets are stretched too thin already. And even if they had a budget surplus, the fact that most off-duty hours are not currently tracked would make it impossible for them to allocate an accurate level of funds to cover the officer for such an event.
Sometimes an agency may have the capacity to track down payments from private companies, but that situation becomes troublesome fast. Besides the clear ethical dilemma, when a private business forces an agency to collect unpaid funds, they impose upon the agency a wide array of accounts payable duties. These duties that an agency may not be equipped to handle and invariably divert agency funds, time, and attention away from vital community policing efforts.
One of the unique aspects of Off Duty Management being built by officers, for officers is our understanding of LEO needs. Officers take off-duty jobs to help support their families, invest in their communities, and to build a much-needed savings for our increasingly uncertain times. The fact that in some agencies officers may not receive compensation for hours worked for weeks or months, if at all, is immensely troubling. Law enforcement officers spend their lives training how to protect us from the criminal element. No other profession purposely puts themselves in mortal danger every day for the good of the community. At ODM we believe whether they are working on-duty, or off-duty, officers should ALWAYS be compensated (and promptly.)
This is why Off Duty Management engineered our complete off-duty service solution to include an officer pay guarantee. From the company’s inception, we have made the solemn promise to officers that they will receive payment from ODM for hours worked every week, no if’s and’s or but’s, whether we are paid by the private company or not. ODM are the experts on off-duty work, (agencies should not have to be.) We take on all the payment collection duties and risk so that officers and agencies can have peace-of-mind and focus on doing what they do best, protecting their communities. When an issue with payment does occur, we manage the situation with a trained collection team with years of accounts payable experience specifically in the off-duty industry dedicated to nurturing relationships between agency and vendor.
In ODM’s history we have never once went back on our promise, nor have we required a financial partner or venture capital funds to make payments for hours worked. We specifically maintain a financially fortified organization because we understand that it is the only way to serve officers and deliver on our promise every week.