Personnel Board talks sick time, on-call employees

Published 5:12 pm Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Pelham Personnel Board continued to review the Civil Service Law during a June 25 meeting. (File)

The Pelham Personnel Board continued to review the Civil Service Law during a June 25 meeting. (File)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

PELHAM—The Pelham Personnel Board reviewed 12 sections of the city’s 1988 Civil Service Law, covering attendance and leaves, during a June 25 meeting.

The current version of the Civil Service Law was adopted in 1988 and has not been changed since then. The Personnel Board has been carefully reviewing each section of the law, cleaning up wording, updating the law to fit current practices and defining ambiguous terms and phrases.

Section 17, determining how employees earn and use sick time, states those “whose basis of pay is other than the standard work week” will earn and use sick time in a “comparable manner,” but it does not define comparable. Comparable is also used and not defined in several other sections of the Civil Service Law.

“It’s going to have to be defined in here to avoid question marks down the road,” Pelham City Council President Rick Hayes said. “Put it (the definition) in there once, and reference it every time.”

Section 21, covering restrictions on sick leave, also raised questions. Section B states, “sick leave shall not be granted an employee whose absence from duty is a result of his own misconduct,” however it fails to define misconduct.

“It leaves it up to the discretion of the city to define misconduct,” Personnel Board member Greg Darnell said. “That’s a loaded topic.”

The Personnel Board also identified several practices that needed definition or inclusion in the Civil Service Law, including supplemental sick days, light duty or transitional duty, standby and on-call status.

Pelham Deputy Police Chief Larry Palmer suggested the Personnel Board consider defining light duty in the Civil Service Law. A common practice in the Police and Fire departments, injured employees may return to work and perform “light duty” until they are fit to return to full status.

“It’s a hot-button issue,” Palmer said. “It’s a liability to the city if you don’t define it.”

Pelham Police Chief Tommy Thomas suggested defining and creating a uniform pay policy for standby and on-call status across all departments.

“Where we’re going to get (in trouble) is if we’re not doing it evenly across departments,” Thomas said. “Whatever we decide to do, do it consistently throughout departments.”

The Personnel Board members closed the June 25 meeting with the decision to review section 24 separately before meeting again on July 15.