Ironing out policy quirks

The first major review of South Dundas’ personnel policy since amalgamation, 14 years ago, has revealed a number of quirks that council is planning to change.

“I’ve never been anywhere else that I’ve gotten paid to go to a council meeting,” said Steve McDonald, South Dundas’ chief administrative officer at a special council meeting. McDonald’s career in municipal administration spans 30 years.

The day-long session, held October 31, gave council the opportunity to conduct a lengthy, line-by-line review of this and other policies.

Once council approves a bylaw change to the existing policy, the practice of paying managers to attend council meetings will come to an end in South Dundas.

When the new policy comes into effect, township heads of department will, instead of receiving $100 per meeting attended, be entitled to time in lieu.

Changes to the policy will also formalize the now informal system, require proper documentation and put a limit on the amount of time in lieu that can be accumulated and used in one year.

Another 14 year practice, fairly unique to South Dundas, is to pay more for overtime on Sundays than Saturdays. Currently, overtime on Saturdays is paid at the standard time and a half, but on Sundays the rate is double time.

When South Dundas councillor Jim Graham asked why Sundays are treated differently than Saturdays, the only answer was, “That’s the way it has always been done.”

“That doesn’t mean it’s right,” said Graham, who suggested that practices like this one that are fairly unique should be backed up with some documentation to explain why.

“While most of this policy is fairly standard,” said CAO McDonald, “some things in it are unique.” His only explanation of these quirks, that were put into place long before he arrived in South Dundas, was that they likely represent what municipal officials of the day decided to include, representing the ‘best of’ the four policies of the former municipalities.

“Some of these policies are still here, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be changed,” said McDonald.

When proposed changes come into effect staff will only receive a day off for Remembrance Day if it falls on a weekday. 

The practice of January 2 being considered a holiday will be gone. Instead staff will be granted a floating holiday to use at their discretion. 

The floating holiday was a concession to show council’s appreciation of staff their efforts to keep the township office open between Christmas and New Year’s. Most municipal offices shut down for the entire week.

South Dundas councillor Evonne Delegarde suggested eliminating the two half days off that staff get on New Year’s Eve and Christmas Eve, however the remainder of council did not agree.

The Township of South Dundas has 30 full time staffers, including nine department heads (managers), five part time employees and 15 seasonal employees.

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