Chapter 3.69
HUMANITARIAN CATASTROPHIC LEAVE BANK Revised 1/17 Revised 5/19

Sections:

3.69.010    Eligible Employees. Revised 1/17 Revised 5/19

3.69.020    Permissible Uses of Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave. Revised 5/19

3.69.030    Qualifying for Use of Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave. Revised 5/19

3.69.040    State Workers' Compensation/Sick Leave.

3.69.050    Creation of Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave Bank. Revised 1/17

3.69.060    Method of Payment.

3.69.070    Limitation of County's Obligation to Pay Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave.

3.69.080    Severability.

3.69.010 Eligible Employees. Revised 1/17 Revised 5/19

A.    Members and potential members of the County Career Service, exempt employees of the Legislative Branch of government, and exempt employees of the Executive Branch of government on the managerial and legal grids including employees of the Prosecuting Attorney's Office, Superior and District Courts, provided such employees are eligible to accrue and use sick leave benefits.

B.    The following are not eligible for Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave, unless specifically provided by State law or specific Code sections:

1.    Independent Contractors and employees of a contract employment service;

2.    Volunteers and members of boards and commissions appointed by the Council or Executive;

3.    Extra hire and Limited Duration employees.

C.    Elected Officials are not eligible for these specific benefits except as provided by State law.

D.    The use of Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave shall not be available to employees covered by a separate pool or similar program established through a collective bargaining agreement.

(Ord. 2019-11 § 1 (part), 2019; Ord. 2016-84 § 1 (part), 2016; Ord. 92-63 § 1 (part), 1993; Ord. 88-21S § 1 (part), 1990)

3.69.020 Permissible Uses of Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave. Revised 5/19

Subject to the limitation of available hours in the employee's Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave bank, leave drawn from the humanitarian catastrophic leave bank shall be paid, in accordance with these regulations at the employee's regular straight time base rate of pay for the following conditions:

A.    A catastrophic medical condition, illness or injury which incapacitates the employee from performing his or her work; or

B.    Absence for medical or dental care directly related to a catastrophic medical condition, illness or injury; or

C.    Absence because of catastrophic medical condition, illness or injury to those relatives living with and dependent upon the employee.

D.    Definitions:

1.    "Catastrophic medical condition, illness or injury" shall be defined as:
A physician certified death eminent case or a medical condition, illness, or injury which is of an extraordinary or severe nature, which requires a physician's ongoing care, and which has caused, or is likely to cause, the employee to: (a) be incapacitated and unable to work in excess of five working days; or (b) otherwise be required to terminate County employment due solely to the absence of any available leave. Notwithstanding the above, Catastrophic leave will not be approved if, based on the physician's certification and consideration of the employee's condition, the employee is not expected to return to County employment.

2.    "Relatives living with and dependent upon the employee" shall be defined as: Those persons listed and approved as dependents on the employee's medical insurance beneficiary designation form at the time of application for benefits under this Section.

E.    Abuse and misuse of catastrophic leave are grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including discharge. The employee is required to keep the employer informed of any changes in medical status and/or limitations. The employer has the right at any time to require the employee to provide certification from a physician attesting to such medical condition, illness or injury.

(Ord. 2019-11 § 1 (part), 2019; Ord. 2008-106s § 1 (part), 2008; Ord. 88-21S § 1 (part), 1990)

3.69.030 Qualifying for Use of Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave. Revised 5/19

Use of Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave is limited to the available leave hours established by Pierce County for employees as specified in this Chapter. This program is designed to create a bank of leave hours for Pierce County employees to cover catastrophic medical conditions, illnesses or injuries after an employee has exhausted all other accrued leave.

A.    In order to qualify for Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave pay, the employee must first exhaust available sick leave benefits provided pursuant to Chapter 3.68 PCC, all vacation leave available to the employee pursuant to Chapter 3.72 PCC, compensatory time earned, personal holidays and/or accrued furlough, and any applicable leave of absence with pay as specified in Chapter 3.76 PCC. Upon exhaustion of the benefits referred to above, the employee, or the employee's guardian or legal representative, in the event the employee is incapacitated or otherwise physically incapable of making the request for humanitarian catastrophic leave, shall make a written request, upon forms available from the Pierce County Human Resources Department, to the employee's department director for Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave. Upon receipt by the department director the catastrophic leave request shall be forwarded to the Human Resources Department.

1.    Approval for leave shall be made by the Human Resources Director or designee, and the employee's department director or elected official, or that person's designee. In the event of a tie in the vote, the Executive or the Executive's designee shall cast the tie breaking vote.

2.    The committee should consider the following matters when determining whether to approve a leave request pursuant to this Chapter:

a.    The nature of the medical condition, illness or injury;

b.    Any history of unauthorized use of sick leave by the employee requesting leave;

c.    The likelihood that the employee will be medically able to return to work.

d.    Such other factors as may be relevant to evaluation of the request.

B.    Employees utilizing catastrophic leave shall keep the Human Resources Department informed with written certification from a physician. The physician's certificate shall state the nature of the medical condition, illness or injury, the prognosis for recovery, and the estimated length of the absence. The County may require that the physician's letter be updated every week, in writing, during a period of catastrophic leave bank usage.

