THOMASVILLE — At the most recent regular meeting of Thomasville City Council, the local government approved the extension of a policy created to afford employees an opportunity to derive benefits during the pandemic.
City Manager Michael Brandt elaborated on the policy and requested council continue its support of city employees. Thomasville adopted a temporary sick leave policy to extend through the COVID-19 pandemic federal provisions under the CARES Act, which expired Dec. 31.
“At the time of adoption, the original amendment was to extend from Jan. 1 to April 30,” Brandt said. “Unfortunately, we are still in a pandemic and still having individuals get sick or quarantined. We are asking to extend this for three months to July 31, 2021.”
By virtue of the policy, the city allowed individuals who receive the vaccine to obtain four hours of compensatory time. That is now written into the policy until July.
“We are continuing to encourage all of our employees to get vaccinated,” said Councilwoman Jane Murphy, who is also manager of special projects and community events at Novant Health Thomasville Medical Center.
Due to the prevalence of COVID-19, the federal government passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act last April, which established a series of items that affected government employees. In January, 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 who are still being affected by the pandemic having to use their sick leave in order to stay healthy.
All employees who are full-time are 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.
Generally, the federal act provided sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay when 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.