The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

March 25, 2014

Council mulling changes in bereavement, family, medical leave policies

ATHENS — In the coming weeks, Athens city employees may see changes in the rules for taking bereavement, family and medical leave.

Human Resources Director Sharon Seay briefed City Council members on the proposed changes during a premeeting work session Monday night. Council members agreed to review the proposed changes and, possibly, vote on the two policies at the April 14 meeting.

Since taking office, Mayor Ronnie Marks has been trying to update the city’s personnel policies, such as no longer allowing employees to amass years worth of leave and cash it out at retirement.  Earlier this month, the council unanimously approved the mayor’s request to improve the pay scales for police and fire employees.

Bereavement leave

During the work session, Seay proposed changing the bereavement leave policy from not more than 40 hours per calendar year to up to 24 hours leave, which shall be applied to the next 24 hours of scheduled work. The bereavement period would start with the first scheduled work day after the death of an immediate family member. (The current policy considers immediate family members to be the employee’s spouse, children, parents, sister, brother, grandparents, grandchildren, mother-in-law, father-in-law, son-in-law and daughter-in-law.)

Seay proposed that the qualifying period of bereavement leave should begin from the date and time of death rather than the day of the death and extend through the day of the funeral. She also proposed that the city clarify a rule requiring employees who need additional bereavement time to first take other types of paid vacation leave.  Seay suggested eliminating the work “vacation” so the policy would require employees to take other types of paid leave.

During discussion over who is considered an immediate family member, District 4 Councilman Joseph Cannon asked that the mayor be given the authority to determine who qualifies as an immediate family member.

“I would like to put something in the policy that leaves this to the discretion of the mayor because each situation may be different,” Cannon said, noting that in some cases a person’s stepparent acts as his or her parent.

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