Claim for Compensation of Unused Sick Leave

B-199477: May 3, 1982

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A union and a public school system in the District of Columbia jointly submitted for decision a claim for unused sick leave by a former teacher. It is the union's contention that the employee is entitled to compensation for the sick leave she had to her credit at the time of her resignation from the school system. The teacher requested and was granted maternity leave in February 1977. When the employee began her maternity leave she had 5.5 days of accrued sick leave to her credit. She did not request the use of this sick leave at the time she began her maternity leave. However, approximately 18 months later, the teacher submitted her resignation and requested an amendment crediting her with the 5.5 days of sick leave. When the school system denied her request, the union filed a grievance. The union's position was that the school system violated its board of education rules which state that an employee, when on maternity leave, may use any accrued sick leave with pay following the last day of service. The school system's position was that the employee's request for compensation was denied because of the great length of time between her being granted a leave of absence and her request for the use of her accrued sick leave. The grievance officer found that the rules in question were meant to apply to an employee's last day of service prior to the beginning of maternity leave. As a result of his findings, he denied the grievance. To avoid further litigation, the parties involved requested a ruling from GAO. GAO stated that, in cases in which it is called upon to review the decision of a grievance officer, it will uphold that decision if it is consistent with the laws and regulations of GAO decisions. GAO reviewed the decision in question and found it to be consistent with legal authority and neither arbitrary, capricious, nor an abuse of discretion. For these reasons, GAO sustained the hearing officer's determination which denied the employee's claim.