February 26, 2014 Edition

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Committee formed to review
Lawrence Co. personnel policy

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

Lawrence County Judge Dale Freeman formed a committee to review and make suggestions for improvements to the county's personnel policy at the quorum court meeting Tuesday.

Concerns about policies regarding comp time, inclement weather and holidays are the highest priority but other issues with the insurance policy and a policy on keeping children during working hours will also be addressed.

Justice Jim Jones, who was appointed to the special committee with Justices Junior Briner and Lloyd Clark, said he doesn't believe there is much that needs to be changed.

The court is concerned that many have not been updated on policy changes. Once the updated policy is approved, it will be distributed to all county employees and signed documentation that they have read and agree to the policy will be held at the county clerk's office. The justices also discussed having elected officials follow the same procedure to promote better enforcement of the policy.

"I think the biggest problem with the policy is no one's enforcing it," Freeman said.

Comp time is still the major concern the court is handling. According to county policy, comp time is assigned by elected officials, however issues arose in the Sheriff's Department with employees earning hundreds of hours in comp time. The justices agreed that essential employees, such as 911 operators and deputies, should have some type of compensation for the time they work during inclement weather days and paid holidays, but should be required to use that comp time within a certain amount.

Sheriff Jody Dotson said he has been able to get comp time down to under 100 hours for most employees and in some cases that was down from 400 to 500 hours. However, he stressed the need for a policy change to prevent future issues.

"I can agree with anything you want but the next guy may not. That's why it has to be written in the policy," Dotson said to the justices.

Policy changes discussed

Over the course of the meeting, the justices discussed several possible policy changes. The committee formed by Freeman will look into these changes and determine what is best for the county before bringing it before the court:

  • adjust comp time to require it be used within a set number of days.

  • rewrite, or possibly remove, inclement weather policy to allow those who work proper compensation. If removed, those who do not work will not receive pay unless they take a vacation day.

  • establish who qualifies as an essential and a nonessential county employee and include clauses for holidays and inclement weather to allow proper compensation to essential employees who work during those times.

  • include a section barring the county from liability regarding employees' children within the workplace.

  • add a 30-day minimum employment policy for new employees before hospital insurance can be provided.

  • include a copy of the state's sexual harassment policy or write a county specific policy.

  • write a policy for employees with disabilities.

  • require all departments to switch to a new time sheet with more specific measurements of time worked.

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