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Sun, Oct. 13

County volunteers may get extra training

Yavapai County, like many governmental agencies, relies heavily on its volunteers.

Locally, this includes those working at Yavapai Regional Medical Center East and West campuses, Sheriff's Office search and rescue and posse members, and those volunteering with emergency management, constables, county attorney investigations, and the health department's Medical Reserve Corps.

Some, but not all, volunteers are covered by workers' compensation, said Wendy Ross, director of Human Resources and Risk Management for the county. The county workers' comp program may not cover some volunteers working in offices, but it does cover those who volunteer in more physical capacities. And some volunteers receive no training or background screening.

Ross would like to see a formal process put in place for hiring, training and tracking volunteers, she told the supervisors during a study session on Monday, Nov. 2.

"When a department brings on a volunteer, they may contact my department," she said, or they may not, depending on what tasks volunteers perform.

Anyone operating a county vehicle must come through her department, which provides a driving records check and training on the rules associated with driving a county vehicle. Others, however, may never come to Ross' attention. She would like to see all volunteers and unpaid interns receive training on county policies, driver's safety if applicable, and sexual harassment training.

"Volunteers are alive and well in Yavapai County," Board Chairman Craig Brown said. "We do need to have a screening process."

The board previously approved workers' compensation insurance coverage to several categories of volunteers - the Sheriff's Office, for instance. Those departments track volunteer hours and send a quarterly report to Ross.

Supervisor Jack Smith agrees that developing a standardized policy, especially for volunteers and temporary workers who have access to buildings and vehicles, would protect the county. Some county departments include money in their budgets for temporary employees. Community Health Services uses a trained immunization nurse during flu season (Nov. 21, 2015 through March 20, 2016) for 16 hours per week to help with outreach flu clinics and childhood immunizations.

Some regular employee absences have more lead time than others. The Elections Department currently has a temp employee working 29 hours a week to cover a full-time employee out on maternity leave.

Ross said maintaining some flexibility is important for times when a department needs immediate coverage for an employee's unexpected absence. A temp worker in the Public Works Department, for instance, works 30 hours per week during the absence of two regular full-time employees on Family Medical Leave Act.

Other positions are not about coverage for absent regular workers, but have to do with temporary needs.

• The Assessor's Office uses a temp worker for 32 hours per week for three months to help with a computer program conversion and to create an electronic version of policies and procedures.

• A grant writer with Community Health Services presently works 40-hour weeks as a special projects coordinator for a six-month period.

• Adult probation has a 40-hour-a-week temporary employee who began as an intern to help alleviate the large Intensive Probation caseloads in Dewey.

Ross' meeting memo indicates the Probation Department is impressed with this intern's work and is considering hiring her into an upcoming vacancy. The county hired the intern into a temp position for a four-month period that ends Jan. 8, 2016.

Smith voiced a concern that the Human Relations Department be fair and competitive in the hiring process when temp employees fill in until the county can hire a full-time employee.

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