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Time off donor bank divides BOC, county employees
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CONYERS - The Rockdale County Board of Commissioners (BOC) approved a new paid time off (PTO) policy for its employees and some department directors may not be totally on board with the changes.

The new policy will be effective pending its approval by Rockdale County Attorney Qader Baig.

One of the issues at hand with the policy are the changes made to the PTO donor program, which allows employees to donate their accrued PTO time to another employee should that employee need additional time off from work for personal reasons.

With the new policy, people will have to accrue a minimum amount of hours prior to being eligible to donate PTO hours to some else. Rockdale County Human Resource Director Darryl Bowie couldn't say for sure at the meeting, but he thinks the minimum amount is 60 accrued hours. This was done to protect new employees, he said.

"We had people donating PTO time when they didn't have very much time to begin with," said Bowie. "New employees were sometimes asked for donations."

Then the process of donating will be changed as well. Previously, people could simply donate PTO time to someone they knew, but with the new policy, a donor bank will be set up which will house all donated PTO time and then distributed to whichever employee needs it at the time.

The bank was created to make things equitable, said Bowie.

"Overtime, we noticed a lot of disparity. People (would have) the same condition but due to popularity, size of the department, some couldn't get a whole lot of donations. Some couldn't get any," said Bowie. "So by creating a donation pool, a bank, all employees have equal access to donated leave."

County Commissioner Oz Nesbitt voiced his displeasure with the creation of the bank. He says that he's received several e-mails from county employees and isn't "convinced" Bowie has got the department directors to totally "buy-in" to the policy.

County Chairman and CEO Richard Oden called Rockdale County Finance Roselyn Miller before the board to speak on the new policy. Oden asked her, "does everything seem to be equitable for every employee in your opinion."

Miller took a considerably long pause before answering.

"I guess with every policy and different departments and different directors, there's always changes that could be made to the policy based on ones view of the policy," said Miller. "I don't think that you'll find one policy everyone agrees upon. You would have to find that compromise, and that's what the (HR) director has tried to do."

Miller then reiterated Nesbitt's words.

"If you don't have a buy-in, it may be difficult to push the policy to your employees," she said.

Nesbitt then told the Bowie that the human-element was being taken out of the policy with the creation of the donor bank.

"I think that if I'm an employee and I have a relationship with my coworker and I choose or elect to support that person in need of additional hours, I'm donating my time based upon my relationship. I don't what to just donate my time to someone I have no relationship with who perhaps is in other department who I may not know," said Nesbitt. "It gives me more intimate control of my own personal hours to donate to a person I have a relationship with versus putting them into a centralized pool."

County Commissioner Doreen Williams disagreed with Nesbitt calling the plan a "much more fair" one and said the board should "trust HR to do their job in a professional and equitable manner."

"It takes it out of the popularity and the friendship kind of thing. That's what I'm used to," said Williams. "As a teacher in Gwinnett County, I donated one day a year. You have to donate your leave with the idea that it's going to be helpful and it doesn't matter who its helping."

Oden agreed with Williams on this matter.

"I trust that our HR department, which is the HR department of the year in the state of Georgia, which includes all municipalities, governments and corporations, and I trust that our HR director, who's HR director of the year, I trust (his) expertise," said Oden.

Oden then thanked Williams for "digging into the policy and finding the equity."

"As policy makers that's our job. Not to micromanage operations," said Oden. "Everyone's not going to be happy."

Nesbitt then made the motion to defer item to a later date to give Bowie more time to talk to department directors and "trust" that he'll come back to the board with a better policy.

His motioned died for lack of a second.

Williams then made the motion to approve the policy pending county attorney approval. Her motion passed 2-1, with Nesbitt dissenting.

The next county board meeting will be Sept. 15 at 10 a.m. at the Assembly Hall, 901 Main Street, Conyers.