Town of Coventry, RI
Kent County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Council of the Town of Coventry 11-12-1991 by Ord. No. 9-91-0181 as Ch. 13, Art. I, of the 1991 Code. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Personnel Board — Ch. 5, Art. III.

§ 51-1 Title.

This chapter shall be known as the "Personnel Ordinance."

§ 51-2 Applicability.

This chapter shall be exclusive and not run concurrently with any collective bargaining agreements in force with the Town. It shall be applicable to all employees; provided, however, that any employee who is a member of a collective bargaining unit, which unit is a party to a collective bargaining agreement with the Town, shall, in the case of a grievance, elect either to proceed under this chapter or a collective bargaining agreement. An employee's request for a hearing before the Personnel Board in accordance with this chapter shall constitute an election by the employee to proceed under this chapter and waive the provisions contained in the collective bargaining agreement.

§ 51-3 Administration; duties of Director of Records and Personnel.

A. 
The personnel program established by this chapter shall be administered by a Director of Records and Personnel appointed by the Town Manager. The Town Manager may serve as Director of Records and Personnel.
B. 
The Director of Records and Personnel shall:
(1) 
Attend all meetings of the Personnel Board.
(2) 
Administer all the provisions of this chapter and of the personnel rules.
(3) 
Prepare and recommend revisions and amendments to the personnel rules.

§ 51-4 Authority to contract for services.

[Amended 3-23-2009 by Ord. No. 03-09-273]
The Town Council may, on its own initiative or upon recommendations of the Personnel Board, the Director of Records and Personnel or the Town Manager, contract with any qualified person or agency for the performance of such technical services as may be desired in the operation of the personnel program.

§ 51-5 Records.

The Director of Records and Personnel shall maintain adequate records of the proceedings of the Personnel Board and of his own official acts, the examination record of every candidate, and the employment record of every employee.

§ 51-6 Authority to adopt additional rules.

After the Town Council has adopted a comprehensive plan for recruitment and advancement of employees, and on the basis of merit and provision of conditions of employment, remuneration and retirement as required by Article IX of the Charter, if changes are necessary at a later date, the Director of Records and Personnel shall draft, in consultation with the Town Manager, such rules as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter. Following a public hearing conducted by the Personnel Board, these rules shall be submitted for adoption by resolution of the Town Council. The rules shall have the force and effect of law. Amendments to the rules shall be made in accordance with the procedure set out in this section.

§ 51-7 Class specifications adopted.

The class specifications as contained in the proposed personnel classification and pay plan prepared by the Bureau of Government Research of the University of Rhode Island, pages 1 to 62 inclusive, and Supplemental Report I, are hereby adopted as a part of this section to the same extent as if set out at length in this section, insofar as the plan is not in conflict with the Charter.

§ 51-8 Revision of initial classification plan.

The initial classification plan will be reviewed from time to time as changing conditions require, following a public hearing conducted by the Personnel Board and upon recommendation of the Director of Records and Personnel and the Town Manager and approval of the Town Council. Such revisions may consist of the addition, abolishment, consolidation, division or amendment of existing classes.

§ 51-9 Revision of initial salary administration plan.

The initial salary administration plan shall be revised from time to time as circumstances require, either through adjustment of rates or by reassignment of job classes to different pay ranges, following a public hearing conducted by the Personnel Board and upon recommendation of the Director of Records and Personnel and the Town Manager, and with the approval of the Town Council.

§ 51-10 General policy.

It is hereby the declared personnel policy of the Town that:
A. 
Employment in the Town government shall be based on merit and fitness, free of personal and political considerations.
B. 
Just and equitable incentives and conditions of employment shall be established and maintained to promote efficiency and economy in the operation of the Town government.
C. 
Positions having similar duties and responsibilities shall be classified and compensated on a uniform basis.
D. 
Appointments, promotions and other actions requiring the application of the merit principle shall be based on systematic tests and evaluation.
E. 
High morale shall be maintained by fair administration of this chapter and by every consideration of the rights and interests of employees consistent with the best interests of the public and the Town.
F. 
Tenure of employees covered by this chapter shall be subject to good behavior, the satisfactory performance of work, necessity for the performance of work and the availability of funds.

§ 51-11 Discrimination. [1]

There shall be no discrimination against any person seeking employment or employed in the classified service because of any consideration of political or religious affiliations or belief, or race, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, age or any other grounds upon which discrimination is prohibited.
[1]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II).

§ 51-12 Political activities.

Employees in the classified service shall be selected without regard to political considerations, may not be required to contribute to any political purpose, and may not engage in improper political activity. The rules adopted pursuant to this chapter shall define the scope of improper political activity.

§ 51-13 Classified and exempt services.

