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In re Vacation Leave Entitlement

July 22, 2009

IN THE MATTER OF VACATION LEAVE ENTITLEMENT, VINELAND CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT.


On appeal from a Final Administrative Decision of the Merit System Board, Docket No. 2007-3267.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted February 10, 2009

Before Judges Winkelstein and Chambers.

The United Auto Workers Local 2327 (UAW) appeals from the decision of the Merit System Board (Board)*fn1 regarding the accrual of vacation time for UAW members working ten months a year for the Vineland City School District (School District). UAW contended that the vacation time should be "front loaded," that is, the employees should receive credit at the beginning of each year for the vacation time that will be earned that year. For example, if a full-time employee working ten months is entitled to ten vacation days a year and vacation time is front loaded, the employee is allocated the ten vacation days at the beginning of the year. The School District maintained that vacation time accrues proportionately at the beginning of each month. If the vacation time accrues proportionately on a monthly basis, an employee entitled to ten vacation days a year accrues one vacation day at the beginning of each of the ten months.

The Board determined that the governing statute and regulations do not require that vacation time for these employees be front loaded. We agree and affirm.

I.

Christopher M. Possumato, employed by the School District as a full-time security guard ten months a year, was a member of UAW. Under the terms of the UAW collective bargaining agreement with the School District, no vacation benefits were provided to full-time employees working ten months a year. In response to his inquiry, the Board advised Possumato that under the civil service laws, he was entitled to vacation benefits.

In light of this information, a class action was filed on behalf of employees of the School District seeking vacation time. In addition, UAW brought this action before the Board in order to require the School District to extend vacation benefits to its ten month employees. The Board held the application in abeyance pending the outcome of the class action litigation. The litigation settled, with the School District agreeing to provide specified vacation benefits to the employees. The settlement did not address how the vacation time would accrue. As a result, this action before the Board was resumed to resolve that issue.

The School District maintained that vacation time should be accrued at the rate of one vacation day a month. UAW contended that an employee's vacation time should be front loaded, so that the employee receives credit at the beginning of each year for the vacation time that will be earned that year. It argued that State employees governed by a similar statute, N.J.S.A. 11A:6-2, have their vacation time credited in this manner pursuant to N.J.A.C. 4A:6-1.2(a) (crediting vacation time at the beginning of the calendar year for full-time state employees).

In a decision dated January 17, 2008, the Board determined that the governing statute and regulations do not require that local governments front load vacation time. The statute and regulations also do not require that State and local government employees be treated similarly. Rather, the Board found that the manner of crediting annual vacation time is left to local discretion. The School District could either "credit vacation leave each month as it is earned or credit all earned vacation leave at the beginning of the calendar year."

The statute governing State workers does not specify how the vacation time is to accrue, whether front loaded or accruing monthly. N.J.S.A. 11A:6-2. It merely provides the number of allocated vacations days as follows:

Vacation leave for full-time State employees in the career and senior executive ...


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