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sick days and pensions

Original post made by wondering on Sep 13, 2010

What is the deal with sick days? I read in the paper yesterday that the San Ramon city manager had accumulated 9 months of sick days that somehow gets counted towards years of service in calculating pensions.

How can you accumulate 9 months of sick days?? Where I have worked you get paid if you are sick up to a certain number of days, but you don't take it if you're not sick and they certainly don't accumulate to anything if you're not sick.

I've seen other articles where people treat sick days like vacation days or entitlements, but surely that's just not right.

Comments (33)

Posted by maja7, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Sep 13, 2010 at 9:43 am

I'm thinking that it's written into the San Ramon City Manager's contract. That way, any sick days not used are accumulated and then put towards retirement pension calculations. Contract negotiations....wonder what the policy is for P-town's city employees?

Posted by wondering, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2010 at 9:52 am

Does anyone know how many "sick" days are allowed to accumulate on top of vacation days each year? It seems that we lucky taxpayers get to pay for higher pensions (or reduction of important services so the city / state can pay for higher pension obligations) even if someone hasn't been sick?

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 13, 2010 at 9:56 am

Stacey is a registered user.

I think the rules vary by jurisdiction.

Most companies put limits on the number of days that can be accumulated annually because they are obligated to pay for these days when an employee leaves and that can create a huge liability. Employees earn these vacation/sick days according to company policy. I see no reason why they should not be paid for them.

Posted by wondering, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2010 at 10:07 am

I can totally understand vacation days accumulating because you haven't taken a day off that you legitimately could have taken.

Sick days are totally different. They're there to protect you if you're really sick. They are not vacation days and you shouldn't be paid twice if you don't take them - you shouldn't ethically take them if you're not sick.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 13, 2010 at 10:26 am

Stacey is a registered user.

I don't see much difference between vacation days and sick days other than however company policy is written. Both are just paid non-work days paid at a different rate than regular work days and company sets policy on how employees get/earn the days.

The bottom line is that the people running each government entity do not understand the huge liability they create by not setting and following good personnel policy.

Posted by wondering, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2010 at 10:42 am

I totally agree that the whole personnel policy and liability issues need to be dealt with.

I disagree that vacation days and sick days are the same - though it seems many people see them the same way, so maybe it's just me . . .

I see vacation as earned days off that are paid for by the company after you've been with them for a while. You work for this, they accumulate and you are entitled to them or payment if you can't take the days. I cannot see how they can be called earnings for higher pension payments - that's just crazy.

Sick days to me are protection for people who are sick (and of course have to be capped). For those that don't get sick, they are not days off, you're getting paid anyhow and I'm sure would rather be at work than sick. They should not be treated the same way as vacation days, because they are not earned, they are simple protection against illness.

Posted by Exponential Growth, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2010 at 4:26 pm

It doesn't matter...none of those ABUSES would be allowed in a "company" screwing stockholders. Let's get serious, we are talking about government theft of our TAXPAYER dollars. It is NOT just the cost of a few days, i.e. a few THOUSAND $$ in THAT YEAR !! Oh NO, we're talking about ADDING that year's amount to their QUALIFYING FORMULA as they prepare to take their royal pot of gold from us ! That means it will MULTIPLY and will be paid AGAIN for each of their next 30 years of royal PUBLIC retirement ! ! . .Thanks to whoever started this much needed thread. Please, please, for the whole story and MANY more just like it, go to Find SUN, Sept 12, article by Daniel Borenstein, where you will also see all of the research & articles he has written every 2-3 weeks, for the last 3 award-winning years on equally shocking stories thruout the EastBay and CA. You can access Daniel Borenstein, or possibly BayAreaNewsGroup. You owe it to yourself and YOUR CHILDREN to read this article and the others. Public BONDS had to be sold to cover the costs of this particular case, but there are VOLUMES like it! CHOICES have to be & public services or......... being held hostage to pay these excessive -abusive retirements . Make you choices OF WHAT & WHICH BILLS you want to pay. These PUBLIC retirements are excessive and COULD go to other services....certainly no more taxes are needed, just choices ! ! Every taxpayer needs to fully understand how we are being held HOSTAGE because of these corrupt deals our electeds have made in the dark...wake up. BUY or go to www.ContraCostaTimes, or google.The Times won a Supreme Court case so you can SEE every retirement excess online... WE are the employers, we are being held hostage....we've paid enough. It's your responsibility as a parent to see and fully understand what future municiple debts have already been committed...your kids will have to foot the bill (because you didn't pay attention).

