Problem Identification:
The City’s overly generous leave usage policies drive high leave usage and overtime replacement costs.

Recommended Action:
Reform the City’s leave usage policies.

Cost Savings, Organizational, Service Improvement

Functional/Operational Area:

Estimated Annual Impact:
Cannot be Estimated

Estimated Implementation Costs:

Barriers to Implementation:
The level of leave available to most City employees is governed by the City’s labor agreements with 11 unions and associations.

Projected Implementation:
1 – 2 years

Next Steps:
The Office of the Labor Commissioner should make reforming the City’s leave usage policies a priority for future contract negotiations. Additionally, consideration should be given to immediately reforming leave usage policies for City employees not covered by existing labor agreements.

A reasonable level of leave usage for holidays, vacation, illness, and personal emergencies is needed for maintaining a productive and positive work environment. The City, however, provides high levels of leave in almost every category, resulting in an overall paid leave package well in excess of competitive norms.

In addition to generous vacation benefits, military, funeral, and election leave, City employees receive three paid personal leave days a year. City employees also receive 11 paid holidays annually (in addition to Congressional election day every other year), which according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employee Benefit Survey from 1994-96, is more than two days above the average worker nationwide. These 14 total paid fixed and ‘floating’ City holidays remain substantially above the 11.7 total days received by the average worker in the same Bureau of Labor Statistics survey. In fact, in most major cities, most municipal employees do not receive any paid personal days. According to a 1995 municipal benefits survey conducted by Workplace Economics, Inc., only 36 percent of other major cities provided paid personal days to police officers, and only 37.5 percent provided personal days to sanitation employees.

Additionally, City employees receive 12 sick days per year, an extraordinary benefit that drives high leave usage and overtime replacement costs. By comparison, a 1993 Bureau of National Affairs survey found the median number of sick days earned by employees nationwide to be ten days per year, with fewer than one employer in ten providing more than 12 days per year. (The analysis section of this recommendation was adapted from the City Workforce chapter of the City of Philadelphia’s FY2000-FY2005 Five Year Financial Plan.)

Specific opportunities for cost savings include eliminating the granting of a City holiday for Congressional elections and paid leave to vote or attend graduation ceremonies. All are existing benefits enjoyed by the City’s workforce, but not normally benefits afforded to private and non-profit workforces.