Mundelein police, firefighters not eligible for extra COVID-19 leave, trustees say

Mundelein's police officers, firefighters and public works employees won't be eligible for extra paid time off if infected with the COVID-19 virus despite a recent federal law creating that benefit for American workers.

In a meeting held remotely Monday night, the village board voted to exempt those workers from the benefits of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which was signed into law last month.

Many other suburbs have taken the same step.

The federal law applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees. It gives full-time employees up to 80 additional hours of paid sick leave relating to the coronavirus, through the end of the year. It also allows for up to 12 extra weeks of unpaid family leave to care for children under 18, funds 14-day paid leave for workers directly affected by the pandemic and other provisions.

The legislation allows employers to exempt health care providers and a variety of emergency personnel, including police officers, firefighters, jail and prison workers, public works employees and members of the military.

“(Federal officials) recognize that local government can't have all the first responders off work at the same time,” Mundelein Village Administrator John Lobaito said.

In the police department, the exemption will apply to: Chief Eric Guenther and all sworn officers, regardless of rank; records clerks; and telecommunicators.

In the fire department, the exemption will apply to all firefighters, regardless of rank.

In the public works department, the exemption will apply to: Director Adam Boeche; maintenance workers; crew leaders; a lab technician; supervisors; and a business services manager.

The COVID-19 virus hasn't severely affected Mundelein's municipal operations, Lobaito said. Mayor Steve Lentz contracted the virus but recovered.

“Fingers crossed for the next couple of weeks when we are supposed to hit our peak,” Lobaito said.

Officials in Vernon Hills, Elgin, Rolling Meadows, Rosemont, St. Charles and Hoffman Estates are among those who also have exempted public safety or public works employees from some or all of the law's provisions.

Schaumburg officials are expected to go even further when they meet Tuesday. They've proposed exempting all village employees from the law and instead will consider a temporary village sick leave policy for the staff.

Schaumburg's leaders view all municipal employees as “essential service providers,” spokeswoman Allison Albrecht said.

• Daily Herald staff writers Elena Ferrarin, Eric Peterson, Christopher Placek and Lauren Rohr contributed to this report.

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