Bob Clark, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor, won't have to worry about being without a paycheck while he's recovering from postsurgery complications that left him in a coma for 10 days.
The Lucas County commissioners voted yesterday to allow the prosecutor's office to adopt a policy that lets employees donate sick time to colleagues who have run out of sick leave and vacation time.
“That's great,” Mr. Clark said from his hospital room at the Cleveland Clinic. “Sometimes we find ourselves in predicaments we haven't planned for. It's really a benefit for people who find themselves in the situation I'm in.”
Mr. Clark, who works in the office's criminal division, said he lost most of his accumulated sick time when he had kidney failure four years ago. He lapsed into a coma from complications after back surgery last month, and was sent to the Cleveland Clinic. He hopes to return to Toledo within a few days.
Prosecutor Julia Bates pushed for the policy change after another assistant prosecutor exhausted her sick time after an unexpected illness last year.
Other county employees will have to wait for a similar policy to be implemented. The commissioners adopted the program for the prosecutor's office because it doesn't have union employees and because Mr. Clark recently exhausted his sick time. “I feel it's the humane thing to do,” Sandy Isenberg, president of the commissioners, said.
Ed Ciecka, the county's administrator, said the various unions that represent county employees will be able to negotiate a sick-leave donation policy in future contracts. He said the commssioners are examining a policy for nonbargaining unit employees.
Employees in the prosecutor's office will be able to donate hours they've accumulated directly to the person who needs them. The sick person won't be allowed to accumulate hours and will only be able to accept the hours needed for each pay period.
County employees can compile up to 120 hours of sick time a year and can roll over those hours to other years. When they retire, they can cash out a maximum of 320 hours.
John Weglian, chief of the special units division of the prosecutor's office, said the program provides a safety net for sick workers. “We have a very valuable employee who, through no fault of his own, has ended up running out of sick time. The staff and employees all feel we should be able to assist him by giving up some of our sick time,” Mr. Weglian said.