All offices and positions of the Town are divided into the classified service and the exempt service.
A. 
The exempt service shall include the following:
(1) 
All elected officials and members of boards and commissions.
(2) 
The Town Manager and the Chief of Police.
(3) 
Other direct appointees of the Town Council.
(4) 
Employees of the School Committee.
(5) 
Volunteer personnel and personnel appointed to serve without pay.
(6) 
Consultants and counsel rendering temporary professional services.
(7) 
Such positions involving seasonal or part-time employment that consist of unskilled work as may be specifically placed in the exempt service by the personnel rules or by the Charter.
B. 
The classified service shall include all other positions in the Town service that are not specifically placed in the exempt service by this section.

§ 51-14 Status of persons previously in classified service; determination of class.

A. 
When this chapter becomes effective, all persons then holding positions included in the classified service shall:
(1) 
Have permanent status if they have held their present positions for at least six months immediately preceding the effective date of this chapter.
(2) 
Serve a probationary period of three months before acquiring permanent status if they have held their positions for less than six months immediately preceding the effective date of this chapter.
B. 
The class in which each employee shall have status shall be determined in the manner provided in § 51-8.

§ 51-15 Appointment to vacancies.

A. 
Original appointment to vacancies occurring after this chapter becomes effective shall be based on merit, as determined by competitive examinations.
B. 
Examinations shall be in such form as will fairly test the abilities and aptitudes of candidates for the duties to be performed, and may not include any inquiry into the political or religious affiliations or race of the candidate.
C. 
Candidates who qualify for employment shall be placed on an eligible list for the appropriate job class in the rank order of the grades they obtained in the examination.
D. 
Preference in entrance examinations, but not in promotions, shall be granted to persons who have been members of the armed forces of the United States in time of war, and who seek to enter the service of the Town within five years immediately following their honorable discharge from military service. Such preference shall be in the form of points added to the final grades of such persons, provided that they first achieve a passing grade. The preference may be as much as five points for nondisabled veterans and as much as 10 points for persons currently receiving compensation from the U.S. Veterans' Administration for war-service-incurred disabilities. The rank order of such persons among other eligibles shall be determined on the basis of their augmented rating.
E. 
Vacancies in positions above the entrance level shall be filled by promotion whenever in the judgment of the Director of Records and Personnel it is in the best interest of the Town to do so. Promotions shall be on a competitive basis except where the Director of Records and Personnel finds that the number of persons qualified for promotion is insufficient to justify competition. For promotions, appropriate consideration shall be given to the applicant's qualifications, record of performance and seniority.
F. 
An advancement in rank or grade or an increase in salary beyond the limits defined in the rules for the administration of the pay plan shall constitute a promotion.
G. 
Pending the availability of an eligible list determined by the Director of Records and Personnel to be appropriate for a class, vacancies may be filled by temporary appointment. Such appointments shall have a maximum duration of six months and may not continue beyond one pay period after the establishment of an appropriate eligible list.

§ 51-16 Eligible lists.

A. 
Eligible lists, in the order of their priority, shall be reemployment lists, promotional eligible lists and original appointment eligible lists.
(1) 
Reemployment lists shall contain the names of permanent employees laid off in good standing for lack of work or funds.
(2) 
Promotional eligible lists and original appointment eligible lists shall be created as provided in § 51-15.
(3) 
Probationary employees laid off for lack of work or lack of funds, and probationary employees who resign and whose resignations are withdrawn within one year, with the approval of the appointing authority and the Director of Records and Personnel, may have their names restored to the eligible list from which their appointment was originally made.
B. 
When an appointment is to be made to a vacancy, the Director of Records and Personnel shall submit to the appointing authority the names of the three persons ranked highest on the appropriate list who have indicated a willingness to accept appointment. When more than one vacancy is to be filled, the number of names submitted shall equal the number of vacancies plus two.

§ 51-17 Probation.

A. 
Employees appointed from original appointment eligible lists or from promotional eligible lists shall be subject to a period of probation. The regular period of probation shall be three months, provided that the personnel rules may specify a longer or shorter period of probation for certain designated job classes or provide for extension of the probation period in individual cases. No probationary period may extend beyond 12 months.
B. 
The work and conduct of probationary employees shall be subject to close scrutiny and evaluation and, if found to be below standards satisfactory to the appointing authority, the appointing authority may remove or demote the probationer at any time during the probationary period. Such removals or demotions shall not be subject to review or appeal.
C. 
An employee shall be retained beyond the end of the probationary period and granted permanent status only if the appointing authority affirms that the services of the employee have been found to be satisfactory and recommends that the employee be given permanent status.

§ 51-18 Hours of work; absences.

Rules shall be adopted for prescribing hours of work and the conditions and length of time for which leaves of absence without pay may be granted. These shall cover, among others, vacations, sick leave and leaves for military service.

§ 51-19 Training. [1]

The Director of Records and Personnel shall encourage the improvement of service by providing employees with opportunities for training, which need not be limited to training for a specific job, but may include training for advancement and for general fitness for public service.
[1]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. II).

§ 51-20 Separations.

