City to alter employee benefits

The city of Black River Falls is moving ahead with a new employee handbook that will reduce both vacation and sick leave benefits.

The proposed changes include requiring employees to work three more years to receive their three weeks of vacation time, and they also involve reducing the sick leave payout benefit by 140 hours.

“We just basically needed to update our handbook, and we covered some things in there we hadn’t covered before,” said Alderperson Randy Eddy, who worked on the new handbook. “We’re looking at setting policies outside of (union) contracts.

“We were looking at what general policies do we want to have for the city that aren’t defined by the contract.”

The city in 2011 established a new employee grievance policy as a result of the state’s law that limits collective bargaining rights for most public workers. It had been looking to establish a new version of its already existing handbook for years and opted to do so on the eve of current union contacts expiring at the end of 2012.

The two major changes in the handbook come in the form of the vacation and sick leave benefits, City Administrator Bill Arndt said.

In the past, employees received three weeks vacation after working for the city for five years, but the new handbook calls for receiving the benefit after working for eight.

Employees previously could receive 300 hours of sick leave pay if they worked for 20 years and left the city on good terms, but that now is reduced to 160 hours after 20 years, Arndt said.

Read more from the Jackson County Chronicle here.