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Released: 8/17/2010 

DRPA Clarifies Sick Leave Buy-Back Policy

The Delaware River Port Authority recognizes that meeting its responsibilities to the general public requires good attendance by its employees. Through its annual Sick Leave Buy-Back Program, the Authority seeks to promote a conscientious and responsible attitude toward Sick Leave use by its employees. This program has been in place for decades and is outlined in our Policies & Procedure Manual as well as in numerous collective bargaining agreements. 

Recently the media has characterized these annual Sick Leave Buy-Back payments as “Christmas bonuses.” This is inaccurate. The DRPA’s annual payroll is based on the period from January 1 through December 31. We make the payments in December because we must wait to determine how many Sick Leave hours employees have used during the year. 

The media has also reported that employees receive three weeks sick leave each year. That, too, is inaccurate. Each year employees may earn no more than 80 hours of sick leave. Under the annual Sick Leave Buy-Back Program, all non-represented employees who have completed one year of employment and who have used less than 80 of the accrued sick leave hours earned in the current year, may elect to be paid for the difference between the number of hours used and the 80 hours. Employees also have the option of accumulating unused time in their sick leave bank. While there is no maximum on the number of Sick Leave hours an employee may accumulate, sick leave time accumulated after September 1, 1993, will be forfeited at the time of separation.

Unless otherwise agreed, represented employees are entitled to sell back up to 40 hours of unused Sick Leave annually. Again, while there is no maximum on the number of Sick Leave hours represented employees may accumulate, sick hours accumulated after September 1, 1993, are forfeited at the time of separation.
Annual Sick Leave Buy-Back payments for all employees, represented and non-represented alike, are based on the employee’s base salary at the time the payments is made, excluding overtime. 

For decades the Authority’s annual Sick Leave Buy-Back Program has encouraged employees to maintain good health and has proven to be a valuable tool for management in its efforts to reduce excessive absenteeism, unnecessary disruption to the workplace and un-budgeted overtime payments. 

Unlike other Authorities and some state agencies generally, Authority employees are not compensated for unused Sick Leave upon separation. Only the group of employees who were employed at the DRPA in 1993 and who were eligible to participate in a one-time sell back program will be eligible to receive reimbursement for unused Sick Leave when they separate their employment, subject to the terms of the program. 

The Delaware River Port Authority is a regional transportation agency. DRPA owns and operates the Benjamin Franklin, Walt Whitman, Commodore Barry and Betsy Ross Bridges, PATCO and the Philadelphia Cruise Terminal. The DRPA also owns the RiverLink Ferry.

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