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Skagit Publishing EMPLOYEE HANDBOOKskagitpublishing.com/docs/2009_handbook.pdf · EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK...

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Skagit Publishing EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK July 2009
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  • Skagit Publishing

    EMPLOYEE

    HANDBOOK

    July 2009

  • 2009 Handbook.doc - ii -

    EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK TABLE OF CONTENTS

    Page

    INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................................ 6

    COMPANY VISION, HISTORY, AND CORE VALUES .................................................... 7 VISION: CONNECTING MORE PEOPLE, MORE OFTEN ............................................ 7 HISTORY ............................................................................................................................ 8 PIONEER NEWSPAPERS ................................................................................................. 8

    EMPLOYMENT.................................................................................................................. 10 EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY .................................................................... 10 EMPLOYEE CLASSIFICATIONS .................................................................................. 10 PROBATIONARY PERIOD ............................................................................................ 10 ATTENDANCE ................................................................................................................ 11 PERFORMANCE REVIEWS ........................................................................................... 11 PERSONNEL RECORDS................................................................................................. 12 PERSONAL STATUS CHANGES .................................................................................. 12 EMPLOYMENT OF RELATIVES AND PERSONAL RELATIONS ............................ 12 ANTI-HARASSMENT POLICY ...................................................................................... 12 ALCOHOL- AND DRUG-FREE WORKPLACE POLICY ............................................ 14 DISCIPLINE ..................................................................................................................... 16 CONFIDENTIALITY ....................................................................................................... 17 RESIGNATION ................................................................................................................ 17

    HOURS OF WORK AND COMPENSATION ................................................................... 18 HOURS AND SCHEDULING ......................................................................................... 18 BREAKS AND MEAL PERIODS .................................................................................... 18 TIME RECORDS .............................................................................................................. 18 OVERTIME ...................................................................................................................... 19 WAGE AND SALARY ADJUSTMENTS ....................................................................... 19

    BENEFITS AND INSURANCE ......................................................................................... 21 HEALTH AND WELFARE BENEFITS .......................................................................... 21 COBRA ............................................................................................................................. 22 401(K) PLAN .................................................................................................................... 22 WORKERS COMPENSATION AND INDUSTRIAL ACCIDENT

    INSURANCE .............................................................................................................. 22 SICK LEAVE POLICY .................................................................................................... 23 SHORT TERM DISABILITY POLICY ........................................................................... 24 EARLY RETIREE COVERAGE ...................................................................................... 25 VACATIONS .................................................................................................................... 26 HOLIDAYS ....................................................................................................................... 28 BEREAVEMENT LEAVE ............................................................................................... 28

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    JURY DUTY AND WITNESS LEAVE ........................................................................... 28 VOTING TIME OFF ......................................................................................................... 29 FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE (FMLA) .................................................................. 29 MILITARY LEAVE ......................................................................................................... 31 WASHINGTON FAMILY MILITARY LEAVE ............................................................. 31 DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LEAVE ACT POLICY - WASHINGTON ............................. 31 WASHINGTON PREGNANCY DISABILITY LEAVE ................................................. 33 WASHINGTON FAMILY LEAVE ACT (FLA) ............................................................. 34 OTHER BENEFITS .......................................................................................................... 34 REIMBURSEMENT POLICY ......................................................................................... 35

    GENERAL POLICIES ........................................................................................................ 37 SAFETY AND HEALTH POLICY .................................................................................. 37 CELL PHONE USE AND SAFETY ................................................................................ 38 PUBLIC RELATIONS ...................................................................................................... 38 DISPUTE RESOLUTION................................................................................................. 39 GROOMING AND APPEARANCE ................................................................................ 39 TOBACCO-FREE WORKPLACE ................................................................................... 40 COMPUTERS, INTERNET, EMAIL AND PHONE POLICY: ...................................... 40 BULLETIN BOARDS ...................................................................................................... 42 NO SOLICITATION, NO DISTRIBUTION .................................................................... 42 UNAUTHORIZED USE OF COMPANY MATERIALS ................................................ 42 CHILDREN AND PETS ................................................................................................... 42 CONFLICT OF INTEREST.............................................................................................. 43 CODE OF ETHICS ........................................................................................................... 44 JOURNALISM CODE OF ETHICS ................................................................................. 44

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    - TEAR OUT THIS PAGE -

    Please read the following information, then sign, date and detach this form and return it to your

    supervisor today.

    RECEIPT OF EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK &

    ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF AT-WILL EMPLOYMENT

    I have received the SKAGIT PUBLISHING Employee Handbook. I understand that it is my

    responsibility to read the Handbook. I understand that the policies described in the Handbook are

    guidelines that may be changed or deleted at any time with or without notice.

    I further understand that the Handbook does not create an employment contract between me and

    SKAGIT PUBLISHING. I also agree that my employment with SKAGIT PUBLISHING is at-will,

    and that either SKAGIT PUBLISHING or I may terminate the employment relationship at any time

    with or without cause or notice. I understand that this Handbook supersedes any prior summaries or

    statements of employment policies and procedures, and that no manager, supervisor or other employee

    of SKAGIT PUBLISHING is authorized to make any representation to the contrary, unless it is

    expressed in a written employment contract signed by the Publisher.

    I hereby consent to deduction from my final paycheck of any amounts advanced to me that remain

    unearned when my employment with SKAGIT PUBLISHING ends, including unearned vacation leave.

    _______________________________ ______________________________ Employee Signature Print Name

    _______________________________

    Date

    _______________________________

    Supervisor Signature

  • 2009 Handbook.doc - 4 -

  • 2009 Handbook.doc - 5 -

    RECEIPT OF EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK & ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF AT-WILL EMPLOYMENT

    I have received the SKAGIT PUBLISHING Employee Handbook. I understand that it is my responsibility to read the Handbook. I understand that the policies described in the Handbook are guidelines that may be changed or deleted at any time with or without notice.

    I further understand that the Handbook does not create an employment contract between me and SKAGIT PUBLISHING. I also agree that my employment with SKAGIT PUBLISHING is at-will, and that either SKAGIT PUBLISHING or I may terminate the employment relationship at any time with or without cause or notice. I understand that this Handbook supersedes any prior summaries or statements of employment policies and procedures, and that no manager, supervisor or other employee of SKAGIT PUBLISHING is authorized to make any representation to the contrary, unless it is expressed in a written employment contract signed by the Publisher.

    I hereby consent to deduction from my final paycheck of any amounts advanced to me that remain unearned when my employment with SKAGIT PUBLISHING ends, including unearned vacation leave.

    _______________________________ ______________________________ Employee Signature Print Name _______________________________ Date _______________________________

    Supervisor Signature

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    INTRODUCTION

    Welcome to SKAGIT PUBLISHING. This Employee Handbook will tell you more about our organization. But first, we want to begin by telling you what this Handbook IS and what it IS NOT.

    IT IS a summary of SKAGIT PUBLISHINGS general employment policies and procedures. It replaces any prior summaries or statements of employment policies and procedures.

    IT IS an evolving document which SKAGIT PUBLISHING reserves the right to revise and update from time to time. We will provide you with any revisions or updates for you to include in this Handbook.

    IT IS NOT a promise of specific treatment in specific situations. SKAGIT PUBLISHING reserves the right to make exceptions to the policies in this Handbook when it deems those exceptions necessary.

    IT IS NOT a contract of employment. We hope our employment relationship with you will be a rewarding one for both you and SKAGIT PUBLISHING. However, your employment with SKAGIT PUBLISHING is at will, subject to any statutory requirements to the contrary, and may be terminated by you or the company at any time with or without cause. No one at SKAGIT PUBLISHING has the authority to enter into an employment agreement for a set period of time, or to make any other representations or agreements inconsistent with this policy, unless it is in writing and signed by the Publisher.

    This handbook does not apply to independent contractors.

