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Curious About Sick Day Buy Backs

By Ken Tucci, WBZ-TV
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I saw your recent newscast and just read your related article about state agencies buying back sick days. How can I get more information about which specific agencies have this policy and whether others who have recently left their jobs were paid for unused sick days. Will the state Comptroller give this kind of information? Can you point me in the right direction?  – Kim, Boston

Well, we’ve found that it’s not easy.

Kim is writing about a story Jon Keller did the other day.  You can see it here.  The story was about Massport.  Even though that agency ended the sick day buy back benefit 4 years ago, about 700 workers were “grandfathered” and remain eligible for more than $16-million in unused sick pay when they retire.  Jon used the Freedom of Information Act to get a list of Massport employees and how much they are eligible for.  You can see that here.  It makes for interesting reading.

To get back to Kim’s question….there’s no one place you can go to to find out who is eligible for what.  State employees have a buy back benefit by law so that means almost all state workers are eligible.  Each of the 3 branches of government keeps their own records.  When I did a story about this about a year ago we learned that the Executive Branch paid out $6-million in sick day buy backs in 2009.  The Judiciary’s price tag was about a million dollars.  The Legislative Branch didn’t answer our question.  Go figure.

But at the city and town level whether or not there’s a buy back is often a function of union agreements with each of them having different rules.  I learned that in 2008 the city of Boston paid out about $12-million in buy backs.

You could certainly contact your own town/city government and ask them what their deal is with their employees.  Many towns are trying to negotiate this benefit away.  At the state level you have to contact each branch of government.

What is your opinion of these buy backs? 

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