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  • Summary date: May 14 2020 - View Summary

    Enacts GS 126-8.6 to establish State agency responsibilities concerning mandatory operations and mandatory employees during a pandemic or epidemic. Sets forth legislative findings and policy concerning mandatory essential functions of government and mandatory State employees.

    Defines a mandatory employee to mean an employee with a permanent, probationary, or time-limited appointment who is required to report to a designated work site (particularly when all other employees are restricted from coming into the workplace), other than their personal residence, and only for those specific dates and times that such onsite reporting is required during a public health emergency. Mandatory employees include, but are not limited to, employees in positions that directly impact: (i) public health and patient care, (ii) public safety, (iii) operation of critical infrastructure and facilities, (iv) operation and safety of sensitive research labs and ongoing care for research animals and the custody or care of persons or property whom the State has a duty to continue to serve. Mandatory employees may also be referred to as "essential employees." Defines State agency or agency as the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of State government and their departments, divisions, and other units; also includes the University of North Carolina. Other defined terms include epidemic, high-risk employees, isolation, pandemic, quarantine, and social distancing.

    Deems it the responsibility of each agency to consult public health officials at all levels to determine what actions the agency should take. Requires agencies to (1) comply with and adhere to any control measures, orders, or instructions from public health agencies to prevent communicable disease transmission; (2) require management and employees to follow public health guidelines; and (3) immediately inform management and other employees, and the local health department, of any evidence of communicable disease in the workplace that could seriously endanger employees' and others' health.

    Mandates that each agency head predetermine and designate mandatory operations and mandatory employees to staff the operations even when isolation, quarantine, and social distancing are public health control measures that may be required to protect public health during a communicable disease pandemic or epidemic. 

    Allows mandatory employees to be excused from work if the employee is high risk, as defined; isolated, quarantined, ill, or subject to other public health control measures; or required to care for an immediate family member who is isolated, quarantined, or ill or who requires the employee's care due to the closure of a public or private school, a day care center, or an elder care facility. Grants supervisors discretion in excusing mandatory employees who are parents or guardians and required to stay home with underage children because of the closure of care or school facilities. Provides for compulsion of mandatory employees to return to work for compelling reasons if operational needs change, excluding employees with documented advice by a health care provider to quarantine due to exposure.

    Requires agency heads to maintain a list of mandatory employees along with an alternative plan in case those employees are unable to work, as specified. Requires agencies to notify so designated employees.

    Provides for hazard pay for mandatory employees of at least time and a half or an equivalent in compensatory time when an agency is closed or when management determines that only mandatory employees are required to report to a specific work site. Grants agency heads discretion to determine other appropriate compensation options. Requires compensatory time to be used within 24 months of award; the time expires and cannot be paid out or transferred. Requires agencies to make every effort to give employees the opportunity to use compensatory time. 

    Provides for disciplinary action against mandatory employees for willful failure to report for or remain at work, including termination. Provides for appeals of a denial of exemption or any disciplinary action.

    Defines the scope of the statue to include all State employees.

    Makes conforming change to GS 126-8, concerning minimum leave granted to State employees.

    Amends GS 126-34.02 to include among the issues that can be heard as contested cases, a mandatory employee's denial of an exemption, the adequacy of hazard pay, and any disciplinary action under new GS 126-8.6.

    Directs the Legislative Research Commission to study the practices of private and local government employers regarding hazard pay and report to the 2021 General Assembly upon its convening.

    Appropriates $5 million from the General Fund to the Office of State Budget and Management for the 2020-21 fiscal year to fund mandatory hazard pay and to implement the act's provisions. Effective July 1, 2020.