Posted by wondering, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2010 at 5:07 pm

I agree, the Daniel Borenstein articles are very insightful - just go to contra costa times and you will see his last 4 or so articles. He's a really detailed investigative writer. The things he exposes in local government are shocking and upsetting to see for the sake of us and the future generations.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Sep 13, 2010 at 8:50 pm

I think that it means that the city manager out-slicked a whole mess of people!

tee hee hee, eeh eeh eet...

Posted by Before you get started, a resident of Charter Oaks
on Sep 13, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Before you get started, teachers are not allowed to accumulate sick days and have them count towards years of service. Please don't go there because it isn't true.

Posted by wondering, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2010 at 9:51 pm

Don't worry, I'm not talking about teachers at all. I know the situation is different regarding pensions and health care for teachers and respect the excellent job they are doing here.

Posted by Exponential growth, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Maybe there would be more respect for the teachers if they had the integrity to be truthful, and spine to stand up for all these other abuses in the other public unions. The abuses, fraud, & collusion & conspiracy that is going on in many of these other public union excesses is the single biggest problem in the state of CA and most every county in Ca. Please READ the situations in this and several other articles on the ContraCostaTimes website, written by Daniel Borenstein. He has done such a wonderful job in researching and documenting....for us to save ourselves. There are none so blind, as those who will not see. Educate yourself to the facts and join the crusade to bring honesty & integrity to our system, so that we can save our system for our children. I get angered with people who not just cause this problem, but those equally BAD who do nothing to stop the abuses and excesses.

Posted by Jon, a resident of Amador Estates
on Sep 14, 2010 at 8:34 am

I think he may have PTO (paid time off) this can accumulate. Some companies do not have a cap on how many you can save up. I have some friends that are Police officers and they have something like 4 months of time off because they have not been able to cash them in. CA. law says vacation and PTO that is unused can not be taken away from an employee until they have accumulated double the annual time their company gives them. So if your company gives you two weeks of PTO or vacation they can't take it away until you get to 4 weeks.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 14, 2010 at 8:53 am

Stacey is a registered user.

The Borenstein article says that San Ramon made an agreement with CalPERS to have sick days count towards pension calculation. They also did some other funny things to boost the pension.

Posted by Assumptions, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 14, 2010 at 9:03 am

Lots of speculation on this sick leave issue. You need to understand that every agency has different policies that govern the usage of sick leave. The real deal in this case is that an employee earns a certain amount of sick leave each month. If the employee doesn't use any of it just continues to accumulate over time with no cap. If you quit your job and move on you may NOT cash out on your sick leave, you just lose it. On the other hand if you stick around long enough and happen to retire then you may use the amount of sick leave that is on the books to add to your years of service, i.e... If you have worked 33 years and 6 months and you have six months of sick leave then you can get credit for 34 years of service. You CAN NOT get cash for the sick leave. The thought is that employees will not abuse the use of sick days over the course of time if they know that they can apply it to their years of service when they retire.

Posted by cbv111, a resident of Birdland
on Sep 14, 2010 at 9:29 am

This is an important debate to have as we see the national debt zooming, cities going bankrupt, SS running out, etc.etc.etc.
Citizens are extremely grateful for police,fire,public service but enough is enough. The unions are become so powerful, especially in this administration that until the media keeps reporting, NO ONE KNOWS! Our children will pay for this. We need to have our eye on the prize and vote!!!!

Posted by wondering, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 14, 2010 at 9:46 am

What's the difference between PTO and sick leave and vacation days? Do the public sector get all of these? How can it add up to so much - I keep seeing articles where people have accumulated months / years of days that get added onto pensions?

