Officer Given Time To Produce Sick Leave Documentation

The City of Reading, Pennsylvania Police Department has a general order allowing officers to convert previously-scheduled vacation to sick leave only if the need for sick leave results from unscheduled hospitalization, and if the Chief and the City Council both approve the request. Somewhat in contrast, the collective bargaining agreement allowed the use of sick leave whenever an employee was sick, disabled, or incapacitated.

An officer scheduled a block of vacation time. Subsequently, the officer took ill and attempted to convert his vacation time to sick leave. When the Department denied the request, the officer’s labor organization, Lodge 9 of the Fraternal Order of Police, challenged the Department’s decision in arbitration.

An arbitrator mostly upheld the grievance. The Arbitrator ruled that while there was no absolute right to conversion of vacation time to sick leave, the City’s decision to deny sick leave had to be based on a general standard of reasonableness and good faith.

While the Arbitrator acknowledged that the documentation for the use of sick leave submitted by the grievant was inadequate, he also observed that the Department failed to outline for the officer what types of information would be necessary for the Chief to evaluate the officer’s request.

The Arbitrator ruled that the officer should be given 30 days from the Arbitrator’s decision to submit documentation in support of his request to use sick leave. The Arbitrator ordered the City to evaluate the documentation and make a “fair and reasonable conclusion” as to whether sick leave use should be allowed.

City of Reading, Pennsylvania, LAIG 6344 (Colflesh, 2006).

This article appears in the September 2006 issue