A topical index to MRSC's information resources.|
Personnel: PE 7.0000 - Compensation, salaries and fringe benefits
- Where a city has 12 full-time employees and wishes to hire a part-time, 20-hour per week employee, does the city have to provide benefits (medical and others) for that part-time employee? Is this analysis impacted at all by the Affordable Care Act?
No. The city is not required to provide any particular benefits to its employees, and when it does provide benefits, the city may distinguish between full- and part-time employees, providing benefits to the former but not the latter.
A city with fewer than 50 full-time employees is not impacted by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Only "large" employers (those who have more than 50 full-time employees) are subject to the ACA's "employer mandate," requiring those employers to provide health coverage to their full-time employees. Full-time employees are defined as those who work an average of 30 hours per week. So, employers who have less than 50 full-time employees are under no obligation to provide health coverage.
- Is there an established acceptable percentage level for salaries relative to the total general fund budget?
There is no established "acceptable" percentage. Cities don't budget saying, "We'll spend x percent of the general fund on salaries/wages and benefits and the rest on everything else." Rather, the mayor proposes and the council adopts a budget that provides the services that reflect their view of the city's goals and priorities. In this budget there will be a certain amount of expenditures for salaries, wages, and benefits (labor costs). If "a lot" is being spent on labor costs, then there will be less to spend on such things as supplies and equipment. Maybe there will not be funds to do street repairs or some other project that the citizens want. The citizens may, if they disagree with this, vote for a different mayor and council that will reallocate resources.
The figure found in the Local Government Financial Reporting System on the State Auditor's Web site for the 2002-2004 general fund expenditures of all cities in Washington for salaries, wages, and benefits (labor costs) as a percent of general fund total expenditures comes to about 68 percent. This number mainly reflects the expenditures of the bigger cities since their budgets are so large they overwhelm those of smaller cities.
When we look at smaller cities by themselves, we find that the labor cost component of the general fund is usually much lower than the 68 percent reported for all cities. For example, for 2002-2004, in Washington cities with a population of between 500 and 1500, labor cost expenditures were actually closer to 45 percent of the general fund.
All these figures do is tell you what the average percentage is. If your city is much higher than the average, it is not necessarily a bad thing. By the same token, if your city is much lower than the average, it is not necessarily a good thing. There could by many good reasons for both situations. The most important question is whether the amounts that you are spending on labor costs make sense and can be justified in light of the particular service demands and preferences in your community.
- Must a city or county pay for nursing home care for LEOFF 1 retirees?
While it is not a "given" that nursing home care must be paid for retirees, there is a very good chance that it must. RCW 41.26.030(19)(b)(iii)(I) defines the term "medical care services" to include "nursing home confinement". The statute does not limit the type of nursing home care a retiree can obtain or place a ceiling on related expenditures. A city's liability for these costs depends on whether or not the local disability board approves the expenditure. See RCW 41.26.150.This board has great authority in approving or disapproving a medical expense claim for nursing home care. If a city or county is concerned that the expense is not warranted or is beyond what is warranted, it has an opportunity to make its case before the local disability board. If the board approves the expense, the jurisdiction is most likely obligated to pay.
- Request for information on ESSB 5264 (Chapter 155, Laws of 2002) prohibiting the misclassification of public employees.
SSB 5264 (Chapter 155, Laws of 2002) added several new sections to Ch. 49.44 RCW (RCW 49.44.160 and 49.44.170) and became effective on June 13, 2002. The intent of the legislation is to prohibit public employers from misclassifying employees, or taking other action to avoid providing or continuing to provide employment-based benefits to which employees are entitled under state law or employer policies or collective bargaining agreements. The act declares it an "unfair practice" for a public employer to
"misclassify" any employee to avoid providing or continuing to provide employment-based benefits. "Misclassifying" means to incorrectly classify or label a long-term public employee as "temporary, "leased," "contract," "seasonal," "intermittent," or "part-time," or to use a similar label that does not objectively describe the employee's actual work circumstances.
Public employers may determine eligibility rules for their own benefit plans and may exclude categories of workers such as "temporary," "seasonal," or "part-time" employees, so long as the definitions and eligibility rules are objective and applied on a consistent basis.
- How long must a local government employer make light duty available to a pregnant employee?
In general, an employer is not required to provide a light duty assignment for pregnant employees. However, because of the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and our state anti-discrimination law (see WAC 162-30-020), an employer may not treat pregnant employees any differently than it treats other employees with a non-work related injury. (Note that pregnancy is not considered a disability under the ADA.)
Similarly, the state Human Rights Commission regulations provide that it is an unfair labor practice "for an employer, because of pregnancy or childbirth, to . . . impose different terms and conditions of employment on a woman." WAC 162-30-020(3)(a)(ii).
So, if an employer provides light duty assignments for employees with a non-work related injury or temporary health problem, it must treat pregnant employees similarly. Federal courts have held that the PDA is not violated when it offers light duty solely to employees who are injured on the job and not to employees, including pregnant ones, who suffer from a non-occupational "injury." There is no legal requirement that an employer provide more light duty than is available to other employees with a non-work related injury or temporary health problem.