SOUTHWICK – The Southwick Select Board Jan. 4 approved a pay option for municipal employees in quarantine to coincide with the extension of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
The selected option allows employees to use vacation time if they need to quarantine after a voluntary leave.
Chief Administrative Officer Karl Stinehart worked with attorney Kimberly Roche to create two options. The first allows an employee who chooses to take a trip that requires quarantining upon return to use vacation time to quarantine. The second option called for unpaid leave during quarantine.
Roche stressed that this was for voluntary trips and did not include work-related travel or extreme circumstances.
Stinehart noted that the FFCRA had allowed for “COVID pay” during quarantine, but no longer offers that option. FFCRA originally expired in December but was extended to Dec. 31, 2021. He said the COVID pay could be reinstated but for now it is a local decision.
Select Board Chair Douglas Moglin said early in the pandemic employees considered essential were exempt from quarantine “which made no sense.”
“Presently, I wouldn’t be taking a vacation out of state,” he added.
Moglin said the unpaid leave option could discourage people from quarantining when they should.
“We don’t want anyone to come in if they are potentially sick or were exposed,” Moglin said.
Stinehart said he and Roche would finalize documents and discuss with town labor unions.
Southwick has received approximately $70,000 in COVID funding and has pending payments totaling $300,000. In December, the Board approved allocating up to $107,000 of the remaining funds available to the town to the Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional School District for reimbursement for personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies, sanitizers, masks and more. The town could receive a total of $800,000 if needed.