Ambulance district adjusts paid leave policy

In 2011, Callaway County Ambulance District employees earned 6,722 hours of paid time off (PTO, vacation and holiday hours) with a value of $115,513.

During Tuesday night’s meeting, the Callaway County Ambulance Board took steps to help address what CCAD Director Charlie Anderson said had become a large liability for the district.

Several district union members were present at the meeting to hear what the board had to say on the topic, and union vice president Michael Lindsay gave voice to the group’s objection to the proposed changes.

“PTO is one thing that helps offset (the fact we have) lower pay than other districts — that’s why (some employees) stay,” Lindsay said, noting that union members did not like any of the four new PTO policy options presented to them by district administrators, and that they did not feel they had enough time to make their own counter proposals because of short notice of the changes before the holidays.

Despite the objections from the union, Anderson said some kind of change to the current PTO policy is necessary and presented what he said was the “best option to improve this issue” to the board.

He explained that under the existing policy, employees accumulate PTO based on the number of hours they work, meaning the more overtime they accumulate, the more PTO they earn — on top of being paid time and a half for anything over 40 hours in a pay period. They also are able to earn additional PTO while using PTO because that time is recorded as work time. Under the policy, a full-time employee with 0-4 years of service has the ability to earn 168 hours in PTO a year based on their regular work schedule of 2,180 hours per year, with the chance to carry a maximum of 264 accrued hours. An employee with 5-9 years of service earns 218 hours, with a maximum PTO accrual of 360 hours; employees with 10-14 years earn 264 hours with a maximum PTO accrual of 456 and employees with 15 or more years earn 363 hours with a maximum of 456 hours.

Anderson said the policy — which was developed in the early 1990s when there were not a lot of longtime employees and not as many overtime hours were accrued — has resulted in a continuing trend of the district carrying $95,000-$100,000 each year in liabilities for accrued paid time off.

“The majority of our employees work more than just their regular shift,” Anderson said. “A lot of people are carrying close to the maximum.”

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