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’

Rappahannock News - - Front Page - By John McCaslin Rap­pa­han­nock News staff

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.

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