Live Oak —
The Live Oak City Administration and Finance Committee agreed Friday at a special called meeting to remove the “use it or lose it” policy regarding paid time off (PTO). The committee’s recommendation, proposed by City Administrator Kerry Waldron, will now go before the Live Oak City Council for a final decision. If passed, city employees will be able to accrue paid time off without a cap. However, if an employee is terminated or leaves the city for any reason, the individual will be paid a percentage of their accrued time based on their completed years of service.
At a city council meeting in December of 2013, councilors voted 3-2 to place a moratorium on the “use it or lose it” policy for 90 days for further discussion.
According to the city’s PTO policy, for a city employee who works 40 hours per week, the caps for PTO are: 0-1 year, 136 hours; 2-9 years, 176 hours; 10-19 years, 216 hours; 20-30 years, 256 hours; and 31 plus years, 288 hours.
For a city fireman who works 53 hours per week, the caps for PTO are: 0-1 year, 215 hours; 2-9 years, 303 hours; 10-19 years, 391 hours; 20-30 years, 479 hours; and 31 plus years, 567 hours.
Waldron presented the committee with a recommendation.
“(Finance Director Jan Parkhurst) and I have met a couple of times to discuss what might be some potential solutions to our PTO policy,” Waldron said. “We’ve also met with the auditors to discuss with them our thoughts.”
While employed by the city
Waldron said the current policy states that a person can accrue PTO time based upon completed years of service with the city of Live Oak with a cap on the number of hours that can be accrued.
“If someone has exceeded that cap, the city allows you to until Jan. 31 to use that time and bring it below the cap, if not you lose that time,” Waldron said.
Waldron asked the committee to consider removing the cap on current employee’s earned PTO.
Waldron also noted that an individual earns PTO time during their probation era, however, the policy stated they’re not permitted to use it during their first 12 months of employment, unless approved by the city administrator.
For the first year, a city employee would earn 2.26 PTO hours per pay period.
Committee member John Yulee asked Waldron what the protocol is if an employee has a medical emergency during their first year of employment with the city.
Waldron said the decision to allow the person to use accrued time would be at the discretion of the city administrator.
Committee chairman Adam Prins questioned the prohibition of using the PTO time during the first year.
“If it’s their earned time, why prohibit them from using it?” Prins asked. “If they’ve earned the leave, it’s theirs to take as they see fit. It’s theirs to use to be productive at work. If they need it every time they earn it, it’s theirs to use.”
Following further discussion, the committee agreed unanimously to allow employee’s to take their PTO time beginning the date of their hire as earned, rather than a 12-month waiting period.
Waldron asked to remove the PTO cap accrual and that department heads will continue to manage their PTO requests with due consideration of given staffing requirements, work load and other various reasons. The committee unanimously agreed.
Waldron said the policy also allows for a person with accrued PTO time that leaves their employment, whether terminated or leave by their own choice, to be paid a percentage for their PTO time, based on their completed years of service.
Waldron recommended modifying the policy to leave the PTO accrual rate and cap in place as it’s currently listed to determine the payout at the time of termination or leaving employment.
“If you were to be an employee of 20 years and you leave the employment of the city, and you had 10,000 hours (an exaggerated illustration), you would only get paid what the cap is,” Waldron explained.
“We talked with the auditors, and the only liability is to what the cap is,” he said. “Employees will not lose their time if they haven’t taken it, they just wouldn’t be compensated for it up to the cap.”
Waldron noted by only paying the cap, the city would not be financially burdened having to pay an enormous amount of leave time at once to an employee that leaves city employment.
Yulee made a motion to accept the city administrator’s recommendation, which was seconded by Bennie Thomas, and passed 3-0.
The recommendation regarding PTO time will go before the Live Oak City Council at a later meeting for final approval before becoming official.