HR Headline Roundup for May 18-22, 2020

Protecting Public Sector Employees

To Stem COVID, This Small Indiana City Decided to Test All Public-Facing Employees, Kaiser Health News

Since mid-April, the Indianapolis suburb of Carmel has required weekly nasal swab coronavirus tests for police, EMS personnel, sanitation workers and every other municipal employee who interacts with residents. Analyses are done on site, and results are typically reported within 24 hours.


Teleworking as a New Normal

OPINION: How Agencies Can Sustain Telework After the COVID Pandemic, Nextgov

The author, who heads up engineering for a federal government contractor specializing in data center modernization and IT system integration, recommends focusing on achieving the mission instead of insisting on process, taking care of workers who must assume more autonomy, and choosing the right metrics to gauge personnel and network performance.


Public Sector Workforce Worries

Pandemic Throws Up Additional Challenges for U.S. Firefighters, AFP

The article quotes California Gov. Gavin Newsom telling a group of reporters, "We’re focused on COVID-19, we're focused on coronavirus mitigation, trying to do our best to suppress the spread while at the same time we’ve got to mitigate and suppress these fires as we move into wildfire season.” Permanent crews, physical distancing along fire lines and the elimination of large, central fire camps are expected to become the norm until the pandemic abates or a vaccine becomes available.


More Busted Budgets

City of Fairfield, Ala., Files for Bankruptcy,

The city of roughly 12,000 residents southwest of Birmingham will continue providing police, fire, sanitation and education services as it goes through Chapter 9 bankruptcy. The website notes that no layoffs are planned. A spate of business closures that was accelerated by the coronavirus outbreak left the city with insufficient operating funds.


Other News You May Have Missed

During Pandemic, Sequestered SDG&E Grid Operators Living at Work to Keep the Lights On, San Diego Union-Tribune

Teams of volunteers have been serving 12-hour shifts for 14 day stretches without leaving Mission Control for San Diego Gas & Electric. Extra pay and meals are being provided, and staff members who do not go home sleep in RVs. “There’s only so many grid operators who can do this job,” IBEW Local 465 Business manager Nate Fairman told the newspaper. “And if COVID-19 was brought into the workplace and contaminated those workers, it could be a matter of national security.”

Mural on Virginia Beach Landmark Honors Victims of Municipal Center Massacre, Virginian-Pilot

VB_Forget-Me-NotA forget-me-not and the message “Love for VB” sits below the city seal on the side of Mt. Trashmore. Parks & Recreation workers created the tribute to 11 city workers and a contractor who lost their lives when a coworker went on a shooting spree on May 31, 2019, before killing himself. Four other victims survived.

Federal Advisory Group Finds Feds Are Paid 26.71% Less Than Private Sector Counterparts, Government Executive

The Federal Salary Council reported on April 2 that recent locality pay increases failed to bring U.S. government salaries up to par with what companies pay employees. The council recommends tweaking the locality pay formula as a way to bring federal compensation more in line with private sector salaries.

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