Council expands city employee scheduling to reduce contact

In the second special meeting of the week, Martinez City Council agreed to City Manager Eric Figueroa’s proposal to increase flexibility in scheduling employees’ work week.

In Friday’s meeting, conducted through an online teleconference because of the current shelter in place orders, the Council adopted a resolution allowing scheduling to take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. all seven days of the week.

Figueroa explained that city employees would work regular 40-hour weeks, including those who are working from home, because city operations are considered “essential” under the state’s shelter in place order.

However, even those employees sometimes need to come to City Hall to complete their work, the city manager said. Expanding scheduling flexibility would allow them to practice the social distancing demanded by California’s sheltering orders designed to bring the COVID-19 virus under control, he said.

At the same time, Figueroa said he was encouraging employees who have accumulated vacation and sick leave time to use it.

Treston Shull, vice president of Laborers Local 324, which represents about 60 city employees, asked for additional legal review of Figueroa’s proposal, saying it proposed “significant scheduling changes” that could interfere with employees’ off-duty lives and obligations.

Senior Assistant City Attorney Veronica Nebb said the city manager had followed procedures in developing the resolution, and that he had consulted with special counsel as well as the city’s own legal firm before submitting the request to the Council.

The resolution passed unanimously, with Councilmember Debbie McKillop’s absence excused.

However, Councilmember Lara DeLaney, noting that Contra Costa County has offered its employees 80 paid hours of emergency leave, asked that Martinez look into offering employees something similar so they wouldn’t have to dip into accrued time off.

That topic may be considered at a separate meeting because it wasn’t on Friday’s published agenda, Nebb suggested, but other members of the Council indicated they liked DeLaney’s suggestion.

The expanded work hours and days are expected to conclude May 3, the anticipated end to the shelter in place order.


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