THOMASVILLE — A new policy approved by the city of Thomasville will extend benefits to city employees that will resemble those provided by the federal government throughout 2020 because of the pandemic.

Due to the prevalence of COVID-19, the federal government passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act in April 2020, which established a series of items that affected government employees. City Manager Michael Brandt said the first thing — and most important one — it provided was up to 80 hours of paid sick leave.

That additional sick leave meant an employee did not have to use sick leave accrued through their employer in order to address COVID-related sickness, whether the sickness was their own or within their family. Those 80 hours of sick leave expired on Dec. 31, 2020; therefore it left employees that are still being affected by the pandemic having to use their sick leave in order to stay healthy.

“This raised concerns for me because of our staffing needs,” Brandt said during the January meeting of Thomasville City Council. “What I’m requesting council to do tonight is to approve a temporary sick leave policy.”

All employees who are full-time will now be eligible for up to 80 hours of paid sick leave. Part-time employees who are employed year round are eligible for the number of hours of leave the employee works, on average, in a two-week period.

The city’s policy is retroactive to Jan. 1 and will end April 30, unless further extended by city council.

Generally, the federal act provided sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or two weeks of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine or care for a child under 18 years of age whose school or child care provider is closed related to COVID-19.

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at kennedy@tvilletimes.com.

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at kennedy@tvilletimes.com.