Council discusses paid lunches, overtime pay

Brown County government office employees may be seeing changes in how they are paid.

At their Oct. 17 meeting, Brown County Council members discussed “truly paying people based on the hours they work.” Discussion centered on County Office Building employees and noncourt employees working in the courthouse.

It varies among those offices whether employees work through lunch or whether they go out for lunch, said council member David Critser.

“They’re getting paid now for 35 hours a week, but we’re basing their hourly wage on 40 because we’re paying them to eat,” Critser said. “You cannot pay someone to eat, so it’s got to change.”

He advocated for dividing their gross pay among 35 hours per week instead of 40. That would result in a higher hourly wage mathematically, so if those employees hit overtime, they would be paid time-and-a-half at a higher hourly rate, he said.

Critser, Brown County commissioner Diana Biddle and Brown County Auditor Beth Mulry had differing opinions about when overtime pay should start in a workweek.

Critser said it should be up to the department head whether or not they’ll send county office employees home an hour early if they’ve worked through lunch, but their offices will need to stay open for their normal business hours.

Mulry suggested they only work through lunch during times of need and with the department head’s approval.

They also discussed limits on the amount of compensatory time employees are allowed to accumulate and how quickly that time will need to be used.

Other changes have to be made to the personnel policy soon concerning overtime-exempt and nonexempt employees because of a new federal law. Mulry said as of Dec. 1, people who are exempt from overtime and make less than the new federal salary threshold of $47,476 per year will become nonexempt and eligible for overtime until the council decides how it wants to reclassify people, and that’s nearly everyone, she said.

No decisions were made yet.