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Manchester city workers' leave policy could be tweaked by committee

New Hampshire Union Leader

March 03. 2013 11:37PM

MANCHESTER - A vote by the Human Resources Committee on updates to the city's Family and Medical Leave Act policy could come Tuesday night, following a review of new information provided by Human Resources Director Jane Gile.

The HR Committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in the Aldermanic Chambers on the third floor of City Hall.

Late last year, the city's Human Resources Department conducted a review of the city's Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) policy, which recommended changes regarding military leave and clarifying how leave is designated as falling under FMLA, rather than accrued vacation or sick time.

"There are times, especially if someone knows they are scheduled later in the year for a major procedure and knows they will be out, they may want to save their FMLA leave until then if something unexpected happens before that," said Alderman At Large Dan O'Neil. "The changes will help with that."

Gile reports the average FMLA leave is two to three weeks. In 2012, fewer than one percent of employees on FMLA went unpaid due to the exhaustion of paid sick and vacation leave. Gile also reports the number of city employees on FMLA dropped from 236 in 2011 to 217 in 2012.

Manchester grants up to 12 weeks of leave during a 12-month period to eligible employees for the birth, adoption, placement into foster care of a child, for the serious health condition of specified family members, the employee's own serious health condition, or military exigency. A city employee is eligible for FMLA leave if they have been employed by the city for at least 12 months and have worked at least 1,250 hours (not including paid or unpaid time off) in the 12 months prior to requesting the leave.

A section of the policy regarding the treatment of Worker's Compensation leave has been changed to read: "An employee on a leave of absence when approved for Worker's Compensation due to a work-related injury/illness will not have time charged against his/her 12-week FMLA entitlement. If an employee is denied Worker's Compensation, and has an injury or illness that constitutes a "serious health condition" as defined under the FMLA, the leave of absence from work will be designated as FMLA leave."

O'Neil said the HR Committee is also expected to increase the number of days Manchester police and firefighters can take a year to honor weekend military service commitments from 10 days a year to 20 days.

"Right now, if their schedule puts them working on a weekend when they are scheduled for National Guard service, they can end up having to use vacation time or swap shifts with coworkers," said O'Neil. "Upping the number to 20 should give then enough days to cover those situations."

O'Neil said there are currently 13 city employees who also serve in the NH National Guard - 11 police officers, one firefighter, and one city hall employee.

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