Stanley City Council updates employee handbook but struggles with alternative work schedule

By Danielle Boos
Posted 11/16/23

The Stanley City Council as a Whole meeting had a late start as there weren’t enough Council members to begin the November 6th meeting. After Alderpersons Jacob Huff and Holly Kitchell arrived, it …

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Stanley City Council updates employee handbook but struggles with alternative work schedule


The Stanley City Council as a Whole meeting had a late start as there weren’t enough Council members to begin the November 6th meeting. After Alderpersons Jacob Huff and Holly Kitchell arrived, it was business as usual while Alderpersons Laurie Foster and Josh Siedl were absent.

Employee handbook changes were approved by the Council after slight adjustments and discussion regarding technical wording surrounding full time employees having an “average” of forty hours a week.

The council then addressed the Alternative Work Schedule for employees and the supporting documents.

Alderperson Jason Meyer asked if this program would cover all employees and who would grant the approval for the City Administrator if she requested an alternative work schedule.

“City council,” Ward 3 Alderperson Jacob Huff answered.

“City council has to approve anybody making a change, correct?” Mayor Al Haas asked.

Meyer responded, “I was under the understanding that anybody but the city administrator, their alternative work schedule would be approved or denied by the City Administrator.”

“Once the Administrator takes over, all the employees are under the Administrator,” City Clerk Nicole Pilgrim answered.

Meyer asked if the council would have the ability to override that and Pilgrim said she added in the documents that the Council could terminate it at any time.

Haas asked, “Shouldn’t any of the final decisions be made by the city council?”

“The only power that the council has over an employee, would be me,” Pilgrim said.

Alderperson Mark Fitzsimmons asked if there would be an exception made that the council would have approval over department heads, mentioning the Police Chief, Fire Chief, and city administrator.

Pilgrim stated that aside from a few modifications, she took the information word for word from the City of Milwaukee. Pilgrim told them that basically all of the hiring goes through her, and she makes recommendations to the Council.

“The council has the final vote,” Haas said.

“So technically, the final say,” Huff said and added to Pilgrim, “Based on your recommendation.”

Henke stated, “She makes a recommendation and council approves.”

Haas replied that the change would need to be made to read like that.

Huff said, “Nicole would make a recommendation and then the city council would need to vote on it.”

Haas then moved the meeting along for the council to consider the alternative work schedule.

Huff began by asking for confirmation that the city can start or stop the alternative work schedule whenever they want.

“Yes,” Haas confirmed.

Meyer said he thought it was a good idea and shared how an alternative work schedule worked at his place of employment.

Huff expressed his concern, “What’s going to stop everybody from wanting an alternative work schedule?”

He said that after talking to the lawyer, it was confirmed that approval of which employees receive alternative work schedules is up to the city council.

“We have the right to say yes or no to every request. It can also be changed anytime,” Huff said. “Obviously, we’re a small city. There’s only so much that we can do. We can’t have everybody working on alternative work schedules. It just isn’t going to work.” He remarked that if a situation arises and there is an employee that needs it, they can approve it or take it away at any point.

He continued, “Now if that person takes it and another employee comes and says I want to do the same thing, well, it depends on what is going on in the city. If it’s not possible, then guess what? It will be no, but that’s our right at the end of the day in the State of Wisconsin.”

He added that this was his understanding from the lawyer and that he doesn’t have a problem doing an alternative work schedule if they all agree. He mentioned that if an employee wanted it, Pilgrim would have to see if it is feasible and bring her recommendation to the council.

Huff explained, “Like I said, one person does it and we can only add one person at a time doing it, well, that’s the person that’s going have it.”

Haas then told the council that they will have to figure out the benefits for the alternative schedule.

Fitzsimmons remarked that the alternative schedule will need to be determined on if it’s safe for other employees as there are safety intense jobs that require more than one employee to be present for safety reasons.

Huff agreed, “It has to be in the framework of our day.”

The Council then discussed if the alternative schedules would be allowed past the regular working hours and agreed that employees schedules should stay within the parameters of the regular work hour schedule. Then the issue came up of what benefits would be allowed for employees on an alternative work schedule.

Meyer mentioned that an alternative work schedule wouldn’t be possible for full-time employees if it would have to be based around the current 7am to 3:30 p.m. schedule. The City of Stanley employee handbook had previously been voted on by majority vote of Council to state that City employees must work at least 40 hours per week to be considered full-time.