A. 
The tenure of every employee shall be conditioned on good behavior and the satisfactory performance of duties. Any employee may be temporarily separated by layoff or suspension, or permanently separated by resignation or dismissal.
B. 
Whenever there is a lack of work or lack of funds requiring reduction in the number of employees in a department or division of the Town government, the required reduction shall be made in such job classes as the department head may designate, provided that employees shall be laid off in the inverse order of their relative length of time and quality of service as determined by rules governing the evaluation of service. Within each affected job class, all temporary employees shall be laid off before probationary employees, and all probationary employees shall be laid off before permanent employees.
C. 
When, in the judgment of the appointing authority, an employee's work performance or conduct justifies disciplinary action short of dismissal, the employee may be suspended without pay. A suspended employee may not request a hearing before the Personnel Board unless the suspension is for more than 15 working days or unless the employee has already received a previous suspension within the six months immediately prior thereto.
D. 
A permanent employee may be dismissed or demoted whenever, in the judgment of the appointing authority, the employee's work or misconduct so warrants. When the appointing authority decides to take such action, he shall file with the employee and the Personnel Board a written notification containing a statement of the substantial reasons for the action. The employee shall be notified not later than the effective date of the action. The notice shall inform the employee that he shall be allowed two calendar weeks from the effective date of the action to file a reply with the appointing authority and the Personnel Board and to request a hearing before the Personnel Board.
E. 
If the employee files a reply and requests a hearing within the prescribed period, the Personnel Board shall schedule a hearing. At the discretion of the employee, the hearing may be private or open to the public.
F. 
In conducting the hearing, the proceedings shall be informal, and it shall be assumed that the action complained of was taken in good faith unless proved otherwise.
G. 
If the Personnel Board finds by clear and convincing evidence the action of the appointing authority was based on political, religious or racial prejudice or that the appointing authority failed to notify the employee in accordance with the procedure outlined in Subsection D of this section, the Board shall make an advisory recommendation to the appointing authority, and the appointing authority may affirm or modify the original action taken.
H. 
An employee may resign by filing his reasons with the appointing authority. An employee resigning in good standing may be reinstated to any position in the same class if there is need for his services within two years after the date of resignation.
I. 
The Personnel Board's findings shall be submitted to the appointing authority and the Town Council in writing. The findings shall be specific and shall not contain mere conclusions, or shall state specifically the evidence relied on and the weight given thereto.
J. 
The Town Solicitor shall act as the hearing officer in any Personnel Board hearings and shall rule on the admissibility of evidence, but shall be cognizant of the informality of the hearing and need not strictly apply the rules of evidence.

§ 51-21 Attendance of employees at investigations and hearings.

During the course of any investigation or hearing, the Personnel Board or the Director of Records and Personnel may request any employee of the Town to attend and give witness. Any employee refusing to do so may be subject to disciplinary action as provided in § 51-20.

§ 51-22 Indemnity of officials, employees, or elected officials.

[Added 3-10-2014 by Ord. No. 03-14-297]
A. 
The Town shall reimburse all municipal police officers, public employees, officials, members of boards, agencies and commissions, whether appointed by the Coventry Town Council or by any other person exercising appointing authority (which has been delegated to them by the Town Council, by the Coventry Town Charter or by Town Ordinance), from all loss, cost, expense, and damage, (including legal fees and court costs, if any) arising out of any claim, action, compromise, settlement, or judgment by reason of any intentional tort or by reason of any alleged error or misstatement, action, omission, neglect or violation of the rights of any person under any federal or state law (including misfeasance, malfeasance, or nonfeasance) or any act, omission, or neglect contrary to any federal or state law which imposes personal liability on any police officer, elected or appointed official, employee or member, if the elected or appointed official, employee, official, or member, at the time of the intentional tort or act, omission or neglect, was acting within the scope of his or her official duties or employment.
B. 
It shall be irrelevant whether or not the police officer, elected or appointed official, employee, or member is paid.
C. 
Among other things, such indemnification shall include:
(1) 
The provision of legal counsel at the Town's expense and/or the reimbursement for attorneys' fees;
(2) 
The reimbursement of other expenses incurred in connection with the conduct of the defense (at the Town's election) and payment of any final judgment rendered against such official, employee or elected official.
D. 
Provided further, however, despite the provisions of the foregoing or of any other ordinance to the contrary, the Town shall not indemnify any elected or appointed official, employee, official, or member for any misstatement, error, act, omission, or neglect if it resulted from willful, wanton, or malicious conduct on the part of the police officers, elected or appointed official, employee, official, or member.
E. 
The Town Council may establish a fund into which it may deposit monies appropriated, from time to time, and the fund may be used to defer the costs incurred by the Town in carrying out the purposes of this section. The amounts contained in that fund at the end of any fiscal year may be carried forward to subsequent fiscal years without any reappropriation except as otherwise shall be specifically provided by this section.