Your Sick Leave’s True Value: More Than Pocket Change
For full-time Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) employees, sick leave is accrued at the rate of one day for each month you are assigned to work. For most 10-month employees, that equals 10 days of sick leave each year. Sure, you know sick leave is a good thing to have. And if you have ever conversed with friends or family members outside of MCPS, or even done more formal research, you also know that MCPS offers a generous amount of sick leave. But do you know the true value of your sick leave?
Peace of Mind
The peace of mind that paid sick leave can bring should not be underestimated. All employees are eligible to use their sick leave for an illness for themselves or for an immediate family member—a child or spouse, for instance, or even a sibling or parent. This type of policy makes the precarious act of balancing modern work and family a little easier by removing the financial worry over how to handle an illness in your family, whether it is routine, like an ear infection, or something more serious that may take several weeks of recovery.
Many employees also choose to take part in their union’s sick leave bank. In return for contributing a set amount of sick leave to the union bank, an employee faced with a serious illness can apply to the bank to assist with pay once his or her own sick leave has been exhausted. In an instance of serious illness, during which you are unable to work for an extended time period, the sick leave bank provides a financial safety net for you and your family. Each union governs its sick leave bank in its own way, and each union’s bank has its own plan maximums. Contact your union for more details.
To further help you achieve that elusive balance, sick leave can be used even for medical or dental appointments that simply cannot be scheduled during your off-time. All of this combines to help relieve the stress of taking necessary time off to manage your and your family’s health and well-being.
In addition to the peace of mind that your sick leave safety net can bring, sick leave has a monetary value as well. When you do not need to use your sick leave, you help your coworkers and students who would otherwise miss your contributions if you were not present. However, saving your sick leave not only helps your students and colleagues, it helps your finances, too, by increasing the tangible financial value of your leave.
Top five ways your sick leave benefits you financially:
- When you do not use your sick leave, it accumulates from year to year on an unlimited basis, giving you real financial incentive to save your leave.
- When you retire from MCPS, your unused, earned sick leave can help you qualify for up to two years of additional credited service toward retirement. This means a larger future pension.
- If you retire from MCPS or are vested when you resign, you are given a payment for a percentage of the value of your unused, earned sick leave. The payment—either 20, 25, 30, or 35 percent, depending on your union and current years of experience with MCPS—is made at your final salary rate. What does this mean for you? Sick leave you have earned early in your career is eventually paid out to you at a higher value.
- Time spent out of work on paid sick leave counts toward retirement service. To receive credit for unpaid leave (personal illness or child care leave for birth or adoption) you must submit ERSC Form 421, Request to Purchase Service, and pay all missed pension contributions plus interest.
- Members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) are rewarded for perfect attendance. If you are a member of SEIU and you do not use any sick leave for one year, you may apply to receive a payment worth one third of your unused, earned sick leave for that year.
Need more proof?
Here’s an example of how saving your sick leave can put extra money in your wallet:
|10-month employee retiring after 30 years of eligibility service and 30 years of experience with MCPS
Final average salary: $80,821.85
|Annual pension benefit with no sick leave||$42,713.00|
|Annual pension benefit with sick leave (6-month credit)*||$43,683.85|
|That $970.85 grows each year that there is an increased cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). Over 30 years of retirement, with a maximum 3 percent annual COLA, that $970.85 turns into $46,040.36|
|Total differential during 30 years of retirement||$46,040.36
|PLUS the cash value of sick leave payoff at retirement**||+ $11,488.68|
|Total benefit from unused sick leave||$57,529.04|
In this example, saving sick leave meant an additional $57,529.04 for this employee to use in retirement! Saving your sick leave could be akin to lining your pockets for retirement!
* Assumes 970 hours of sick leave for 6-month credit
**Sick leave payoff based on final year salary of $82,436 for 970 hours paid at 30 percent.