A request for a special overtime compensation policy for Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit staff related to the COVID-19 pandemic has been withdrawn.
The decision was unanimously approved at a Norfolk and Haldimand board of health meeting on July 6.
The Ontario government has made money available for the province’s 34 health units to compensate managers for the extraordinary hours they have worked during the pandemic.
However, unlike the first round of overtime payouts in 2020, the province is withholding the money this time until boards of health adopt policies and formulas for paying out management overtime claims.
In a report to the board of health on July 6, Norfolk CAO Jason Burgess said senior management reviewed the situation and “due to a number of factors” changed their mind about asking for a policy change for both public health staff and non-public health staff.
Among the reasons are:
- The delay in creating a policy means any decision now “will not have the positive impacts to the organization that it was originally intended to have.”
- Success in responding to the pandemic requires all county departments, not just public health, “to have a vastly different non-union compensation approaches would be detrimental to the morale of the organization.”
- Bringing in policies now may “generate or reward behaviours that was not the intent of management rewarding extraordinary efforts at key time of need.”
Burgess said the area was impacted hard by the third wave of the pandemic with more reporting required by the province. Meetings were called outside normal business hours, including weekends and statutory holidays. The vaccination program has also added to additional staff hours, he said.
But, said Burgess, due to decreasing case numbers and increasing vaccination, there has been a “noticeable reduction in total overtime hours in recent weeks.”
The board of health had asked senior staff to look into how the Chatham-Kent Health Unit is handling the situation.
In Chatham-Kent, the first 200 hours of overtime are unpaid, while the second 200 hours are paid out at half the hourly managerial rate.
If the Norfolk and Haldimand board of health implemented a similar policy for health unit policy, Burgess said it would currently only apply to a single staff member who has logged more than 200 overtime hours. He said management staff also have the ability to bank up to 35 hours in time off and have a flexible time bank of up to 21 hours that is “refillable.”