End the Sick Day Mandate

The Des Moines Register had an editorial about sick leave for educators that I totally agree with. The mandate surrounding it needs to go.

Iowa law requires school districts to give public school workers a minimum of 15 sick days per year after six years on the job. The law also specifies that districts must allow these workers to bank at least 90 sick days.

As the governor and lawmakers discuss education reform and finding money for schools, they should rethink these sick leave requirements. They place a long-term and immediate financial burden on schools.

When districts allow workers to “cash out” these sick days at the end of their employment, either for money or for the health insurance, the cost is huge. Also, granting so many sick days strains schools in the short-run. When most of us call in sick, our company doesn’t call in a temporary worker to do our job that day. Yet when a teacher calls in sick, a district often must pay a substitute.

… As schools complain about having too little money, the law requires ridiculously generous sick leave benefits. Some districts, including Des Moines, go beyond what the law requires.

According to David P. Lind Benchmark, a Clive benefits consultant, private sector workers in Iowa receive an average of about 8 sick leave days the first year on the job. Many employers allow their workers to carry no unused sick leave days into the next year, let alone until retirement.

The Iowa Legislature should change the law to either reduce the number of sick days guaranteed to school employees or remove the mandate completely. School districts and unions can negotiate a reasonable amount of paid time off — and, hopefully, save some money in the process.

I agree. This something the state shouldn’t mandate. Local control will save taxpayers money unless they live in Des Moines where the school board wants to go above and beyond what the law requires. They will have to keep that in mind for the next school board election.

About Shane Vander Hart

Shane Vander Hart founded Iowans for Local Control in 2012 which later merged with Iowa RestorEd. Shane also is the founder and editor-in-chief of Caffeinated Thoughts and the founder and president of 4:15 Communications, LLC, a social media & communications consulting/management firm.  You can connect with Shane on Facebook or follow him on Twitter and Google +.

Leave a Reply