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Buffalo News Opinion Page
Sick bank time is not being abused
As a 20-year employee of the Buffalo Sewer Authority and a member of the three-person Sick Bank Committee, I would like to clear up some misconceptions that I read in The News article about sick time abuse.
The Sewer Authority requires an employee to use sick time in at least half-day increments. Most other departments allow sick time use in hourly increments or less. If a Sewer Authority employee has a doctor's appointment, he must use four hours of sick time, whereas other city employees may use only one hour of sick time.
Over the course of a year, if a Sewer Authority employee had one doctor's appointment each month, he would use six days of sick time, while the city employee would use only one and a half days. What may look like abuse is brought on by the requirement to use half or full sick days.
Prior to the inception of the sick bank, each Sewer Authority employee earned one and a half sick days per month. Now, each employee earns one and a quarter days per month and the sick bank is credited with a quarter day.
The purpose of the sick bank is to help all employees who suffer a long-term illness. Before employees can apply for sick bank benefits, they must use 30 of their own days or go without pay for 30 days if they are out of sick time.
Admission to the sick bank is not automatic. The committee considers each case and determines whether benefits are warranted. Time in the sick bank is limited to eight months for employees with more than seven years of service, and four months for employees with one to seven years of service. Those with less than one year are not eligible.
In my years on the committee, the sick bank has helped many employees. The bank does not benefit an employee who runs out of sick time and needs to borrow time from his friends.
Finally, the last sick day that I used was in June 1987, so I don't abuse my time or take advantage of the sick bank.