COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE
Revisions to Personnel Policy
Requesting approval to modify Personnel Policy P- 83, “Military Leave”
Tucker, White, Davis, Trank, Suyes, Roberman
LEGAL REVIEW: Yes
September 7, 2005
ACTION: X INFORMATION:
The Human Resources Department, assisted by the County Attorney's Office, has been reviewing the County's Personnel Policy Manual in order to update existing policies in a number of areas. At this point, staff is proposing revisions to personnel policy P-83, Military Leave.
4.1 Provide effective, responsive and courteous service to our customers.
Staff is proposing several changes to the County’s military leave policy and procedures. First, staff is proposing that the Board agree to extend the supplemental pay period from 9 to 24 months. Current policy provides that an employee on active military duty may receive supplemental pay from the County (supplementing the employee’s military pay to the amount equal to the County salary in effect at the time the employee begins military service, if the military pay is less) for up to 9 months. The proposed change allows for this pay supplement for up to 24 months of active duty. The purpose behind this proposed change is to ensure that employees called to military service are not penalized in the event that their military pay is less than their County salary. In view of the increased length of military terms of duty related to the Iraqi conflict, a number of localities have adopted similar supplemental pay policies in order to support and assist employees who are called upon to serve in the military. The supplemental pay would be capped at a maximum of two years in duration for each eligible employee.
Staff wishes to emphasize that the County is not required by state or federal law to continue to pay employees called to military service (beyond the initial 15-day statutory period) or to supplement the military pay received by such employees, but believes that in view of the length of service and sacrifices made by members of the military and their families, the proposed policy is worthwhile and recommended. Finally, the supplement would only apply in those situations where the military pay received by the employee is less than the employee’s County salary. If the military pay is equal to or greater than the employee’s County salary, no supplement would be paid.
The second proposed change involves the duration of health care coverage for employees who are called to military service. The federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act (USERRA), which is the federal law governing employment rights of military service members, was recently amended in important respects governing health care coverage. Under the previous version of the USERRA, employees who were called to active duty had the option to extend coverage from their employer-sponsored health care plan for up to 18 months under COBRA. The USERRA was amended to increase available coverage to 24 months under a COBRA-like option. While federal law does not require an employer to continue to contribute its share of the costs of coverage during this period, the County has elected to do so for the 18 month period, as reflected in current policy. The proposed revision would increase the 18 month period to 24 months of employer contribution. This policy change is motivated by the same principles underlying the proposal to pay supplemental pay to employees serving in the military – i.e., the County should continue to support its employees who are
called upon to sacrifice during this period and should ensure that, to the maximum extent possible, such employees and their families do not suffer financially while they are away from County service in the military.
In the case of employees who voluntarily enlist in the armed forces, federal law provides that reemployment rights exist for up to five (5) years while serving in the military. However, once the initial 15-day paid leave period and any other applicable paid leave expire, an employee who has voluntarily enlisted would be placed on unpaid leave and would not be entitled to receive any supplementary paid leave from the County for the duration of military service.
The additional supplemental pay will have minimal fiscal impact for the County. We rarely are required to supplement pay, as most employees on military leave earn more from the military than they do from the County. In addition, the military provides the employees with health care so they rarely choose to stay on the County’s health plans during deployment. However, as most reservists are deployed longer than the current 9 months we allow for supplemental pay, we recommend allowing the supplement for their length of duty, up to 2 years, and recommend increasing the health contribution limit up to the same 2 years. Although very few require either the supplemental pay or the health care contribution, when they do need them, it seems appropriate to offer it for the length of duty, up to 2 years.
Staff recommends adoption of the attached Resolution, which will approve the proposed changes to Personnel Policy P-83.
A – Resolution to adopt Personnel Policy P-83 amendment
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