Gov. Christie Wants End To Paying For Unused Sick Days

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Do you get paid for your unused sick days? Some state workers in New Jersey get that money when they retire.

For instance, in Elmwood Park, the town’s mayor said the police chief, a deputy and five others who retired, walked away with $1.2 million.

“I just think it’s unfair because I feel we, as the people, if we’re working we get paid. It’s too hard, economy is bad right now,” said Ranisha Ali of Newark.

It’s a practice Gov. Chris Christie wants the Democrat-controlled Legislature to stop.

“That is a lot of money for you to be putting out for paying not to be sick, which is essentially what we’re doing here,” said Christie.

The governor claims Democrats aren’t taking action on his sick pay reforms. The Democrats say what he’s asking is unconstitutional and that he’s not accepting compromises.

Joe Occhipinti heads the National Police Defense Foundation, an organization representing officers.

“To take away from them now is like a breach of contract,” he said.

Occhipinti said the only way the governor’s plan could work would be grandfathering current state workers.

Due to different contracts and town ordinances, not all state workers can walk away with unused sick pay money when they retire.

As for the Elmwood Park police chief and deputy and their union, CBS 2 was unable to get comment Wednesday.

With whom do you side in this issue? Sound off in our comments section below…

  • cynthia

    Gee, Gov., I’m guessing you don’t get ‘docked’ when you decide to stay home or take time off. Seriously, do you pay back the taxpayers for personal days or sick days? Jerk

  • andreachaim

    if this is governement, sschool jobs, in the end you pay for it in your taxes.
    for companies, & anywherei think it should not be carried over, not paid for in the end.
    america is falling apart because of things like this… need i even talk about wall street

    • cynthia

      Get a clue, it doesn’t matter if its public or private sector, we all pay for the perks. One through taxes, the other through cost of goods. As for the ‘pay taxes’ line, these same employees also pay taxes, so in truth they are paying for part of their own retirement and sick leave benefits, getting taxed twice for the same money. Public sector jobs aren’t the only ones who allow employees to sell back vacation or sick time. So instead of saying thanks for working more, with less vacations and not taking sick days, you want to penalize. Maybe they should start taking off more often, they can sure use the mental stress relief.

      • nick

        Wow cynthia,

        Looks like white people found a way to get entitlements too! Now, convicts should find a way to get entitlements, burger king employees, everyone!! Well, Rick Santorum is a friend to unions even though he wouldn’t let his kids be taught by one, if he gets entitlements he’ll be sure to pass a law AGAINST right to work and we’ll all be forced into unions and will all get these entitlements.

  • Employed

    What no-one seems to be addressing is long-term illnesses, like cancer. Several of my colleagues are generally healthy people, and we work at a place that allows accrual of sick leave. So, when they got cancer, they were able to use their accrued sick leave as they struggled to defeat their illness. If allowed only 5 days a year, they not only would have been battling cancer, but would have been doing it while not being paid.

    • retphxfire

      I am retired from a large, municipa fire dept and you have some valid points. I was one of those who never abused sick leave and when I was informed I had to have brain surgery a few years ago I had enough accrued sick leave and vacation to receive my normal pay during the recovery process. I was able to pay my mortgage, put food on my families table, maintain my health insurance, etc etc etc. I also know of many public employees who work with a strong committment to their jobs, rarely taking vacations and never calling in sick. The ability to accrue is also a benefit for those who have long-term recoveries from accidents or surgeries who run out of sick time, those of us who have extra can donate sick time or work their shifts/jobs for them. People just don’t get it.

      • WRG01

        Accruel for legitimate use is one thing…getting to bank that time is another. It’s just not equitable or fair for such a benefit to exist at the expense of struggling municipal budgets. The City of Dallas (Texas) fired 300 non-civil servant employees under City Manager Ted Benavides to meet the debt service caused by the disproportionately generous pension system for Fire/Police…this event weighed heavily on the entirety of the city management at that time and still does today. Do private sector employees “own” their jobs? No. Neither should civil servants with far too lucrative benefits packages (all the whilst whining about lower compensation)…you get it all and then some at the back end. I am pro-labor union. I vote mostly blue and occasionally red. I support local government and taxes appropriate to meeting public needs and a high quality of civic safety and life…but, excess is excess…and it has no place in this budget environment. Future public employees, be they civil service or not, should not receive payment for accrued sick leave.

