Pharr updates city employee manual, no paid family leave included

PHARR — The city of Pharr on Monday sought to update the city’s employee manual, editing out wordy sections about federal standards that changed, clarifying clauses about substance abuse policies and ensuring employees can transfer paid leave for sick leave.

The birth of a child, though? Employees must use other accrued time off such as sick or paid leave, city commissioners voted on Monday at their commission meeting.

Unanimously, commissioners approved changes to the “personnel policy manual” and after the meeting, Interim City Manager Ed Wylie said that city employees in Pharr have more paid time off than many other cities — three weeks, as opposed to the more common two weeks, Wylie said.

Citing the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, city employees in Pharr who take leave for the birth or adoption of a child are protected in their job by the federal law, but the law does not require employees to receive paid parental leave.

“The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave,” according to the United States Department of Labor.

McAllen City Commissioners last month voted to implement one day of paid family leave for the birth or adoption of a child. Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez said after Monday’s meeting he had not heard of a city employee in Pharr asking for paid family leave, but said perhaps it is an issue he and city commissioners could consider in the future.

In Pharr, if employed with the city less than 20 years, you receive 15 days of paid time off per year. More than 20 years working with the city earns employees 20 days of annual paid time off.

Some tweaked language in the updated manual seeks to protect full-time salaried positions. An employee on “workers’ comp leave shall not accrue sick or annual leave during the period that the employee is on workers’ comp leave, unless the employee is on full salary continuation,” the updated manual reads.

Commissioners on Monday sought to make other improvements to city business, too. Commissioners approved an ordinance to incentivize residents paying water bills online.

“The customers who pay their monthly charges online be given a $3 credit towards next month’s bill for each monthly bill payment processed online,” the ordinance read.

Wylie said the change is intended to “decrease our foot traffic and increase our online presence.”

Wylie also noted the city will be offering a new service for residents to dump trash. Likely to begin in March, residents will have opportunities to offload debris and other waste Monday through Saturday at the public works department.

“If the public needs a place to dump, the city is here for you,” Wylie said.

mferman@themonitor.com