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Change to county's sick leave policy urged amid coronavirus concerns

County Legislature President Joe Carbone
James Brown
County Legislature President Joe Carbone

Monroe County Legislature President Joe Carbone said sick leave should be unlimited for county employees until the novel coronavirus is contained. 

“We don’t want any of our Monroe County employees to have any repercussions if they don’t feel well and they want to take a day off and they don’t have a day off coming,” said Carbone.

Carbone sent a letter to County Executive Adam Bello, asking him to consider implementing the change. Bello was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

The virus seems to be easily spread, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control, and the first confirmed cases were reported in New York state in the last few days. But Carbone’s plan isn’t just for coronavirus; he said it should apply to anyone with documented illnesses. 

“It’s all about containment,” said Carbone. “If somebody doesn’t feel well, for the safety of all our employees and the people of Monroe County, we want them to stay home without any repercussions to their employment record.”

Carbone said that his chief concern is Monroe Community Hospital employees who are already working with people who have various illnesses. He also said that details would have to be worked out with the county's human resources department as well as with its nine unions.

“I don’t think the unions are going to have a problem with this, and I think human resources and collective bargaining will work this out expeditiously," said Carbone.

A statement from county health commissioner Michael Mendoza and director of human resources Andrea Guzzetta thanked Carbone for the suggestion and said the county is considering all options as it prepares for potential local cases. 

“We strongly encourage all area businesses to take similar steps," the statement said. "The time to prepare is now, while the risk of infection remains low in our community. We are providing support and guidance to many employers already, and we are working (with) the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and others to disseminate the information as widely as possible.”

James Brown is a reporter with WXXI News. James previously spent a decade in marketing communications, while freelance writing for CITY Newspaper. While at CITY, his reporting focused primarily on arts and entertainment.