Retirees with the Saginaw County Commission on Aging will soon be able to help out again on a temporary basis with the launch of an upcoming pilot program.
The Commission on Aging has been working with the County Labor Committee on the pilot program that would allow retirees to aid in the fight against staffing shortages by filling dispatch, driver, and Meals on Wheels related positions.
Commission Director Jessica Sargent says policy change approved by County Commissioners this week allowing retirees to rejoin temporarily will be a massive help.
“It really does affect our ability to deliver services. I’m grateful for the support from the Board. They’re giving us a chance to show that while this may not always be the situation we’re in, where we can’t fill these positions, right now- it is. Any help we can get is appreciated.”
Sargent made a proposal before the County Labor Committee and Board of Commissioners looking for an exception for the Commission on Aging from County Policy 346 on retirement, section 6.4.
That section says:
“Re-employment of Retired County Employees. To ensure a more representative workforce and provide employment opportunities, an employee who retires from Saginaw County in accordance with MERS guidelines and/or IRS regulations, will not be rehired into the County as a regular full-time, regular part-time, or on-call employee or pursuant to a contract, except (1) as a seasonal laborer in the Parks & Recreation Department, Maintenance Department, or Mosquito Abatement Commission which is not to exceed six (6) months; (2) to train a successor which is limited to 90 days without the prior approval of the Board of Commissioners for a longer period; and (3) to temporarily fill a vacant position while the department is actively searching for a permanent replacement, provided the department head requests a waiver of the hiring freeze and which is limited to 90 days without the prior approval of the Board of Commissioners for a longer period. “
The positions are mainly on-call and fill-in roles, but Sargent says those backup roles are what the Commission needs the most-
“These are positions that are on-call, but they directly affect our ability to provide services to seniors. There are a few people that are retiring from these positions for one reason or another, because they maybe don’t want to work as many hours, but still want to be part of our organization because they’ve developed connections with people and are willing to be a backup. We just really need those backups right now.”
With this week’s approval by the County Board, Sargent says the Commission on Aging can now work to temporarily re-hire for positions that have been proving difficult to fill.
“We are having a very difficult time filling those positions. We don’t have enough people to deliver the Meals on Wheels routes right now. We have a mix of paid drivers and volunteers that deliver, but we just don’t have as many people coming back to us. I think some of it was the pandemic. We still have people who are afraid to come out, but now we’re also battling increased gas prices which affects peoples ability to be able to drive their own vehicle to deliver those meals.”
After a bit more organizational work the 6 month pilot program will launch to hire 7 retirees to fill the transport positions, with 4 more planned for various Meals on Wheels roles.