Personnel Policy Board
Doublewood Inn, Bismarck, ND
Members Present: Hon. M. Richard Geiger, Chair; Jerrold Arneson; Hon. Gail Hagerty; Hon. Carol Ronning Kapsner; Chris Myers; Hon. John T. Paulson (telephonically); and Ted Smith
Members Absent: Gladys Schmitt
Others Present: Sally Holewa, ex officio
Amy Klein, staff
Renee Barnaby, minutes
Chair Geiger called the meeting to order at 10:00 a.m. and welcomed new member Chris Myers, Director of Juvenile Court for Unit 4, to the Personnel Policy Board.
The first item on the agenda was the approval of the minutes. It was moved by Judge Hagerty, seconded by Justice Kapsner, to approve the minutes of the December 5, 2008 meeting. The motion carried.
Request for Reclassification of Juvenile Court Officer II to III
Amy Klein said Attachment 2a on the agenda is a request for reclassification of a Juvenile Court Officer II (JCO II) to a Juvenile Court Officer III (JCO III). She stated she has reviewed the job description and classification for the JCO II and JCO III positions and has interviewed the juvenile directors and JCO IIIs across the state to determine if the incumbent's current duties are more closely related to a JCO II or JCO III. Ms. Klein said the State Court Administrator approved the reclassification and she, too, concurs with her recommendation.
After brief discussion, it was moved by Judge Paulson, seconded by Judge Hagerty, that the reclassification request be granted and forwarded to the Supreme Court for consideration. The motion carried.
Request for Reclassification of Secretary II to Calendar Control Clerk
Amy Klein said Attachment 2b on the agenda is a request for reclassification of a Secretary II to a Calendar Control Clerk. The individual is currently doing more of the Calendar Control Clerk duties than of the Secretary II duties. If moved to a Calendar Control Clerk, the incumbent would report to the court administrator.
Chair Geiger distributed an email discussion he had with Sally Holewa sometime ago. He said Ms. Holewa was hesitant in approving the reclassification because of the way the descriptions are written. She said the Calendar Control Clerk appears to be a position exclusively for the district court and although no division is included in the description, the title of the immediate supervisor indicates "court administrator/trial court manager". In contrast, the Secretary II position is clearly intended to work in either court administration or juvenile court but the listing under title of immediate supervisor indicates "varies". Chair Geiger stated he viewed the position differently and felt the court administrator could simply delegate who the supervisor would be.
Ms. Klein said the incumbent would physically stay in the same area and have the same job duties.
After brief discussion, it was moved by Judge Hagerty, seconded by Justice Kapsner, that the reclassification request be granted and be forwarded to the Supreme Court for consideration. The motion carried.
Proposed Changes to the Minimum Qualifications of Clerk of District Court I and II
Amy Klein recalled at the last Personnel Policy Board meeting, the Board discussed amending the education requirements for Clerk of District Court I to require future hires to have a two-year degree and the requirements for Clerk of District Court II for future hires to have a four-year degree. She said the trial court administrators have reviewed the changes and are in support of them.
Ms. Klein said the proposed requirements for a Clerk of District Court I would be an associates degree in business, management, judicial administration, public administration, or related degree or equivalent experience and two years of experience including a combination of supervisory related experience and progressively responsible administrative experience or a bachelor's degree in judicial administration, public administration, business, management, or a related degree and one year of experience including a combination of supervisory related experience and progressively responsible administrative experience.
In response to a question from Justice Kapsner as to what would count as experience, Ms. Klein said a combination of supervisory related experience and progressively responsible administrative experience. The two years of experience would be related to the position.
Chris Myers commented it would give an opportunity to a deputy clerk with several years of experience to qualify for the position if she can do the essential functions of the job.
Ted Smith suggested the four years of experience be listed first.
It was moved by Justice Kapsner, seconded by Jerrold Arneson, to change the minimum qualifications for Clerk of District Court I to include the following three options: requiring an associates degree in business, management, judicial administration, public administration, or related degree and two years of experience including a combination of supervisory related experience and progressively responsible administrative experience; or four years of experience including a combination of supervisory related experience and progressively responsible administrative experience; or a bachelor's degree in judicial administration, public administration, business, management or a related degree and one year of experience including a combination of supervisory related experience and progressively responsible administrative experience.
Mr. Smith suggested a high school diploma or GED be listed with the four years of experience requirement.
