Chardon City Council last week approved updates to the employee paid sick leave policy to correspond with changes made by the state due to the nationwide health crisis.

Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, signed into law on March 18, employees now have access to up to 80 hours of paid sick leave time. This 80 hours is paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay if the employee is quarantined themselves, or at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate if they are taking care of a family member or child whose school or child care provider is closed due to COVID-19.

The state has been under a stay-at-home order in an effort to stop the spread of the contagious disease caused by a novel coronavirus.

The first change allows the city to exempt emergency response personnel from using their paid sick leave if the city has significant need for them. Chardon City Manager Randy Sharpe said the city would consider each situation on a case-by-case basis and offered an example to help explain.

For example, if the city needs four police officers out on the road and two were diagnosed with the virus, city officials explained, then the city might require another officer to come in, even if he or she is using sick leave to care for a child.

At the meeting last week Mr. Sharpe said the government defined emergency responders as law enforcement officers, firefighters, 911 operators and public works personnel.

The second change allows city employees to use the paid sick leave time they’ve accrued to supplement the initial 80 hours they’re afforded under the new act.

Mr. Sharpe said government employees accrue an additional 10 hours of paid sick leave every month, meaning some Chardon employees have large banks of hours they could use during the pandemic.

“Overall, it’s just clarification that we have the authority to exempt the first responders and that we can continue to allow employees to supplement their leave with accrued leave time if they need it,” Mr. Sharpe said.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act remains in effect through Dec. 31.

In other news, Mr. Sharpe said there were flaws in the plans for the Maple Highlands Trail on South Street and that new plans would have to be drawn up, though it won’t cost the city anything because the plans were signed off by all parties, including the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Chardon City Council will meet next via Zoom on April 9 at 6:30 p.m. Mr. Sharpe said council is scheduled to discuss the re-zoning of the Brooks Meadows subdivision and a salt purchasing ordnance among other items.

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