Allegheny County will hire an outside company to administer the federal leave program for its employees.
County manager William McKain said Wednesday that UPMC WorkPartners will administer the Family Medical Leave Act -- the federal law that protects workers' jobs should they fall ill -- for its 7,000 employees across all departments.
The contract, for $170,000 annually, will extend for three years, starting May 1. Implementation of the program will begin Aug. 1.
In a request for proposals issued Jan. 31, the county announced it was looking for a firm that could centralize FMLA administration, which was spread throughout more than a dozen departments. More importantly, human resources leaders were looking for an adviser who could recommend policy changes and chart a path through the act's requirements.
County figures showed that more than a quarter of jail employees filed for federal sick leave protection in 2014, though in other county departments, the leave rate hovers around 6 percent.
This disparity -- which leaders from other counties say can't be blamed on the stress of a jail guard's job alone -- made clear to county leaders that its understaffed human resources department needed extra help.