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Commissioners Court considers cutting down paid time off for county employees

County Commissioners

El Paso County Commissioners are considering a move to lower the number of days of paid time off employees receive each year.

During a budget meeting on Thursday, commissioners listened to a presentation by the human resources department detailing the time El Paso County employees get off each year compared to the 10 biggest counties in the state.

Commissioner Andrew Haggerty says the data found that El Paso tends to offer more paid holidays and sick time than most other counties.

When it comes to paid holidays and vacation time, “El Paso employees have 28 days combined of those two. Now, when you throw in the fact that we have 15 sick days, that takes the number to 43, and so my thing is sick days are the number one difficulty,” Haggerty said.

Haggerty believes the county might be offering more sick days than most employees need, and that it could be weighing on the county.

“We need to maybe bring 15 days down to a more manageable number to make it a little bit more fair for everyone across-the-board,” Haggerty said.

Haggerty says that the additional sick time has the ability to weigh down the county not only financially, but also in terms of productivity.

“It does give the ability to leave some jobs not finished, or something is taking longer than it should,” Haggerty said.

Haggerty believes a better option for holiday time might be to take after national banks, meaning about two to three paid holidays might be trimmed off as well.

However, Commissioner David Stout says these incentives are offered to attract potential employees.

“We are in the public sector, and so part of our recruiting ability comes with the fact that we offer benefits. The private sector, they can attract people with money, and so we don't want to lose that recruiting tool,” Stout said.

But Stout says he, too, is willing to take a closer look at the data to see if something different should be done.

“I think it would save the county some money and we would still be at a competitive level with our other public institutions,” Stout said.

Both commissioners agree, though, that they need more data before making a final decision. The Commissioners Court has asked the human resources department to do a more comprehensive analysis of El Paso County employees. The research will include the number of sick days employees are offered versus the days they actually use, among other things. Commissioners expect the results from that report in about four to six weeks. They will then make a final decision about whether to keep the vacation time, paid holidays and sick days the same, or trim some of them down.

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