City employees facing major pay changes but HR director mum on details

Comp time policy could cost city employees

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Internal emails from the City of Charlotte show city leaders are considering major changes that will impact how thousands of city employees are paid.

The Human Resources department is drafting a new policy on compensatory time for exempt employees who make a salary and are ineligible for overtime pay.

The proposed policy would limit exempt employees to retaining 80 comp hours per year even though some employees currently earn in excess of 240 hours in a year. Currently there is no citywide policy on exempt employee comp time and each department manages it differently.

A city spokesperson says the proposed policy is still in revision and changes are expected.

WBTV has been requesting a copy of the policy proposal since April but city staff have refused to provide it until the day before this story was published. The city is yet to provide comments and questions sent by city employees about the proposed policy changes.

WBTV has also been requesting an interview with Human Resources Director Sheila Simpson but a city spokesperson emailed that “The city won’t be providing an interview on this because the policy is not final.”

However a WBTV reporter questioned Simpson inside city offices Wednesday. While she refused to be interviewed on-camera, Simpson claimed that the city’s policy discussions about employee pay are not public business and don’t need to be talked about by outside organizations like WBTV.

While the policy has not been finalized there are other significant proposed changes.

  • Exempt compensatory time shall be accrued by eligible employees after working more than 45 hours in the work week.
  • Employees may use two or less days in a work week of supervisory approved compensatory time.
  • The maximum number of hours an eligible employee can retain is 80 hours on a fiscal year basis.

In an email sent to city directors, Simpson wrote "This policy changes are not designed to be punitive. Quite the contrary. We want to treat our entire workforce as professional stewards. Together we can help shift the focus to the body of work and not a timesheet.

It is currently unclear what the city’s timeline is to implement a new policy. The proposed changes come one year before the Republican National Convention comes to Charlotte and city employees will be expected to work around the clock.

The policy proposal also comes as city council just passed a budget that authorizes pay raises for eligible city employees across all departments.

But city employees are still fighting for more just pay.

“First of all it’s morale issue, it’s a real big morale issue,” local police union president Mark Michalec told WBTV.

Michalec said officers are pushing to change their pay cycle from 28 days to 14 days. He claims it makes it almost impossible for officers to earn overtime.

“Any time you take a vacation day or a sick day it’s pretty much going to be cancelled out,” Michalec said.

At a city council budget meeting in May two city employees asked for changes to how they earn overtime and how they’re paid for working obscure hours, called shift differential.

WBTV asked city manager Marcus Jones if any changes were planned like the pay increases that were included in the last budget.

“We’re going to do the same thing in the 2020 fiscal year to see how we can address some of the other issues that came up such as shift differential and the 28 to 14 day cycle,” Jones said.

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