Private sector gets about 10-15 days off a year and in my case sick days are included in this, so if you're sick for week you don't get many vacation days, so you hope you don't get sick. You certainly don't get days that you weren't sick coming back to benefit you.

I can't possibly see how all this time can add up unless people are not taking any vacation (don't believe it) or are getting loads of days off.

It seems so difficult to quantify these packages people are getting because as the Borenstein articles are showing salary / bonuses / days off are put into different little potes (and approved by the people that benefit from them). It's only now that people are investigating it we see how generous these provisions are and how these benefits are agreed.

He is also showing that we simply can't afford it, so we are borrowing money against it, which costs more money in interest every year that will have to be paid back. This has been going on for years and payback time has come and will keep coming for decades if we keep pushing it back, creating an ever worse mess. We can't promise people things we can't afford to pay anymore, so I do think it's worth looking at the detail. Also I doubt people are going to want to lend to CA if we can't agree a budget or pay our biils, so maybe this will all come to a head soon.

Posted by Jon, a resident of Amador Estates
on Sep 14, 2010 at 9:59 am

PTO is paid time off and some companies lump your vacation and sick time into one catagory (PTO). In this example I do not think it is PTO after reading one persons post. They are only usig it for pension and years of service. The employee can not cash it out. With my company PTO is all lumped together and you can bank double your annual allowance. When you leave you get paid for your unused PTO.

Posted by Bruce, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Sep 14, 2010 at 10:05 am

I read in the times a few months ago about the highest 20 state workers final paychecks. Rhe #20 check was over $200,000 amd the #1 final paycheck for unused sick, vacation, and comp time was for a prison guard who received about $820,000. Assume he worked for 30 years, that equates to $30,000/yr. If he made $100,000/yr, that is equivalent to 25% of pay. Of course, the prison guards don't give millions to the democrats for nothing, do they.

I think the voters should get the chance to ratify every state union contract. Or we could call a spade a spade and stop the bribes in rhe form of campaign contributions. Make ir a felony to vote on any law or contract where you have a conflict of interest due to accepting campaign funds.

Posted by 1/3 - Retired from Oakland, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 14, 2010 at 11:14 am

When I worked for Oakland, which is a member of CalPERS, you would get paid for one third of the value of your accumulated sick leave when you left. It did not add to your retirement.
I thought this is good, because sick time is something you want to have available in case of emergency.
The city budgets for it.
It is part of the cost of an employee, just like taxes or medical insurance.
Also you can donate your sick leave to help another employee who has a long medical emergency.
Most people use sick leave when they are sick.
But some people take off sick for all kinds of reasons,
some take it just to use it up. That is not fair to the rest of the workers.
Clearly it is better to have workers present, rather than missing without advance planning.
By paying workers one third when they leave, they get some value for their unused sick leave, and have an incentive to let it accumulate.

Posted by Exponerntial growth, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 14, 2010 at 11:47 am

I and this articled are not talking about 'getting paid' for the time WHEN they leave. THE ABUSE IS USING IT TO BOOST AND PHONY-UP THE SALARY TO PAY AND PAY FOR THE NEXT 25-30 YEARS A ' BOOSTED ' RETIREMENT, THEN COST of LIVING % ADDED ON TOP OF THAT BOOST....UNTIL THEIR DYING DAY. Each new council, to buy the union support adds on another little cheater...truly a conspiracy against taxpayers. That is how we got to where we are. Wake up. Obviously everybody needs to be watched, sadly. But, if there's little internal oversight or integrity over the accumulated 'BOOSTs & BUMP UPS ' it all must be watched. Otherwise, you CHOOSE... pay for the exponential growth of BOOSTED retirements, OR , keep public services. I truly don't care which....but CAN'T PAY FOR BOTH. SNEEKY OFFICIALS THINK WE DON'T NOTICE...we do ! MAKE and EXPLAIN the CHOICES ! the word for the day is UNsustainable. read the www.contracostatimes articles by Daniel Borenstein.

