An employee who used a sick day during the Eagles Super Bowl parade and did not submit a doctor’s note justifying the absence will be allowed to have the case heard in binding arbitration.
In City of Burlington Board of Education, PERC No. 2019-27, the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) reaffirmed that boards of education may require a doctor’s note. But PERC ruled that the application of any policy to deny use of sick leave is a mandatorily negotiable topic.
In this case, an employee was absent three days in February 2018, including Feb. 8, the day of the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl Parade.
Prior to the parade, the superintendent for the district had notified employees that a doctor’s note would be required if any employee missed work on Feb. 8, unless the absence was previously approved.
Following the employee’s absences, he was instructed to produce a doctor’s note for Feb. 8. He did not. As a result, the board denied the use of the sick leave. The union filed a grievance and the matter was submitted to arbitration regarding whether the contract permitted the employee to be disciplined for failing to turn in a doctor’s note.
Prior to arbitration, the board filed a Scope of Negotiations Petition, asserting it had the managerial right pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:30-4 to deny the sick day.
Relying upon prior decisions, PERC found that although the board has the unilateral right to require a doctor’s note pursuant to the statute, the enforcement of disciplinary procedures for failing to submit a doctor’s note is a mandatory subject of negotiations.
As such, PERC ruled that the matter could proceed to arbitration on the issue of whether the contract permitted the denial of the employee’s sick day for failure to submit a doctor’s note.
The NJSBA has not received any information regarding whether the decision is being appealed. However, in light of this decision, boards of education should speak with their board attorney to assess whether their contract language would enable the sick day to be denied.
The PERC decision can be found here.