Commissioners decline paying sick leave to former employees

Published: Thursday, October 24, 2013 at 06:08 PM.

CHIPLEY — The Washington County Board of County Commissioners declined paying two employees their accumulated sick leave during Thursday’s meeting.

Commissioner Todd Abbott asked the commissioners to consider paying 100 percent of the accumulated sick leave to two employees who were laid off during the recent reduction in force at the county annex.

Ellen Byrd, who was the county’s administrative assistant, and Malcolm Gainey, who was the county’s computer systems administrator, were both laid off by the county when the county commissioners voted to not fund their positions in September.

“These were two long-term county employees, and they did not have adequate time to use their sick leave before they were let go,” Abbott said. “I would like to see these two employees paid for their sick leave.”

County Attorney Jeff Goodman said that the two employees were not eligible based on the county’s vesting schedule, which requires an employee to work for the county for 30 years before being eligible to receive 100 percent of their accumulated sick leave in the form of pay.

The term “vested” refers to the amount of the time required to qualify for a certain percentage of a benefit.

“Historically, a reduction in force is treated as a good faith separation, almost like a retirement.” Goodman said. “Based on policy, it takes six years to be 25 percent vested, and 15 years to be 50 percent vested. After 20 years, the employee is 75 percent vested.”

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