Supervisors to determine if staff can work from home during COVID-19

Working far into the night, County Administrator Gabriel Hydrick brought a partial plan on telecommunications and county employees to the attention of supervisors.

In a brief presentation March 17, Hydrick discussed the beginnings of an emergency telecommunications policy. His idea is that the policy could apply to county employees during the COVID-19 outbreak, and also be available in the case of future crises.

Borrowing plans from Los Angeles, Hydrick said some of the plan could work for Plumas County, some wouldn’t.

What Hydrick had in time for the supervisors’ meeting was “a very rough draft,” he explained. He also acknowledged that things are changing rapidly about COVID-19. His rough draft could look a lot different by the time he’s prepared to present it back to supervisors April 7.

County Council Craig Settlemire offered to “jump in to provide a little additional background,” to Hydrick’s ideas.

Traditionally, Human Resources Director Nancy Selvage and other representatives of the various bargaining units would need to be involved in a policy about staff hours and working conditions.

Under emergency situations supervisors can take steps without noticing employee bargaining groups, Settlemire explained.

However, at the earliest possible time, county bargaining representatives do need to meet with bargaining groups concerning working conditions, Settlemire added.

“Do we have to notify them about shelter in place?” Supervisor Lori Simpson asked. “The directive is way beyond us.”

Settlemire  explained that if the county health officer or governor makes the call then that supercedes any memorandum of understanding with the workforce.

He reminded supervisors that the county doesn’t have a telecommunication plan in place.

A concern that Simpson voiced about a telecommunication policy is where we live. She explained that Plumas County doesn’t have a good internet service in many areas. And then there are conditions such as storms that tend to disrupt communications services.

Hydrick said that the plan is to keep people working. Many of county departments were experiencing a staff shortage before the emergency, and some couldn’t handle further disruption to services and workloads. “Everything would remain the same except where they’re reporting for work,” he said.

In presenting supervisors with LA’s telecommunication plan — which is traditionally used for traffic reduction and reducing the carbon footprint in that area — there is “kind of a guide at home because that can be kind of challenging,” Hydrick said.

Not everyone has a home office; they have family and friends who might interrupt work time and production. There is also a guide on how to manage employees who work from home. “I don’t know that we especially need an agreement but (Hydrick) wants to give the board ideas for direction,” on a policy.

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