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Council discusses pay policy changes

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Lebanon city employees may have slightly different rules about overtime and call-back time than they have had in the past, if the Lebanon City Council adopts policies discussed in a recent work session.

If approved, the new personnel rules would allow all regular employees to receive time-and-a-half pay for all call-back work, as well as for all work over 40 hours in one week.

They already receive time-and-a-half for work over 40 hours, but in the past time-and-a-half has only applied to call-back work if it meant the employee worked more than 40 hours that week.

Basically, call-back work is performed anytime an employee has gone home and is called back to work for an emergency of some sort, Human Resources Director Sylvia Reichle explained to the city council at the work session Thursday.

Police, fire: 14-, 28-day shifts
Sick leave, holiday and vacation hours also would not count toward an employee's 40 hours worked under the proposed new rules, Reichle also told the council. But the biggest adjustments would be to police and fire workers' pay policies.

According to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which mandates time-and-a-half pay after 40 hours for all regular employees, a work period for police and fire may be up to 28 days for the purposes of overtime calculations, Reichle said.

Following those FLSA guidelines, the city's Human Resources and Finance departments have proposed adopting a 28-day work period for non-exempt fire and emergency service units (ESU), and a 14-day work period for non-exempt police.

That means police officers and firefighters would be on different schedules for overtime pay. Firefighters would work a 28-day schedule, working 24 hours on and 48 hours off, while police officers would be on a 14-day schedule with shifts varying from eight to 12 hours.

Their overtime would be based on those schedules. Firefighters would receive overtime if they work more than 212 hours in 28 days, and police officers would receive overtime after 86 hours in a 14-day period.

Exempt police, fire and ESU workers are those who work 40-hour weeks, in the office for instance, or receive salaries as supervisors. But even salaried employees will receive overtime if an emergency is declared by the state or federal government, according to Reichle.

Call-back: at least 2 hours pay
The call-back pay also would apply to police and fire, too, Reichle said.

If the new rules are passed, police or fire employees who are called back will be guaranteed a minimum of two hours pay at one-and-a-half times their regular pay scale, even if the problem only requires a few minutes to correct.

Thursday's work session with city council members Lanny Jewell (Ward 1), Fred Burton (Ward 2), Rob Cesternino (Ward 3), Bernie Ash (Ward 4), and Mayor Philip Craighead also discussed how holidays would be handled for those employees who are required to work on the actual holiday.

'Floating holidays' to compensate
The plan calls for police, fire, water and sewer, sanitation, streets and Jimmy Floyd Center employees to take "floating holidays" to replace those worked. They would be allowed to take a different day as a holiday instead of the actual one.

If they can't arrange to take the make-up day, Cesternino suggested they be allowed to transfer those days into sick days which can be carried over from one year to the next and count toward retirement credit.

Burton suggested that the employees who are required to work holidays be given double pay for those days, a suggestion which proved popular with Fire Chief Chris Dowell.

All the policies will have to be heard by the full city council and a vote taken to decide what will become the final rules.

Writer Connie Esh can be contacted at cewrites@yahoo.com.

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