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St. Louis County board approves revised sick leave policy

Updated: March 10, 2020 06:52 PM

St. Louis County now has an updated sick leave policy, to help prepare for a potential outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

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Commissioners approved the change on Tuesday morning. It allows for employees to take up to 10 days of sick time, even if they haven't earned it yet.

There are approximately 1800 people who work for the county, and leaders said nearly 1/3 of them haven't banked two weeks of sick time yet.

They are social workers, deputies, and others who are on the front lines of helping people. "We can't automatically shut down our operations and close business. We need to continue to serve our citizens, especially during a time of widespread concern related to public health," explained Jim Gottschald, director of human resources and administration for the county.

The message everywhere is to stay home when you're sick. And this is a proactive step to encourage people to follow the rules. "I think we're one of the first governments to come up with a blueprint like this. It's a tool we hope we don't have to use," added Patrick Boyle, commissioner of the 2nd district.

Frank Jewell, commissioner of the 1st district, said, "It really makes sense, in an organization that has such connection and interaction with the public."

The county did something similar a decade ago, when the H1N1 flu was running rampant. Along with the advance of the sick leave, the revision gives employees more discretion with their other paid time off. They could use it to care for others, if needed, due to a public health emergency.

"We think it's more flexible and more appropriate to today's workforce demands, and a recognition of changing circumstances," Kevin Gray said. He's the county administrator.

Commissioner Keith Nelson asked if this revised policy would affect the taxpayers at all. The answer was no. Also, leaders acknowledged this policy may not work in the private sector.

Facilities management is making cleaning of hard surfaces a top priority in county buildings.

Copyright 2020 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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