Chapter 3.70
SHARED SICK LEAVE PROGRAM Revised 5/19

Sections:

3.70.010    Purpose.

3.70.020    Policy.

3.70.030    Definitions.

3.70.040    Permissible Uses of Shared Sick Leave Bank.

3.70.050    Eligibility for Shared Sick Leave. Revised 5/19

3.70.060    Qualifying for Use of Donated Sick Leave.

3.70.070    Application Process.

3.70.080    Criteria for Approval. Revised 5/19

3.70.090    Donation of Hours. Revised 5/19

3.70.100    Administration.

3.70.110    Criteria for Use. Revised 5/19

3.70.010 Purpose.

To provide a method for employees to donate their sick leave hours to other employees in order to provide additional paid leave for eligible employees who would otherwise be in an unpaid status who are affected by a catastrophic medical condition, illness, injury or impairment. (Ord. 2002-71s § 1 (part), 2002)

3.70.020 Policy.

A.    Pierce County has established a plan whereby employees may transfer sick leave hours to provide additional paid leave for an eligible employee to cover catastrophic medical conditions, illness, injuries or impairments of the employee or the employee's family member (as defined below under "Relatives living with and dependent upon the employee") after that employee has exhausted all other available leave and is unable to work.

B.    This program is meant to supplement Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave (HCL) and Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave must be exhausted prior to the use of Shared Sick Leave.

(Ord. 2008-106s § 1 (part), 2008; Ord. 2002-71s § 1 (part), 2002)

3.70.030 Definitions.

A.    "Shared Sick Leave Program (SSLP)" means a program of donated hours for an employee who has exhausted all other forms of paid leave due to the employee's (or family member's) qualifying catastrophic medical condition, illness, injury or impairment.

B.    "Catastrophic Medical Condition, Illness, Injury or Impairment" means a physician certified death eminent case or a medical condition, illness, injury which is of an extraordinary or severe nature and which has caused, or is likely to cause, the employee to: (i) be incapacitated and unable to work in excess of five working days; (ii) or otherwise be required to terminate County employment due solely to the absence of any available leave. Notwithstanding the above, Shared Sick 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.

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. 2008-106s § 1 (part), 2008; Ord. 2002-71s § 1 (part), 2002)

3.70.040 Permissible Uses of Shared Sick Leave Bank.

Subject to the limitation of available hours in the sick leave bank, leave drawn from the Shared Sick Leave bank shall be paid in accordance with these regulations at the employee's regular straight time base rate of pay, plus longevity if any, 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 a catastrophic medical condition, illness or injury to those relatives living with and dependent upon the employee.

(Ord. 2002-71s § 1 (part), 2002)

3.70.050 Eligibility for Shared Sick Leave. Revised 5/19

A.    To be eligible for the Shared Sick Leave Program an employee must have completed six continuous months of regular employment with Pierce County, based on date-of-hire, as a regular employee.

B.    Employees on new employee probation, extra hires, and limited duration employees are not eligible for the Shared Sick Leave Program.

C.    An employee must have exhausted all available vacation hours, sick leave hours, personal holiday hours, compensatory time, and Humanitarian Catastrophic Leave, before being eligible for the Shared Sick Leave Program.

D.    Application for the Shared Sick Leave Program may be made during or after the pay cycle during which accrued paid leave hours are being exhausted.

E.    Employees eligible for and collecting Workers' Compensation benefits under Chapter 51.32 RCW, Social Security benefits, or Long-Term Disability benefits are not eligible for this program. Employees who are waiting for Long-Term Disability benefits and/or Social Security benefits to begin may be eligible.

F.    The Shared Sick Leave Program shall apply only to 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, and employees represented by bargaining units to the extent agreed upon through collective bargaining.

(Ord. 2019-11 § 1 (part), 2019; Ord. 2008-106s § 1 (part), 2008; Ord. 2002-71s § 1 (part), 2002)

3.70.060 Qualifying for Use of Donated Sick Leave.

A.    An employee must first exhaust all available and accrued vacation, sick leave, personal holiday hours, compensatory time, and Catastrophic Humanitarian Leave, before Shared Sick Leave will be granted.

B.    An employee using Shared Sick Leave will not accrue additional sick leave and vacation hours by virtue of Shared Sick Leave, but may continue to be eligible for health care coverage and other benefits as if the employee were in a regular paid status.

C.    Any use of Shared Sick Leave will be counted toward the 12 week allowance for Family and Medical Leave (FMLA), if applicable.

D.    Shared Sick Leave is not a vested benefit and Pierce County may repeal this leave bank at any time and any leave balances shall revert to Pierce County upon revocation.

E.    No benefit will be paid for unused hours of Shared Sick Leave upon separation from employment for any reason.

F.    Once an employee's available Shared Sick Leave hours are exhausted, and no more have been donated, the employee will only be eligible to apply for an unpaid leave of absence.

G.    If an unpaid leave is not granted and there is not a reasonable expectation that the employee will be able to resume employment, the employee will be terminated.

(Ord. 2002-71s § 1 (part), 2002)

3.70.070 Application Process.

A.    Upon exhaustion of all other available accrued benefits, 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 leave) will make a written request upon forms available from the Human Resources Department, to the employee's department director. Such request shall be accompanied by a physician's certification, which shall include appropriate medical documentation of the necessity for the leave and an estimate of when the employee can reasonably be expected to return to work.

B.    An employee making a request for Shared Sick Leave expressly waives any privacy interest relating to the information contained in the leave request, and all medical information related to the need for leave, and shall hold harmless Pierce County, its agents and assigns, from any and all claims relating to disclosures the County determines are necessary to process the employee's application for or use of the leave bank. However, information provided in connection with the leave request will be treated as sensitive and confidential, and unauthorized disclosure may be grounds for disciplinary action.

