St. James Parish revamps policy for its employees

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Staff Reporter

CONVENT – Employees of St. James Parish will be required to wear identification badges, and will have new rules regarding the usage of cell phones, computers, fax machines and vehicles, thanks to a new personnel policy approved by the Parish Council.

The council unanimously approved revisions of the parish’s personnel policy, which, Parish President Dale Hymel said, had not been altered since 1993.

Hymel said the big policy change is the introduction of identification badges for all parish employees.

“This is not just for identification purposes, there is also a safety element involved,” said Hymel. “There is no specific uniform for parish employees, and in times of emergency it is important to have some idea of who legitimately works for the parish.”

The badges, which are required to be visible at all times, will include a picture, name and job description for each employee. Hymel said the badges will help in governing the parish during times of disaster because it gives a better idea of where people need to be, and where they are supposed to be.

In addition to the ID badges, the personnel policy also sets up new guidelines and restrictions on the usage of electronic devices.

“There is new technology out there that wasn’t really covered in the previous policy,” said Hymel. “We felt it was time to bring it up to date.”

Hymel said the new policy places more rigorous restrictions on the usage of cellular devices, such as phones, PDAs, and Blackberries, for parish business. He said department directors would have the last word on which parish employees are issued the devices, as well as how they are used. It also puts strict limits on the usage of an employees personal cell phone on parish time.

The policy also puts limits on how computers and fax machines can be used within the parish. St. James Finance Director A.J. Laiche said that the new policy maintains that computers, fax machines, printers and network systems may only be used for work-related activities. He said department directors and IT staff would monitor software usage and Internet downloads.

“We are just doing what we have to do to protect the hardware and software we use daily,” said Laiche. “There are more things out there that can do damage to our computers.”

Hymel said the new policy is set to go into effect immediately.

In other action from the meeting, the council also unanimously approved the purchase of electric generators for the parish’s essential buildings and evacuation sites.

Hymel said the parish received a $207,000 grant from the Governors Office of Homeland Security as part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

Hymel said the money is going toward the purchase of five generators for the Vacherie water plant, the Convent courthouse, the courthouse annex, as well as evacuation shelters at Lutcher High School and St. James High School.

The parish hopes to have the generators purchased and installed by September.