Waterbury’s municipal employees, both hourly and salaried, are reducing their hours during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Five employees have been laid off including three from the town office and two part-time employees from the Waterbury Public Library, according to Waterbury town manager Bill Shepeluk.
Shepeluk said that several weeks ago, before the governor’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order was issued, recognizing that the pandemic was coming, he had a staff meeting and asked all hourly town employees if they could try to do their work on 5 percent less time, given the fact that so many other businesses in town were closed and losing money.
“I wasn’t asking anyone to work hours they wouldn’t get paid for. A 5 percent reduction means 38 hours a week. People started to do that,” Shepeluk said.
As for salaried employees, the town consulted with its attorneys at Stitzel, Page and Fletcher and determined that salaried employees have to be paid their salaries if they work.
“I asked those salaried employees if they’d take a reduction in their salaries and told them it would be voluntary and all salaried employees have done that,” he reported.
Waterbury has about 30 employees between the library, the town and the water and sewer utility district. The town’s request that those employees voluntarily reduce their hours came before the Stay Home, Stay Safe order. After that order, the layoffs were instituted. Waterbury’s personnel policy requires that employees receive two-week notice before a layoff.
“Some people that we laid off, we had to tell them don’t come to work and we’ll pay you for those two weeks,” Shepeluk said.
In terms of the road crew, he said, there are eight employees in that department, including the supervisor. All eight of those employees are now working 20 hours a week and are in their second week of having to be paid for their full 40 hours a week.
“As of a week ago Sunday, they went to the 20-hour-a-week schedule to allow for proper social distancing from each other and to comply with the Stay Home, Stay Safe order. We’ve been able to make sure every day is covered,” he said.
Reducing the hours of those eight employees by half is saving the highway department approximately $3,500 a week, according to Shepeluk.