The Personnel Policies Handbook for Clay County employees was the topic of discussion in Friday's joint meeting of the Clay County Commissioners and Clay County Council.
Kent Irwin, attorney for Waggoner, Irwin, Scheele and Associates, Muncie, had been working on the handbook the past couple of months with a subcommittee consisting of Commissioner Paul Sinders, Council President Mike McCullough and Clay County Auditor Mary Jo Alumbaugh.
"The process for putting this together has run much more smoothly than it has in other counties," Irwin said.
Irwin said he tried to group items of similar nature together to formulate the handbook, and he is currently in the process of also gathering written job descriptions from every county office.
"We initially sent out questionnaires in June for employees to fill out regarding their job," Irwin said. "We took those and drew up drafts of job descriptions which we sent back to the offices for review. Some of the descriptions have been finalized while we are still waiting to receive approval of the drafts back from some of the offices, which were sent out as recently as Oct. 23."
The handbook will consist of seven chapters and an appendix regarding the Drug and Alcohol Policy for CDL Drivers, which had been in effect but was not part of the official handbook.
One of the provisions made called for a Personnel Administration Committee to be formed to regularly review the application of the policies and perform various advisory functions. The committee will consist of one commissioner, one county council member and the auditor.
The residential requirements to be employed by the county were taken out for the new handbook as Irwin felt it may hinder the ability to hire an individual who was well-qualified for an open position.
"By limiting the area in which a potential employee can reside, it can make things difficult to find the right people with the right skills needed," Irwin said.
The majority of the rest of the handbook was put together in a way to be in compliance with state and national laws and statutes, such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
However, the commissioners and council members did address a possible problem of employees refusing to sign the Employee Acknowledgement Form.
"This has been a problem in the past," McCullough said. "Some employees felt that by signing this, it meant they agreed to everything in it, but it just gives us written verification that they received the handbook."
Sinders suggested making a refusal to sign the form an act of insubordination, which all members appeared to agree on.
"This book isn't just a suggestion of the rules, they are the rules," Irwin said. "Refusing to sign is an act of insubordination and while the council and commissioners don't have the right to discipline the employee themselves, they can notify the elected official who that person works for. It would be then up to the elected official to determine any possible disciplinary matters."
Minor revisions still need to be made to the handbook, which both the commissioners and council members hope to have adopted by their December meetings to be put into effect as of Jan. 1, 2008.