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    COMPANY VISION, HISTORY, AND CORE VALUES

    VISION: CONNECTING MORE PEOPLE, MORE OFTEN

    Our future is a landscape of responsibility, challenge and opportunity. Our primary responsibility is to serve the needs of readers and the cause of a free press. Our challenge is to support that responsibility by growing revenues in an increasingly competitive market. Our opportunity is to become more flexible and more collaborative in how we use our resources across the publishing company. To grow the business substantially, we must increase market share in both paid circulation and advertising revenue. We will pursue fresh approaches to selling and the creation of new products outside traditional newspaper lines. We must be relentlessly Skagit while seeking opportunities without boundaries. Growth will come not just by producing more products but by meeting customers needs. Our strongest resource is a staff of skilled and motivated people working in a lively culture marked by spontaneous collaboration. Overall, the Skagit Publishing will be woven into the fabric of the people and communities we serve. Our mission begins with our responsibility to serve Skagit County residents by giving them the compelling and credible local news and information they need to be more informed citizens. We do this primarily by publishing local newspapers, both daily and weekly. We strive to use our position as the Skagit County regions most relied upon, important and influential news source to uncover and tell the stories that make a difference in the lives of our readers and in our communities. While we are charged with writing our history and putting it in perspective, our locally owned newspapers also envision our future. The Skagit Publishing has willingly accepted a leadership role as the voice of our communities for generations in the past and will continue to do so for generations in the future as we keep evolving as a profitable, diversified and expanding news and information distribution and printing company dedicated to serving the needs of our readers, advertisers and printing customers. We know that we need good people if we are to continue to fulfill our mission. We strive to hire, train and promote employees who can, as a team, help us build tomorrows company rather than just operate todays. We search continuously for technology, systems and expertise that will allow our employees to work to the fullest of their abilities to help us achieve our mission. We recognize that diversification is important to continue our mission, so we are committed to branching out into commercial printing and related businesses in

  • 2009 Handbook.doc - 8 -

    innovative ways that can leverage our assets. The profits from these ventures and our core publications are critical to our mission: They allow us to continue to reinvest in our central publishing business and continue to produce the high-quality newspapers that connect citizens to their communities and serve as the central forum for debate in our region. HISTORY

    The history of The Skagit Valley Herald and its predecessor newspapers goes back to 1884. The Skagit Valley Herald was founded as the Skagit News on March 4, 1884, published by William C. Ewing. Subscriptions to the weekly publication were $2 per year. Ewing soon gave up the Skagit News and left for other newspaper ventures. He was replaced by G.E Hartson, a local pioneer.

    A partnership, formed with Ed Suiter of Mount Vernon, produced the first edition of the Skagit News-Herald on January 4, 1897. By 1902, Hartsons son Ralph had become editor and manager. Hartsons newspaper continued to be a blend of local news and gossip, homespun philosophy, historical tidbits, poetry, ads and advice.

    In 1918, the newspapers name was changed to the Mount Vernon Herald and on October 10, 1922, the newspaper became a daily. Circulation had climbed to 3,500 subscribers, and a subscription sold for $5 per year. On January 1, 1956, the name changed to the present-day Skagit Valley Herald.

    In September 1964, the Skagit Valley Herald and the Anacortes American were purchased by Skagit Publishing. Leighton Wood became publisher at that time. Under his leadership, the newspapers have seen some of the most dramatic changes in their history. Hot metal composition gave way to photo composition, computerized video terminals replaced Linotype machines and web offset printing replaced hot metal presses. Woods son, Stedem Wood, assumed the role of publisher of the Skagit Valley Herald in 1994. Now, the newspaper is completely paginated, well in step with 21st Century publishing technology.

    In 2000, Skagit Publishing acquired Courier-Times and Printing, the Argus, and the Business Pulse.

    PIONEER NEWSPAPERS

    Skagit Publishing is closely affiliated with Pioneer Newspapers, Inc., headquartered in Seattle, Washington. Relatives of the companys founder James G. Scripps privately hold the stock of Pioneer Newspapers, Inc. Various branches of the Scripps family own newspapers throughout the United States.

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    Pioneer Newspapers Mission Statement summarizes its philosophy of operating newspapers:

    Decentralization is the cornerstone of our management philosophy. Our goal is to hire the best people we can find and to give them the responsibility, authority and tools they need to perform their jobs. Decisions are best made at the local level, consistent with the basic responsibilities of corporate management. A great deal is expected from our employees. They must be forever cost conscious and be able to recognize and develop revenue opportunities. Just as importantly, managers must operate their businesses as good citizens, use their facilities to further the community welfare and focus on the long-term role of their publications and products in their markets.

    Additional information about the company can be found at http://www.pioneernewspapers.com.

    The Core Values of Pioneer Newspapers provide a touchstone for determining the companys direction.

    We will provide credible and compelling information and services to our customers and a forum for debate for the community.

    We will remain an independent, family owned company.

    We value fairness and veracity in our relationship with employees and will provide them with an opportunity for growth.

    We will constantly improve our products and services through innovative approaches to how we conduct our business.

    We value honesty and integrity in all of our business dealings.

    We will strive to improve the quality of life in our communities.

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    EMPLOYMENT

    EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY

    SKAGIT PUBLISHING is an equal opportunity employer. We believe the participation of women and men of diverse ages, races, religions, cultures, abilities and personalities will add to personal development and organizational success. All employees and potential employees will be recruited, selected, trained, promoted, and, if necessary, disciplined or terminated without regard to sex, race, religion, marital status, age, national origin, color, creed, ancestry, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, honorably discharged veteran status, military status or any other basis prohibited by law.

    EMPLOYEE CLASSIFICATIONS

    For a variety of reasons, it is helpful to define the working classification of each employee employed by SKAGIT PUBLISHING. Each position has a job description which will be provided to you by your business manager upon request. Employment classification refers to the nature of your job responsibilities, weekly work schedule and participation in the company benefit programs. Your supervisor can help you determine your classification, which may be:

    Full-time employees who work 30 or more regularly scheduled hours per week in a full-time job classification.

    Part-time employees who work 29 or fewer regularly scheduled hours per week.

    Temporary employees and interns employees who work on a full-time or part-time basis for a limited period of time to complete a particular assignment or project, supplement the regular work group or substitute for a regular employee.

    PROBATIONARY PERIOD

    We believe that your initial period of employment (probationary period) should be a review period for both you and the company.

    To determine that our association is mutually satisfactory, new employees are hired on an introductory basis. During this probationary period, you will have the opportunity to demonstrate satisfactory technical qualifications for your job, performance of your job duties, and personal conduct in the workplace. You will also have the opportunity to evaluate the companys suitability as an employer. This probationary period is ninety days. The probationary period will restart each time an employee changes jobs within

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    the company. Occasionally a supervisor may choose to extend the probationary period for an employee by an additional ninety days.

    Generally speaking, your performance will be reviewed with you near the end of the probationary period. If your progress is satisfactory, you will become a regular employee at the end of the initial review period. Status as a regular employee still entitles you or SKAGIT PUBLISHING to terminate employment at any time, with or without cause. Salary increases are not automatically granted at the conclusion of the probationary period. During the probationary period, you are considered at will and may be terminated at any time without cause.

    ATTENDANCE

    SKAGIT PUBLISHING needs the combined efforts of all employees to ensure uninterrupted and efficient operations. Absenteeism and tardiness place added burdens on fellow workers. Regular attendance is an essential function of your job and part of your job description.

    When you know you will be absent or late, notify your supervisor as soon as possible. Failure to provide notice of an absence, tardiness or excessive absence may lead to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

    Two consecutive workdays without notifying the company are considered a voluntarily resignation.

    PERFORMANCE REVIEWS

    We believe that goal setting and frequent feedback help all of us to do our best work. Your supervisor should communicate to you the specific performance standards for your job. Our goal is to conduct at least one formal performance evaluation a year, and your supervisor will try to provide you with informal feedback on an ongoing basis. These discussions are aimed toward the goal of improved communication and performance. If for some reason you do not receive your performance evaluation at the appropriate time, contact your manager or supervisor.

    As the time of your formal review approaches, your supervisor will ask for your own self-evaluation, and during the review itself will point out areas in which progress and improvement have occurred. Areas requiring further improvement or effort will also be reviewed. As part of your formal review, you will be given the opportunity to comment on your supervisors review, and you may also be asked to take part in setting your own performance targets and objectives for the next review period.

