ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — With the Albuquerque Police Department facing extensive staffing cuts, the remaining officers have been faced with mounting overtime hours that have resulted in financial and public safety fears over increasing overtime expenditures and overworked officers, according to ABC – Albuquerque.
Cuts have led to an increase of overtime to such an extent that the police force saw an overtime pay increase of nearly $2 million over one calendar year. While the city budgets for police overtime pay, it has been unable to meet the increasing overtime demand over previous years as the overtime expenses have reached in excess of $11 million over one year.
However, while the city has failed to adjust the budget enough to match overtime expenditures, the city has not had to take extra money from Albuquerque residents due to employment cuts by the department.
The police department reportedly budgets for 1,000 officers per year but only employs 800. The budget surplus created by being nearly 200 officers short of the budgeted total is used to compensate active officers for their overtime pay.
While the increase in overtime pay has not led to financial issues for the city, it has sparked fears that the police department may not be equipped to appropriately respond to calls or patrol needs. However, the mayor’s office has stated that although officers routinely work long overtime hours, call and patrol duties have not seen any reduction in quality.
Albuquerque residents are still uneasy about the lack of active officers combined with the idea that on-duty officers may be severely over-worked. This fear in spite of city assurances has led to the police department announcing that they will attempt to hire 60 additional officers to help shoulder the burden levied on current officers.
Relevant New Mexico Labor Regulation Information
A majority of New Mexico labor regulations are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) with policy not often changed by efforts of the state government. However, the minimum wage is set by the state government and in some unique cases to New Mexico, city governments.
In most states the minimum wage is decided by the state government with all cities and employers forced to comply with the state enforced minimum wage. However, in New Mexico some cities have chosen to enforce their own minimum wages that are much higher than the state and federal minimum wage requirements.
While the state minimum wage is currently $7.50, Albuquerque touts a minimum wage of $8.50 with Santa Fe’s now at $10.51 per hour. With three different minimum wages active in the state, it is more difficult to enforce certain labor laws in New Mexico than in states with one uniform minimum wage.
However, regardless of the city or state mandated minimum wage the FLSA still applies to all other labor regulations that employers must follow. Most notably, this includes the payment of an increased overtime wage rate for workers who exceed 40 work hours per 7-day work week.
This rate must be at least 150% of an employees standard hourly work rate or an employer will be found in direct violation of FLSA which constitutes federal labor law.
Oftentimes, employers will manipulate time sheets in various ways to avoid paying their employees their due overtime wages. This practice is difficult to detect unless an afflicted employee reports it to one of the relevant labor agencies.
Because of this, it is important that all employees are aware of their state and federal labor rights to ensure that they are being treated fairly. Workers are often unaware of the full extent of their rights that offer them protection leaving them vulnerable to exploitation by their employers.
If you believe that your employer violated any state or federal labor regulations regarding minimum or overtime wage compensation, you should contact (855) 754-2795 to determine if you are eligible to pursue legal action. Any potential lawsuit will aim to recover compensation for previously withheld wages.