  • LGMich

    Keep it simple. Allow sick leave to be accrued with no payoff of unused hours upon termination of employment. The way to stop abuse is to have a written policy clearly defining the company’s definition of abusive behavior and the consequences for engaging in that behavior. That, along with competent supervisors and consistent application of policy, will work out just fine. When a policy is enforced inconsistently, the organization will lose every single time.

  • Dk

    This practice should never have been allowed. What they should do is say anyone that wants the old rules must retire me the end of 2012. If not here’s the new contract. Take it or leave it.

  • Ann Lutz

    sick days should not be accrued in fact at the end of the year they should be converted into Vacation days, give 2 sick days for a vacation day. That way they can take extra vacation when wanted. After 5 yrs of accruement of the vacatiion they carried over they should be forced to use it or lose it. WHEN THEY RETIRE THEY SHOULD NOT HAVE ANY SICK TIME LEFT BUT SAY THEY HAVE 6 WEEKS VACATION STORED THEY SHOULD BE PUT OUT OF WORK THOSE 6 WKS AND RETIREMENT STARTS DAY 1 OF WEEK 7.

  • Leslie Cameron

    Most of these folks came to work sick and were horribly unproductive … All the while infecting coworkers … All in the name of accruing sick leave to get a huge payout. Sick leave was not meant to be a huge payout. It was intended to protect folks from losing their jobs or not being able to pay bills because they took ill. Stop the scam. The governor is right.

    • sherry macmanes

      thats not necessarily true. Many companies have adopted Paid Time Off PTO as their way of giving employee’s time off, you are allowed so many days off whether it is for illness, sickness or vacation. Many of the people in question came into work when they were needed, did not call off when they weren’t sick and took pride in their jobs. These people earned their sick days, just as much as those who took them and didn’t come to work and had to have their shifts covered. I’m not buying it, people should be paid for the work they do and get the benefits they were promised. Those sick days are benefits of their employment. They were budgeted for by the departments that hired them, and if they simply want to pay them for not working, and give them the time off, let them, but give them their benefits!

  • Reg in TX

    I’ve always viewed sick days as a form of insurance–i.e., the value is that they are there if needed, not as a windfall for never having a need in the first place.

  • realistic

    My company has its employees constantly accruing sick/personal time up to 5 days per year, but if you don’t use it, you lose it. I will be using it even if I am not sick rather than lose it because it is a benefit I work hard for. If I could keep it or cash it in at the end of the year, I wouldn’t feel gipped and worry about it.

    • realistic

      State employees should make a point to call in and use up all that sick time each year if they are going to get screwed out of the benefit now.

      • Amtracmarine

        You mean as opposed to coming to work sick and saving the sick days for a cash payout??

  • John

    What the average civillian does not understand is that if they want us to use the time thats fine. No problem. Just remember that when you call out, someone has to cover your shift. Now you have to pay someone overtime which is time and a half. So realistically, they are paying you to be out, and your coverage gets time and a half for coming in to cover you. Way to think that all through Gov.

  • Kay

    Instead of allocating sick time for employees, allow them unlimited sicktime with approval…your out sick for one day every six months no problem, you have a doctor’s appoint or the flue bring in a doctors note to prove you were sick and at the doctor and get paid! If you lie and just want a day off, no note, no pay and then no one has to accrue anything. I worked for a company that did that and it was perfect…unlimited sick time as long as you had a doctor’s note to prove you were sick. I was out for 2 weeks with chickenpox (yes at age 27!) and I needed a doctors note saying when I could return to work, no loss in pay. If your supervisors are fair….it will work!

  • Pam Dailey

    I think people need to see this from the side of a county worker. First the sick leave is earned. Yes it is a benefit. But remember the county, state, or city employee does not receive the pay private sector pays. Also if you are not able to carry over your sick leave, what happens if you have an operation and need to be out for six weeks??? I realize paying out the sick leave is expensive, but so would be paying when a person is out sick or pretending to be sick.

    • Dave Engh

      When you factor in their retirement plan, paid holidays, civil service protections et cetera, the average government employee is paid at least as well as the average taxpayer supporting them. And if a private-sector employee needs weeks off work for medical reason and their employer doesn’t offer that, they’re out of luck. Should be no different for government workers.

      One of the issues with this is that the time may be earned at a certain pay rate, but when they cash out at retirement it’s paid at their then-current, very likely higher, rate. This is an unfair double-dip on the taxpayers.

      • dee

        DAVE: And if a private-sector employee needs weeks off work for medical reason and their employer doesn’t offer that, they’re out of luck. Should be no different for government workers.