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    PERSONNEL RECORDS

    SKAGIT PUBLISHING maintains a personnel file for each employee. That file may include, but is not limited to, the employees application and resume, performance evaluations, letters of recognition for exemplary performance, and disciplinary memos. For employees who drive in the course of their duties, a copy of a drivers license and insurance verification form must also be included in the employees personnel file.

    Upon request, employees may review their personnel file. Employees may also challenge or correct data in their files by submitting a written statement to the Business Manager.

    PERSONAL STATUS CHANGES

    To assure that your benefits and records are kept up-to-date, please notify either your supervisor or Business Manager of any change in your name, address, telephone number, marital status, number of dependents, tax exemptions, or related information as soon as possible after such changes occur.

    EMPLOYMENT OF RELATIVES AND PERSONAL RELATIONS

    SKAGIT PUBLISHING prohibits the employment of relatives, cohabitators or persons dating one another where one employee would supervise or exercise authority over the other. Employees must disclose to their supervisors any relationships that may violate this policy.

    ANTI-HARASSMENT POLICY

    Harassment of any employee on the basis of sex, race, religion, marital status, age, national origin, color, creed, ancestry, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity, honorably discharged veteran status, military status or any other basis prohibited by law is unacceptable conduct that will not be tolerated. Harassment may include jokes, teasing, offensive gestures or language, or unwanted physical contact from or toward co-workers, supervisors, customers, vendors, agents, or any other third parties. You are expected to avoid any behavior or conduct which may be interpreted as harassment of others.

    Sexual Harassment: Consistent with the previous section, sexual harassment is inappropriate and offensive conduct that will not be tolerated. Sexual harassment is behavior of a sexual nature that is unwelcome. It can include verbal behavior such as unwanted sexual comments, suggestions, jokes, or pressure for sexual favors; non-verbal behavior such as suggestive looks and leering; and physical behavior such as pats

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    or squeezes, or repeatedly brushing against someones body. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct constitute sexual harassment when:

    Submission to the conduct is made a condition of the individuals employment, whether implicitly or explicitly;

    Submission to or rejection of the conduct is used as the basis for an employment decision affecting the harassed employee; or

    The harassment has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with the employees work performance or creating an environment that is intimidating, hostile or offensive to the employee.

    Examples of Harassment: Each employee must exercise his or her own good judgment to avoid engaging in conduct that may be perceived by others as harassment. Forms of harassment include, but are not limited to:

    Verbal: repeated sexual innuendoes, racial or sexual epithets, derogatory slurs, off-color jokes, propositions, threats or suggestive or insulting sounds;

    Visual/Non-verbal: derogatory posters, cartoons, or drawings; suggestive objects or pictures; graphic commentaries; leering; or obscene gestures;

    Physical: unwanted physical contact including touching, interference with an individuals normal work movement or assault; and

    Other: making or threatening reprisals as a result of a negative response to harassment.

    Complaint Procedure: Any employee who experiences, witnesses or learns of harassing conduct by another employee must promptly report the harassing conduct. The conduct can be reported to any of the following persons.

    Your supervisor;

    Your department head;

    Your Publisher;

    The Pioneer Newspapers corporate office. (If you choose this option, please contact Mike Gugliotto, President, or Anita McGillie, Human Resources Director, at 1-800-570-7607.)

    All complaints will be investigated thoroughly and promptly. To the extent possible, complaints will be handled confidentially. Refusal to cooperate in an investigation may be grounds for discipline up to and including termination.

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    The company prohibits retaliation or adverse action against employees because of their good faith report of harassment or participation in the investigation of alleged harassment.

    Discipline: If the investigation shows the accused employee engaged in harassment, appropriate action will be taken, as in the case of any other serious employee misconduct. Such actions may include warnings, verbal and/or written reprimands, transfer, demotion, suspension or termination.

    ALCOHOL- AND DRUG-FREE WORKPLACE POLICY

    It is the policy of the SKAGIT PUBLISHING to provide a safe workplace that is free from the hazards and job safety risks created by the effects of drug and alcohol use. We believe this policy to be in the best interest of our employees and our customers.

    Subject to any statutory regulations to the contrary, this policy applies to all employees of the company while on the job and to situations where an employees off-the-job or off-premises conduct impairs work performance or undermines the public confidence in SKAGIT PUBLISHING. Our concern is to assure that employees report to work in condition to perform their duties safely and efficiently in the interest of their company, fellow workers and our customers. In addition, various federal and state laws prohibit the possession, distribution, and use of controlled substances, unless in compliance with licensing requirements or a physicians prescription.

    1. Employees are prohibited from the use, sale, dispensing, distribution, possession or manufacture of illegal drugs, narcotics or alcoholic beverages on company premises or work sites. In addition, employees are prohibited from the off-premises use of alcohol and possession, use, or sale of illegal drugs when such activities adversely affect job performance, job safety or the companys reputation in the community.

    2. Employees should not report to work (or should request an accommodation) if they are taking prescription drugs that, according to their physician or pharmacist, might affect their ability to perform their duties in a safe and effective manner.

    3. Employees will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination, for violations of this policy. Such violations include, but are not limited to: possessing illegal or non-prescribed drugs and narcotics or alcoholic beverages at work; being under the influence of such substances while working; using them while working; or dispensing, distributing, or illegally manufacturing or selling them on company premises and work sites, or during company time. Employees convicted of a drug or alcohol related crime will be subject to discipline up to and including termination if the company determines the activity potentially impairs the companys reputation in the community.

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    4. SKAGIT PUBLISHING may test for any controlled substance, subject to any statutory restrictions to the contrary. SKAGIT PUBLISHING will use .04 as the cut-off level for a positive alcohol test. Before SKAGIT PUBLISHING takes any action based on a positive test, an employee will be given the opportunity to provide any medical information relevant to the results, including information concerning currently or recently used prescription or nonprescription drugs.

    An employee may be required to submit to appropriate tests, including urinalysis or breath tests, to confirm the existence of alcohol or controlled substances in employees system under the following circumstances:

    In the event of an accident that the Company believes may have been caused by employee inattention;

    When SKAGIT PUBLISHING has reason to suspect that an employees faculties are impaired on the job as a result of the use of a controlled substance or alcohol consumption;

    When SKAGIT PUBLISHING has reason to believe that an employees act or failure to act caused a work-related accident that resulted in death, personal injury, or property damage in excess of $1,500; or

    When SKAGIT PUBLISHING believes that follow-up testing is appropriate because the employee has had a verified positive test for a controlled substance or alcohol, or if the employee has participated in a rehabilitation program, described below.

    Failure to promptly permit such tests may be grounds for immediate termination.

    SKAGIT PUBLISHING may test any prospective employee as a condition of hire.

    5. From time to time, SKAGIT PUBLISHING may provide educational opportunities and/or informational materials regarding the health and workplace safety risks associated with the use of controlled substances and alcohol. Employees with drug or alcohol problems may contact the department head or the Publisher for information on treatment and rehabilitation. All such contacts will be kept confidential.

    6. Depending on the circumstances, any employee who is using drugs or alcohol may be granted an unpaid leave of absence to participate in rehabilitation treatment.

    7. All information obtained in the course of controlled substance and/or alcohol testing (including information obtained in interviews, reports, statements, memoranda, and test results) are confidential and will not be disclosed to anyone except:

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    the tested employee, or with the tested employees permission;

    the designated representative of the employer; and

    in connection with any legal or administrative claim or other dispute arising out of SKAGIT PUBLISHINGS testing policy and implementation thereof; or in response to an inquiry relating to a workplace accident involving death, physical injury, or property damage, or where there is reason to believe that the tested employee may have caused or contributed to the accident, or the circumstances that prompted or relate to the test.

    Information obtained during testing that is unrelated to the use of a controlled substance or alcohol will be held in strict confidence by the lab conducting the test and will not be released to the employer.

    8. SKAGIT PUBLISHING reserves the right to search employee work areas and personal belongings brought into the workplace where there is reasonable suspicion that an employee is under the influence of controlled substances or alcohol.

