Wellness time off for Macon-Bibb workers dies in committee


Macon-Bibb County

Macon-Bibb County workers compete in the tug-of-war at the 2019 Employee Wellness Field Day in May.

For months, Macon-Bibb County commissioners Virgil Watkins and Elaine Lucas have been advocating for a little extra time off for county employees.

Watkins, who chairs the Finance and Operations committee, originally proposed making Election Day a holiday to give workers the opportunity to vote and exercise their civic duty.

Others on the committee rejected the idea, so Watkins amended the proposal to instead provide for four hours off for wellness or civic activities on four days during the year – the first Tuesday of March, June, September and December.

Commissioners Scotty Shepherd, Joe Allen and Larry Schlesinger voted to table the measure in late September.

Watkins has been trying to bring it back for consideration ever since, including during Tuesday’s committee meetings.

The co-sponsor of the proposal, Commissioner Elaine Lucas, had to leave Government Center for a medical appointment and was not present for the latest discussion.

The remaining committee members again initially declined to bring it up.

“We’re beating a dead horse,” commented Commissioner Valerie Wynn, who was present but is not on the Finance and Operations committee. “Can we just do something?”

Commissioners decided to settle the matter instead of leaving it tabled.

The committee voted to take it off the table, but when Watkins asked to vote to approve the resolution, no one seconded the measure and effectively killed it.

“So, you guys don’t want to give employees time off but you don’t want it on the record that you don’t,” Watkins said.

At this point, Watkins said he has no plans to amend and reintroduce his proposal due to the lack of support.

“Actually I was moving on to getting all our employees up to a living wage,” Watkins said.

Commissioners are studying whether the county can afford to develop a new competitive pay scale to keep workers from being lured to more lucrative jobs in other communities.

Information from The Telegraph archives contributed to this report. Contact Civic Reporting Civic Fellow Liz Fabian at 478-301-2976 or email [email protected].