Police Department’s Change In Vacation Practices Violates Contract

For many years, police officers working for Solebury Township, Pennsylvania had two options regarding vacation time (apart from using the time itself): (1) They could sell back up to ten days of vacation time to the Township; or (2) they could carry over up to ten days of vacation into the following year, provided it was used by March 31st of the following year.

In 2006, the Township imposed new rules concerning vacation. Under the rules, police officers would only have the right to carry over unused vacation time if they had not taken advantage of the “sell-back” option. The Township also imposed a new time limit, requiring officers to notify the City by November 30 of their intent to carry over unused vacation.

An arbitrator struck down the Township’s new rules. The Arbitrator found that a past practice of at least 25 years’ standing allowed officers both to sell back vacation time and to carry over up to ten days of unused vacation leave. Under the past practice, the City did not require officers to provide written notice of their intent to carry over vacation time. In the Arbitrator’s eyes, since the City’s changes affected a mandatory subject of bargaining, the City could not unilaterally impose the new rules without agreement by the labor organization representing the officers.

Solebury Township, Pennsylvania, LAIG 6634 (Skonier, 2007).

This article appears in the November 2008 issue