    DISCIPLINE

    We aim to provide a productive, safe and enjoyable work environment for all our employees. You can help us achieve these objectives by following common sense guidelines for work behavior. The following are some examples of actions for which disciplinary action up to and including termination may be imposed:

    misusing, taking for personal use, destroying, damaging or wasting property, supplies or utilities belonging to SKAGIT PUBLISHING; or stealing another employees personal property

    negligence

    falsification of records

    dishonesty

    violation of the companys substance abuse policy

    tardiness or unapproved/excessive absence

    insubordination

    sexual harassment or other unlawful harassment of, or discrimination towards, another employee, customer, vendor or other third party

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    fighting

    possession of firearms or dangerous weapons on SKAGIT PUBLISHINGs property

    inadequate job performance

    violation of the rules explained in this Handbook

    This list contains examples only, and is not exhaustive. SKAGIT PUBLISHING reserves the right to discipline employees for these and other actions as it deems appropriate.

    CONFIDENTIALITY

    As part of your work at SKAGIT PUBLISHING, you may work with or view confidential material. This may include classified ads, pre-printed inserts, coupons, news stories or other materials that have not yet been published; notes, backup or source materials; customer or pricing information; information revealing the companys confidential production processes; or information relating to the financial condition of the company or its affiliates. Employees are expected to maintain the confidentiality of all such information.

    RESIGNATION

    If in the event you find it necessary to resign for any reason, we request a minimum notice of two weeks. Providing sufficient notice of your resignation is important as it will allow us to shift work to others or to your replacement, and it will prevent overload problems for your fellow workers. SKAGIT PUBLISHING reserves the right to determine a resigning employees actual departure date so long as it does not exceed the employees suggested resignation date.

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    HOURS OF WORK AND COMPENSATION

    HOURS AND SCHEDULING

    SKAGIT PUBLISHINGS standard workweek is Monday Friday, 8:00AM to 5:00PM. Generally, in a 40 hour workweek, full-time employees will be scheduled to work five 8 hour days. There are exceptions, however, to this standard workweek and schedule. Your supervisor will inform you of your workweek and schedule. You are expected to arrive for work at the appointed starting time.

    BREAKS AND MEAL PERIODS

    Employees are allowed two paid 15 minute breaks in each eight hour shift. One break is allowed for every four hours worked. Generally, the supervisor will schedule breaks: one before the meal period and one after. Employees are required to take a 30 minute unpaid meal period for every 5 hours of work. Office personnel are generally allowed up to a one hour unpaid meal period. Your supervisor or manager will schedule the meal periods. Occasionally (no more than once a week), an employee may request to skip the meal period in order to make up for lost time, such as for an appointment. Employees who are required by their supervisor to remain on duty, on the premises, during the meal period are paid for the meal period.

    ADVERSE WEATHER, POWER OUTAGE, OR MANDATORY EVACUATION (

    Adverse weather conditions may make it unsafe for an employee to get to work or necessitate the employee to leave early. When an employee feels that it would be unsafe to come to work or needs to leave early due to impending weather conditions, they may use sick leave, accrued vacation, or take the time off without pay, at the employees discretion. If employees are sent home due to power outage or evacuation, hourly employees will be paid for hours worked or a minimum of 2 hours for the shift.

    TIME RECORDS

    Employees who are non-exempt (that is, eligible for overtime pay) are responsible for submitting time sheets recording their regular and overtime hours, and any leave taken

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    such as sick leave and vacation. Your supervisor will inform you of the deadlines for submitting time sheets. Time sheets must be filled out accurately and signed. No other evidence, whether written or verbal, will be accepted to make a determination of the hours you have worked in a given period of time. If you do not believe that your time sheet accurately reflects the number of hours that you have worked in a given period, you should discuss this immediately with the Publisher or the corporate office in Seattle.

    Employees who are exempt (that is, not eligible for overtime pay) are to report on a timely basis the days worked, days used for vacation, sick leave, and personal days (with or without pay) to the employees supervisor on an appropriate payroll form.

    Changes in schedule must be approved in advance by the supervisor. For example, if you want to make up time lost for an appointment or a sick day, this would need to be approved in advance by the supervisor.

    OVERTIME

    In accordance with state and federal law, SKAGIT PUBLISHING pays employees who have non-exempt status (that is, those who are eligible for overtime pay) at time and one-half for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours during the workweek. Non-exempt status is determined by legal standards based on the tasks and responsibilities associated with a job. Your supervisor will inform you of your status for purposes of overtime eligibility. If you have questions or concerns about your status, please talk to the Publisher.

    Non-exempt employees must have written approval from their supervisor prior to working overtime. In extraordinary circumstances justified by unforeseen conditions, an employee may work overtime without prior written approval, so long as the supervisor subsequently documents the overtime approval.

    Occasional overtime for exempt employees is regarded as part of the job requirement and will not result in additional compensation. Exempt employees salaries are not subject to reduction for absences of less than a full day due to illness. Exempt employees salaries will not be reduced for disciplinary reasons (other than for infractions of safety rules of major significance) unless the employee is suspended for one or more full workweeks.

    WAGE AND SALARY ADJUSTMENTS

    Wage and salary adjustments are generally considered annually. Pay increases may be based in part on job performance, budgetary considerations, and economic and market conditions. Performance factors may include, but are not limited to, quantity and quality of work, productivity, ability to work well with others both inside and outside of SKAGIT

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    PUBLISHING, willingness to take direction, leadership provided to others, adherence to SKAGIT PUBLISHINGS core principles, attendance, and punctuality.

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    BENEFITS AND INSURANCE

    HEALTH AND WELFARE BENEFITS

    The benefits and services provided for you as an employee of SKAGIT PUBLISHING are a significant part of your total compensation. Benefits and services are intended to meet your needs and, in some cases, the needs of your family.

    SKAGIT PUBLISHING offers full-time employees (as set out in this handbook) the following health and welfare benefits beginning the first day of the month after 90 days of full-time employment:

    Medical and Prescription Insurance

    Dental Insurance

    Vision Insurance

    Life Insurance

    A Short Term Disability Program

    A Long Term Disability Program

    Flexible Spending Plan for qualified Health Expenses and Dependent Care Expenses

    Employee Assistance Program

    Annual Wellness Screening

    401(k) Retirement Savings Plan with 50% Employer Matching up to 3%

    Paid Holidays

    In addition to these benefits for full-time employees, employees working 20 hours or more per week may purchase through payroll deductions a portable term life insurance policy through a private carrier. This is not a company-sponsored benefit. Please see your Business Manager if you are interested in participating.

    Specific information about these benefits plans is available from the Business Office.

    If an employee who is eligible for Pioneer Newspapers medical insurance provides evidence of medical coverage through some other source, and chooses to waive coverage under the Pioneer plan, the employee is eligible for a $50 per month benefit.

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    The Business Office has information on the conditions and restrictions regarding this option.

    When an employee transfers from one newspaper to another within the Pioneer group, there will be no interruption of health or welfare benefits.

    COBRA

    Under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconstruction Act, (C.O.B.R.A.), SKAGIT PUBLISHING is required to offer you and your covered dependents the opportunity to continue coverage under the SKAGIT PUBLISHING sponsored health programs after certain qualifying events such as the loss of your job, divorce, or a child no longer enrolled as a full-time student. The total cost to continue this coverage is the responsibility of the enrollee and is 102% of the full current monthly premium.

    You will be provided with a memo describing C.O.B.R.A. as part of your termination information. If you desire further clarification of the program, or if you anticipate any change in your job or family status that may qualify as a C.O.B.R.A. event, please contact the Business Manager.

    401(K) PLAN

    SKAGIT PUBLISHING offers a 401(k) retirement savings plan for eligible employees. To be eligible to participate in the plan you must be 18 years of age and have completed 90 days of service. Once eligible, you may begin participating in the 401(k) plan at the next enrollment period, which is the next 1st of the month. Please contact your Business Manager for more information about the rules governing participation in the 401(k) plan and the benefits it provides.

    WORKERS COMPENSATION AND INDUSTRIAL ACCIDENT INSURANCE

    Any on-the-job injury must be reported to your immediate supervisor and the business office as soon as possible.

    If you are injured on the job, the appropriate state agency or underwriting insurance company will pay medical expenses and lost time benefits. The amount of such payments varies based on the factors established by the appropriate state agency or underwriting insurance company.

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    SICK LEAVE POLICY

    There are four levels of sick leave. Each of these levels is based on a full-time 40-hour workweek. Length of service is calculated from date of hire.

