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THE LENS: City tries to get in line with new federal leave policies

The New Orleans Civil Service Commission on Monday voted to create new personnel rules to govern new categories of federally-funded paid leave days for city employees during the coronavirus crisis. 

The guidelines match new federal rules included in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), passed by Congress on March 18 and effective April 1. The federal law expands paid leave requirements during the coronavirus crisis and provides federal tax credits to reimburse employers for the extra time off.

The new Civil Service rules will provide two weeks of paid leave for many New Orleans city employees and up to 12 weeks of partial paid leave for some of them. 

The city had already attempted to come into compliance with the new requirements last week with an April 14 memorandum from Chief Administrative Officer Gilbert Montaño. The memo describes the new law to department heads and informs employees how they can apply.

The memorandum and the new Civil Service rules are similar. Assistant City Attorney Will Goforth argued during Monday’s meeting that the new Civil Service rules weren’t even necessary given the previous memo and the fact that federal law supersedes local law.

“The FFCRA creates an entitlement to leave as described in the federal law. Civil Service rules are not needed to establish this leave in any way shape or form. It’s provided by federal law, which takes precedence over the civil service rules,” Goforth said. 

Still, members of the commission argued that it was important for their office to properly process and provide the new forms of leave.

The city of New Orleans, as an employer of thousands of workers, is subject to two sections of FFCRA, according to the Montaño memo. The first section provides two weeks of emergency sick leave pay to employees who cannot work from home and are either under a quarantine or isolation order, have symptoms of the coronavirus or have to remain at home to care for a child or other dependent. 

For full article visit: https://thelensnola.org/2020/04/21/city-tries-to-get-in-line-with-new-federal-leave-policies/

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