COVID-19 sick leave extended in Ashwaubenon
By Kevin Boneske
ASHWAUBENON – Village employees have been given another three months to use their allotted 80 hours of COVID-19 emergency sick leave.
Village Manager Joel Gregozeski said the federal mandate for the emergency leave was originally established as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Emergency Security (CARES) Act and later extended under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
It was to expire Sept. 30 before the Ashwaubenon Village Board on Sept. 28 extended the leave to Dec. 31.
Gregozeski said the primary reason for the extension was because a variety of employees may be negatively affected by quarantines and isolation requirements with the COVID-19 pandemic. Employees may have to miss work to provide child care with schools and day cares facing more positive cases.
“Obviously, we still have risks related to isolating and quarantine requirements related to individuals who test positive,” he said. “And so, providing that extension would continue that benefit.”
Gregozeski said the provision under the federal mandate allowed up to 80 hours of available additional sick leave for eligible uses, which the village will continue and fund through the end of this year with ARPA funds.
“It would not be an additional 80 hours – so I just want to make that clear – that as of Jan. 1, everyone was eligible to have up to 80 hours of emergency leave time provided as part of that act,” he said. “This would just continue that 80 hours. It does not add an additional 80 hours.”
If an employee has already used those 80 hours, Gregozeski said that person would not get additional sick leave for purposes related to COVID-19.
They would have to instead use one of the existing accrued benefits, whether it’s regular sick leave, vacation or compensatory time.
“If an employee has not used their full 80 hours – maybe a partial allotment or none at all – they would be, then, eligible to use up to that 80 hours until the end of December,” he said.
Given it’s unknown at this point what the future spread of COVID-19 might be, Gregozeski said he would like to look at emergency leave again at the end of December.
In other action, the Village Board approved increases in charges for fingerprint fees from $10 to $25 for citizen-requested prints and from $25 to $40 for court-ordered prints.
Public Safety Chief Brian Uhl said he didn’t favor the two categories of prints with different fees for village residents and non-residents, as was previously suggested by some board members.
Uhl said it would require more work for staff to identify where people reside, and those being fingerprinted to have the proper documentation with them to verify where they live.
“When in discussion with our staff, they would prefer not to go through those steps and be able to distinguish between (residents and non-residents),” he said. “Also keep in mind the fee of $25 for citizen-requested prints probably still doesn’t cover our cost, so it’s a nominal fee. The court-ordered prints – the reason why those are a bit higher at $40 – there’s just more involved with court-ordered prints, so it requires a little more time and dedication, documentation on our part.”