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County works to treat all employees the same
David Britton.jpg

Warren County commissioners have received a first look at an updated employee handbook and were alerted to discrepancies in how employees are currently being treated. 

The county Policy and Personnel Committee met Monday with David Britton, who has been working as contract labor, to update Warren County government’s employee handbook. They received a new 31-page Warren County Handbook that outlined policies and procedures for county employees and a list of 11 items deemed “liability exposures” due to how employees are being treated differently. 

Topping that list was comp time accumulation. While some departments are adhering to federal law regarding a cap on comp time hours, other departments are not.

“We have inconsistency between department heads and elected officials on how comp time has been administered,” said Britton. “In our past document, it was noted that it’s 240 hours and 480 hours is what you are allowed to accrue. We had some departments that were allowed to accrue much more comp time than that. By law, those numbers are set at 240 for non-emergency employees and 480 hours for emergency employees.”

Commissioners placed $50,000 in the 2020-21 fiscal year budget for a review of each department looking for inconsistencies in how employees are treated, a decision prompted by complaints regarding irregularities, and an update of the county’s existing employee handbook. Financial Management awarded that bid at $46,500.

Britton reported that “probably half the county’s departments” have allowed employees to exceed the cap on comp hours, while the remaining departments are strictly adhering to it. 

“I’ve heard some as high as 1,500 hours,” said Britton. 

Commissioner Ron Lee says this situation occurred in the county previously with an EMS employee.

Commission Steven Helton asked Britton, “Do you think we’ll have to do some sort of buyout, some sort of buyout of hours?”

“It’ll either be a buyout or to allow folks to use them up,” said Britton. “I can tell you the worst offenders were not in EMS. These were other departments throughout this building (Warren County Administrative Offices) right here.” 

Helton stated, “If they’ve got it coming to them, I want them to have it. I’m not trying to cheat anyone out of anything. I want to make that clear, publically and for the record.”

Rounding out the remaining 10 items on the list of liability exposures discovered during the review of departments: conflict resolution, probationary period administration, hiring and termination procedures, social media, employment-at-will, conflict of interest (nepotism), family and medical leave clarifications, vacation administration, sick leave and job descriptions. 

Helton asked what the county should do if it is determined some department directors or elected officials violated the nepotism policy by hiring individuals they should not.

“I wouldn’t do anything retro-active,” said Britton. “Just from this moment going forward, once this policy has been accepted by the full commission.” 

Britton says the employee handbook presented to committee members on Monday is not 100% complete and has yet to receive legal counsel review. 

Policy and Personnel Committee members tabled its inspection of the handbook until July 8. No decision was made on how best to handle the excessive comp time situation.