San Diego (Oct. 29) – Problems with a new payroll system for the nearly 400,000 In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) home care providers may spell financial hardship for thousands of these low-wage workers, according to early reports from two of the three counties where the system has been unveiled.
Because of this, the UDW Homecare Providers Union has demanded that the rollout of the system be halted immediately until these serious problems can be addressed.
In San Diego and Merced Counties, hundreds of provider time sheets are being bounced back. Scores of providers haven’t been paid in a month or more. Many are in danger of losing their health insurance. Many other face late payment penalties and even eviction because they can’t pay their bills.
An IHSS worker in Merced reported to the county’s IHSS Public Authority last week that he hasn’t been paid since August and that he is about to lose his health insurance. The $9 an hour he receives as an IHSS provider is his only source of income.
Despite this, the state Department of Social Services (DSS) schedule calls for a rollout of the new payroll system in many more counties between now and February 2013. Plans call for the system to be running statewide by June 2013.
County agencies are being swamped by phone calls about the payroll problems.
According to a report in the Merced Sun-Star, Lisa Contreras, spokeswoman for the San Diego Department of Health and Human Services, said that her agency has seen a 97 percent increase in call volume since the new payroll system went live in early September.
Ms. Contreras blamed many of the problems on a new timesheet processing system designed by Hewlett-Packard for DSS. She said the time sheets are more difficult to complete, must be scanned at the state level, and require additional work at the local level. All of this results in delayed paychecks for providers, she said.
Doug Moore, executive director of the UDW Homecare Providers Union, which represents 65,000 IHSS workers statewide, demanded that DSS suspend the rollout of the new payroll system until these and other problems can be addressed.
“The evidence is clear. The new payroll system is a disaster in San Diego and Merced. Providers were not adequately trained on how to fill out the new timesheets. The counties were unprepared to deal with the large volume of payroll problems caused by the new system. There was no back-up program in place to help counties deal with this mess and to make sure providers are paid on time.
“To put this system in place in other counties without solving these serious problems would be unconscionable, “Moore said.
The payroll system problems are not the first time Hewlett Packard has been criticized in connection with IHSS. Earlier this year, non-encrypted microfiche tape containing confidential personal information for more than 760,000 IHSS recipients and providers was lost after being shipped by HP through regular mail.
The package was subsequently recovered. DSS recently announced that couriers will deliver packages of payroll data, including Social Security numbers, rather than having the packages dropped in the mail. And officials are examining ways to transmit encrypted data rather than store it on microfiche.
IHSS payroll system working out bugs in Merced County
“About 20 percent to 25 percent of the time sheets for providers in the In-Home Supportive Services program in Merced County are bouncing back…..”Any time that you’re a pilot county, you expect to see issues,” she said. “But the concern that we have is that the errors continue. We continue to have problems. We continue to have things that come up.” Read more
State support services pay system is a problem for Merced providers
“…Garcia, who has three clients, primarily cleans their houses, washes their clothes and takes them to doctors’ appointments. He earns about $1,000 a month for the services he provides, income he uses to supplement his Social Security benefits. But he hasn’t been paid for the work he’s done for one of his clients for six weeks or for his work for his two other clients for two ..” Read more
Also see: New IHSS Computer Payroll System with proposed rollout dates for all California Counties.