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Sec. 2-91. Conditions of employment.
   (a)   Employment of immediate family and close relatives."Immediate family" and "close relatives" are defined in subsection 2-92(q). The town prohibits the hiring and employment of immediate family and close relatives in authorized positions within the same work unit. The town also prohibits the hiring of any person into a temporary or authorized position who is an immediate family member or close relative of individuals holding the following positions: Mayor, mayor pro tem, town councilmember, town manager, deputy town manager, assistant town manager, town clerk, town attorney, finance director or chief human resources officer. Otherwise, the town will consider employing families or related persons in the service of the town, provided that such employment does not result in immediate family or close relatives supervising relatives or having any responsibility for the payroll, hours of work, or human resource records of relatives, or for making any decision affecting the employment of a relative. Employment of individuals who are cohabiting or were formerly related, as defined by subsection 2-92(q), shall be subject to the same conditions as immediate family or close relatives. For the purpose of this division, "cohabiting" shall mean to live together in a sexual relationship when not legally married.
   (b)   Probationary and trainee periods defined.
   (1)   An employee who is newly appointed shall serve an initial probationary period of at least 12 months. "Initial probation" or "initial probationary period," where used in this division, shall mean within the current term of employment.
   (2)   An employee who is transferred, as provided in subsection (k), or promoted to an authorized position, as provided in subsection (g), shall also serve a probationary period of at least six months, except that new firefighters and law enforcement officers shall serve at least a 12-month probationary period.
   (3)   An applicant who is hired, or an employee who is promoted and who is not fully qualified to meet the established requirements of the position, may be appointed as a trainee.
   (c)   Probationary and training periods: evaluations and recommendations. The supervisor of a probationary employee or trainee shall accomplish and document the following at least every three months of employment:
   (1)   That there has been discussed with the employee the employee's accomplishments, failures, strengths and weaknesses;
   (2)   Whether the employee is performing satisfactory work;
   (3)   Whether the employee's conduct is satisfactory;
   (4)   Whether the employee should be retained in the position or whether the employee should be terminated or, if applicable, reinstated to his/her former position or one of comparable seniority, status and pay, if available and appropriate. Before the end of the probationary or training period, the supervisor shall make final evaluations and recommendations. Upon successful completion of the training period, trainees shall become probationary employees.
   (d)   Probationary and training periods: discipline and appeal.
   (1)   A probationary employee or a trainee who has not previously completed initial probation is not subject to the same disciplinary procedures as a regular employee. A probationary employee or a trainee who has not completed initial probation may be terminated without resorting to any of the steps outlined in section 2-95.
   (2)   Termination relating to job performance should normally be preceded by one or more counseling sessions to assist the employee in fulfilling the responsibilities of the position. Such counseling sessions are not a prerequisite to termination. Particularly, termination relating to personal conduct may occur without prior counseling or warning.
   (3)   A probationary employee or a trainee who has not previously completed initial probation and who is dismissed shall have the right to appeal through the grievance procedure only if alleging unlawful employment discrimination based on age, sex, race, color, religion, national origin, political affiliation or disability.
   (4)   A probationary employee or a trainee who had previously successfully completed initial probation during this term of employment is subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal in accordance with the provisions for a regular employee (section 2-95) and is entitled to the same process as a regular employee under the grievance procedure (section 2-96).
   (e)   Promotions, interim appointments and special assignments of employees.
   (1)   It is the policy of the town to encourage promotions from within the town work force whenever possible. Employees will be considered based on merit, job performance and personal conduct in current and previous town positions, and relevant experience and training. Interim appointments may be made by the town manager or department director if a vacancy or leave is reasonably anticipated to exceed 30 calendar days. Interim appointments will only be made if the employee will spend a significant portion of time performing higher level duties. Interim appointments may be terminated by the town at any time.
   (2)   Special assignments are long-term temporary assignments where the duties differ significantly from those duties typical in the employee's normal job classification. Special assignments may be terminated by the town at any time for any reason. Special assignments are authorized by the town council.
   (f)   Promotion, interim appointments and special assignments; salary. When an employee who meets all established requirements is promoted to a position in a higher salary grade, the employee's salary will normally be increased to the minimum level for the new pay range, or at least the equivalent of a five-percent increase. Employees receiving interim appointments to positions in a higher salary grade, or special assignments at a higher level, may be granted a salary increase which will not affect anniversary dates and will be rescinded upon the expiration of the interim appointment or special assignment.
   (g)   Promotion; probationary conditions. An employee who is promoted shall be considered on probation for the purposes of evaluation, but shall not be denied any of the employee benefits that would be provided if the promotion had not occurred. The probationary period shall last at least six months, except for newly appointed firefighters and police officers, who shall be on probation at least 12 months. If, at any time during the probationary period, the promoted employee's work performance is found to be unsatisfactory, the disciplinary procedure for evaluation as set forth in subsections 2-95(a), (b), (c), and (d) will be followed. To avoid termination, the employee may be reinstated in the employee's former position or one of comparable seniority, status and salary, if available. If no such position is available, the employee may be terminated. Before the end of the probationary period, the supervisor shall make the evaluations and recommendation as required by the provisions of subsections (c) and (d).
