Last week we filed our County-wide grievance covering hybrid and routine teleworkers that were required to take their own leave accrual when they were unable to work during the County closure between January 14th and 20th. Today, February 7, we had a Step 3 grievance meeting with County Labor Relations and based off the discussion in that meeting we are cautiously optimistic that we will get this issue resolved.
At the center of the issue is the direction that many employees received from County management that hybrid or routine teleworkers must use their own leave during a County closure or curtailment if they aren’t able to telework because of a power outage, internet outage or similar event. Our Union bargained with County over this subject in detail in 2022 and the agreement struck was that teleworking employees had to be treated the same as non-teleworking employees when they aren’t able to work from home because of extenuating circumstances. See the contract language below in Article 13.VII:
“In the event of a curtailment or closure of operations, employees on previously agreed to hybrid and routine
telework schedules, can be directed to telework regardless of whether it was a date they were originally scheduled
to be onsite. Such changes will not be considered a change in “work location” and are therefore excluded from any additional compensation and notice
provisions. Notwithstanding this provision, the County understands that employees may have extenuating circumstances such as power or internet
outages at home or an imminent evacuation order that precludes them from being able to telework from home. In such situations, the County will treat the
employee the same as an employee not on a routine or hybrid telework agreement including direct an employee to work at an open facility in the event of a
partial closure or curtailment or alternatively, with supervisor approval, employees may use leave accruals instead of working at another location.”
This doesn’t mean that if you had pre-approved vacation leave, called in sick to care for yourself or a family member, or that you had to provide childcare because of a school or day closure that you would get administrative leave during the County closure last month. But if your home was unusable for work because of an internet/power outage or similar like a tree falling on your home or broken plumbing, we believe you should be able to utilize administrative leave for those absences. Just to clarify there has not been a formal resolution struck for this grievance but we feel that we’re moving in a positive direction.
If you experienced a situation like this and were told to use accrued leave please let us know by filling out the form:
We have received about 80 responses so far. We appreciate all those who have responded and we will be using those responses to make sure the County makes you whole for lost pay or use of your own leave.