    Level 0: Employees with 0-90 days of service are not eligible for sick leave.

    Level 1: Employees will receive 10 hours of sick leave upon reaching 91 days of continuous service. Thereafter, they will earn additional sick leave at the rate of 0.0193 hours per hour paid (1 week/year).

    Level 2: Employees with at least 5 years of continuous service will earn 0.0385 hours of sick leave per hour paid (2 weeks/year).

    Level 3: Employees with at least 10 years of continuous service will earn 0.0577 hours of sick leave per hour paid (3 weeks/year).

    Sick leave is capped at 150% of annual earnings. Please see the chart below for details.

    SICK TIME

    Level Length of Service Rate of Earning Sick Time Totals

    Maximum

    Cap

    (150% of annual

    earnings)

    0 0-90 days None 0 N/A

    1 91 days or more

    10 hours free upon

    reaching 91 days, then

    earn @ 0.0193 hours per hour paid thereafter*

    40 hours / year (1 week / year) 60 hrs

    2 5 years or more 0.0385 hours per hour paid

    80 hours /year (2 weeks / year) 120 hrs

    3 10 years or more 0.0577 hours per hour paid

    120 hours / year (3 weeks / year) 180 hrs

    *Special Note New full time employees will receive 10 hours of sick time after reaching 91 days of continuous employment. They will then begin to earn additional sick time at the rate of 0.0193 hours per hour paid thereafter until they reach their fifth anniversary.

    Sick leave may be used for an employees own illness or injury, to care for a child under the age of 18 with a health condition requiring treatment or supervision, or to care for a spouse, parent, parent-in-law or grandparent with a serious health condition. Employees

  • 2009 Handbook.doc - 24 -

    can use their choice of accrued leave (sick or vacation) to care for a sick family member. Employees are expected to provide as much notice as possible of the need to miss work because of illness or injury, and may be asked to provide a doctors note verifying the reason for your use of sick leave. Abuse of sick leave can result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

    Employees may not donate or share sick leave. Under no circumstances will an employees sick leave be converted to cash.

    Employees continue to accrue sick time and vacation time while out on paid sick leave. However, they do not accrue vacation or sick time while on short term disability only or long term disability only (when there is no overlap with sick leave or vacation time).

    Sick Time for Part-time Employees:

    Sick time is prorated for employees working fewer than 40 hours per week. For example, a part-time employee with more than five years of continuous service who works 20 hours per week will earn 0.0096 hours (0.0193 hours times 50%) of sick leave per hour paid. Department heads are responsible for notifying the Business Office of scheduled hours for any employees not working 40-hour workweeks.

    * New part-time employees will receive a prorated amount of sick hours after reaching 91 days of employment. For example, a part-time employee regularly scheduled to work 20 hours per week would receive 5 hours of sick time upon reaching 91 days of employment.

    SHORT TERM DISABILITY POLICY

    Employees who have been with SKAGIT PUBLISHING for at least 12 months and have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to a requested leave are eligible for Short Term Disability.

    Full-time employees who are absent from work for more than 30 consecutive calendar days because of illness or injury, and who have used all accrued sick leave and vacation leave, may be eligible for SKAGIT PUBLISHINGS short-term disability program. In general, the program provides benefits to eligible employees absent between 30 and 90 consecutive calendar days because of a disability, as that term is defined and used in the Pioneer Newspapers, Inc. Long Term Disability insurance policy. Short-term disability benefits are not available for employees whose absence is covered by workers compensation or industrial accident insurance. The Administrator will determine any questions regarding the scope of coverage under the program.

    Employees do not accrue vacation time or sick leave while out on Short Term Disability only.

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    Benefits available under the short-term disability program vary according to seniority as follows:

    Level 0: Employees with less than 1 year of service are not eligible for short-term disability.

    Level 1: Employees with at least 1 year of continuous service are eligible for up to three weeks at 60 percent gross pay and then 5 weeks at 30 percent gross pay.

    Level 2: Employees with at least 5 years of continuous service are eligible for 6 weeks at 60 percent gross pay and then 2 weeks at 30 percent gross pay.

    Level 3: Employees with at least 10 years of continuous service are eligible for 8 weeks at 60 percent gross pay.

    The SKAGIT PUBLISHING has the right to request a doctors note or an independent medical evaluation at any time. Failure of the employee to comply with this request will result in discontinuation of short-term disability benefits, and may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

    Short term disability may be used for an employees own illness or injury, to care for a child under the age of 18 with a health condition requiring treatment or supervision, or to care for a spouse, parent, parent-in-law or grandparent with a serious health condition

    If someone has a recurring disability (same condition) that returns within 6 months, it will be treated as a single event in terms of satisfying the 30-day qualification period for Short Term Disability benefits.

    Disabilities caused by acts of war are excluded from coverage.

    After 90 consecutive calendar days of absence because of illness or disability, an employee may be eligible for benefits under the Pioneer Newspapers, Inc. Long Term Disability plan. Contact the Business Manager for more information about long-term disability benefits.

    EARLY RETIREE COVERAGE

    An eligible employee, between the ages of 55 and 64 inclusive, who voluntarily retires from active service after 15 years of employment with SKAGIT PUBLISHING, a Pioneer Newspapers, Inc. subsidiary or with a Pioneer Newspapers, Inc. subsidiary and a predecessor company combined, is an Early Retiree. An Early Retiree and/or his or her eligible dependents may elect to continue receiving medical and prescription coverage, exclusive of dental and vision coverage, following voluntary retirement. Contact: Anita

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    McGillie at 1-800-570-7607 for details regarding eligibility for this program and the benefits it provides. The individual and family deductibles for Early Retires are significantly higher than for active employees, but the monthly premium for the plan is paid for by the company.

    VACATIONS

    Full-time and Part-time employees are eligible for paid vacation time. There are four levels of vacation accrual, based on length of service to the company. Each of these levels is based on a full-time 40 hour workweek. Employees accrue vacation time each pay period, and they may take vacation time as they earn it, subject to supervisory approval regarding scheduling.

    Level 0: Employees with 0-90 days of service are not eligible for vacation. They do not accrue vacation time, nor will they be paid any vacation time if employment is terminated during the first 90 days of employment.

    Level 1: Employees with over 90 days of continuous service will earn 0.0385 hours of vacation time per hour paid.* (2 weeks/year)

    Level 2: Employees with over 5 years of continuous service will earn 0.0577 hours of vacation time hour paid. (3 weeks/year)

    Level 3: Employees with over 10 years of continuous service will earn 0.0769 hours of vacation time per hour paid. (4 weeks/year)

    VACATION TIME

    Level

    Length of

    Service Rate of Earning

    Vacation Time

    Totals

    Maximum Cap

    150% of annual

    accrual

    0 0-90 days None 0 N/A

    1 91 days or more

    Gifted 20 hours free upon reaching 91 days,

    then earn @ 0.0385 hours per hour paid

    thereafter*

    80 hours / year

    (2 weeks/year) 120 hrs

    2 5 years or more 0.0577 hours per hour paid

    120 hours / year (3 weeks/year) 180 hrs

    3 10 years or more

    0.0769 hours per hour paid

    160 hours / year (4 weeks / year) 240 hrs

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    *Special Note New full-time employees will receive 20 hours of vacation time after reaching 91 days of continuous employment. They will then begin to accrue additional vacation time at the rate of 0.0385 hours per hour paid thereafter until they reach their 5 year anniversary.

    Unless otherwise restricted by law, employees stop accruing vacation when they reach their cap. You are responsible for tracking your available vacation and making sure you use it before it caps out.

    All vacation requests must be scheduled in advance and approved by the appropriate supervisor. Whenever possible, vacations should be scheduled at the beginning of the calendar year. While every effort will be made to accommodate employees desired vacation schedules, there are certain times during the year when vacations will be restricted. In determining vacation scheduling, length of service within the department will be strongly considered but it will not be the only factor considered if a conflict arises. In extraordinary circumstances, exceptions to this policy will be permitted with the advanced, written approval of the Publisher. Unless otherwise approved, vacations may not exceed two (2) consecutive weeks.

    Your vacation accrual rates will change on your fifth and tenth year anniversary dates.

