The New Canaan Board of Selectmen last week authorized a change of status for three employees in the town clerk's office and one employee in the building department from private contractor to part time.
During last Tuesday's selectmen meeting, Cheryl Pickering Jones, director of human resources, explained that her department recently came to realize that certain "seasonal" or contract employees need to be reclassified as part-time, not as private contractors, for "legal reasons."
Pickering Jones said in the past the town clerk's office and other town departments have hired part-time or contract workers and categorized them as independent contractors when filling out paperwork.
The change in status applies to three contract employees in the town clerk's office who assist with the elections, as well as a contract employee in the building department who assists with inspections.
"In the past we have categorized these workers as independent contractors… legally we should not be doing that and we cannot continue to do so," Pickering Jones said. "So we have asked our department heads to bring them on as part time employees, which puts them onto our workman's compensation and liability insurance; puts them onto our payroll; and places them into the category they need to be."
Pickering Jones said up until recently "every department has brought employees on in different categories" and "we just need to make sure that we're all doing the proper thing."
Pickering Jones said the three employees in the clerk's office work 15 to 20 hours per week and are directly told what to do by the town clerk. The change in status does not make the employees elegible for town benefits such as health insurance and pension, she said.
Selectwoman Beth Jones asked whether the change in status would apply to other part time jobs — such as the workers the highway department hires each winter for snow plowing.
Pickering Jones said the change would apply to a majority of employees the town hires on a seasonal or contract basis. "You're going to have lot more part time employees [on the books]," she said.
First Selectman Rob Mallozzi said in the case of snow plowing the town is "pre-qualifying" people "so that if we have to do something as an emergency, I can authorize it and bring it to you folks at a later time."
In related news Pickering Jones announced that the town has hired Patrick Faugno to serve as the new sewer plant operator. She explained that the person originally hired to fill the position decided not to take it, due to the fact that his employer gave him a raise. Faugno, she said, was the town's number two choice, "and he comes highly recommended."
Faugno, who holds a CDL (Commercial Driver's License), has worked for DHL and Star Distributors, Pickering Jones said.
"I interviewed him and I think he will be a nice addition to our staff," Pickering Jones said, adding that Faugno will start in his new role at the end of October.