C.    Upon receipt of an application for Shared Sick Leave, the employee's department director will confer with the employee's supervisor, will provide appropriate comments supporting or rejecting the recommendation, and will then forward the completed form to the Human Resources Director.

D.    A decision to deny Shared Sick Leave shall not be grievable under the terms of current collective bargaining agreements or any article of the Administrative Guidelines for the Career Service, nor shall there be an appeal process except as provided in Section 3.70.080 A.

E.    Subsequent, supplemental requests for granting of donated leave arising from the same qualifying use, may be made directly to the Human Resources Director or designee.

(Ord. 2004-7s § 2 (part), 2004; Ord. 2002-71s § 1 (part), 2002)

3.70.080 Criteria for Approval. Revised 5/19

A.    Approval for Shared Sick Leave shall be made by the Human Resources Director or the Human Resources Director's 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.

B.    Realizing the importance and urgency of the Shared Sick Leave request, the County will attempt to decide within three working days of receipt of the completed formal leave request whenever possible.

C.    The following matters should be considered when determining whether to approve a request for Shared Sick Leave:

1.    The nature and seriousness of the medical condition, illness, injury or impairment;

2.    Whether the request qualifies for participation in Pierce County's Shared Sick Leave Program according to the Administrative Guidelines;

3.    Any misuse of sick leave by the employee requesting leave;

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

5.    Such other factors as may be relevant to the evaluation of the leave request as determined by the County.

(Ord. 2019-11 § 1 (part), 2019; Ord. 2008-106s § 1 (part), 2008; Ord. 2004-7s § 2 (part), 2004; Ord. 2002-71s § 1 (part), 2002)

3.70.090 Donation of Hours. Revised 5/19

A.    An employee may donate sick leave hours as follows:

1.    Regular employees may donate their annual sick leave accrued in their regularly scheduled full day (seven hour, seven and one-half hour, or eight hour) increments, up to a maximum of 40 hours per calendar year. The assignment of hours will occur upon written request and approval of the donating employee and approval by the Human Resources Director or designee.

2.    Donating full-time employees must maintain a sick leave balance of no less than 30 days. Part-time employees must maintain a sick leave balance equivalent to 30 days of leave.

B.    Donated sick leave hours must be used within six months of the date of donation or they will be returned to the donor.

(Ord. 2019-11 § 1 (part), 2019; Ord. 2016-84 § 1 (part), 2016; Ord. 2004-7s § 2 (part), 2004; Ord. 2002-71s § 1 (part), 2002)

3.70.100 Administration.

A.    Upon approval for Shared Sick Leave, the Human Resources Department will distribute a notice that donations of sick leave are being accepted to assist an employee. Such notice will include a deadline by which donation must be made. An employee receiving no donations during the donation period may apply for a leave without pay.

B.    Donation of sick leave is strictly voluntary. Employees are prohibited from soliciting, offering, or receiving monetary or any other compensation or benefits in exchange for donating sick leave hours.

C.    Donations are designated for a specific person and are not for a general pool.

D.    Sick leave hours shall be transferred on an hour-for-hour basis without regard for differences in base hourly rate of pay between the donating employee and the recipient employee.

E.    The Human Resources Department will be responsible for adjusting the accrued leave balances of both the donor and the recipient.

F.    All hourly donations are to be credited to the recipient on an "as needed basis" each pay cycle.

G.    Donated Shared Sick Leave hours are excluded from any payoff provisions contained in the Pierce County Administrative Guidelines for the Career Service and relevant provisions of collective bargaining agreements.

H.    The recipient of Shared Leave will be taxed for receipt of compensable earnings to the extent authorized in Chapter 41.40 RCW and prevailing IRS regulations.

I.    Donated sick leave will be applied on a first in, first out basis.

J.    When an employee has been granted Shared Sick 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 Shared Leave.

(Ord. 2016-84 § 1 (part), 2016; Ord. 2008-106s § 1 (part), 2008; Ord. 2004-7s § 2 (part), 2004; Ord. 2002-71s § 1 (part), 2002)

3.70.110 Criteria for Use. Revised 5/19

A.    Employees utilizing the Shared Sick Leave Program will keep their department director and immediate supervisor(s) informed with periodic written certification from a health care provider. The health care provider's certification will state the nature of medical condition, illness, injury or impairment, the prognosis for recovery, and the estimated length of absence. Pierce County Human Resources may require that the health care provider's certification be updated in writing periodically. An employee may be required to allow a representative from the Human Resources Department to speak with the health care provider in order to gather sufficient information or clarification.

B.    Subject to eligibility and the limitation of hours defined herein, sick leave hours will be paid at the employee's current straight-time rate of pay, plus longevity, if any, for the reasons listed in PCC 3.70.040, Permissible Uses of Shared Sick Leave Bank.

C.    When an employee has been granted Shared Sick Leave and the basis for the leave ceases to exist or qualify, no additional hours will be made available and any unused hours will be returned to donating employees on a last in, first out basis.

D.    Abuse, misuse and falsification of facts regarding Shared Sick Leave may be grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

E.    Pierce County has the right at any time to request that the employee provide certification from a health care provider attesting to the medical condition, illness, injury or impairment of the employee or qualifying family member.

F.    Shared Sick Leave will not be authorized when the employee's condition, illness, injury or impairment occurred during and was related to employment with an entity other than Pierce County.

(Ord. 2019-11 § 1 (part), 2019; Ord. 2004-7s § 2 (part), 2004; Ord. 2002-71s § 1 (part), 2002)