Council takes no action re: OT pay
The chances of salaried Harrison County employees who are working extra due to the public health emergency receiving extra pay due to additional hours they’ve worked the past several weeks appear to be slim. During Monday night’s meeting of the Harrison County Council, five of the seven councilmembers voted in favor of taking no action.
Councilman Kyle Nix made the motion, with four members supporting it. Councilors Ross Schulz and Jennie Capelle voted against the motion.
“We’re taking no action,” Nix said, “and we’re not seeking to take any action on it. We’re not asking the commissioners to take any action on it.”
Council president Donnie Hussung said he heard back from the county’s human resources consultant, who said there is nothing the council can do since the county’s handbook policy for employees state salaried employees are not eligible for overtime pay.
“There is nothing we can do,” Nix said. “The policy is in place the way it is.”
Capelle said she would rather see the request go back to the commissioners, while some councilmembers fear this would be challenging to do fairly if they start this.
Nix said he and the council have asked all departments to tell them how many extra hours they work either during this public health crisis or other times.
Glen Bube, of the county highway department, said he has worked well past his 40 hours a week during his many years with the county.
“I have emergencies every winter, and some of them are declared emergencies; some of them aren’t,” Bube said. “But, it’s not quite real fair for one group of people to get something that somebody’s been doing 20 years with no compensation … because you have one pandemic.”
Councilman Brad Wiseman said that’s the example that worries him about looking into this issue.
“My concern with this is, once we open this, you open that,” he said. “It’s a very slippery slope. It’s very steep. Once you step out on it, where do you stop it?”
This discussion started after Carrie Herthel, the county’s administrator at the health department, asked the council to consider giving her and other salaried employees on her staff extra compensation for their work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Herthel said at a recent meeting these employees have logged more than 750 hours of extra time.
“They knew what the job description was when they signed up for it,” Nix said. “I’m sorry, but, like Glen said, not everybody’s got it and Glen’s got 20 years of backlogged overtime then that hasn’t been paid, and the parks department, too.”
Wiseman, who sits on the Harrison County Hospital board, said salaried HCH employees have not received any extra compensation since the outbreak began.
Councilor Holli Castetter said after looking at a salary analysis from the HR consultants, Herthel and a nursing administrator are making between $20,000 and $25,000 more than what they should be getting paid.
“I personally feel like it’s covered in this additional they’re already getting paid,” Castetter said.
The consultants told Hussung that a few other counties are considering something similar for their salaried employees.
The consultants spent the last several months analyzing all county employees’ compensation after the highway department asked to be re-evaluated. The findings are now being looked at by the council and could be brought up as the council forms the 2021 budget.
The Harrison County Board of Commissioners, which will meet Monday at 7 p.m. at the government center, could begin looking at changes to the handbook policy or possibly make them retroactive.