Things are changing for some San Diego city workers who aren't considered essential or can't telecommute as they return from paid leave next Monday.
Essential employees, like officers and firefighters, haven't stopped coming in to work since the coronavirus pandemic reached San Diego. Some city employees have already started telecommuting or working from home.
On Monday Mayor Kevin Faulconer declared all 11,000 city employees as disaster workers. The designation allows city administrators flexibility in assigning city staff to emergency service duties outside of their normal, non disaster-time job responsibilities.
That means some non-essential city employees who can't telecommute or work from home will come back to work Monday with new shoes to fill and new responsibilities to learn.
Think librarians or those in personnel departments whose workplaces have been closed. They'll be the ones reassigned or asked to volunteer for special roles.
"The City has asked some employees who provide nonessential functions if they would like to volunteer for reassignment to help the homeless individuals staying at the Convention Center," said Craig Gustafson, the Director of Communications for the Mayor's Office.
Gustafson said this is a voluntary reassignment and no city employee is being forced to do the Convention Center work.
"In general, most City employees have continued to work throughout this crisis by telecommuting and others have already begun performing other duties," said Gustafson.
Examples of employees stepping outside their normal duties include neighborhood code compliance officers helping monitor closed parking lots at parks and beaches, and librarians who are working in the Development Services Department to help with filing planning documents.
"We’ve also seen a tremendous willingness among City employees to volunteer for certain duties and that proves how deeply our employees care about the people they serve," said Gustafson. "They are stepping up each and every day for the citizens of San Diego."
The Mayor's office said city employees working outside their normal duties will receive proper training before they begin that work.
Ultimately, the city's plan is for employees to go back to their original roles once the crisis is over.
Additionally, Gustafson said if city employees are not working then they will have to use their accrued leave until it runs out.