Charlotte city employees worry about sick time during pandemic

Emergency Paid Leave program in Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - While many businesses close across the Queen City because of the COVID-19 pandemic essential city services have to remain operational. But a WBTV Investigation finds that many City of Charlotte employees have questions about whether the paid time off policy will cover them if they must take extended time off from work.

Emails sent to city employees leaves a lot of room for interpretation about whether they will be covered if need an extended leave of absence.

One email sent from the city to employees simply said "know your city benefits (such as sick leave, vacation leave and short-term disability) and utilize them in a way that is best for your situation.”

Another sent to aviation staff didn't even mention PTO but said that if you're at higher risk for the virus contact human resources.

During their meeting Monday night city council passed an emergency paid leave program. The new program “grants the city manager with the authority to make necessary adjustments to the City's leave policies to address the current COVID-19 pandemic.”

But at the meeting no specific decisions were made about what that would look like. Councilman Ed Driggs asked the city manager to keep him updated on any decisions his office makes related to the emergency leave program.

Charlotte city employees worry about sick time during pandemic

WBTV asked City Manager Marcus Jones if employees who ran out of PTO would be forced to take unpaid time off.

“The purpose to have these additional tools is that’s not our goal for our employees to be at home not receiving pay,” Jones said.

Jones said that there will be many adjustments to work schedules such as minimum staffing to try and keep employees fresh who will be required to work longer hours.

Jones also mentioned that, with schools closed for at least two weeks, many employees will have to find creative ways to take care of their families.

A bill in Congress that still needs approval from the US Senate would grant many workers, including government employees, two weeks of paid leave at 100 percent pay and 12 weeks of family leave at 67 percent pay.

But how the city will operate if that passes is still a question.

For the rest of the week CATS and LYNX services will keep their full schedule although Jones said that could change depending on ridership numbers. Bulk item pickup will also likely be reduced so that employees can focus on regular trash pickup, which Jones said would remain unaffected.

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