Full time employees of the ambulance service will be compensated for holidays under a measure adopted by the county commission Monday night.
Compensation will be for eight hours per holiday.
EMS employees who work on holidays will get their regular wages plus the eight hours of holiday pay or comp time. Those who are off duty on holidays will also get eight hours of holiday pay . The county recognizes twelve holidays per year.
Second district commissioner Joe Johnson raised the issue saying the county has been violating its own personnel policy for years in not providing holiday pay to ambulance service workers, while doing so for other county employees. The sheriff's department has its own policy under which employees get one day of comp time per month to compensate for their having to work holidays.
Since May 1, 2012, the county has operated under a revised Personnel Policy for Employees of the DeKalb County Government. Concerning "Holiday Leave", the policy states that "Holidays for employees are recognized. Holiday leave will be equivalent to a normal schedule workday consisting of the time normally worked, between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. (8 hours) for Full-time employees. A list of the approved (12) holidays is included in this manual."
"It (policy) says we should pay all our employees holiday pay (8 hours) which can be dollars or comp time. If you work for the ambulance service and that holiday comes and you're not scheduled to work, you don't get anything," said Johnson.
The work schedule for EMS staff is 24 hours on and 48 hours off.
After unsuccessful efforts to get the interim EMS director to act, Johnson said he decided to bring the issue directly to the county commission. According to Johnson, the interim director said he was merely following the practice of the prior director concerning the policy.
"I'm going to make the motion tonight that we direct our temporary ambulance director to pay the employees their holiday pay where they work or not. Whether it be comp time or not. And that it become retroactive to January 1, 2015 which will be for two holidays (this year). And that we direct him (interim director) to continue paying each employee their holiday pay whether they work or not the way the handbook says," said Johnson.
Seventh district member Larry Summers suggested a delay on a vote until next month in order to give the appropriate committees a chance to review it. "We have a process of working with committees. Shouldn't we direct the county executive to call (meetings) of the ambulance or finance (committees) and call anybody from the ambulance service or a spokesman that would like to address us and let us hear their feelings up front? We could bring it back at the next court meeting. That's just four weeks," said Summers.
"We're violating our own policy. We've got a policy that says they should be paid and we're not doing it. I'm wanting the policy to just be enforced," replied Johnson.
Johnson's motion was adopted on an 8-6 vote. Those voting in favor were Anita Puckett, Kevin Robinson, Joe Johnson, Betty Atnip, Bradley Hendrix, Elmer Ellis, Jr., Jimmy Midgett, and Mason Carter. Voting against were Jonathan Norris, Wayne Cantrell, Larry Summers, Jerry Adcock, Jeff Barnes, and Jack Barton. Adcock and Barton said they preferred a committee review before a commission vote.