Council delays decision on personnel code

Published 9:23 pm Saturday, December 6, 2008

A 48-page overhaul of the city’s personnel code was tabled Wednesday by the City Council to allow more of the city’s employees to weigh in.

The changes are primarily being made to comply with federal and state law and city policies. Some are changes to leave policies, and some – such as the changing of “affirmative action” to “equal employment opportunity” – reflect the changing wording prevalent in society.

The biggest proposed change is to the section regarding the grievance procedure. The new section clarifies the grievance procedure, grievable issues, the scope of the grievance procedure, and the authority of the grievance panel.


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It would give the director of human resources the authority to send any decision back to the panel that he feels is inconsistent with law and written policy. It also says the city manager should implement a panel decision only to the extent that it is consistent with law and written policy.

A new section in the personnel chapter gives the city manager complete authority to interpret and apply the provisions of the chapter, to make decisions not addressed in the chapter, and to adopt or modify new administrative policies and regulations.

Healthy employees will appreciate a proposed change in the policy of unused sick leave. Upon their retirement or death, former employees or their estates will, if the new code is approved, receive 25 percent of their unused sick leave balance, up to a maximum of $7,500. Under the current code, employees who retire, or their estates when they die, receive $5 per day up to $1,500.

If the new code is approved, employees will no longer be able to take paid educational leave, and they will not be entitled to unpaid time off except in accordance with the Family and Medical Leave Act or the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act.

Decisions on requests for unpaid leave would be made by the city manager, with the recommendation of both department heads and the director of human resources.

The residency requirement also would be extended under the new code. If the new code is approved, the city manager, city attorney, city clerk, real estate assessor, deputy city manager, deputy city attorney, chief of staff and all department directors must reside in Suffolk. The city manager has the authority to waive the residency requirement, except for positions appointed by the City Council.

One proposed change to the code – a seemingly small one – could be a big deal for some city employees. Those who have their wages garnished for child support and other debts must pay a per-paycheck fee to cover the administrative costs of garnishing the wages.