By Starrla Cray
WINSTED, MN A performance award, tuition reimbursement, three-weeks of paid leave for new parents, and a reduction of holiday overtime rates are a few new things planned for City of Winsted employees.
The Winsted City Council discussed these changes and many more while reviewing the employee reference manual Tuesday evening. The plan is to adopt the revised personnel policy at the Tuesday, Feb. 21 council meeting.
Some notable differences are outlined as follows:
• Interim pay: If an employee is filling a higher position during a vacancy, they will receive a 10 percent increase in pay for that time period, or be placed at that position’s salary minimum, whichever is greater. Employees who are promoted to a higher position will also receive this pay structure. City Administrator Dan Tienter explained that this establishes clear expectations and eliminates the need for negotiations in these cases.
• Probation: A new employee will be on a probationary period for six to 12 months, depending on their position. Tienter said this doesn’t necessarily change the employee’s underlying status, since all employees serve “at will,” but sets a timeline for performance reviews.
• Summer hours: From Memorial Day to Labor Day, city hall will be open longer hours Monday through Thursday, and close early on Fridays. This has been approved for the past few years, and will now be a permanent designation for the summer months.
• Closing: The policy allows the city administrator to close city hall in case of inclement weather. Administrative employees will be sent home with pay. Employees of the police and public works departments may still be required to work.
• Shift/premium pay: Employees who are performing extra duties or who are working “undesirable hours” (such as 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.) will receive an additional 30 cents per hour.
• Performance award: The city will have an opportunity to recognize a full-time city employee for exemplary service with either a 2-percent lump sum bonus or a one-time addition of 40 hours of vacation time. Generally, the limit will be one employee per year, but more could be recognized in extraordinary circumstances.
• Death: If an employee dies, the next of kin or estate would be allowed payment of all unused and unpaid leaves and wages.
• Tuition: Full-time city staff who have served for at least one year may be eligible to seek reimbursement for qualifying educational expenses up to $1,000 per year (with a lifetime cap of $3,000 per employee). Coursework must directly relate to the person’s career as a city employee.
• Holiday: For 11 holidays through the year, employees will receive holiday pay. Employees who are expected to work on a holiday will receive 1.5 times the rate of their regular pay, plus the eight hours of holiday pay. Previously, employees received 2.5 times their normal rate if they worked on a holiday, which Tienter said was “exceptionally generous beyond what other communities offer.” Holidays include New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.
• Vacation: Employees who have served for 15 or more years will receive five weeks of vacation pay per year. Before, an employee needed to serve 25 or more years to earn this amount. Also, the city administrator will have the authority to approve carryover of vacation time from one year to the next. Employees also have the option of donating a portion of their vacation time to other employees experiencing a family emergency or personal crisis.
• Parental leave: The federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in connection with the birth or adoption of a child or for a serious health condition.In Winsted, eligible employees will be paid for three of these weeks (on top of vacation and sick time).
• Severance: The new manual clarifies this policy, authorizing the payment of 100 percent of all unused, accrued compensatory, sick and vacation leave. Also, the city can withhold payment of such severance if the employee does not leave in good standing.
• Suspensions: The city administrator will have the authority to issue “suspension with pay” and “suspension without pay” disciplinary actions without an immediate city council appeal. If the employee chooses, they still have the option of appearing before the council. The authority to dismiss an employee remains with the city council.
• Cell phones: Employees who would like to use their own cell phones and other devices for city business are eligible for a tiered stipend. Depending on their level of use, they will be reimbursed between $20 to $60 per month. Previously, employees were generally reimbursed $40 per month. This change will save the city about $240, because some employees will receive a lower stipend.