City allows employees to roll over vacation time

3 years ago

CARIBOU, Maine — The Caribou City Council unanimously voted on Feb. 8 to let employees roll over up to 40 hours of unspent vacation time from last year to show support to staff for their efforts amid the pandemic. 

Normally this vacation time would expire on March 1, but this resolution extends the expiration date to Dec. 31,2021. All other vacation policies will remain in effect, and the carry-over resolution is a one-time benefit due to the pandemic.

The council “desires to strengthen employee morale and well-being by allowing staff members to carry-over vacation time from the previous year in the hopes that employees will find additional means to improve their mental, physical and emotional well-being necessary to continue serving the public at the standards expected,” the resolution says.

Councilor Doug Morrell asked City Manager Dennis Marker if employees understand that the city has a “use it or lose it” policy on vacation time, and if Marker or other city officials watch to make sure they are using their vacation time within the year. 

“I fell into the same category. I couldn’t go anywhere and a lot of my employees were the same way, but they had to take their vacation. They needed that time last year to rejuvenate,” he said. 

He asked if the city is leaving vacation time up to employees, and if Marker knew exactly how many employees would be rolling over their vacation time into 2021. 

Marker said that not every employee has 40 hours of carryover time, and that the city does not mandate that employees use all of their time. 

“The concern has been that people haven’t been able to use their vacation time,” Marker said, adding that he has encouraged city employees to take time off.

“I appreciate the effort from them,” Morrell said, “I’m not trying to slap anyone’s hand, and I’m not one to talk because I don’t take them when I should. I just think we need to make sure they get their vacation time within the year they’re in, not just say use it or lose it.”

Morrell said that he’s “not into rolling stuff over to the next year.”

Councilor Lou Willey said the benefit is primarily a thank you to city employees who were not able to take time off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s important to remember that this is a one-time deal,” she said. “It’s not going to extend beyond this year.” 

Morrell asked if Marker could provide him a list of how many employees would be rolling over time, and how many hours would be rolled over into this year. 

The six councilors present voted in favor of the resolution. Councilor Mark Goughan was absent and excused from the meeting.