Wellman council discusses paid leave

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The Wellman City Council approved an application for a Washington County Riverboat Foundation grant at its meeting on Monday night, Jan. 18.

Though Wellman receives a municipal grant each year, it must re-apply annually before the end of January. The city must also specify how the money is to be spent. The application is prepared by City Manager Kelly Litwiller.

In other business, council members discussed the city’s COVID-19 paid time off policy.

Under the 2020 Cares Act, the city was required by the Center for Disease Control, (CDC), to provide up to 80 hours of paid time off for quarantined employees. The expense is an unfunded mandate and cities are not reimbursed by the government.  The order was initiated in March and expired Dec. 31.

Litwiller said some counties are extending the payments into the summer months and said she was seeking advice from the council on a policy for Wellman’s city employees.

Some council members questioned if the program could be absorbed into the existing sick leave policy.

But others advised that COVID-19 was unlike the flu or a bad cold, since it requires quarantine on exposure. Taking the required days off due to the possibility of contagion would cause a hardship to many families, they said.

Additionally, council members had concerns that without the paid time off, exposed employees might come to work and infect others with the virus.

It was asked if an employee could request repeated 80-hour benefits under the plan.

Litwiller replied that 80 hours was the maximum amount of time paid under the program. Employees could not claim multiple exposures for additional paid leave. They would have to take time off without pay once they exhausted the benefit.

No action was taken. Council members plan to revisit the issue in February after further consideration.

 

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