The Effingham County Board of Education is considering the creation of a professional personal sick day bank.
“We’ve had several requests from employees asking if they could donate some sick leave to some of our employees who have had catastrophic illnesses,” school system Human Resources Director Becky Long said.
Superintendent Randy Shearouse said it has been brought to his attention by the superintendent’s advisory council a few times during the past couple of years.
“It’s a great benefit to employees,” he said.
Long said the proposed policy uses examples she has found from Georgia Association of School Boards and other school systems.
“(We) feel that this is a benefit that we can provide our employees that really doesn’t cost us anything,” she said. “The purpose of the bank is to provide sick leave to employees who have catastrophic illness or a catastrophic illness of a family member when they have used up all of their sick leave.”
Catastrophic illnesses are defined as any sickness, injury or surgery that causes disability for more than 20 days. Examples include cancer, organ transplant, major heart attack, head trauma and a traumatic accident.
Long said she was proposing that the board approve the creation of the bank if 25 percent of the employees in the system sign up to participate. Twenty-five percent of the system’s 1,742 employees would be 435.
“Quite frankly, when we check with other systems, they have a higher participation rate,” she said.
The program would be administered by a board with nine members. Included on the board would be a building level administrator, the benefits manager, an elementary teacher, a middle school teacher, a high school teacher, one employee from transportation or maintenance, one employee from nutritional services, one clerical or paraprofessional and one employee at large. The human resources director would serve as a non-voting member. The superintendent will appoint the committee members to two-year terms.
“The committee’s primary responsibility is to consider all of the applications for the employee members to withdrawal days,” Long said. “They would have to do this within five working days after receipt of a complete application. As we get going on this, if there are to be changes, they would make the recommendation for policy changes.”
She said that while some systems have participants donate one sick day a year to the bank, she believes it would be best to have a member donate to join, but not automatically donate every year, but as days are needed to replenish the bank.
“We don’t foresee any circumstances talking to systems our size why we would ever ask for more than one day a year,” Long said.
Long said participation would be open to any employee eligible to earn benefits who has been with the system for at least one year.
“They have to have at least six days of sick leave, and they would be asked to donate one of those days when they become a member,” she said.
The sick day bank would have an open enrollment period to coincide with the system’s open enrollment for the state health plan.
Members of the sick day bank would be asked to sign a waiver relieving the board of education and the sick leave bank committee of any liability from action being taken by the sick leave bank committee. Membership is totally voluntary, and if an employee wants to resign they can do so at any time; however, they cannot take their day back, Long said.
She said employees who have sick leave or are eligible to receive short or long term disability would not be able to withdraw days from the sick leave bank. Shearouse said an employee who would not be able to use the days could still participate.
The policy would allow an employee whose spouse is also employed with the board of education to donate 10 days of sick leave to his or her spouse.
Board member Troy Alford said he liked the idea and was glad to hear it came from system employees.