        State workers are not allowed to be off without using sick time or other time. It is against state worker’s policy. A person could be terminated. Which is why many accrue sick time for unexpected emergency, maternity leave, surgery in the future.

  • shawn4145

    People forget that the only reason the states are in this mess is because Wall Street ripped off the pensions and state investments.But yet they are still getting there bonus and pensions and walk away free and clear. So blame Wall street and tax the rich wall street con artist to pay the contracts of public workers. If it was not for the republican deregulation we would not be discussing this today.

    • Roger Scott

      Something is wrong here, unless my math is wrong. Let us asume that all of the six cops were healthy through out their service, highly unlikely. So 6 day a year times 25 years = 150 days owed for each cop. 150 days times 6 cops = 900 days owed. 1.2 millions owed to the cops divided 900 days owed. So that means a cop gets paid an average of $1,333.33 dollars a day. AND THEY SAY THEY ARE UNDERPAID!!!

      • John

        Police officers generally get 15 days of sick time a year.

        • Roger Scott

          Sorry so then they get paid 539.32 dollars a day or 2,696.60 a week, or 140,223.20 dollars a year. Still a great pay check and for what? If the cops deserves that much then the military deserve more!!!!

  • Me

    The company I work for lumped our “sick time” in with our vacation time. It’s use or lose it. We are allowed to carry over 5 days per year. No one should be able to hoard their sick time until they retire. It should expire after a certain amount of time.

    • Scott

      why not? It’s time that you’re allowed off, and if you don’t take it, you’ve basically donated that time to your employer. What’s fair about that?

      • hd

        No, Vacation time is what your allocated. Sick time is what the company provides you as a perk(before LTD would kick in). Most privite businesses now provide one bank of time that combines Vacation and Sick time. You get a cap to how many hors you can bank, if you don’t use ut you lose it. Where I work the cap is 480 hrs.

  • Phillip

    So…basically, he’s saying that people should be calling out sick more often.

    That’s what will end up happening. Instead of paying them out at one lump time, you’ll just pay them out little by little as people call in ‘sick’ just to use their time.

  • bob

    *but it is a drop in the ocean

  • Bob

    I imagine this is good press but that the Gov. and his bedmates have wasted a great deal more tax dollars than is used in sick pay payouts. I mean really think about it…it looks good and makes some sense but it compared to pork projects and state government inefficiencies ad infinitum.

  • Soicanleavecomments OnBlogs

    So take away the sick days since if you use them you lose your job anyway. Call them personal days.

  • RoyAllen

    I have over $200.000.00 in earned sick time accrued,when I leave my job I would currently get $15.000.00 dollars.Thus I am loosing approximately $185.000.00 by not using all my allotted time……………….so who’s the idiot here……..obviosly me,for being a diligent NJ State employyee for the past 41 years !

    • Bill

      The only one losing anything is the taxpayer that is handing you a 15k gift. It should be zero.

      • Scott

        It’s not a “gift;” it’s time that was put in, and so the pay was earned. period.

        • Joe

          It is a gift Scott. Employees don’t “put in” or earn sick time. Its not like you worked an extra hour a day to put towards sick time. Sick time is allotted by the company as a benefit. Frankly, the only thing people are entitled to by the employers is their salary period. Everything else is a benefit.

    • No more political correctness

      Keep your damn sick time…

      But if you use that to INFLATE your pension then we should cut yor nuts off

    • JoanneG

      Hoarding your sick days so you can get a windfall at retirement is NOT what sick time is supposed to be for.

      • k

        Using all of your sick time each year is moronic. What happens if you get truly ill late in your career? Cancer or heart transplant? If you use up all your sick time every time you have the sniffles then there is no cushion for when you are truly ill. Sick time is a benefit that helps to protect you and your family in the event of true illness.

  • sharon wolff

    Gov Christie finally comes out with a brillant piece of legislature. There is absolutely no need for any government employee to be paid for unused sick time when they retire. No teacher, fireman, policeman, state worker, NO ONE.
    There is an old saying, “use it or lose it”. As Christie said, “if you are sick, stay home, otherwise come to work”.

  • ajsdryewrasfjdwqy873487uerw

    the cities cant afford to pay out unused sick time. it should be use it or lose it. forget the breach of contract – if they dont like it, they can look for work elsewhere. these people are lucky to have jobs and they get good benefits, job security, oensions, and then they want entitlements like pay for unused sick time? eliminate the unused sick time, eliminate lifetime benefits for these people. the taxpayers cant afford this. the private sector doesnt pay like this with security – why should state and city employees have it easy?

