116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Linn County elected officials think some county employees may not be taking enough time off.
Auditor Joel Miller wrote an e-mail to Supervisor Linda Langston questioning the wisdom of letting county employees take little or no vacation in a year, and run up giant vacation time accounts.
Miller said employees who don't take vacation can earn more than their annual salary because of year-end payouts for unused vacation, and may be a bad example in their departments.
“This employee is a bad example if he/she is truly not taking time off and this employee is a bad example if he/she is taking time off and not reporting it,” Miller wrote.
He asked Langston to consider forcing certain employees to take more time off.
Langston said Lisa Powell, the county's human resources director, is looking into the matter and the supervisors will address it in mid-May.
Powell said the handful of employees with giant vacation or paid leave accounts are managers who've worked at the county for a long time.
County Engineer Steve Gannon, who has worked for the county for 32 years, gets seven-and-a-half weeks of vacation each year. He said he's taken three or four days off in the past two years, simply because he's not much interested in vacation.
“It's true that I don't take vacation,” he said.
How much vacation a county employee gets is based on his or her time of employment, as it is with most organizations. A rank-and-file union county employee gets two weeks of vacation with one year's experience, three weeks after six years, four weeks after 11 years and five weeks after 17 years, plus one day each month of sick time and two personal days a year, Powell said.
A management employee, like Gannon, gets only paid leave, which includes vacation and sick leave. Managers get 4 1/2 weeks of paid leave per year until they have worked at the county for six years, Powell said. After six years, they get 5 1/2 weeks, after 11 years, 6 1/2 weeks and after 17 years, 7 1/2 weeks.
“Bargaining unit (employees) can store up to a year's worth before they lose it, management can store up to two years,” Powell said.
If a manager's vacation days exceed the amount they can earn in two years, half of the “overage” can be cashed out, Powell said.
Generally, long-term employees lose a quarter of the extra vacation and the last quarter goes into a long-term leave account that can never be cashed out but can be used in case of serious illness.