Most City of Auburn employees are continuing to work at their offices, being excluded from Gov. Kay Ivey’s stay-at-home order.
“There is no nonessential employee,” said City Manager Jim Buston. “In our particular case, we have to continue to provide services.”
The City provides services for garbage collection, utilities, police, fire, burials and other services. It is not an option for the City to stop providing services that are necessary to help residents and businesses, Buston said.
The City needs its frontline workers to work in-person to keep services running, but it also needs the employees that support those frontline workers, and because of this, all City employees are considered essential, Buston said.
Some City of Auburn employees are excluded from the requirement to work in their office. Because all public City buildings like the Auburn Public Library are closed to residents, people working in those buildings are serving people online instead of in person.
Employees that have compromised immune systems or children that would otherwise be in daycare can work from home, Buston said. However, jobs requiring access to the City’s servers and sensitive data must be done from the City’s offices for security reasons.
City employees no longer meet face-to-face, instead hosting meetings through video conferences, Buston said. All surfaces of City office buildings are cleaned daily, with doorknobs and other frequently used surfaces being cleaned multiple times per day.
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Employees with a sick family member or who are sick themselves are required to stay home until they both test negative for COVID-19. The City will pay to test the sick family member and the employee.
“We still pay you, but we require you stay home so you don’t infect someone else,” Buston said. “We have tested about 30 or 40 employees so far. Fortunately, all of those have been negative.”
City services may take longer than usual because of the amount of employees who are home due to sickness, Buston said. Trash collection could be delayed by an extra day or two, for example.
“We don’t have an overabundance of employees,” Buston said. “So, when you get 40 or 50 employees of our 500 out, it doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s 10% of our workforce out.”
The extra time some departments have has given their employees the chance to accomplish some of the things they've been meaning to do.
“We always have things we want to do, but maybe don’t have time to do,” Buston said. “Some departments are getting documents scanned into our electronic system, and the library is working on reorganizing the shelves. We’re just taking advantage of this downtime to do it.”
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