Archived Story

Council sets limit for vacation

Published 12:11pm Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Hartselle city employees may not be able to accrue more than 10 weeks of vacation hours after the Hartselle City Council considered updating its employee vacation policies Tuesday night.

During a work session, the council recommended that a 400-hour limit be placed on employees for accruing vacation time. Employees will not be able to carry over more than one-half of their vacation each year.

Additionally, any employee that has more than the limit cannot carry over any additional vacation time until he or she drops below the 400 hours. Any accrued vacation time must be used during the year or the employee will lose it.

The vacation policy became an issue after human resources director Melee Laney informed the council that 30 city employees have accumulated more than 400 hours or 50 days of vacation time. That represented an $800,000 liability to the city, which was not included in this year’s $10.5 million budget.

The council also considered not allowing employees over the limit to accrue new vacation time, but Council President Bill Smelser didn’t agree with it.

“I have heartburn about that proposal,” Smelser said. “I don’t think long-term employees should be penalized for having too many vacation hours. It’s not fair to them.”

Councilman Tom Chappell also asked that the council add an option to allow any of the grandfathered employees to convert the vacation time to sick leave. Tier 1 employees, which were hired before Jan. 1, 2013, can convert the sick leave to a service credit upon retirement.

He also suggested that employees eligible for retirement could have their vacation amounts paid in a lump sum if they retired by July 1. Otherwise, the city would have the option to pay vacation in a lump sum or bi-weekly installments until the entire leave has been paid.

“I just want the employees to have that option if they choose to do so,” Chappell said. “If they want to convert it to sick leave for retirement or if they want to retire by July 1 and be paid in a lump sum, they can have those options.”

Laney also recommended adding that the city will only pay unused vacation to employees who leave in “good standing,” returned all city-owned property and have given appropriate notice.

“Currently, we have to pay any employee that leaves the city regardless of whether they were fired for disciplinary reasons,” Laney said.

Laney also recommended that any employee be paid up to a week of vacation if the needs of the city force the employee to cancel a scheduled vacation. This action would take approval of the department head, mayor and council.

The policy revisions were considered during a regular meeting Tuesday. The result of the vote was not known as of press time.

In other business, the council:

• introduced annexing and zoning a vacant lot on Warren Road. The action will take a recommendation from the planning commission at its March 4 meeting.

• approved a business license for Crossroad EMS.

• approved special event permits for the First United Methodist Church’s Run for Missions on April 26 and Griffin Mobility’s customer appreciation day on May 17.

• declared video equipment and software as surplus property to be sold at a public auction.

• selected Gina Lance, Jason Stutts, Ryan Kaser and Staci McCormick as the first quarter safety award winners for 2014.

• appointed Edna Carol Weeks and Pam Smith to the cemetery board.

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