It was moved by Justice Kapsner, seconded by Jerrold Arneson, to amend the second option to say a high school diploma or GED plus four years of experience including a combination of supervisory related experience and progressively responsible administrative experience. The motion carried.
Ms. Klein said the proposed amendments to the Clerk of District Court II classification would require a bachelor's degree in judicial administration, public administration, business, management, or related degree and three years of experience including a combination of supervisory related experience and progressively responsible administrative experience. The proposed pay grade change would move the classification from a pay grade 18 to pay grade 19 because of the requirement of the bachelor's degree.
It was moved by Justice Kapsner, seconded by Chris Myers, to approve the proposed changes to the minimum qualifications of the Clerk of District Court II job classification. The motion carried.
Chair Geiger referred the Board to Attachment 4 on the agenda and asked Amy Klein to report on her review and recommendation for future hiring of court reporters. Ms. Klein said she contacted a lot of resources and there is no definite right answer to this issue. Some of the other mid-west states are also having difficulty finding court reporters regardless of their pay. She said that two of every eight reporters survive in court reporter school. Some states are developing task forces to educate their high school students about the careers, and they have developed relations with the schools so they can appear at their career fairs. The Department of Commerce has found the cost of living isn't necessarily less in ND. It is in certain areas, but not on day-to-day items such as groceries and gas. Commerce also found companies in ND tend to pay less. Results from the Experience ND Project report that 16 household have moved to ND and of those 16 households, approximately four do not have family ties to ND. Amy said we need to decide what our commitment is.
Justice Kapsner said the court's commitment has been to try to provide a court reporter for every judge that wants one.
Judge Hagerty stated not all trial judges want a reporter, but those who do feel very strongly about it. She feels said it is important for judges to make a good record. She prefers a realtime reporter so she can review a rough transcript when writing a decision.
Chair Geiger said judges can also access the record by listening to the electronic recording, however he can appreciate the different views. He said the cost between the two is about the same. It is easier to hire people in the rural area as a recorder. As far as accuracy between the two, he believes that is a function of training and of the individual. His sense has always been that we do want to have reporters in the state for those judges that want reporters. He supports the idea of developing a task force and developing a multi-prong approach to recruiting reporters.
In response to a question from Chair Geiger as to whether or not the Supreme Court would entertain the idea as part of its budget to consider grants or scholarships conditioned upon people coming back and working in the system for a certain amount of time, Judge Kapsner said she believed the court would consider it. She said there would be a binding commitment to pay it back.
It was moved by Judge Hagerty, seconded by Justice Kapsner, to approve the pay grade reclassification to pay grade 14 and forward it to the Supreme Court for consideration. The Board also requests that the Administrative Council appoint a task force to identify future needs for court reporters in the ND Judicial System and to purse a plan to increase the pool of candidates for those needs.
Judge Paulson suggested perhaps the Board should ask the task force to review the issue before approving the pay reclassification.
In response to a question from Jerrold Arneson asking if we would recruit at step one or three of the new pay grade 14, Ms. Klein responded recruitment would start at step 1.
Ms. Klein referred the Board to the chart on page 78 of the attachments, which shows the monthly and annual costs of moving all court reporters to the closest step in grade 14. The chart also shows the costs of a general 5% increase as an alternative. She said the cost figures do not include overhead costs. If a reclassification is approved, the classification would be starred and would be listed as a market exception.
Ms. Klein also noted that 14 of our current reporters will be eligible to retire in the next 10 years, and 7 of them in the next 5.
Chair Geiger called for a roll call vote (Yes=in favor; No=against):
Jerrold - yes
Chris - yes
Justice Kapsner - yes
Ted Smith - yes
Hagerty - yes
Judge Paulson - no
Judge Geiger - yes
The motion carried and will be submitted to the Supreme Court for consideration.
[Sally Holewa joined the meeting]
Sally Holewa said when we recently adjusted the pay grades, everyone was moved to the closest step above their current salary. To be equitable, she recommended we do the same.
It was moved by Justice Kapsner, seconded by Ted Smith, that we follow the column entitled "new salary" and "step" on page 78 that will adjust court reporters to the step that is most closely aligned with their present salary with a slight increase. The motion carried and will be forwarded to the Supreme Court for consideration.