C.    "Relatives living with and dependent upon the employee" means those persons listed and approved as dependents on the employee's medical insurance beneficiary designation form at the time of application for benefits under this Section.

(Ord. 2019-11 § 1 (part), 2019; Ord. 2008-106s § 1 (part), 2008; Ord. 2004-7s § 2 (part), 2004; Ord. 88-21S § 1 (part), 1990)

3.69.040 State Workers' Compensation/Sick Leave.

In the instance where an illness or injury qualifies or may qualify an employee for State Workers' Compensation, the employee shall first make application for Workers' Compensation benefits and then the employee's access to Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave shall only be for the difference between the employee's straight time base hourly wage and the amount paid the employee by the State Workers' Compensation benefits, to the extent of available Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave, if any. (Ord. 2008-106s § 1 (part), 2008; Ord. 88-21S § 1 (part), 1990)

3.69.050 Creation of Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave Bank. Revised 1/17

A.    After completion of six months of regular County employment eligible employees shall be credited to their account a Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave Bank of a maximum of 60 days of Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave, up to 480 hours. This leave account shall be a one time benefit established by the County for use by the employee in accordance with the regulations specified in this Chapter. This is not a vested benefit and the County Council may repeal this Chapter at any time and any leave balances shall revert to the County. Once an employee exhausts available Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave Bank hours the employee will only be eligible for an unpaid leave of absence in accordance with County procedures. In the event an employee leaves County employment and is later reemployed by the County, any Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave Hours used by an employee prior to separation from County employment shall be deducted from the Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave Bank in effect at the time of reemployment, if any, in accordance with the regulations in effect at the time of reemployment.

B.    Upon receipt of a request for participation in the Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave Bank program, the department director shall forward to the Pierce County Human Resources Director the request for Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave for the determination of whether the incident specified in the request qualifies for participation in the program.

1.    Waiver of Privacy Interest. An individual making a request for Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave request hereby expressly waives any privacy interest relating to the information contained in the humanitarian leave request and shall hold harmless Pierce County, its agents and assigns, from any and all claims relating to disclosures the County determines are necessary for the employees' application for or use of Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave. However, information provided in connection with Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave requests shall be treated as sensitive and confidential and unauthorized disclosure shall be grounds for disciplinary action.

2.    The minimum time awarded shall be 5 workdays and the maximum award at a single request shall be 20 workdays. A "workday" shall be defined as one-fifth of the employee's normally scheduled work week hours. Supplemental requests may be made directly to the Human Resources Director upon a separate request form. Unless specifically limited by the review committee, the Human Resources Director may approve supplemental requests without presenting the supplemental request to the review committee. The maximum duration of any employee's utilization of Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave is limited to the employee's available approved Humanitarian Catastrophic leave hours.

3.    When an employee has been granted Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave and the basis for the leave ceases to qualify for leave, any unused leave hours available to the employee shall revert to the employee's Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave Bank.

4.    When an employee has been granted Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave and the employee subsequently receives compensation from a collateral source for the same injury covering the same period of time, the employee will be required to reimburse the County for such Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave.

(Ord. 2016-84 § 1 (part), 2016; Ord. 2008-106s § 1 (part), 2008; Ord. 2004-7s § 2 (part), 2004; Ord. 88-21S § 1 (part), 1990)

3.69.060 Method of Payment.

Employees participating in the Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave Program shall be paid, subject to available leave hours, according to the employee's normal pay period, in accordance with the employee's regular straight time base hourly rate of pay. Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave balances may not be cashed out as provided in Section 3.68.050. When an eligible employee ceases to be an eligible employee of Pierce County any unused Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave shall revert to Pierce County.

A.    Subject to available hours of approved Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave, such leave shall be paid by the County at the employee's base rate of pay plus longevity, if any, or as otherwise provided herein.

B.    Subject to available hours of approved Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave, an employee using such leave shall receive all benefit accruals and other entitlements as if the employee were using sick leave.

C.    Any probationary period shall be extended by the length of time an employee in a probationary capacity is off work utilizing Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave.

(Ord. 2008-106s § 1 (part), 2008; Ord. 92-163 § 1 (part), 1993; Ord. 88-21S § 1 (part), 1990)

3.69.070 Limitation of County's Obligation to Pay Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave.

A.    Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave shall not be authorized when the employee's physical injury or illness occurred during and was related to employment with an entity other than Pierce County.

B.    The maximum duration of the employee's participation in the program is limited to 480 hours. After the exhaustion of available Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave Hours, unless employment with Pierce County has resumed, or a Leave of Absence Without Pay is granted, the employee/employer relationship is terminated and the employee is only entitled to such other relief as may be provided in the Pierce County Code or State law.

C.    This is not a vested benefit and the County Council may repeal this Chapter at any time and any leave balances shall revert to the County.

(Ord. 2008-106s § 1 (part), 2008; Ord. 88-21S § 1 (part), 1990)

3.69.080 Severability.

The provisions of this Chapter are severable. If any provision or provisions are declared to be unlawful, unconstitutional or invalid, such provision(s) shall not affect the constitutionally or validity of any other provision of this Chapter. (Ord. 88-21S § 1 (part), 1990)