By Paul Gable
Horry County Council will look at a possible cutback in employee benefits at its fall budget retreat Friday.
That sounds drastic on the surface, but a closer look says it is past time for this type of action.
Specifically, council will be considering a reduction in paid time off per year for county employees.
Paid time off, by county policy, may be used for vacation, sick, bereavement, personal time, etc, subject to Department Head or his/her designee’s approval.
Currently, full-time county employees, with 0 to less than 5 years of service, earn 25 days of personal time off each year. That’s five working weeks.
Those with 20+ years of service earn 45 days off, or nine working weeks, per year.
And none of those numbers include the 12 paid holidays per year county employees receive.
That’s a pretty liberal policy, especially when it is funded completely with tax dollars, and in a county and state where private sector incomes and benefits rank among the lowest in the nation.
Traditionally, employees in the public sector earned less than those in equivalent jobs in the private sector, but had benefits to make up for it – good healthcare, retirement plan, vacation, sick leave and the like.
But, that began to change 40 years ago and the cutback in private sector salaries and benefits has accelerated, especially in the last 15-20 years, when companies have moved jobs out of the country at an ever increasing pace.
According to any number of studies, private sector salaries, adjusted for inflation, have, at best, remained flat over the last 40 years but benefits have been reduced or lost completely.
Now, in the private sector except for those at the very top, it’s basically work until you are physically unable, then, hope social security, medicare and whatever pension you may have will still be around.
I don’t think its too much to ask those in the public sector to suffer some of the same pain considering their entire employment package is essentially paid for by taxes on the private sector.