State employees don’t have to provide a doctor’s certification for being off sick for more than three days, one among other state personnel rules being suspended during the coronavirus emergency.

“Right now, people are getting doctor’s notes, and we don’t want people to do that because the [Centers for Disease Control] has directed us not to overload the medical system,” state Division of Personnel Director Sheryl Webb told the state Personnel Board on Thursday.

Without the rules suspension, a state employee ordered to self-quarantine for 14 days would have to use at least seven annual leave days during that period without a doctor’s certification, she said.

The board approved the suspension to comply with Gov. Jim Justice’s March 23 executive order calling on state agencies to suspend rules and regulations that could “prevent, hinder or delay” actions needed to cope with the coronavirus emergency.

Some personnel rules are codified in state law and could not be suspended without additional executive orders from Justice, Deputy Director Joe Thomas told the board.

Four other rules were suspended Thursday:

  • Requiring posting of job openings for 10 days before the position may be filled.
  • Requiring permission to extend temporary classification upgrades.
  • Setting time frames for completion of supervisor and manager trainee courses.
  • Requiring original signatures on certain documents.

Commissioner Forrest Roles raised concerns over the moves, given the fluidity of the coronavirus situation and the likelihood Justice will issue additional executive orders in response to the pandemic.

“I’m just worried about this board taking this kind of action,” he said.

If necessary, Webb said, the board can call emergency meetings to address future executive orders.

The board also approved a motion to bring state agencies in compliance with the federal Family First Coronavirus Response Act.

That law mandates up to two weeks’ paid leave for employees forced to quarantine, two weeks’ paid leave at two-thirds salary for employees required to care for a quarantined family member or a child whose school or child care center is closed because of the pandemic. It also provides additional two-thirds paid leave for up to 10 weeks for employees caring for children unable to attend school or child care.

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