The Berlin employee handbook gets a long-awaited modern update


By Jack Chavez, Editor-in-Chief

Kelsey Jensen

The city of Berlin’s employee handbook has just had a facelift.

At the June 27 city council meeting, executive director Kelsey Jensen outlined the changes, additions and subtractions.

The board unanimously approved the updates.

Some of the more notable changes include changing the pronouns in the textbook from “he/she” to “they/them”, adding great-grandparents to the definition of “immediate family”, and putting up-to-date harassment policy.

“These are things that have already been approved,” Jensen told the board. “We have added great-grandparents to the immediate family because many employees have them and they should be able to follow this bereavement in the event of their death.”

The harassment policy is probably the “biggest change,” Jensen said when it comes to housekeeping.

“The changes to the harassment policy were recommended by (Local Government Insurance Trust),” Jensen said. “They took our policy and made several changes and then sent it back to us. They are our insurance provider (and) that we are looking for this type of resource. We have gone ahead and implemented their policy in this regard.

Harassment updates include various rewordings, such as replacing the term “work atmosphere” with “work environment”. Specific language has also been added that says “actions, words, jokes or comments based on gender, race, color, ancestry or national origin, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identification, genetic information, pregnancy, an individual’s marital status, military service or any other legally protected characteristic will not be tolerated.The manual also now lists general examples offenses based on these characteristics such as the display of offensive images or drawings or text messages “racially or ethnically oriented”.

Holidays were also discussed. Employees now get a full day off on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. June 19, which falls on June 19 each year, is now also recognized by the city.

Sympathy guidelines have been clarified on 24-hour recovery stays versus outpatient care and minor procedures.

Board member Jay Knerr pointed out that some outpatient procedures are indeed major.

“I don’t know how you’re going to handle this,” Jensen said. “Currently, it is fixed for the duration of one day. I don’t know what you consider a day. If anyone has something major, we’ve sent flowers, even if it’s not 24 hours.

The cost of flowers to send now excludes delivery costs.

“A few years ago it was approved by the former city administrator and the former mayor,” Jensen said. “It was difficult to order a decent arrangement and delivery/handling fees under $100. We can’t always use a local florist depending on where the flowers are being sent to.”

She added that department heads are responsible for requesting a condolence card or gift for their staff members.

“They are the ones who know the status of their employees best,” Jensen added.

The electronic equipment section has been updated in light of the prevalence of on-the-go laptops. The municipal government credit limit has been updated based on the purchasing policy, up to $10,000.

The city will also leave it to an employee’s respective department to request the sick leave documentation, with the department manager being the one to request the employee to submit the appropriate documentation to the Human Resources department.

A section was removed that stated that manuals should be returned upon termination of an employee. Jensen said most people don’t return them and she doesn’t see why they would need them.

“Finally, we indicated where copies of the most up-to-date manuals would be available and that employees would sign off for updates,” Jensen said.

“That’s kind of what we’ve changed. This time we’ll go section by section, if approved tonight and just sort of – it’s an outdated manual and it hasn’t really been updated I think since (2015 or 2016 ).

Jensen and the board will continue to work on the manual section by section at the second meeting of each month, when recommendations can be made and discussions will take place on the manual.

This story appears in the print version of the Bayside Gazette on July 7, 2022.

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