    Employees continue to earn vacation time and sick leave while out on vacation.

    Employees do not accrue vacation time while out on Short Term Disability Leave only or while on Long Term Disability Leave only.

    When an employee transfers from one newspaper to another within the Pioneer group, there are three options for handling unused vacation:

    1. The employee can use all accrued vacation before transferring

    2. The employee can cash out all accrued vacation before transferring; or

    3. The employee can transfer directly to the new location without using any accrued vacation. If the employee chooses this option, the newspaper the employee is transferring from must pay the newspaper the employee is transferring to for the accrued vacation.

    Upon termination, employees who have unused accrued vacation time will be entitled to cash out that vacation time.

    Vacation for Part-time Employees:

    Part-time employees are eligible for vacation, but it is prorated for employees working fewer than 40 hours per week. For example, an employee regularly scheduled to work 25 hours a week would earn vacation at the rate of 62.5% of a full-time employee with the same tenure.

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    * New part time employees will receive a prorated amount of hours of vacation time upon reaching 91 days of employment. . For example, a part-time employee regularly scheduled to work 20 hours per week would receive 10 hours of vacation time upon reaching 91 days of employment. Department heads are responsible for notifying the Business Office of scheduled hours for any employees not working 40-hour workweeks.

    HOLIDAYS

    SKAGIT PUBLISHING observes the following holidays:

    New Years day, Presidents day, Memorial day, Independence day, Labor day, Thanksgiving day, Christmas day and one Floating holiday selected by the employee.

    The Floating holiday is given on February 1 for use some time during that year. Full-time employees who have been employed continuously for the Company since the previous July 1 are eligible for the personal holiday. Like other Holidays, it has no cash value. It must be used during the year it is given or it expires.

    Full-time employees who have completed their probationary period receive holiday pay (8 hours for non-exempt employees) for each recognized holiday. Full-time, non-exempt employees who work on any of these holidays will, in addition to any holiday pay, receive pay at their regular rate for all hours worked on the holiday, or compensating hours off within the same workweek.

    If a holiday occurs on a day when you are not regularly scheduled to work or during your vacation period, you are entitled to a compensating day off, before or as soon after the holiday as possible, on a date determined by you and your supervisor. The compensating day must be taken during the same workweek as the holiday.

    BEREAVEMENT LEAVE

    Employees who have completed their probationary period are entitled to a maximum of three days off with pay when absent from scheduled workdays to attend the funeral of a member of the employees immediate family. Immediate family includes spouse, parents, children, siblings, stepparents, stepchildren, grandparents, grandchildren, parents-in-law, brothers- or sisters-in-law.

    JURY DUTY AND WITNESS LEAVE

    We recognize the responsibility of every citizen to serve on jury duty when summoned and whenever personal and business circumstances permit.

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    Any employee called to serve jury duty will be paid the difference between any jury pay and his or her normal wages or salary for the period of duty, up to a maximum of 30 days. Employees required to serve on a jury for more than 30 days may use available vacation leave or take unpaid leave for the remainder of their jury duty. Employees called for jury duty must show their jury summons to their supervisor as soon after receipt as possible. While serving jury duty, employees are expected to maintain contact with their supervisors on a regular basis, and to report to work during those periods when they have no court responsibilities.

    Employees will be permitted to take time off from work with pay if subpoenaed to testify in a matter related to their employment. Employees subpoenaed to testify in matters unrelated to work will be given an unpaid leave of absence. Any employee subpoenaed to testify must keep his or her supervisor informed of the schedule for testifying and must provide documentation if requested.

    VOTING TIME OFF

    Unless voting is conducted by mail, SKAGIT PUBLISHING will provide up to two (2) hours of paid time off from work during polling hours to vote in primary, special and general elections. If your work schedule provides at least two (2) hours outside the normal work schedule that can be used for voting, you should use this time to vote.

    FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE (FMLA)

    Employees who have been with SKAGIT PUBLISHING for at least 12 months and have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to a requested leave are eligible for Family and Medical Leave.

    This leave may be used for one or more of the following purposes:

    care for a newborn child or newly adopted child (under age 18) within the first 12 months after birth or placement

    care for a spouse, child (under age 18) or parent who has a serious health condition, and for whom the employee is a significant caregiver.

    employees own serious health condition where the employee is unable to perform his/her job

    Family and Medical Leave may be taken for up to 12 weeks unpaid in a 12 month period. Family and Medical Leave eligibility is based on the most recent rolling twelve month period. You may be eligible for sick pay, or disability benefits in conjunction with your leave, and you must use any accrued vacation or sick leave available to you as part of your twelve weeks of Family and Medical Leave. If both parents work for SKAGIT

  • 2009 Handbook.doc - 30 -

    PUBLISHING, you are together entitled to a total of 12 weeks leave in a 12-month period unless the leave is taken for the employees own serious health condition.

    Employees are required to provide SKAGIT PUBLISHING 30 days prior notice of any anticipated leave (or as soon as practical). In some cases (where medically necessary) leave may be taken on an intermittent or reduced basis. Contact your supervisor as soon as possible to discuss scheduling accommodations. You may be required to provide medical certification for your requested leave. A form will be provided to you for this purpose.

    Upon return from Family and Medical Leave, you will be entitled to the same position or an equivalent position with equivalent employment benefits, pay and other terms and conditions of employment unless unusual business circumstances arise. During your leave, your health benefits will continue, but you are responsible for the employee portion of your monthly insurance premium. You will not lose any benefits accrued before your leave began.

    In the event that any part of this policy is in conflict with state or federal law, then the state or federal law takes precedence over the conflicting provision of this policy. All other non-conflicting provisions of this policy will remain in full force and effect.

    New Entitlement for Military Family Leave. In 2008, the FMLA was amended to provide the following additional leave rights:

    New Qualifying Reason for Leave. Eligible employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of leave because of any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the spouse, son, daughter, or parent of the employee is on active duty, or has been notified of an impending call to active duty status, in support of a contingency operation. This leave entitlement does not become effective until the U.S. Department of Labor issues regulations defining any qualifying exigency. The Company will provide further guidance regarding this entitlement as such guidance becomes available.

    New Leave Entitlement. An eligible employee who is the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of a covered service member who is recovering from a serious illness or injury sustained in the line of duty on active duty is entitled to up to 26 weeks of leave in a single 12-month period to care for the service member. This entitlement is effective immediately, although the U.S. Department of Labor will be issuing regulations clarifying the scope of this entitlement. This military caregiver leave is available during a single 12-month period during which an eligible employee is entitled to a combined total of 26 weeks of all types of FMLA leave.

    Employees must meet eligibility requirements for FMLA leave in order to qualify for the new leave entitlements for military-related FMLA leave, and should follow the procedural steps for seeking such leave described in the Companys Family and Medical Leave policy. The Company will provide further information regarding the new military family

  • 2009 Handbook.doc - 31 -

    leave available under the FMLA after it becomes available. In the meantime, employees may obtain information from the Department of Labors website (http://www.dol.gov/esa/whd/fmla/NDAAAmndmnts.pdf).

    MILITARY LEAVE

    Every employee who is a member of the Washington National Guard or of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard or Marine Corps, or of any organized reserve of the United States, will be granted military leave in accordance with state and federal law. Employees who take military leave will have whatever rights to reinstatement, seniority, vacation, layoffs, and compensation as are provided by applicable law.

    You should notify your supervisor as soon as you receive notice of your need to report for military duty, and provide your supervisor with a copy of your orders.

    WASHINGTON FAMILY MILITARY LEAVE

    Leave for Spouses of Military Personnel (Washington employees). During a period of military conflict declared by the President or Congress, a Washington employee who is the spouse of a member of the Armed Forces, National Guard or Reserves is entitled to up to 15 days of unpaid leave while their spouse is on leave from deployment, or before and up to deployment. The purpose of this leave is to support the families of military personnel serving in military conflicts by permitting them to spend time together before a family member is deployed or while the family member is on leave from a deployment. An employee must work an average of 20 hours per week to be eligible for this family military leave.

    An employee who seeks to take family military leave must provide the Company with notice of his/her intent to take leave within five business days of receiving official notice that the employees spouse will be on leave or of an impending call to active duty. The employee may substitute any available accrued leave for any part of this family military leave.

    DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LEAVE ACT POLICY - WASHINGTON

    If you or your family member (child, spouse, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, or person with whom you have a dating relationship) are a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, SKAGIT PUBLISHING will provide you with reasonable leave, intermittent leave or reduced schedule leave for the following reasons:

    To seek legal or law enforcement assistance or remedies to ensure the health and safety of yourself or your family members;

    http://www.dol.gov/esa/whd/fmla/NDAAAmndmnts.pdf

  • 2009 Handbook.doc - 32 -

    To seek treatment by a health care provider for physical or mental injuries caused by domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, or attend to the health care treatment for a victim who is your family member;

    To obtain, or assist a family member in obtaining, services from a domestic violence shelter, rape crisis center or other social services program;

    To obtain, or assist a family member in obtaining, mental health counseling related to an incident of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, in which you or your family member was a victim;

    To participate in safety planning, temporary or permanent relocation, or take

    other actions to increase your safety or the safety of your family members from future domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

    To be eligible for this benefit, you must give SKAGIT PUBLISHING notice as soon as possible, given the circumstances, but no less than 5 days of advance notice of your intention to take leave. If advance notice cannot be given because of emergency or unforeseen circumstances, you or your designee must give SKAGIT PUBLISHING notice no later than the end of the first day that you take such leave. You must also provide timely verification of the need for leave in the form of one or more of the following:

    A police report indicating you or your family member is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

    A court order or other court documentation substantiating the need for you or your family member to appear in court in connection with an incident of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

    Documentation from a domestic violence advocate, attorney, clergy member, or medical or other professional that you or your family member are a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

    Your written statement that you or your family member are a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking and that any leave was taken for the reasons set forth in this policy.

    Leave is without pay unless you choose to use accrued sick, compensatory time or other paid time off you may already be eligible for. SKAGIT PUBLISHING may also request documentation to determine family relationship. Your health insurance benefits will continue at the level and conditions that would have been provided had you remained continuously employed. Upon completion of your leave, you will be restored to the same job or an equivalent job with equivalent pay, benefits, and conditions of employment.

  • 2009 Handbook.doc - 33 -

    Information you provide to determine eligibility for this leave will only be disclosed by SKAGIT PUBLISHING if you request or consent to its disclosure, in response to a court or administrative order or as otherwise required by federal or state law. This leave is in addition to other leave rights you may be eligible for pursuant to State and/or Federal Law. WASHINGTON PREGNANCY DISABILITY LEAVE

    Washingtons Pregnancy Disability Leave provides unpaid leave with job protection, for the period of actual disability related to pregnancy and birth. It does not provide any leave for bonding time with a newborn. Upon confirmation of her pregnancy, a pregnant employee should provide reasonable notification to her supervisor to allow the company to prepare for her leave of absence. The employee may continue to work until she is either: 1) required to stop working by her physician; or 2) unable to perform the essential functions of her job, with or without accommodation from the company. An employee out on Pregnancy Disability Leave must use available sick leave and then any unused vacation time before she is eligible for an unpaid maternity leave of absence. Pregnancy Disability leave typically extends six weeks beyond delivery but may be extended, if required, for a continuing disability; in such cases, medical verification may be required. Employees on Pregnancy Leave are expected to keep the company posted regarding their expected return date. If the employee on Pregnancy Disability Leave does not qualify for FMLA leave (see FMLA section for eligibility rules) then her eligibility for company-paid benefits will cease at the end of the month in which she fails to works 30 or more hours a week. If she was on benefits at the time her leave begins, she will be eligible for COBRA continuation of health insurance. If the employee on Pregnancy Disability Leave does qualify for FMLA leave (see FMLA section for eligibility rules) then she will remain on the company-sponsored health plan until the end of the month in which her FMLA eligibility ends. Also, employees out on Pregnancy Disability Leave who qualify for FMLA leave will be considered to be out on both leaves concurrently. An employee returning to work following Pregnancy Disability Leave is entitled to her same job or one of similar status and pay, unless the company is unable to return the employee to that position because of business necessity. If this is necessary, the employee will be offered an available job of similar status and pay, or if none is available, a job of lower status and pay.

  • 2009 Handbook.doc - 34 -

    WASHINGTON FAMILY LEAVE ACT (FLA)

    The Washington Family Leave Act (FLA) provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave and job protection within a 12-month period. The purpose of the leave is to allow employees leave from work for certain medical reasons, for birth or placement of a child and for the care of certain family members who have a serious health condition. To be eligible for FLA, the employee must work for the company for at least 12 months (not necessarily consecutive), and must have worked at least 1,250 hours within the 12 months preceding the date of leave. Employees out on FLA must use any available sick and vacation time they have accrued. FMLA leave will run concurrently with FLA leave except for the purposes of providing additional leave for bonding with a child after birth or adoption. FLA leave will follow Washington Pregnancy Disability leave, and can provide up to an additional 12 weeks of leave. The company may require written certification from a medical professional. If an employee is out on FLA leave only (not on FMLA leave), the employee will remain eligible for company-sponsored medical benefits. Employees do not continue to accrue vacation or sick time while out on unpaid FLA leave.

    OTHER BENEFITS

    Free subscription Employees of Skagit Publishing are entitled to a free subscription to the newspapers in their circulation area. If, at the time they begin employment, they have paid in advance for a subscription, the employee will be given a choice to donate the remaining balance to Newspapers in Education or to receive a refund. See the Customer Service department. Free classified advertising Employees are entitled to free classified advertising for personal non-commercial use of reasonable size and length. This privilege must not be used for practical jokes. Use of company property Employees are allowed to make occasional use of the copiers for personal use. An example of excessive use would be multiple copies or anything other than immediate family use. Employees are allowed to make an occasional brief long distance call for emergency use. If it is necessary for the employee to make a lengthy, overseas or out-of-area personal long distance call, the cost is reimbursed by the employee to the company.

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    Cell phones Skagit Publishing uses Verizon Wireless as our wireless service. All employees are eligible to get discounts on new cell phone plans, phones, and accessories. If you are already a Verizon customer, you may be able to get the discount applied to your existing plan. See the Production Manager for details. Day of Service As a family-owned publisher of local newspapers, Skagit Publishing holds community service as a core value. One of the ways we put that value into practice is by allowing employees to be paid for using one work day a year on a community service project. The project must be sponsored by a local, nonprofit organization. The groups should be nonpartisan and not compromise the unbiased nature of our newspapers. The project must benefit the community as a whole. Examples of qualifying activities include the Skagit Valley Herald Christmas Fund, Argus Fund, Relay for Life, Habitat for Humanity, most environmental restoration projects, academic tutoring, and United Way Days of Caring. The event must be approved and coordinated beforehand with your department head. After you have completed your service, please submit a paragraph or two about the experience for inclusion in the company newsletter. Employee Fund Profits from the pop machine are contributed to an Employee Fund. These funds are administered by the Employee Committee and are generally used to sponsor employee events such as a summer picnic and Halloween potluck. Wellness program Employees eligible for health insurance and their spouses may sign up for a yearly health screening. Nurses come to the office to make it convenient for employees. The screening may include blood pressure, cholesterol and lipid profile, liver profile, and blood sugar. Those who participate receive a confidential personal wellness report and may qualify for a reduction in health insurance premiums.

    REIMBURSEMENT POLICY Employees are reimbursed for necessary and reasonable business expenses. Travel expenses must be pre-approved by the department head based on discussion of travel and lodging options. Receipts are required for reimbursement. All reimbursements must be approved and signed by the appropriate person before being forwarded to Accounting.

  • 2009 Handbook.doc - 36 -

    Travel time to or from approved business or training events for a non-exempt employee is compensated.

  • 2009 Handbook.doc - 37 -

    GENERAL POLICIES

    SAFETY AND HEALTH POLICY

    We are concerned with protecting the safety and health of our employees. Toward that end, it is our policy to comply with all state and federal safety regulations. During your employment, you will receive safety information and training intended to reduce the likelihood of accidents and injuries on the job.