Request to Modify Policy 102 to Include the Adoption Process
Amy Klein said an employee has requested the Board to review and modify Policy 102 to include the adoption process. The employee has suggested the following possible modifications that would allow for paid leave other than using annual leave: the sick leave and pregnancy policy be revised to include adoption; or develop a new policy covering parental leave; or allow donated leave. Currently, only mothers of newborns are allowed to be on maternity leave up to16 weeks (six weeks as a medical need and 10 weeks to care for and bond with the newborn). Some employers require a doctor to certify the six weeks as a medical need, but currently we do not require the certification. Our current policy does not include fathers. Father can have leave under FMLA, but our policy says they cannot use sick leave. The policy also excludes adoptions.
Ms. Klein drafted a proposal to allow the birth mother to use up to16 weeks of accrued sick leave or unpaid leave for the birth of a child. She also included language stating the adoptive mother is eligible for 10 weeks of accrued sick leave to care for and bond with the newly adopted child. The newly adopted child does not include adoption through marriage.
Ms. Klein also drafted another option entitled parental leave. Parental leave is similar to annual and sick leave and can only be used to care for and bond with a newborn or newly-adopted child. Basically, they would get three weeks of paid time off to and then they would go to sick or annual leave whatever is appropriate.
Judge Paulson noted it was important to consider the many types of adoptions such as those shortly after birth, special needs, stepparent, and other age children adoptions.
Jerrold Arneson stated other companies have a pool called "whatever" and it is used for leave such this. There is no medical reason, it is not annual leave, it is for whatever kind of situation that comes up.
Justice Kapsner states she would like to see us change this so that we have parental leave that applies to birth parents and adoptive parents and is not considered a medical reason. It is really a bonding reason. Once the parental leave is exhausted, an employee who still needs medical leave would then use sick leave. She said adoption is a huge change and they need time to bond.
[Judge Paulson left the meeting]
Judge Hagerty said under Policy 102G (1)(b), it states absences under this subsection shall be taken as sick leave (if applicable), annual leave, leave without pay, or a combination of these. She suggested removing the word "if applicable."
It was suggested that we enforce the six weeks or make it a medical necessity for the birth mother, and then at that point anything else they take would be considered annual leave. That way it wouldn't be unfair to the adoptive mother.
Ted Smith suggested adding a new category under Policy 102, section F, entitled Parental Leave and state a new parent, whether by birth or adoption, may take up to six weeks of sick leave.
It was suggested that Ms. Klein include a section under G that allows employees to use accrued sick leave up to six weeks for parents, mothers or fathers, adoptive or birth, for bonding, excluding step parents.
It was moved by Judge Hagerty, seconded by Jerrold Arneson, to table the request and ask Ms. Klein to prepare a proposed draft for the next meeting. The motion carried.
[Justice Kapsner left the meeting]
Forty-Five Day Comment Period
The next agenda item was a proposal to change the comment period for personnel policy changes under N.D. Sup. Ct. Admin. R. 33(3). The current comment period is 45 days. Amy Klein said allowing a shorter comment period would allow human resources to efficiently receive comments and follow-up, research and prepare in a timely and complaint manner for the next scheduled Personnel Policy Board meeting. She said a majority of the comments are received within the first 10 days.
It was moved by Judge Hagerty, seconded by Ted Smith, to change the comment period under N.D. Sup. Ct. Admin. R. 33(3) to 15 days. The motion carried and will be forwarded to the Supreme Court for consideration.
Amy Klein presented the Board with a draft of the new employee handbook. She said she refers to the judiciary throughout the handbook as the ND Judicial System but will change it if needed. She added some forms to the handbook and included some new policies used by the Executive Branch. The Board may decide not to use the new policies but included them in the draft so that the Board is aware such policies exist.
Mission and Vision Statements - Ms. Klein stated they are common in all handbooks and are listed first for easy access by employees.
Judge Hagerty suggested the source be noted on the bottom of each statement so the employee knows who approved the statements and the date.
Sally Holewa noted the statements were recommended by the Judicial Planning Commission in 2002.
After discussion, no action was taken on this item.
Disclaimer -Ms. Klein explained the disclaimer is new to the handbook and is not included in the current handbook. The disclaimer is necessary to avoid exposure to employment liability. It tells the employee that it is not a contract; that we follow all state and federal laws; and that we have the right to terminate these policies and benefits. It does point out that the handbook applies only to judges as judges function in the capacity of appointing authorities as defined in the handbook.
In response to a question from Ted Smith as to the purpose of the sentence referring to the judges, Ms. Klein stated because judges are elected officials they do not follow these policies. The policies generally apply to everyone but elected officials.
