January 06, 2014

LIMITATIONS ON SICK LEAVE


LIMITATIONS ON SICK LEAVE
Economico v Village of Pelham, 50 N.Y.2d 120

Notwithstanding a contract provision providing for "unlimited sick leave with pay" for police officers unable to work due to non-service related disabilities, the State Court of Appeals held that a police officer so disabled could be terminated pursuant to Section 73 of the Civil Service Law.

The Court distinguished this case where the Court held there was no prohibition against the establishment of a limited job security clause in a collective bargaining agreement. The State's interest in maintaining the efficiency and continuity of its civil service was held a substantial one and Section 73 limits the employee's right to be continued on the payroll without limitation if triggered by the sound discretion of the appointing authority, even in the face of a contract provision to the contrary.

The Court, in another case decided the same day (Dolan vs Whalen) held that a hearing in connection with termination pursuant to Section 73 is required if there is "some factual dispute impacting upon the employer's right to discharge" the employee. Of course the police officer injured in the line of duty is entitled to unlimited sick leave under the General Municipal Law, Sections 207-c(1), which leave is at full salary until the disability ceases.

In this latter case, the employee cannot be required to use any leave credits available to him (Op. St. Comp. 79-356). The Comptrollers Opinion noted that "a municipality and its policemen may not agree through collective bargaining that a policeman injured in the performance of his duties apply accumulated sick leave or vacation credits to receive the full amount of his salary during the period of his disability.

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