BOS reviewing first-of-its-kind personnel policy
‘County employees are a valuable resource . . . and without them the mission of the Rappahannock County government could not be accomplished’
As promised, Rappahannock County Administrator Garrey Curry has presented to the Board of Supervisors for its review a decades-overdue draft Personnel Policy for county government employees, dated August 2019.
Currently no such human resources policy exists for county employees. The detailed 94-page draft covers everything from compensation benefits and working conditions to health and safety, sexual harassment, even political activity.
If approved the policy would also put in place a timetable for employee evaluations, effective after new full and part-time staff have completed a six-month “introductory” or probationary period.
In addition, a personnel file for each employee would be kept containing personal information relevant to an individual’s employment, maintained by the county’s Human Resource Department. The files, for example, could contain wage and salary information, letters of commendation, reprimands or grievances, etc.
“County employees are a valuable resource and an integral part of the
system established to provide governmental services and without them the mission of the Rappahannock County government could not be accomplished,” the draft states. “The following policies are intended to ensure equal treatment of all employees and to serve as a written statement of the importance the Board of Supervisors of Rappahannock County assigns to the well-being of the County's workforce . . .
“It is further the policy of the County of Rappahannock that a uniform personnel management system be established for its employees. The Board of Supervisors has assigned to the County Administrator the authority to maintain a Personnel Administration System including, but not limited to, recruitment, testing, development, and placement of new employees; the establishment of equal employment opportunity, employee relations, and personnel records programs, and the administration of the classification and pay plans.”
As set forth in the draft policy, the county administrator would have specific authority “to employ, promote, transfer, reclassify, discipline, demote, discharge, or in any manner deal with personnel matters” concerning employees of all departments and agencies under the administrator’s control.
However, the policy would not preclude department heads from issuing standard operating procedures designed to govern the performance and management of assigned employees, provided such procedures or rules do not conflict with the policies of the BOS and/or administrator.
The policy as drafted is divided into “classified” and “unclassified” services, the former including all employees who work under any subsequently approved rules, policies and procedures.
Unclassified services would consist of the administrator, county attorney, constitutional officers and their employees, members of boards and commissions appointed by BOS, employees of the Library Board of Trustees, Rappahannock County Water and Sewer Authority Board, the local Electoral Board, volunteer personnel and personnel appointed to serve without pay.
“Unclassified employees are not governed by these policies notwithstanding the fact that some unclassified employees may be eligible for benefits and be governed by specific policies as set forth herein in a manner similar to classified employees where specifically identified,” the draft manual states.
Furthermore, the draft proposes the establishment of a “No-Harassment/ No-Discrimination Policy.”
“The County will not tolerate any form of harassment or discrimination. In accordance with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, our No-Harassment/No-Discrimination Policy prohibits harassment, discrimination or intimidation of others based on age, sex, color, race, creed, religion, national origin, ethnicity, pregnancy, disability, political affiliation, marital status, military/veteran status, status in any other group protected by federal or local law or for any other reason.
“Harassment includes, but is not limited to, remarks, jokes, written materials, symbols, paraphernalia, clothing or other verbal or physical conduct which may intimidate, ridicule, demean, or belittle a person because of their age, sex, color, race, creed, religion, national origin, ethnicity, pregnancy, disability, political affiliation, marital status, military/veteran status, or status in another group protected by federal, state or local law.
“Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances; requests for sexual favors; and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature; as well as behavior, remarks, jokes or innuendos that intimidate, ridicule, demean or belittle a person on the basis of their gender; regardless of whether the remarks are sexually provocative or suggestive of sexual acts.”
It’s further made clear by the draft that every claim “of harassment or discrimination will be investigated thoroughly and promptly without consequence to the employee experiencing or reporting the conduct. County Administration and Human Resources will endeavor to keep complaints, investigations, and resolutions confidential to the extent possible; however, investigation may require disclosure of some information.”
All employees who bring complaints would be provided information on the outcome of the investigation within the limits of confidentiality.
And then this proposed warning to any accused: “Retaliation is illegal and contrary to the policy of the county.”
The draft manual stresses that any new policies enacted would not limit the power and authority of any constitutional officer, department head or supervisor to make internal departmental rules, policies and procedures governing the conduct and performance of their individual employees, as long as they are not in conflict with the county’s approved policies or any equal employment opportunity policies.
However, such department heads and supervisors would be required to submit these internal rules, policies, and procedures for review by the county administrator “prior to implementation,” at which point if approved they would have the force and effect of the rules of the county.
“If departmental policies are found to be inconsistent with the personnel policies . . . the constitutional officer/department head/supervisor will be directed to modify inconsistencies as necessary.”
Curry stressed to the Rappahannock News this week that this preliminary personnel policy is “not really ready for public debate given its very draft state.” The early manual is presently being reviewed by members of the BOS.