TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg that would establish in law the donated leave program for State employees for use during a major illness was approved today by the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee.
The bill, S-1401, establishes in law provisions of current Civil Service Commission regulations that provide State employees access to a donated leave program for use in extreme health circumstances in which an employee who meets certain eligibility may receive donations of sick and vacation leave from co-workers. Eligibility criteria includes provisions that the employee has completed at least one year of continuous service, exhausted all accrued sick, vacation and administration leave, and has not been disciplined for absenteeism or lateness within the preceding two-year period.
Additionally, under current regulations, the employee must meet one of the following criteria: suffers from a catastrophic health condition or injury; needs to provide care for a family member suffering from a catastrophic health condition or injury; or requires absence due to the donation of an organ. The catastrophic health condition or injury must be life-threatening, a combination of conditions, or require an employee’s absence from work for 60 or more work days.
“This legislation will establish in law the practice of allowing state employees the freedom to donate their sick or vacation days to fellow co-workers who are suffering from severe and prolonged health conditions that require an extended time off from work but who have used up all their sick time, without harming current or future collective bargaining agreements,” said Senator Weinberg (D-Bergen). “The bill also furthers the rights of State employees during their pregnancy.”
The bill revises eligibility to use donated leave for a period of disability required by pregnancy when the employee provides medical verification of the need for absence from work for 30 or more days, rather than the current 60 or more days, either before the expected delivery date or after the actual delivery date. It also eases the restriction that the employee must have exhausted all accrued leave to only accrued sick leave.
“Often complications due to pregnancy or childbirth do not require an absence of 60 or more work days. Adjusting that requirement to reflect realistic needs will allow pregnant women who medically require the additional time off to take it without a reduction in their income or the loss of their health benefits under the temporary disability program,” said Senator Weinberg.
In line with current regulations, the bill would also provide that employees, or their supervisors, must request the approval of their appointing authority to become a leave recipient or donor.
Under the bill, leave recipients would be allowed to receive between five and 260 sick or vacation days, and no donor would be permitted to donate more than 30 days to one recipient. Donors would also be required to have a balance of at least 20 days of accrued sick leave and 12 days of accrued vacation leave after donation.
The bill was approved today by the committee with a vote of 4-0 and now heads to the Senate for consideration.