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Harris: Perhaps It’s Time to Review County Employee Holiday, Time Off Policies

Harris: Perhaps It’s Time to Review County Employee Holiday, Time Off Policies
(Miller/KNEB/RRN)

One Scotts Bluff County Commissioner says he would like to see an updated time-off policy for employees following the closure of some county offices last Christmas Eve while others remained open.

Mark Harris added the subject to the Tuesday night Board agenda, saying he was not happy with the manner in which the decisions were made after President Trump declared the day a national holiday, which also meant a closure of state offices with the exception of the courts and other agencies that operate year-round

Harris said he’s in favor of closing County offices for half a day on Christmas eve, but the overall total of holidays observed by the county needs to be discussed further. “Frankly, when we compare to anyone else in the community, the private sector, (and) any other public sector offices, we get more days off than anyone else does. And I’m frustrated with that,” said Harris.

However, other elected County officials said in the past, the county would almost always follow the state’s lead, and noted any closure of state offices impacts services provided on the county level, such as vehicle registration and issuing driver’s licenses.

In addition, some of those officials noted that governmental benefits packages are one of the things that attract prospective employees and makes them stay once they hire on, as the pay rate of a public sector position is generally below comparable jobs in the private sector.

The Board also found out other nearby counties may have even more generous holiday schedules than Scotts Bluff County, which regularly observes 12 holidays a year. Banner County Commissioner Robert Post, who was at the meeting to address other subjects on the agenda, said Banner County observes 14 holidays a year, including Christmas Eve, and one of them, Good Friday, is unpaid.

Harris suggested it might be time for the County Personnel Board to review the county’s entire time-off regulations, including sick leave, and perhaps come up with new policies or a system that everyone could agree would be beneficial.

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