Who Owns Your Leave Balances?

Article Published on February 24, 2023

Know Your Rights – Who Owns Your Leaves?

Enforcing our hard-earned contract rights is an SEIU Local 1000 priority.

Leaves are one of our most-valued benefits, and our contract explains the various kinds of leaves we earn as state employees, how we accrue leaves, and how to request time off. But, with thousands of supervisors interpreting our contract across numerous departments, we often encounter mistakes … and frustration.

Recently, one of our represented nurses requested a day off for medical appointments and was denied by her supervisor due to “operational need.” Our member immediately contacted our Member Resource Center, and was put in contact with one of our Union Resource Center representatives. A call was made to the supervisor, who was reminded that operational need was not a valid reason to deny sick leave.

For all of us, it’s good to know the difference between various kinds of leaves that we earn as part of the many hard-earned rights contained in our contract.

There are more than a dozen types of leaves, ranging from vacation time, sick time, and holidays … all the way to jury duty, bereavement leave, and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Questions often arise as to the proper way to manage leave time.

Here are some commonsense tips that explain leaves in plain language and who “owns” different types of leaves.

We all know we get vacation time or annual leaveThat’s time the employee owns. When you’re on vacation or annual leave, you don’t have to take calls from your employer; you don’t have to do work for your employer. You’re on your own time.

Then there’s sick leave. The employee doesn’t own sick leave. Your employer owns sick leave. But still, if you’re on sick leave, you don’t have to take calls from your employer, you don’t have to do work while you’re on sick leave.

Those same rules apply with the Personal Leave Program, Compensatory Time Off, personal holidays or Personal Development days.

There’s some possible confusion regarding Administrative Time Off (ATO). With Administrative Time Off, you are still on the clock for the employer. You have to answer your phone; you have to be available to work. You’re not just “off” and must be available to the employer.

Many of the leaves our represented employees earn are described in Section 8 of our contract. If you’re interested in learning more, use our new online contract search tool, at http://contract.seiu1000.org/