Fairfield: Over 100 part-time employees laid off since March
FAIRFIELD — More than 100 town employees have been laid off over the past six weeks since all non-essential government services have closed, First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick said.
In all, 118 permanent, part-time town employees have been laid off since March. She said they were either “not mission critical” or could not work from home.
“We asked each department head which permanent, part-time employees were mission critical and which aren’t (and if) they could still be utilized right now, during this situation,” Kupchick said.
Kupchick said the employees laid off are collecting unemployment and, because of the federal coronavirus relief bill, are collecting an additional $600 with their regular payments.
The majority of the employees “are making more than they would have made staying on the payroll,” she said.
Some 61 library employees and 18 crossing guards were laid off on March 13, according to Kupchick. She said 14 part-time nurses were laid off in April.
Kupchick said she does not know when, or if, the workers will be rehired.
According to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, “we don’t really know what a full reopening looks like yet,” she said. “I don’t know if we’re going to be opening our library... any time soon.”
Kupchick said she has been hearing discussions that colleges and universities might have online classes next year because of possible resurgences of the coronavirus in the fall and even later.
“We’re just kind of playing by ear, like everybody else,” she said.
According to information from the finance and human resources departments, the town is saving $645,000 in salary payments through the layoffs, with unemployment payments costing about 60 percent of that. Of the unemployment payments, 50 percent is reimbursed by the federal government through the CARES Act, meaning the layoffs provide a net savings of about $450,000.
Kupchick said the pandemic and the threat it poses caught everybody off-guard.
“It’s kind of like, to come up for air for a minute, and we realize we had a large amount of part-time people who were at home and not working,” she said. “We had no sense of when they would ever be able to return. It just seems like the responsible thing to do, not just for the taxpayers, but also for (the employees).”
For now, Kupchick said, the town is maintaining core government services.