Know Your Time

Robert Glowinski

Greetings, and I hope this finds you well. This month, we are covering a topic I frequently receive questions about: utilizing your earned time off. I will review the different types of personal leave we have negotiated for, how it’s accrued, how much you can save, when you can use it and how to obtain approval for its use. I will also touch on when you may consider not using time.

There are six types of leave identified in the collective bargaining agreement (CBA): holidays (Article 8), vacation leave (Article 9), professional leave (Article 9.8), sick leave (Article 10), bonus time (Article 10.10) and compensatory time (Article 18.4). The balance of these leave types, except for holidays, will be displayed on the lower left portion of your paystub. If you choose time over money for your holiday compensation, the time will be added to your vacation leave balance. The balance for vacation leave (including holidays), sick leave and bonus time will be displayed in hours, while professional leave will be shown in days. The difference in how the balance is displayed is consistent with language used in the CBA. We earn a specified amount of vacation leave and sick leave every pay period. Bonus time is received in shifts, and professional leave is awarded in days, not hours.

There are 13 recognized holidays in the CBA. You will receive compensation even if the holiday is observed on your RDO. If you have chosen to be compensated with time for the holiday, the hours will be added to your vacation balance in an amount equal to the length of your regular shift, usually 10 or 12 hours. If you are on administrative leave for a use of force, you will receive the holiday benefit as though you were working your regular work schedule. If you are off duty on workers’ compensation, you will be considered off in lieu of the holiday. You must be on full paid status to be entitled to the benefit. Additionally, if you are required to be off in lieu of the holiday, you will not be expected to be on call or be required to respond to call-out. This benefit was recently added to the CBA. You cannot be forced off and then instructed to be prepared to be called out.

Vacation leave is accrued based on continuous years of service. You will earn 4.62 hours per pay period, approximately 120 hours or three weeks, for the first 15 years of your career. After 15 years, you earn 6.15 hours per pay period, approximately 160 hours or four weeks. And after 20 years of service, you earn 7.68 hours per pay period, approximately 200 hours or five weeks. You must be in a paid status to accrue vacation leave, and leave does not accrue during periods of leave without pay or for employees who have exceeded 800 hours of workers’ compensation. Effective July 1, 2022, members hired after October 24, 2011, will receive 6.15 hours after 10 years of service.

An additional benefit is the ability to bank and carry over unused vacation leave. Other employers have a “use it or lose it system,” meaning that if you don’t use your earned time in a calendar year, you forfeit the hours. If you have less than 10 years of service, you may carry over up to 320 hours every calendar year. If you have between 10 and 15 years, you may carry over up to 360 hours every calendar year. And if you have more than 15 years of service, you may carry over up to 400 hours every calendar year. If you exceed these limits during the calendar year but leave the Department prior to December 31, you will be paid for every hour you have earned. Conversely, if you are over the respective cap on December 31, you will lose every hour you are over at the stroke of midnight.

Three professional leave days are provided at the beginning of every fiscal year (July 1). Professional leave days may not be carried over to successive years. If you do not use your allotment of days within the fiscal year, you will lose them. If you request a professional leave day, your supervisor may not deny your request without approval of the Bureau Commander. This is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

We earn four hours of sick leave each pay period. This amount does not increase with your tenure. While there isn’t a cap on the amount of sick leave you can accumulate, there is a limit to the amount of sick leave you can sell back when you leave the Department. Sick leave may be used for illness or injury, public health requirements, doctor appointments (up to four hours for any one appointment), bereavement and medical emergencies (required to personally care for a member of their immediate family). Civil Service rule 620.1 requires you to notify your supervisor at least two hours prior to your assigned start time. However, exceptions may be made with good reason. Immediate family is defined as spouse, parent, sibling, child, grandchild and grandparent, including legally adoptive relationships, current in-laws and step relations, or any previously specified relationships to your spouse, significant other or domestic partner. Sick leave may be used for FMLA.

Bonus time is received on the anniversary of your hire date, not commission date. You will receive three shifts of bonus time if you do not use more than three days of sick leave, including FMLA, or leave without pay in your previous employment year. You may accumulate up to 280 hours of bonus time, and will be paid for up to 240 hours when you leave the Department.

Compensatory time (comp time) will be accumulated at one and a half hours worked. It cannot be accumulated for reimbursable overtime or callback. You may not bank more than 60 hours at a time and will not be permitted to use more than 180 hours in a year. Requests to use comp time will be completed in ESS in the same manner as other leaves.

All requests for time off are processed through ESS and must be approved in advance of taking the requested leave. You may submit your request for vacation up to six months in advance. The supervisor has 14 days from the date of the submittal to decide whether to allow the leave. If the supervisor fails to respond within the allotted time, the leave shall be deemed to be granted. Once vacation leave is approved by your supervisor, no other leave by another employee may supersede your approved leave, regardless of seniority. The only exception is if you transfer or otherwise move from your assignment.

We have bargained for a reasonably good amount of time off. In your first year alone, you can accrue roughly 180 hours of time off, not including sick leave and holidays. If you elect to take time for your holiday compensation, that number swells to 310 hours, which is about 31 paid days off. This time is your time to do as you please. It is a benefit of your employment that the LVMPD has agreed to in Article 9 of the CBA: “The Department and the Association agree that vacation leave is provided to employees for the purpose of rest and relaxation from their duties and for attending to personal business.” To further secure the use of this benefit, the LVPPA worked to add language in the most recent CBA that guarantees members on FMLA, military leave, administrative leave or other extended leaves will not hinder your ability to use your earned time off.

As I bring this article to a close, I would ask you to be mindful of how you use your time. Although it is your time to use, you never know when you are going to need it. In my time with the agency, I have worked with officers who use their time as soon as they earn it and have nearly none saved. Many of us take our health and the health of our families for granted. There is no guarantee you won’t be injured off duty or will have a family member diagnosed with a debilitating disease. In the event of an off-duty injury or disease, the Department is under no obligation to provide you with a light-duty position. You may be on your own if you don’t have any off time to burn.

As always, stay safe and trust your training.