Senior staff for Wellesley Township will receive one extra personal day per month on a 8-month trial basis to make up for overtime worked starting in May, despite opposition from Coun. Herb Neher.
Chief administrative officer Rik Louwagie proposed he and his colleagues get one day per month for a total of 12 days per year after polling the staff demonstrated they work anywhere from five to 25 extra hours each week.
“They have that it’s built in to management salaries quite often that it is an expectation that you work occasional overtime without any remuneration,” Neher said. “That’s why senior staff make a heck of a lot more money, quite often because they do work overtime.”
Louwagie noted every other municipality in the region except for Kitchener allows some form of lieu time for their managers in recognition of the extra hours worked.
Coun. Carl Smit suggested they offer the lieu time, but not as much as proposed for the time being.
“I don’t think any one of us doesn’t think they do a wonderful job,” Smit said. “My thought process was we should try this for six months or a year at half, six days per year, see how it goes, if it works. If we find out we’re still running way short maybe we’ve got to look at hiring.”
Council eventually agreed on eight months to allow for seasonal differences in departments.
Coun. Shelley Wagner questioned if it was an issue of department heads not delegating work to staff under them and if they would also be compensated with lieu days.
“They are not,” Louwagie said. “Some of the staff are putting in overtime and they are paid for that overtime. It’s directly in the employee manual.”
“Usually budget constraint is the biggest thing,” he explained. “The council meetings of course are for department heads to attend. But usually it’s just a matter of you can’t force your employees to work overtime. The work that’s being performed is at the department head level.”
Coun. Peter van der Maas questioned if this much overtime is required by senior management why they’re not hiring more staff. He suggested dealing with that rather than creating a policy of providing personal days.
Mayor Joe Nowak was opposed to the idea of hiring more employees.
“What I like about this particular proposition is it’s not going to cost the taxpayer any money,” Nowak said. “I think it’s a good way to recognize the extra work that they do and to make sure that they’re fairly compensated.”
Coun. Neher noted during his 30 years working in management in the private and public sectors, there was always room for flex time, where if an employee had to step out of the office for a couple hours, they could make it up another day. Louwagie explained that’s not the case in the 2010 employee manual and they have to fill out sick time slips every time they leave during office hours.
“Right now I have not been allowing [flex time] because it’s not in the employee manual,” Louwagie said. “The previous CAO was allowing it on a system that he administered himself, which we’ve found out was troublesome from a tracking standpoint.”
He noted they’d love to have extra staff but it’s not possible in the budget. The personal days must be taken each month and can’t be accumulated. This way, staff aren’t away from the office for extended periods of time.
“With all due respect to the staff I’m opposed to this,” Neher said. “There are numerous ways of recognizing and giving management perks. Two weeks’ vacation … if we say yes there’s no monetary value because people are just going to take it, but seven [staff] times two [weeks], that’s 80 days a year that we don’t have management. I’m just a little bit leery about this. Irregularity is part of the management job.”
Neher asked for a recorded vote and was the sole councillor to vote against the motion, which passed.