CORUNNA — A pair of county employees Monday urged commissioners to do away with a new policy that prevents them from receiving a health insurance payout because their spouses are county employees and their spouses’ plan covers them as well.
Sara Edwards, an administrator with the Shiawassee County Family Court, and Charles Quick, an assistant prosecutor, both have spouses who also are employees of the county. The two are covered under their spouse’s health care plans and for years Edwards and Quick had received a payout in lieu of insurance because they opted out of receiving benefits that cost the county more money.
Speaking during the Finance and Administration Committee meeting, the employees said that in previous years they each had received a payment of roughly $1,800 near the beginning of every year, regardless of who employed their spouse.
Edwards and Quick said, much to their surprise, they did not receive the payment this year. They said they both were planning on, and expecting, the money. They said because they are non-union employees the payment wasn’t specified in an employment contract.
They said the payout is part of their overall compensation package, which includes wages and benefits.
County officials said Monday that a policy was added to the employee handbook in 2017, which states an employee who does not take the county insurance, but who is covered by a county health plan (such as spouse’s plan, for instance) are not eligible for the annual payout.
The policy was not enforced in 2018 and 2019, allowing Edwards, Quick and several other employees received the payout.
Commissioners were sympathetic to their situation Monday. However, the committee took no action and commissioners said they would like to study the issue and possibly propose changes at a later date.
Commissioner Jeremy Root, R-District 5, said that over the coming year, commissioners will explore the issue.
Recently there have been steps made to “level out the playing field” among union and non-unionized employees in the county, he noted.
In January the Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners advanced a plan that could replace the nine-step wage system for non-unionized employees with a six-step system similar to that used for union workers.