Against the clock… City Council convenes in an emergency meeting to address FMLA, sick time

Published 1:24 pm Thursday, April 2, 2020

With the recent changes made by Congress passing a Federal law to expand FMLA and sick leave, the Elizabethton City Council was faced with calling an emergency council meeting on Wednesday to pass a resolution to how the City of Elizabethton would address those changes.
In regard to the extended FMLA, according to Angie Lyons of the Elizabethton City HR Department, the expanded FMLA time would allow for 12 weeks of expanded FMLA for those who have children 18 and under who are out of school or does not have child care as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Employees that are not exempted from receiving the expanded FMLA would get the first two weeks with no pay while the last 10 weeks would be paid at 2/3rd of their pay up to $200 per day.
Eligible employees would have to work for the city for 30 days.
In regard to the sick leave, full-time employees would receive 80 hours of additional leave while part-time employees would qualify for the average number of hours they had worked over the last six months.
There were six requirements for the sick leave which were:
1. A federal quarantine due to COVID-19.
2. Advised by a health team to quarantine due to having the COVID-19.
3. Waiting for diagnosis on a COVID-19 test.
4. Caring for someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
5. Caring for a child out of school.
6. Show signs of having COVID-19.
Lyons advised Council that an employee could use the paid sick leave to cover the first two weeks of the unpaid FMLA if they so chose.
Many questions surrounded the list of employees who were exempt from receiving the FMLA benefit.
City Manager Daniel Estes said, “We cannot let personal issues be a point of failure. It is a difficult choice but we could be in a bad position. This is out of an abundance of caution and we don’t want to run out of staff to do the jobs that are required.”
Others echoed the importance of making tough decisions like this due to ensuring that there are enough personnel in each department to take care of their duties especially in the event of an emergency.
The Council voted unanimously to pass the resolution which was important because the law goes into effect today.
This law will end at the end of December 2020.
Also, as a point of information only, Estes advised Council that the bond sale went through on Tuesday with the city getting a good return at 2.28 percent which was especially good considering how rocky the market had been recently.
“The sell went really well,” said Estes. “We landed where we felt we would be when we initially were going to sell the first time.”

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