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Secaucus amends donated leave policy to help ill cop

The policy was already in practice, but now things are clearer

The council approved the amended policy at its Sept. 28 meeting.

The Secaucus Town Council has amended its donated leave policy. Town Administrator Gary Jeffas explained the ordinance at the Town Council caucus meeting prior to the regular meeting of the council on Sept. 28.

The policy permits full-time town employees to voluntarily donate whole sick or vacation days to eligible co-workers who have exhausted all of their accrued paid time off due to a severe illness or injury. Employees who use donated leave will be treated as if they were using their own sick leave and will continue to receive their full salary while they are on donated leave.

“If somebody has a catastrophic illness, and they’re going to be out of all time, they can apply to the town to see if anybody wants to donate their sick or vacation time to them,” Jeffas said. “We’ve always had that policy in place, but some of the stuff wasn’t spelled out.”

Jeffas said he went through the policy and reworked it so that it spells out how to qualify, how many days can be donated, if the person comes back early and there’s still time in the bank, and how it gets given back to them, among other criteria.

Eligibility and the donation process

An employee must meet the following criteria to be considered to receive donated leave: the employee must have been employed with the Town for at least one year continuously, the employee must have a serious health condition or injury that requires a prolonged absence from work on a continuous or intermittent basis for which the employee has no available paid time off; the employee must exhaust all their earned paid time off.

The employee or the employee’s supervisor must make a request to the Town Administrator for their participation in the program as a leave recipient which then may be approved. An employee must receive at least five donated days to participate and the maximum days that can be received in total is 247 days. Donated days cannot be used retroactively.

To be eligible to donate sick or vacation days to another full-time employee, a donor must be a current employee, may donate up to ten days within a calendar year to any one recipient, and the donor must have at least twenty days of accrued sick leave left after any donation and at least twelve days of accrued vacation days if donating vacation days. A donor cannot revoke the leave donations once given.

Now the process will be: the recipient completes a request form seeking donated leave, then the donor completes a form gifting the leave to the recipient, then the Town Administrator approves the donation.

Helping a sick officer in need

According to Jeffas, the amended policy will be formally codified into the new employee handbook, however, until then the town is passing a resolution now to allow the newly reworked policy to be enforced.

“We have a police officer who is currently out now,” Jeffas said. “So the chief came to me and said: ‘He’s out. We’d like to do donated leave to the police department.’ So I told him by all means, go ahead and do that. I just want to get this ratified so if there’s any questions.”

Councilwoman Orietta Tringali asked about the maximum of unused vacation days that an employee would be paid for when retiring. Jeffas said that, while it’s different for police who operate under a state statute, city employees would get paid for 50 percent of unused time.

Jeffas said this was a different policy entirely than the one that mandates how unused sick or vacation days are dealt with when retiring. Tringali added that the school district has a similar, yet different policy regarding donated leave.

“We were doing something like that with the schools, but they were the opposite,” Tringali said. “There was only two days [allowed to be donated]. It was very restrictive.”

Returning unused donations

In response to a question from Tringali, Jeffas confirmed that if the person returns early, the sick days will be returned to those who donated them, prorated. If the proration of leave days results in less than one-half day per donor to be returned, the remaining leave time will be removed from the employee recipient’s paid time off and transferred to a “donated time bank” to be maintained by the town for use of future eligible recipients.

At the regular meeting, the council adopted the resolution unanimously.

The next meeting of the Secaucus Town Council is on Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at Town Hall at 1203 Paterson Plank Road. For more information, go to secaucusnj.gov and click on the event on the calendar webpage.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.

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