When two members of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Officers’ Association were facing financial hardship due to catastrophic illness, they turned to the county sick leave pool for help. Even though the pool had over 60,000 hours available, the employees could not get help because the County of El Paso said they did not qualify.
That’s when EPCSOA President Pete Faraone stepped in.
“Our members were suffering through the fight of their lives without a paycheck. There was this huge resource available to help them, but the County bureaucracy and red tape was making it impossible for them to get hours from the sick leave pool,” Pete Faraone said.
On February 10, 2020, that all changed. Faraone had worked tirelessly the previous week to get this issue before the Commissioner’s Court. During Court, he urged the Commissioners to do everything they could do to help the two officers involved.
“The County policy was very restrictive, and employees who were in the throes of a catastrophic illness could not effectively comply with the policy in order to obtain benefits from the leave pool,” said CLEAT Senior Supervising Attorney Jim Jopling.
At the urging of Pete Faraone and other Sheriff’s Office employees, the Commissioners changed the policy in several significant ways. First, they removed the “pay to play” requirement, opening the sick leave pool to all County employees. Next, they tasked the Human Resources Department with drafting new rules to allow employees to participate when they fail to enroll due to extenuating circumstances. Most importantly, they emphasized that the two affected officers would be eligible for assistance from the leave pool immediately.
“Our relationship with County Government is better than it ever has been,” Faraone said. “Today, the Commissioner’s Court listened to us and did the right thing – not only for our CLEAT members but for all employees countywide.”
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