“This is why I voted no to the handbook and the forty hours,” Huff said.

Haas asked if they could include their approval for being considered a full-time employee if they work less than forty hours in the alternative work schedule.

Pilgrim stated that the employee would be considered part time then because the hours were already set in the employee handbook.

Fitzsimmons asked what the benefit would be then for employees that are working forty hours per week as opposed to working thirty or 32 hours and receiving the same benefits. He mentioned that it’s in the power of the Council to change it but wondered what the incentive would be for employees to work 40 hours.

Haas asked if the AWS (Alternative Work Schedule) could state the benefits that would be received with each amount of hours worked.

“You’re going against the handbook,” Pilgrim said and reminded the Council that the handbook states that part time employment is less than forty hours per week.

Huff said, “Then the handbook would have to say, unless they have an alternative work schedule.

“We just changed the handbook,” Haas remarked.

“I’m just trying to be flexible as the employer here, OK,” Huff said and continued. “So, we did have something requested by somebody. Now if we can’t accommodate then we have to just say it. If we could, which I think we probably can which is what I want to say. I think we need to be somewhat flexible for different things that happen like this.”

Huff asked the council, “So do we want to accommodate a request like that?”

He said he understands that they can’t have everyone do that, but he doesn’t think that everyone will want to do that. He said he is ok with it because the council has final approval.

“I’m fine with doing that but it has to be ok with everybody and it has to jive with the handbook and then also with the AWS,” he reiterated. “Does everybody even want to do some sort of alternative work schedule where we offer benefits for less than forty hours at our behest?”

Haas asked, “What kind of benefits are you going to offer? Is it going to be a reduced benefit at reduced hours? I think that’s an important part of this next thought.”

Council members then discussed allowing less working hours but offering a lower benefit rate.

Meyer expressed his concern that it would be offered to the employees that the council approved but not to those who also wanted it but were denied. He questioned the fairness of this.

“We also do need all the hours that we are getting from our employees, correct?” he asked. He further mentioned that there isn’t a lot of money in the budget to hired additional part time or full-time employees to cover the hours of those that would take the alternative work schedule.

“That’s a good point,” Huff answered.

Meyer said he would be okay with someone beginning work half an hour later but then staying half an hour later to make it up.

Haas told him that the problem with that is that it would get that employee out of the original work shift day.

Kitchell asked if the Council needed to make an alternative work schedule to deal with the request of one employee.

Meyer then asked who brought up the idea of making an alternative work schedule and Pilgrim said that it was brought up by the lawyer to deal with that one situation.

Meyer said, “It sounds like the situation we were asked of is the situation we need to come up with an answer for and the AWS might be overkill given that situation.”

After Kitchell questioned Pilgrim about her conversation with the lawyer, Pilgrim said that the lawyer said that the Council can basically do whatever they need to do but there needs to be a policy in place that all employees can view and sign off on.

“Don’t all employees sign the handbook?” Kitchell asked. “Do we need something different than that?”

“That’s a great question. I wouldn’t think so,” Huff stated.

Henke mentioned that in the past, employees signed the handbook once a year. City Water Operator Don Goettl also stated that employees usually signed handbooks when they were revised.

Pilgrim told the council that there will be a new handbook in January with updated information.

“So, they’re going to re-sign at the first of the year,” Huff replied. “Would you ask them again and see if the handbook is sufficient?” Huff asked Pilgrim.

“Keep it simple,” Haas said.

“Why reinvent the wheel when you just need one spoke?” Huff remarked as Kitchell agreed.

Haas told the council to think towards a benefit package to be discussed at the next meeting if it is needed to be added to an alternative work schedule.

Pilgrim interjected, “The only thing I want to say with that is if you make a benefit schedule for part-time employees, it is going to have to apply to all part-time employees.”

“Yes,” Haas agreed and said it’s something to discuss at the next meeting.

Huff spoke up, “This is where we’re getting into the semantics of it, it’s not going to be for all part time employees. This a specific alternative work schedule for one person at the behest of the city council.”

Huff continued, “That’s where we have to have our t’s crossed and our i’s dotted. It’s not going to be for all part time employees.”

“If we can do that,” Haas commented.

“If we can do that,” Huff repeated in agreement.

The council agreed to table the alternative work schedule until more information is obtained.