Town of Unicoi proposing several changes to personnel policy

Brad Hicks • Mar 5, 2013 at 10:10 AM

UNICOI — The town of Unicoi Board of Mayor and Aldermen is proposing changes to its personnel policy — some minor, others more significant — that will impact the town’s small base of employees if finalized.

The board met in a called session Monday afternoon to review the town’s personnel policy and discuss potential changes. One of the proposed changes relates to the use of tobacco. The policy currently prohibits town personnel from using tobacco products in the kitchen, restrooms and meeting room of Unicoi Town Hall. After some discussion, the board proposed that wording in the policy be changed to include prohibiting use on all town-owned property, including in vehicles owned by the town.

Unicoi’s policy relating to drugs and alcohol may also see changes. Current wording in the policy states that the town “may” require employee drug testing or alcohol screening for pre-employment, at random, post-accident, for reasonable cause or return to duty. The board has proposed changing the wording from “may” to “shall” require the testing in the aforementioned instances, except for testing done at random. Random testing may be required by the town if the proposed changes go into effect. Proposed language changes in the policy would also prohibit the use of drugs and alcohol all on town-owned properties.

The board has further proposed that policy be amended to require quarterly safety meetings for town employees.

In the event that an employee is terminated, medical, dental and retirement benefits will be canceled at the end of the month that the employee was terminated, according to proposed changes. The policy currently states these benefits will be canceled after the last day worked unless otherwise mandated by the board of mayor and aldermen.

A change to the manner in which employee pay increases will be handled in the future was also discussed. Currently, merit-based pay increases may be given at a supervisor’s discretion, subject by the board and in accordance with the town’s budget. A proposed language change in the policy would state that pay increases may be given at a supervisor’s recommendation, with the increase still subject to approval by the board of mayor and aldermen.

Vacation time was also discussed. The board of mayor and aldermen is proposing that newly hired employees will accrue one and one-quarter days of vacation time per quarter worked for their first year.

The board will not vote on any final changes to the policy until after its annual retreat, which will be held in the spring.

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