Ted Smith suggested that the sentence be removed.
It was the consensus of the Board to take out the last sentence of the first paragraph referring to the judges and to remove the capitalization from the words Manual and Handbook. The first paragraph will also be reviewed by Jim Ganje for accuracy.
Equal Employment Opportunity - Ms. Klein said the policy is copied out of federal law.
Ted Smith questioned the purpose of the last sentence in the last paragraph stating, once the supervisor is notified of an issue, they must contact Human Resources.
Ms. Klein stated it is an internal procedure and prefers it be left in the manual because it is an important step. Not all supervisors are trained and know what procedures to follow, so it is important to make sure all issues are handled properly.
Chris Myers suggested it be included in a supervisor's manual.
Ms. Holewa added in addition to directing the supervisor what to do, it also gives fair warning to everyone that if a report is filed, it will be noticed.
Judge Hagerty noted the current policy simply states that complaints should be directed to the director of HR and then gives the contact info.
Ms. Klein feels it is necessary to inform the supervisor. She said our most important goal in this policy is to make sure that this doesn't happen. If it does happen, it gets addressed properly and taken care of immediately.
No changes were made to the policy.
Employment Status - Chair Geiger noted that the legislature didn't pass the modification in SB 2278.
Ms. Klein said the policy defines two types of employees, regular and temporary. Under regular employees, we have classified employee and non-classified employees. Classified employees are only at will during the introductory period (referred to as probationary period in the current manual). In order to terminate them, you must include cause, whereas a non-classified employee serves in employment at will where they can be terminated for no reason and with our without notice. Temporary employees do not get benefits and do not receive annual, sick or other leave.
Judge Hagerty said the draft policy is a major change for referees who have a specific procedure for termination. If the policy is adopted it would be inconsistent with current policies. She suggested the draft policy be set aside and be reviewed again after the other policies have been reviewed.
Ted Smith referred the Board to the last sentence of the policy referring to temporary employees who become regular employee are given credit for their temporary service for the purpose of determining their annual and sick leave accrual. He asked if there was a reason for including that employment status in this policy as that is dealing with leave rather than with their status and suggested perhaps it should be included in the benefits section.
Amy Klein responded that temporary employees do not get benefits.
It was the consensus of the Board to review the policy again, with regard to the to referees, at a later date.
Introductory Period - Ms. Klein said in the past, this has been referred to as a probationary period. She said if we are going to include the at will employees in an introductory period, we don't want to call it a probationary period because it insinuates that the at will status ends at the time the probationary period ends.
It was the consensus of the Board to modify the first sentence of paragraph two to read as follows: New regular employees, except for law clerks, are eligible for a salary increase upon the successful completion of the introductory period.
It was also the consensus of the Board to add the words "without the right to use the Conflict Resolution Policy Dismissal or Reduction in Force Appeal process" to the last paragraph.
Supervisory Status - Ms. Klein handed out a new insert (p 37) to reflect the changes made by the Supreme Court.
Work Schedule - Ms. Klein said the work schedule defines full-time and part-time employees, describes flex schedules and the rules, and defines breaks and lunch periods.
It was the consensus of the Board to allow 15 minutes for break periods.
It was also the consensus of the Board to change the words "flex schedule" to "alternate work schedule" to have consistent language throughout the policy.
Overtime - Ms. Klein explained that overtime defines exempt and nonexempt employees and then explains when overtime and comp time can occur and can be used.
It was the consensus of the Boardgroup to remove the underlining from the policy.
Pay Deductions - Ms. Klein stated non-exempt employees are only paid for actual hours worked and they receive benefits under our leave policies. Exempt employees are to be paid on a salary basis so that means regardless of how much they work or don't work, they have to be paid that full salary. The Fair Pay Act of 04 clarified when an employer can actually make any deductions from an exempt employee's pay check.
It was the consensus of the Board to modify the last paragraph to read: Employees must report any improper pay deductions to finance. The ND Judicial System prohibits any form of discipline or retaliation for reporting such incidents and shall handle all complaints promptly.
It was also the consensus of the Board to add the words "wage replacement" before the word "benefits" in the first paragraph.
Ted Smith requested a table of contents with the page numbers of the new policies be distributed to the members.
Amy Klein handed out a new funeral leave policy because domestic partner was included a definition.
The handbook will be divided into three sections. Over the course of the next couple months, meetings will be held by telephone conference to review a section and will be limited to one hour.
The next regular meeting date will be August 28.