When a meeting is being held for which release time is provided, the union sends a written request to Employee & Labor Relations indicating the date, time, and nature of the meeting, and the name of the employee(s) to be released. The MOUs state that requests are to be submitted at least two working days prior to the meeting “whenever possible.” We have reminded all employee organizations of the two-day notification requirement and advised them that failure to provide two days notice may result in denial of the request. Employee & Labor Relations reviews the request to determine whether the meeting fits the criteria for release time, and then contacts the supervisor/manager of the employee for whom release time is being requested, and notifies them of the time, date, location and nature of the meeting.
The operating department has the authority to approve or deny the release of the employee based on workload and coverage considerations. You should make every effort to release the employee, particularly if the request is made in advance of the meeting. If the employee cannot be released, you should immediately contact Employee & Labor Relations to discuss the rationale for denying the request. Requests should only be denied in cases where the employee’s absence will adversely impact County services. In cases where the release time is requested well in advance, the supervisor/manager should take all possible steps to cover for the employee if his/her absence would otherwise be disapproved.
Some unions use a more informal method of requesting release time by merely having the employee ask his/her supervisor to be released to attend the meeting. If this system is working for you, there is no need to follow the more formal process described above. If you are having problems with an informal process, contact Employee & Labor Relations and we will notify the union of the need to follow the formal process defined in their MOU.