    You are one of the main contributors to this safety effort. Maintaining a safe work place requires the attention and cooperation of all employees. To help reduce the likelihood of accidents, all employees are expected to use good judgment and common sense, keep their immediate work area neat and orderly and follow these safety rules:

    Report any injury, however small, to your supervisor or the office manager as soon as possible;

    Secure all loose cords in your working area;

    Walk, dont run, in the buildings;

    Wear shoes at all times;

    Use safety equipment (including lifting belts and ear protection) when required;

    Do not use any equipment with which you are unfamiliar;

    Report any unsafe conditions immediately;

    Never block exit aisles, fire fighting equipment or electric lighting and power panels with any material, vehicles or other equipment;

    Drive safely when entering and leaving company premises;

    Keep your work area neat, clean and orderly;

    Be familiar with the location of fire extinguishers and first aid supplies; and

    Know the location of Material Data Safety Sheets for your department.

    VIOLENCE IN THE WORKPLACE

    It is the Companys policy to promote a safe environment for its employees, customers and visitors. The Company is committed to working with its employees to maintain a

  • 2009 Handbook.doc - 38 -

    work environment free from violence, threats of violence, harassment, intimidation, vandalism, arson, sabotage, use or display of weapons, carrying weapons onto company property and other disruptive behavior including jokes or comments about violence or weapons.

    If you feel you have been subjected to such behavior or acts, you are requested to report them immediately to your supervisor, the human resources department or any other member of management, including the Publisher. The Company will investigate such reports, and issue appropriate disciplinary action in circumstances where it believes this policy has been violated. If you observe of have knowledge of any violation of this policy, immediately report it to management. The Company will take action when unforeseen events transpire and look to employees for support of this policy. Employees are empowered to contact the proper law enforcement authorities without first informing management if they believe a threat to the safety of others exists.

    Orders for Victim Protection include the following types of court orders: protection order, no contact order, restraining order and anti-harassment order. If you have obtained an Order for Victim Protection that includes the company as your workplace, you must immediately provide a copy of the order to Human Resources or your supervisor.

    CELL PHONE USE AND SAFETY

    An employee who needs to use a cellular telephone for business purposes while driving or operating a vehicle must always exercise reasonable care and prudence when doing so. You should never use a cellular telephone while driving in adverse weather, heavy or slow moving traffic, limited visibility or other hazardous conditions. An employee should read the instruction manual for the cellular phone and become acquainted with the phones features before using the phone while driving. An employee must not take notes or look up numbers while driving. An employee must comply with all applicable federal state and local laws addressing cellular telephone usage while driving, such as those laws prohibiting the use of a cellular telephone unless the driver uses a hands-free device. This policy applies equally to the use of other handheld electronic devises such as pagers, electronic or digital organizers and laptop computers while driving or operating a vehicle. Violation of this policy may lead to discipline up to and including termination of employment.

    PUBLIC RELATIONS

    We are proud of our newspapers and are pleased to have people visit us. However, due to the confidential nature of our business, an employee must accompany all visitors touring the premises. When you see a visitor, please make a special effort to be friendly and make him or her feel welcome.

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    Courtesy, patience and respect for others are necessary traits for success in any business. We ask our employees to use tact and courtesy in dealing with our readers and customers, even when they may be impolite or critical. If a reader or a customer has a complaint, assure the person that it will be investigated and then be sure the responsible department manager is informed.

    Remember to avoid mixing personal business with that of the company. The unauthorized use of newspaper names in connection with any personal outside activities could lead to embarrassment for both you and the company. Company stationery or credentials should never be used for personal business.

    DISPUTE RESOLUTION

    In any organization, problems or differences of opinion over work matters may occasionally arise between you and your supervisor, fellow employees, or SKAGIT PUBLISHING in general. We encourage you to bring any problem you might have to your immediate supervisor first. If your supervisor is unable to resolve the problem to your satisfaction and you wish to pursue the matter, speak to the next level of supervision in your department. If you are still unable to resolve the problem, you may contact the Publisher for further review of the matter.

    This problem-resolution procedure is designed to resolve problems quickly and fairly and is based on the following principles:

    We encourage you to bring your problems and questions to your immediate supervisors attention promptly.

    Your problem will be thoroughly discussed and evaluated on its merits.

    There will be no retaliation against you for exploring any questions or problems you might have.

    Note: In certain situations, it may be more appropriate to contact the Publisher as a first step in this process.

    This is a recommended procedure for problem-resolution, but it is not a requirement for imposing discipline or termination.

    GROOMING AND APPEARANCE

    Since most of the employees of SKAGIT PUBLISHING come in contact with the companys customers and the general public, employees are expected to dress in good taste with respect to the job they perform, to be personally well-groomed and to remember that at all times professionals dress professionally. If your dress or

  • 2009 Handbook.doc - 40 -

    appearance conflicts with this basic guideline, your supervisor will discuss it with you and suggest changes. Please see your supervisor for any specific guidelines for your department and/or position.

    Examples of inappropriate dress or appearance include short shorts, overly revealing tops, exposed torso, ripped or torn clothing, and potentially offensive or vulgar words or pictures on clothing.

    TOBACCO-FREE WORKPLACE

    In keeping with the companys concern about the safety and health of its employees, all offices and company property are tobacco-free environments.

    Tobacco use will not be permitted outside company buildings. Tobacco use in or on company facilities or in company vehicles is prohibited and will result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

    COMPUTERS, INTERNET, EMAIL AND PHONE POLICY:

    SKAGIT PUBLISHINGS electronic and telephonic communications systems, and all communication and information transmitted by, received from, or stored in these systems, are the property of SKAGIT PUBLISHING. SKAGIT PUBLISHING may access, use, review or monitor any of its systems or communications over those systems at any time.

    SKAGIT PUBLISHINGS electronic and telephonic communications systems are to be used primarily for job-related purposes. Use of these systems other than for business purposes should be kept to a minimum and must not interfere with job responsibilities.

    The following guidelines apply to all use of SKAGIT PUBLISHINGs electronic and telephonic systems:

    Personal use of the internet for social networking such as MySpace and Facebook are specifically prohibited due to their risk to our network efficiency. The Company may allow employees the privilege of using its computer systems for limited non-business reasons with proper authorization

    No media advertisement, Internet home page, electronic bulletin board posting, electronic mail message, voice mail message, or any other public representation about SKAGIT PUBLISHING or on behalf of SKAGIT PUBLISHING may be issued unless it has first been approved by the Publisher.

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    No information of a confidential, sensitive, or otherwise proprietary nature may be placed or posted on the Internet or otherwise be disclosed to anyone outside SKAGIT PUBLISHING.

    The electronic mail system may not be used in ways that are disruptive or offensive to others, or in ways that are inconsistent with the professional image of SKAGIT PUBLISHING.

    Display or transmission of sexually explicit images, messages, cartoons, or any communication that can be construed as harassing or disparaging of others based on their race, national origin, sex, age, disability, gender identity, honorably discharged veteran status, military status or other protected class is strictly prohibited.

    Any use of the electronic mail system to solicit outside business ventures, to leak confidential, sensitive, or proprietary information, or for any other inappropriate purpose, is prohibited.

    Because postings placed on the Internet will display SKAGIT PUBLISHINGS return address, employees must seek approval from his or her department head prior to placing any information on the Internet.

    The information systems may not be used to solicit or address others regarding commercial, religious, or political causes, or for any other solicitations that are not work related, except as approved by management.

    Any attempt at destruction or theft of data or an attempt to access a secure system is strictly prohibited.

    All users are personally accountable for messages that they create or forward using SKAGIT PUBLISHINGS electronic or telephonic communications systems. Misrepresenting, obscuring, suppressing, or replacing a users identity on an electronic communication is prohibited. Any violation of this policy will result in appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment and the exercise of other legal remedies that may be available to SKAGIT PUBLISHING.

    The unauthorized loading, whether through the Internet or any software, of any private material on company owned computers is strictly prohibited and will result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

    BLOGS

    The Company respects the right of employees to use blogs as a medium of self-expression. Some blog readers, however, may perceive your personal website or blog, or their contents, as a reflection of the company policies or practices, product lines, services, political stances, ethical or moral beliefs, and the like. For this reason, you may

  • 2009 Handbook.doc - 42 -

    not identi


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