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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, May 29, 2024
HomeNewsArchivesSenate Votes to Clarify Employee Definitions

Senate Votes to Clarify Employee Definitions

A bill that clarifies a section of the V.I. Code dealing with employees’ rights turned into a couple hours of discussion Monday over the status of temporary employees and whether they’re protected under the law.

The bill was approved unanimously and passed along to the Rules and Judiciary Committee for further consideration. Sponsored by Sen. Usie R. Richards, the bill clarifies the definition of "regular employee" and makes it clear that they must be presented with a written list of charges by their department or agency head before they can be dismissed, demoted or suspended.

"We were told that government employees were having some problems interpreting the law and the rights they are afforded, so this bill just simplifies the language so they can clearly understand the process," Richards said after Monday’s Labor and Agriculture Committee hearing.

Representatives from the Office of Collective Bargaining Office and Public Employees Relations Board (PERB) said the bill is "more readable" than the existing law.

A technical objection to the bill raised by Chief Negotiator Valdemar Hill Jr. prompted the discussion on temporary employees — a classification that senators said had few rights under the law. Before the end of the hearing, the bill was amended to included temporary employees under the proposed definition of a "regular" government employee.

Currently, there’s no statute protecting temporary employees that have been discharged, including the ones who have been working in a temporary position for more than a year, Hill explained.

Sen. Sammuel Sanes suggested that since the law is being updated, officials in Personnel and Collective Bargaining should also look at updating the standard employee handbook and performance evaluation form, which rate newly hired government workers at the end of their initial probation period.

Hill said Collective Bargaining and Personnel will collaborate on the updates.

Voting for the bill Monday were Sens. Craig W. Barshinger, Shawn-Michael Malone, Nereida Rivera-O’Reilly, Richards and Sanes. Sens. Carlton "Ital" Dowe and Terrence "Positive" Nelson were absent.

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