Courtland approves sick pay for town employees who test positive for COVID

Peebles

The Town of Courtland adopted a COVID pay policy for town employees in a regular meeting on Monday. The decision comes after one of the town’s full-time employees recently contract the coronavirus, Courtland Mayor Linda Peebles said.

“Up until now, we haven’t had anything in place,” she said Monday. “We’ve just had our first employee missing time and there’s nothing line to address pay.”

Until Monday, if an employee tested positive for the virus, it was up to the employee to use built sick leave or vacation days, she said. Under the town’s current employee policy, full-time workers accrue up to four hours of sick or personal time a month—or six eight-hour days in the year for eligible employees.

The plan that passed 4-0 Monday will see COVID-positive employees paid up to five days for regular hours and pay if they are forced to quarantine. Place 1 Council member Billy Mason was not present for the meeting.

“If they have COVID, we don’t want them in, and we don’t want them to feel they have to come to work,” Place 5 Council member Farrell Hutto said. He and Town Clerk Vickie Jackson said employees must present proof of a positive test before the COVID pay is approved.

Peebles said employees who come down with the virus must also provide proof of a negative test before returning to work. 

In December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shortened its recommended isolation period for COVID patients in the wake of the latest dominant strain, the Omicron variant.

Under the new guidelines, those who test positive for the coronavirus should quarantine for five days unless a fever persists, and severe symptoms have not subsided. After the five days, patients are urged to wear masks in public for an additional five days to minimize the risk of further infection, the CDC said.

In Monday night’s meeting, the Courtland Council also tabled a decision concerning updates to the town’s employee handbook. 

Peebles recommended updating the current employee policy to allow fulltime employees to accrue additional sick or personal leave. Under her proposal, full-time employees who work eight-hour shifts would begin accruing up to eight hours of sick or personal leave each month. 

She said the town has one full-time employee who works 12-hour shifts; she proposed that employee and any other future full-time employee working regular 12-hour shifts would begin accruing up to 12 hours of sick and personal time per month. 

Place 4 Council member Lee Hitt, concerned about costs to the town budget, moved to table the motion until next month to allow council members more time to look over the handbook for other possible revisions. 

Jackson said the town’s employee handbook has not been updated since 2011. 

In other business, the council renewed a one-year lease on 17.5 acres of Valley Landing Golf Course for agricultural use by tenant Jody Letson. According to the agreement, which sees the Town of Courtland paid $80 per leased acre a month, the lease will become null in the event the property is sold. 

Peebles said the golf course was listed for sale in December by MarMac Real Estate. The 229-acre commercial property, located at 985 Lawrence County Road 595 near the Courtland airport, is listed for $1.6 million.  

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