ActivePaper Archive Change of sick policy to save city - Hobbs News Sun, 2012-12-30

Change of sick leave policy to save city money

Picture

Murphy

Next year Hobbs employees will no longer get sick leave and vacation leave. Instead the city is changing to a paid time off system that will lump vacation and sick leave together.

City Manager J.J. Murphy said the city is ending the year with more than 148,000 hours of sick leave on the books — that is hours of work missed by city employees.

In an effort to curb sick leave abuse, the city proposed the change, which was approved by both the fire and police unions. “I think it is a tribute to the employees that they looked at a program that has long-term benefits for the City of Hobbs,” Murphy said. “It is a liability even for a community in good times. The savings we see we are going to dump right back into the employees.”

The city will buy-out the employees’ sick leave — which will cost the city $1.4-$1.7 million — but the annual savings to the city will be about $400,000, Murphy said.

He said the money will be used to hire more fire and police staff and pay incentives for bilingual employees and SWAT team members.

“Going forward we will see 20,000 hours of sick leave less per year,” Murphy said. “Paid time off is proven to reduce sick leave abuse by as much as 20 percent.” Employees will be given paid time-off hours based on their current time off and sick leave hours at a rate of one-to-one for vacation hours and one-to-one-half for sick leave. Each year hours not used are rolled over to a maximum number that will also vary depending on years of service. Employees will be paid for the hours they accrue and don’t use that go beyond their maximum allotted. The Hobbs City Commission approved the change at its last meeting.

Levi Hill can be reached at 391-5438 or reporter2@hobbsnews.com.