Court adopts new rules for county workers

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Magistrates considering changes to employee drug and alcohol policy

By Molly Haines

County employees now have an updated administrative code to follow.
The Owen County Fiscal Court held a second reading on the updated administrative code during its Oct. 25 meeting.
Owen County Judge-executive Carolyn Keith said there were no major changes to the code, but it now more closely follows state guidelines.
Under the changes, new disciplinary procedures have been implemented, but Keith said they are recommended and do not have to be followed. The procedure gives employees a verbal and written warning; suspension with or without pay; and dismissal.
The changes also give county employees the same holidays as state employees. And job classifications that were recently put together by the fiscal court have been implemented into the administrative code.
The court also held a second reading on an ordinance authorizing the collection of additional court costs in the Owen County Circuit and District Courts. These court costs will be used to pay expenses for the courthouse and bonds related to the courthouse.
Keith said the majority of Kentucky’s counties have already enacted the policy for additional fees and costs.
The court tabled a drug- and alcohol-free workplace policy.
The policy includes a provision that gives employees the right to come to a supervisor with a drug or alcohol problem. Under the provision, the supervisor must give the employee unpaid time off to seek treatment. Once the employee has received treatment and been tested for drugs, they can come back to work.
Third District Magi-strate Teresa Davis said if an employee has a problem, the problem  needs to be fixed. But because the unemployment rate is so high, a strong no-tolerance policy should be enacted to ensure that a situation as described in the provision doesn’t come up.
“Too many people need jobs right now,” Davis said. “If someone was sick and hurting and the doctor put them on medicine and they got hooked is one thing, but just to go out and smoke dope is something different.”
Keith said the provision will not be dropped from the policy, so the court will be in compliance with state and federal laws.
Davis said if someone has a drug or alcohol problem, it should be the responsibility of that person to get the problem corrected, but she understands that the provision is federal law and cannot be taken out of the policy.
The fiscal court next meets at 6 p.m. Nov. 8.