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Local

County staff to work remotely

Other temporary policies are approved in response to COVID-19 pandemic

Dennis Simon, human resources director of Jasper County, listens to the board of supervisors during a Tuesday meeting inside the courthouse.
Dennis Simon, human resources director of Jasper County, listens to the board of supervisors during a Tuesday meeting inside the courthouse.

County staff has temporarily implemented various employment-related practices for its workers, including those who test positive or come into contact with COVID-19, or suffer the effects of day care and school closures during this statewide pandemic.

On Tuesday, the Jasper County Board of Supervisors voted 3-0 to approve these new policies, presented by human resources director Dennis Simon, in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak affecting the state and country as a whole. The guidelines presented temporarily override any contradictory policy in place.

“Reviewing the law (and) having communication with labor attorneys and that, trying to put something together that will best fit Jasper County as the situation evolves, we will constantly re-evaluate,” Simon said. “If we need to amend that to fit our needs then we’ll be back at the table to talk about it again.”

Brandon Talsma, chair of the Jasper County Board of Supervisors, said the governing body wants to make sure both the citizens and employees of the county are being looked after. County documents at co.jasper.ia.us include a full run down and explanation of the temporary policy.

Employees of the county are expected to adhere to the infection control practices, like respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene in the work place. Appropriate notification must be provided if symptomatic; they must also stay home in this case.

Jasper County staff are also expected to cooperate with office management regarding coverage of fellow employees’ absences related to illness. This includes working additional hours or shifts so symptomatic workers can remain isolated from the work place.

Non-essential staff meetings, conferences, training or other gatherings are to be limited. As such, any non-essential work-related travel is to be eliminated. Wipes and other disposable cleaning products will be made available for routine environmental cleaning of work areas.

Departments and offices in Jasper County must permit non-essential personnel to work remotely, so long as the duties can be performed at the employee’s home. What is capable of being performed remotely is at the discretion of the respective department head with approval of the board of supervisors.

If Jasper County employees test positive for or “miss work for purposes of isolation, testing, treatment and/or recovery from COVID-19-related symptoms” they can receive up to 80 hours of paid leave. Any additional time is credited as sick leave. Once workers are symptom free for 72 hours, they’re expected to return.

High-risk, non-essential staffing individuals — such as older adults or people who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes or lung disease — may request departments to provide alternate, modified work assignments or leave to accommodate underlying risk factors.

If those employees choose to leave and it is approved by the department head and supervisors, they may utilize any accord leave, such as vacation, sick or comp time. If there is no available leave time, employees may be allowed to enter into a negative balance up to 80 hours on sick leave accrual.

Essential employees identified in the Jasper County Continuity Of Operations Plan (COOP) are eligible for telework, especially if they have been affected by school and day care closures. Non-essential personnel are eligible for remote work as well, pending approval.

This policy is only temporary. It will remain in effect until the board of supervisors declare it deactivated.

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

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