About two weeks ago, we all started feeling the impacts of COVID-19. Deputies have had to make many changes in our personal and professional lives as we react to this virus and do our part to slow its spread. Though we’re being bombarded with new information on a regular basis, I wanted to communicate a few important points from the DSA to all of our members.
First, I want to assure each of you that the DSA is monitoring all the changes and we remain a resource for you throughout this difficult time. We’ve had to cancel events, adjust staff schedules, and change our store hours, but our ability to assist you has not diminished.
The DSA board met recently to discuss our response to some of the changes we’ve all had to make. I am going to address some of the most common questions our board members have received and provide the best guidance and answers we currently have available. It is important to note that more changes are likely coming, and adjustments will have to be made. We are in an unprecedented situation and everyone is trying to adjust appropriately.
The DSA has been in constant contact with Sheriff’s Department leadership about many issues. After much discussion, and with much more to come, I’m confident the department is doing its best to take care of each of the deputies. Schedule changes, new assignments, and increased responsibility can be frustrating, but unfortunately, they are a necessity right now.
When so many changes are made in such a short period of time, unintended consequences can occur. The DSA is paying close attention to these things to ensure we can communicate some of those situations to increase awareness and also work to get them fixed. We ask for your patience and understanding as we work through some of these topics with the Department. If you have a unique question or circumstance that is not addressed in this article, please call me directly at (619) 206-1605 or call the DSA (858) 486-9009, extension 101, and we will point you in the right direction.
Here are some of the more frequently asked questions:
Q: I work in the Court Services Bureau and my assignment and schedule were changed without 14 days’ notice. Will I get additional compensation for that?
A: The MOA states the following about shift change pay:
Changes to Shift Assignment Schedules: Where Shift Assignment Schedules are regularly and routinely used, changes to such schedules shall be posted at least fourteen (14) calendar days prior to the effective date of the change. A newly-posted assignment schedule will generally not be changed within fourteen (14) calendar days unless such action becomes necessary to overcome unexpected operational problems. An unanticipated reduction in the number of personnel available for assignment caused by such factors as resignations, terminations, emergency leaves, major illness or serious injury of an officer exemplify unexpected operational problems permitting a change in schedule. An employee’s new work week begins at the time the employee commences to work under a shift assignment schedule. Whenever an employee commences to work a new shift schedule which includes a day that would otherwise have been one of the employee’s two (2) consecutive days of rest under the employee’s former schedule, the employee shall receive overtime compensation for all time worked during either of the former schedule’s two (2) days of rest. A violation of this provision is grievable.
I’ve heard rumors this issue may unintentionally have been handled inconsistently by different stations or facilities. PLEASE check your pay stub and ensure you were paid the appropriate amount. The Department has assured me they have every intention of paying deputies whatever they are due. As I write this (March 27), today is the end of the pay period. Next week, I plan to meet with department payroll and HR representatives to identify any discrepancies or errors. Please reach out if you believe you were not compensated correctly, and we will investigate it.
Q: A directive came out saying new requests for vacation time would be denied. I am at 100% and won’t be able to accrue anymore. What should I do?
A: The Department wants to encourage deputies to manage their leave balances appropriately. For any deputy who is at 100% of their vacation accrual, every effort will be made to allow them to take vacation time. If a deputy is at 100% of vacation and their vacation request is denied, the Department will compensate them for their future vacation accruals. Again, please contact the DSA if you are in this situation.
Q: My supervisor ordered me to not come to work due to COVID-19 concerns, but I did not intend to call in sick. Do I have to burn my own sick time?
A: This has happened for a few people who may have been traveling or had concerns about an exposure. Some deputies have been told to stay at home for 14 days. Currently, all county employees do have to use their own sick time in these instances. This is not the Department being unfair; rather this is just the current policy in place for all county employees. While the DSA believes you should not be required to exhaust your own leave balances in this instance, we do not believe any laws are being violated by the employer. We plan to have some discussions with the appropriate people about this issue once things slow down a bit.
Q: I don’t have many sick leave hours in my bank. What if I contract COVID-19 and I don’t have any leave balances?
A: The County of San Diego reached out to the DSA and sent us a letter of agreement to provide some relief for anyone faced with this challenge. The most important thing is that the deputy continues to get paid during this time. The County of San Diego will provide an advance of 120 hours of sick leave pay to any deputy who has a zero balance during this time. Once they return to work and begin accruing sick leave again, the hours used during the pandemic will be paid back to the County.
Q: What if I am exposed to COVID-19 at work, or am ordered to quarantine, but I don’t feel comfortable going home to expose my family?
A: Please call me directly on my cell phone any time of day. There are a few resources for housing that have come available. I will work to find the most appropriate contact person and possibly find some lodging. This is a developing resource and the DSA has had discussions with several different folks about this already. Our hope is that we will be able to find a partner to provide all the lodging assistance we may need.
Q: What about the DSA store? People are losing their minds and taking all the toilet paper; I’m not sure the few thousand rounds of ammo I have at home is enough. Is the DSA store open so I can buy more guns and ammo?
A: The DSA store has gone to modified hours in response to the pandemic, but we also recognize the need for deputies to buy uniforms, equipment, or any other constitutionally protected possessions. The DSA store will be open from 0900 to 1200 on Tuesdays and Thursdays until further notice.
Again, if you have a question or unique circumstance that is not addressed here, please call me directly at (619) 206-1605 or call the DSA at (858) 486-9009 and dial extension 101. Please share this message with anyone you think could benefit who may not have received it. Stay safe.