Claremore Daily Progress

December 6, 2012

Policy changes prompt discussion

Commissioners review draft of employee handbook

Salesha Wilken
Staff Reporter

CLAREMORE — Rogers County is revamping its employee handbook for 2013. The Rogers County Commissioners on Monday approved a draft copy of the proposed changes.

Elected officials will now get an opportunity to review the policy that includes several additions and changes to the existing policy.
The new draft reflects changes to the cell phone policy, use of communication systems, vehicle usage policy, employee conduct and a number of other minor changes.
The new draft also includes a performance review process for county employees. 
Human Resource Director Jenny Bentley presented the draft proposal to the board for approval and briefly commented on some of the changes.
“I expanded it so it is easier to read for employees,” Bentley said. “It is a little more user friendly.”
Several new areas are now included in the communication policy.
Political activity is also addressed in the policy to include that “No regular county employee shall participate in partisan politics during normal county working hours. This means the devoting of time and labor during usual office hours toward the campaign of any candidate for office or for the nomination to any office.”
The policy, however, specifically excludes elected officers.
The changes come after many questions arose regarding the political activity of both County Clerk-Elect Robin Anderson and employees of the court clerk’s office during the past election cycle.
Anderson was seen during her campaign, at numerous events on county time during normal working hours.
Additionally, the new policy limits the use of county equipment such as cell phones and computer for personal activities.
Both Anderson and Commissioner Mike Helm used county equipment and email to conduct campaign business earlier this year.
“No County official or employee may use County property for his or her own personal use or for any other use not required by or consistent with or in connection with their duties in Rogers County,” according to the documents.
The policy continues under the communication section to explain that county email is county property.
“All messages created, sent, or retrieved over the county’s email/Internet are the property of the County and should be considered public information.”
The policy continues to state that the county reserves the right to access and monitor all messages and files.
The statement continues, “Employees should not assume electronic communications are private and should transmit highly confidential data in other ways.”
Violation of the policies could result in disciplinary action including termination of employment, according to the draft. Social media is another hot topic of discussion during the commissioners meeting and Bentley explained there would be updates to the social media policy.
“The policy shows how to use and to not use those sites,” Bentley said.
The draft outlines the use of the sites including Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and other Internet sites.
“Employees are cautioned not to make negative, damaging, derogatory, or defamatory statements regarding other employees, guests, or the County on social networking sites, and such references may result in discipline of the employee even when posted off-duty.”
It continues by stating, “any information found on an employee’s social networking profile may be used as evidence for disciplinary action when relevant to a policy violation.”
These are just a few examples of the new policies. The draft will once again be reviewed for final approval after elected officials have the opportunity to review the draft, according to Bentley.
A majority of elected officials will have to approve the draft before it can become official policy. The commissioners anticipate completion of the process by the end of the year.