Senators Vin Gopal and Paul Sarlo introduced legislation to save property tax dollars by extending the cap on unused sick day bonuses.
The bill limits payment to public employees for accumulated unused sick leave upon retirement to $15,000. Current law places this cap on public employees hired since 2010. The Gopal/Sarlo legislation would extend that cap to all current public employees, including county, local, and school district employees for any new sick days accumulated.
If an employee’s accrued value exceeds $15,000 at the time the bill becomes law, the total value accrued at that time will be their cap. The bill will not cause employees to lose existing sick days or their accrued value. Employees can continue to use and accrue sick days. However the payout will be capped at their entitled amount.
“Property taxpayers are seeing horror stories month after month as they foot the bill for six figure bonuses stemming from unused sick days,” said Sen. Gopal. “It’s just another reason why New Jersey’s property tax burden continues to suffocate homeowners and it needs to end.
“Worst of all, it misses the point of paid sick days. Sick days are intended to recover from illness or aid ailing family members. They should not be treated as investments. Private sector businesses don’t pay out six figure bonuses for sick days and property taxpayers shouldn’t have to either.”
“New Jersey’s taxpayers have shouldered the burden of massive unused sick day payouts for far too long,” said Sen. Paul Sarlo. “It’s time we give the taxpayers some much needed relief and end this trend of enormous -- sometimes six figure -- payouts. Sick days are designed to be utilized, not stockpiled and used as a bonus.”
In New Jersey, more than $1.9 billion is owed to thousands of public employees for unused leave. Municipalities in Monmouth and Ocean Counties have a total liability of $102 million.
Unused sick day payouts are funded through property taxes and are a contributing factor to New Jersey’s high property taxes, among the highest in the nation, with an average tax bill of $8,549. Smaller municipalities, such as Allenhurst with approximately 496 residents, take a harder hit with high per-person liabilities.