Posted by To Exponential Growth, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Sep 14, 2010 at 1:00 pm

To Exponential Growth:
I would have more respect for you if you wouldn't put the very teachers down that have contributed to the increase in your home's value. Why don't you try have a mature discussion, versus putting others down? With you "big speak" I would think you would be much more mature, rather than a condescending jerk.

Posted by wondering, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 14, 2010 at 4:02 pm

to retired from Oakland: out of interest, how many vacation days + sick days + any other paid days off did you get off a year?

Posted by Exponential growth, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 14, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Tsk, tsk, teacher. Teachers and students know from experience, when a deceit or crime has happened, all those standing by silently, without stepping forward to stop the action.......are complicit in the act. 'Integrity' speaks up... It's called Responsibility.
'see no evil' was a coward.
( sorry if the shoe pinched )

Posted by govt and private, a resident of Birdland
on Sep 14, 2010 at 7:23 pm

I've worked for gov't and gov't contracts as well as private. Sick days and vacation days are accumulated separately in gov't. In general, where I've worked (different states and federal), sick days are accrued at one day per month; vacation days are accrued and with more service, more days. In private, there is no distinction and they are called PTO (paid time off) or there's PTO and sick leave (this sick leave can only be applied to sick days greater than 3 days with MDs slip, e.g. before disability kicks in.)

In the case of gov't, the sick days are applied to time served when you retire (not if you are vested, quit and then collect retirement). In the case of private, you leave - use up the vacation, come back for a day and quit and thus the PTO is used up for days served.

In both cases there are caps on how much time you can carry forward to the next year - "use it or lose it".

I have no idea about teachers at the elementary & secondary school levels. I'm just saying my experience for state (here and another state - one was college, federal, non-profit and corporate). Two different careers and old age gave me the variety, plus the second industry is known for finding job to job in companies.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Sep 15, 2010 at 1:03 pm

When I worked I used every sick day and every vacation day I had coming.
It never concerned me. If they didn't want me to use the days, then they shouldn't have give them to me. Just do it!

I don't understand this silly business of saving up sick days that you loose anyway? duh...

Posted by Exponential growth, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 15, 2010 at 1:38 pm

""college, federal, non-profit, and corporate "" are NOT what we are discussing...which is Ca state, county, and cities. And to both cholo & gov't, sorry you didn't grasp that this is NOT about losing sick days, it is about the INTENTIONAL manipulation & calculations of those sick days, causing taxpayers to pay on the exponential growth in retirement paychecks for the next 30 years. Every official and retiree that had part in decades of corrupt retirement checks needs to suffer the consequences. Retirement pay should be based on the actual RATE of pay for the last 3 years of work....not phony boosted add-ons. Judgement day is here for everybody who has participated in this crime since Gov Davis started the ABUSIVE EXCESSES in 2000. gig's up. Retirement is suppose to be just that "retirement" not the big Wheel of Fortune".

Posted by Exponential growth, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 15, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Go to, and read this & other Daniel Borenstein columns on the abuses he has researched. Do your friends and your children a favor, email that Times article to all in your address book. This is the biggest problem facing CA.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 16, 2010 at 10:41 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Web Link

"California Attorney General Jerry Brown's office sued eight current and former officials of the scandal-ridden city of Bell on Wednesday, accusing them of defrauding taxpayers by granting themselves salaries so high they were a disgrace to public service."

"[The suit] also demands the reduction of bloated pension benefits based on the high salaries."

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 16, 2010 at 10:44 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Interesting. The AG is suing not only the public employees involved, but the elected officials who approved such exorbitant contracts too. It sends a clear message.

""You can't just take the public's money and give it to yourself or give it to your friendly employees or members of the City Council just because you want to," said Brown"

Posted by wondering, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 16, 2010 at 1:30 pm

Hurrah - saw this yesterday too! It's a start . . .

Posted by Exponential growth, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 16, 2010 at 3:34 pm

However, The'theatre' of 'candidate' Brown's action does not erase the fact that it was ol' Gov Moonbeam Brown who gave Californians public employee 'unions' !!!. good try stacey

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 16, 2010 at 4:43 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Good try what? I was posting information regarding a lawsuit on the subject. I'm well aware that the timing of the lawsuit is suspicious.

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