Change In Past Practice Concerning Comp Time Violates Contract

The collective bargaining agreement between the Putnam County, New York Deputy Sheriff’s Benevolent Association and the County does not contain clear language on the accrual of compensatory time off. Over time, a past practice of a 96-hour cap on compensatory time off built up. In January 2005, the County announced that it would treat the 96-hour cap as a “hard cap,” and that employees would not be allowed to accrue any more than 96 hours of compensatory time off in a year.

The Association challenged the County’s decision in arbitration. An arbitrator agreed with the Association. The Arbitrator cited a five-year past practice of allowing the cap to be “renewable” rather than “hard.” The Arbitrator also noted that the text of the original documents that established the cap actually suggested a renewable cap.

County of Putnam, New York and Putnam County Deputy Sheriff’s Benevolent Association, LAIG 6491 (Cole, 2007).

This article appears in the September 2007 issue