   (h)   Outside employment. An employee's work and interests of the town will take precedence over all other occupational interests of employees. All outside employment for salaries, wages or commission and all self-employment must be reported in advance to the employee's supervisor, who in turn will report it to the department director. The department director will review such employment for possible conflict of interest then submit a record of the employment and review to personnel. Conflicting or unreported outside employment is grounds for disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.
   (i)   Demotion: disciplinary, voluntary, administrative. Any employee whose work performance is unsatisfactory or personal conduct is detrimental may be transferred to a position in a lower salary grade if the employee possesses the qualifications necessary for performance in the new position. Such a disciplinary demotion should normally be preceded by the warning procedures outlined in section 2-95. When a transfer to a lower level position is not acceptable to the prospective department director, an employee may instead be given a within-grade salary reduction. A voluntary demotion may be requested by an employee at any time but must be approved by the town. An administrative demotion may be imposed by the town when the safety or health of the employee, public, or co-workers is at serious risk.
   (j)   Pay rate for demotional transfer. When an employee is transferred to a position in a lower salary grade for which the employee is qualified, the salary shall be set at the rate in the new pay range which provides the smallest or no decrease in salary, provided the action is taken for reasons other than discipline. If the action is for disciplinary purposes, the salary shall be set at an appropriate point in the lower range that is less than the existing salary.
   (k)   Transfer. Any employee of the town may be transferred to another position in the same department, or in another department of the town, if approved by the town manager. The employee shall not be denied any of the employee benefits that would be provided if the transfer had not occurred; however, if the transfer results in a change in department or classification, or is for disciplinary purposes, then the employee shall serve a probationary period as provided for by the provisions of subsection (b)(2).
   (l)   Rehiring.
   (1)   An employee who resigns while in good standing may be rehired with the approval of the town manager, and will be regarded as a new employee subject to all the provisions of this division.
   (2)   An employee in good standing who is terminated due to a reduction in force shall be given the first opportunity to be rehired in the same or a similar position. An employee who is terminated due to a reduction in force and is then rehired within two years shall have his/her sick leave balance and vacation accrual rate reinstated.
   (m)   Acceptance of gifts and favors. No official or employee of the town shall:
   (1)   Accept any gift, favor or thing of value that may tend to improperly influence or be perceived to improperly influence such employee in the discharge of the employee's duties; or
   (2)   Grant in the discharge of duty an improper favor, service, or thing of value.
   (n)   Political activity restricted. Each employee has a civic responsibility to support good government by every available means and in every appropriate manner. Each employee may join or affiliate with civic organizations of a partisan or political nature, may attend political meetings, and may advocate and support the principles or policies of civic or political organizations in accordance with the Constitution and laws of the State of North Carolina and America; however, no employee shall:
   (1)   Engage in any political or partisan activity while on duty;
   (2)   Use official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of a nomination or an election for office;
   (3)   Be required as a duty of employment or as condition for employment, promotion or tenure of office to contribute funds for political or partisan purposes;
   (4)   Coerce or compel contributions from another employee of the town for political or partisan purposes;
   (5)   Use any supplies or equipment of the town for political or partisan purposes;
   (6)   Be a candidate for nomination or election to office under the town charter.
Any violation of this section shall subject such employee to dismissal or other disciplinary action.
   State law reference— Other restrictions on political activity, G.S. 160A-169.
   (o)   Additional conditions of employment for the deputy town manager, assistant town manager and department directors. Any deputy town manager, assistant town manager, or department director may be terminated without following the process outlined in section 2-95 of this article. The town manager shall advise the town council of his intentions prior to terminating a covered employee under this provision. Such a termination may be recorded as a resignation and will entitle a covered employee who has completed initial probation to severance pay based on the following:
Continuous years of town service
Weeks of severance pay
Less than 2
2 or more, but less than 5
5 or more
Employees age 40 or older on the effective date of severance will receive an additional four weeks of severance pay. All such severance pay is in addition to any other benefits to which the employee is otherwise entitled and is contingent upon the employee agreeing to such terms and conditions of severance as the town may deem appropriate. Severance pay does not include any type of pay other than base pay.
(Code 1982, § 2-67; Ord. No. 91-5, § 1, 2-28-1991; Ord. No. 93-34, § 1, 9-23-1993; Ord. No. 95-007, § 1, 1-26-1995; Ord. No. 96-010, § 1, 10-24-1996; Ord. No. 97-029, 6-26-1997; Ord. No. 98-003, 5-28-1998; Ord. No. 2010-Code-09, 12-16-2010; Ord. No. 2018-Code-04, 8-23-2018; Ord. No. 2019-Code-04, 10-10-2019)