Board Approves Resolution to Overhaul Decades-old Sick and Vacation Day Policies 

New Policy Will Provide First-Ever Paid Maternity Leave for Non Union Employees


February 22, 2012


The Chicago Board of Education today approved a resolution that would allow Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to overhaul its antiquated sick and vacation day policies for non-union employees, which cost the District almost $15million each year. CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard presented the resolution to the Board today.  The approved resolution calls on CPS to develop and implement a comprehensive short term disability package that will provide CPS employees with paid maternity leave for the first time ever.

“In these difficult economic times, we must take every measure necessary aimed at keeping dollars in the classroom. Under CPS’ new sick and vacation day policies, long over due changes will be implemented that better serve both our employees and the district,” said CEO Brizard. “The new policies are fair and reasonable to employees, their families and taxpayers.”

The Brizard New Short-Term Disability Proposal

CPS has never offered employees maternity or other disability leave options. As a result, many women working at CPS save sick days to use as maternity leave, but often at the cost of working while ill. In 2011, 776 employees took time off for maternity leave throughout CPS. While on leave, 354 of those employees exhausted their accrual of sick days and continued their leave unpaid.


CEO Brizard’s short-term disability proposal will provide employees paid leave for use beyond the annual allotment of sick days. This includes time for maternity leave and/or any time off work for medically-necessary surgical procedures and recovery periods. The policy will provide salary coverage for employees for up to 90 days at a rate of 100 percent coverage for 1-30 days, 80 percent coverage for 31-60 days, and 60 percent coverage for 61-90 days.  The plan will be effective as soon as administratively feasible for all new hires, and on July 1, 2012 for current employees.


The New Sick Day Policy


Under the current sick-day policy, CPS offers departing employees payouts for up to 325 unused sick days, or the equivalent of 16 months. These days can either be used or, with a minimum of 20 years of service, a departing employee can be paid out at a rate of 85-100 percent, depending upon their length of service. This decades-old policy has encouraged employees to ‘bank’ sick days for the cash incentive, which costs CPS approximately $9.5 million in payouts each year for non-union employees alone. The new sick-day accrual policy will take effect immediately for new hires and for current employees on July 1, 2012.


Under the new policy:

  • Employees will no longer be able to carry-over unused sick days.  No future days earned will be eligible for payout.
  • Employees will not lose any previously earned and accrued sick days generated under the current policy. Any days earned and unused through June 30, 2012 cannot be taken away as they are considered vested.  Either they can be used, or they will be paid out upon departure from CPS. 
  • Sick days from other city agencies will no longer be eligible for carry-over into CPS.
  • Unused sick days will no longer be able to artificially boost salary submitted to the pension funds post June 30, 2012 for non-union employees.  Currently, PEP allows for the increase of salary by up to 20 percent.  Therefore, this program has the potential to increase pension liability that is manifested, not only in a one-time payment, but in a yearly payment for the duration of the employee’s life.
  • While there will not be a change to the earning rate or annual allotment of sick days, days will be distributed with half on July 1 and half on January of each year. Employees currently earn sick days at a rate of one sick day per month for full-time, year round employees. 
  • Personal days will no longer “accumulate” year-over-year.  There will be no change to the earning rate for personal days. However, days will no longer be eligible for conversion to cash.


The New Vacation Day Policy

CPS employees currently earn three to five weeks of vacation time per year, dependent upon their role within the organization. All unused vacation days earned and accrued are eligible for carry-over from year to year up to a maximum of 66 days for employees with 21 or more years of service, 53 days for employees with more than 10 years of service and 40 days for employees with less than ten years of service. Cash  payouts for unused days are currently offered for departing employees.


The revised policy approved by the Board significantly reduces large payouts by capping the maximum accrual for unused vacation days by more than half, leading to an estimated future savings of at least $2.5 million per year. 


Under this new policy:

  • Employees will be able to only carry over five days from one year to the next and the maximum number of days an employee can accrue will be capped at 30 days (compared to up to 66 which is the current policy). 
  • The proposed vacation policy ensures that benefits earned by employees in the form of unused vacation days will not be taken away. Current employees will continue to have the option of using those days as paid vacation days off work or receiving payment in full for those unused days upon their departure.
  • No change is proposed for how employees earn vacation days.  The only change is in the number of days allowed for carry over.
  • Upon approval by the board, the proposed policy will be effective immediately for new hires. 
  • The policy will be effective for current Central Office non-union employees beginning July 1, 2013.  Current Principals and APs, school-based, non-union staff will transition to this new policy in phases; effective July 1, 2013, the maximum accrual for vacation days will be no more than 50 days.
  • Effective July 1, 2014, the proposed policy will apply to all employees.


About CPS

Chicago Public Schools serves 405,000 students in 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.


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