    • Michael H.

      Contracts schmontracts. Who cares what was negotiated and agreed to by both parties? You know what? I don’t want to pay my rent for the rest of the year. Screw the lease (contract)!

  • jake

    Maybe if the heavy set Governor would stop using helicopters like it were a taxi, you would save a ton of money of fuel. The balls of these guys who get elected and live the life of luxury and want everyone else to pay their way through life. Throw all these politicians out. They don’t represent anybody but themselves.

  • sdruoiweur


  • BruceinNJ

    I don’t know about the people referred to, but when I retired from the NJDOT in 2001, we were entitled to be paid for half our unused sick leave, with a maximum of $15,000. I received the maximum, even though I had a lot more time coming. What the governor fails to realize is that, unfortunately, there are many who would use their sick time almost as fast as they earn it if not for the possibility of a payment at retirement. So you either pay them for not being at work, or give them a small bonus when they leave.

    • Tommy

      How about if you call out sick you don’t get paid for that day, did anyone consider that option?

      • Michael H.

        Good idea. Let’s roll things back to the 1920s, destroy the unions, take away sick days, paid vacation days, OSHA, child labor laws, etc. etc. etc. Sound like a good idea, Tommy?

        • Tommy

          The Unions have already destroyed themselves – or more correctly nature has selected them for extinction (kind of like the dinosaurs, 3rd grade science). Paid vacation is needed by everyone, but these a-holes use sick days for vacation after they use the vacation days and then add personal days and government holidays, etc. I work for a private company, when I work I get paid, when I don’t work I don’t get paid – like 90% of the world.. You, Michael H., are probably a public employee or a communist, either way your kind will most likely be selected for extinction next.

          • Michael H.

            Tommy, the dinosaurs were likely killed off by a meteor strike. We even know where it hit. Don’t come at me with “3rd grade science” when you don’t even know what you’re talking about. I work for a private company too. We’re provided 6 sick days a year, 2 weeks paid vacation and 13 paid holidays. If we don’t use the sick days we lose them. We have a nice little pattern of absences every November-December when people use their unused sick days. Don’t act like it’s the unions when even the private company employees use the same tactics.

            By the way, you can thank those unions for your paid holidays, paid sick days, paid vacation days, safe working conditions, etc. They’re not going anywhere anytime soon so you better get used to it. If you can’t handle that fact, move to a country without unions, like Somalia. I bet you’ll love the libertarian’s wet dream there.

            • John Sebastion

              You can tell your a sad union lackey.Recent unions have done nothing but chase companies away with their absurd salary and benefit packages. The american public is tired of supporting these workers. There should be a ban on unions in the public sector.

              • Michael H.

                “There should be a ban on unions in the public sector.”

                and there goes the first amendment right out the window.

            • Tommy

              I operate a Union construction company in NYC, and yes, the Unions are dying. Market share in Manhattan construction used to be 90% Union, now it is half that. If you think the Unions are strong you are only fooling yourself.

              • Michael H.

                Union shops are closing up because the economy blows, not because of the unions themselves.

          • Eugene K.

            How about ceo’s pay thats way out of line ??

  • Tom McCaffrey

    As A retired teamster driver sick days that were not used were gone . end of story
    Was not to be used as a private retirement fund.

  • BobbyONJ

    And then maybe start to reduce the number of sick days. When someone retires with 634 unused sick days, there’s a problem. But it must be me. Anyone who disagrees still doesn’t get that there’s “NO MORE MONEY”!

  • rfc

    YOU can’t change course in the middle of the stream. Take it up as an issue for the future……, Gov. forgets how this will impact on people pursuing these jobs in the future.

    • BobbyONJ

      Future issue? Who has represented me at the bargaining table when this crap was negotiated? McGreevey? Whitman? Florio? I don’t see any of them looking out for MY best interests.

  • a

    Read the article, hes not saying to lose the sick days, hes saying to stop paying for unused days.

  • Esmerelda

    Gov Christie needs to find a new job.
    If people will lose their sick days then they will take them
    some other time.

    • BobbyONJ

      Sorry Es, but I don’t think that would make a damn bit of difference from sunrise to sunset. It’ll just avoid the news piece that a retiring state employee is getting $456 in unused sick pay upon retirement. And Federal and State workers don’t understand the animosity towards them and their benefits.

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