Aug 21

Donating Sick Time – Generous or Sucker?


My step-dad works for the State of Maine. A while back his boss became unable to work due to a serious illness. Strangely (or maybe kindly?), the state of Maine allows employees to pool sick time to help other employees who become seriously ill and cannot work for extended periods of time. Due to the nature of said boss’s illness he’s been out of work for a really long time (months).

Since my step-dad was the next person in the chain of command, he has taken over his boss’s responsibilities. That means he’s nowΒ  managing all of the boss’s employees. Let’s just say it’s not a small undertaking and involves a lot of stress and overtime.

When it was announced that said boss would not be returning for an extended and unknown period of time, co-workers and colleagues immediately offered up their own sick time to help this man out. My step-dad being the generous guy he is, immediately “gave” a week’s worth of his sick time to his boss. Even though the boss left him in a not so great situation, said boss clearly didn’t plan to be sick and obviously my step-dad felt bad for him and his situation (this guy has a family who relies on his income to get by).

My step-dad wasn’t the only one who donated sick time. Pretty much everybody at the job gave him at least a few hours of their own time.

What happened after that? Well, said boss, basically shit on everyone stating to a colleague that he planned to take disability and was pissed that everyone chipped in give him sick time because he has to use up all of his sick time before he starts collecting disability and now he has to wait longer to get the disability money. Umm really? Are you for real?! What a jerk!!

Now I’m not saying my step-dad or his workers are saints. The State of Maine gives a notoriously large amount of sick time to its employees so it’s not like any of them are going to run out of their own sick time in the near future. In fact, the sick time rolls over from year to year so so people have hundreds and hundreds of hours of sick time. But I’m still shocked and amazed that someone who’s in such a bad situation is so ungrateful for his peer’s actions. (No, I don’t know any of the particulars about this situation, and maybe there’s a reason that he’d prefer the disability, to paid sick time). But if I were the “boss” in this situation I’d at least thank the people who clearly were trying to do what they thought would help me.

What’s more sad is the workers who thought they were helping someone now feel like they’ve “wasted’ their own time, which will clearly impact their future willingness and desire to help co-workers who might be experiencing their own serious health crises in the future. Does “One rotten apple spoil the whole bunch?”

So what do you think? Would you donate your sick time to a friend or co-worker if he/she were ill and ran out of sick time? Are my step-dad and his workers generous or suckers?

Image: Flashy Soup Can




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  1. Wow that’s so ridiculous that his boss reacted that way. Unbelievable, really. I don’t have this option so it’s not a problem for me, but there is no way I would donate my PTO/sick time to someone else because of potential for situations like this.

      • KK on August 22, 2013 at 9:06 am
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      I think so, I mean everyone was trying to help him out and he basically flipped them the bird. Not cool.

  2. That’s an interesting concept. When my mom worked for the county she also received a load of sick time and vacation time. That’s awful the boss reacted like that. Even if there was a legitimate reason he preferred disability, he could find it in himself to be grateful. I would be very suspicious of this system. There are a couple of slackers at my job that would love to take advantage of something like that. Just say they’re “sick” and gain sympathy. I only get like five days I think, so it would depend on the direness of the situation and the coworker. I’d have to know they’re sincerely ill.

      • KK on August 22, 2013 at 9:07 am
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      I’m not sure why he’d want the disability instead of the sick time, but you’d think he’d just thank people and tell them he preferred the other option before everyone gave him time. Now he just looks like a big ass.

  3. If I was in that situation, I would definitely donate the sick time! All I can say about the ungrateful boss is that karma is a bitch, and that bad attitude will eventually bite him in the ass when he needs something from his employees. Not cool!

      • KK on August 22, 2013 at 9:08 am
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      I agree. It looks like he might not be able to work again, but if he does go back he’s going to have a lot of apologies to make.

  4. Wow, the boss’ reaction seems a little odd, especially considering that disability payouts are usually only a portion of your pay where sick days are paid in full.
    I worked somewhere once where we had a “leave bank”. The idea was that if you joined you put something like 2 sick days per year into a pool that would pay out later if you had a catastrophic event and needed leave beyond what you had in your individual account. (Think cancer patients, etc). I really liked it and looked at it like an extra insurance policy.

    1. This is what I was thinking– why would full pay be less appreciated than partial pay?

      I’ve always wanted to be able to sell my sick time to a coworker, even if it’s $0.50 on the dollar. I think that would be awesome. πŸ™‚

        • KK on August 22, 2013 at 9:11 am
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        Selling sick time huh? Now that’s an interesting concept. (knock on wood) I’m pretty healthy and don’t really need all of my sick time, if I could sell it or give it away I would.

      • KK on August 22, 2013 at 9:10 am
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      I don’t know exactly how the disability works in this particular case, but like you said, in most circumstances the sick time would be paid at your full-time rate, vs disability which would be paid at a partial rate. Doesn’t really make any sense to me why he’d want the disability instead of sick time.

  5. Wow, that’s kind of crappy! The boss should have let everyone know his intentions for getting on disability before everyone donated their sick time! Ugh. What an a-hole that he can’t appreciate the kindness of others!

      • KK on August 22, 2013 at 10:38 am
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      Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I just feel bad for all the people who donated their time thinking they were helping him out.

  6. Hm, I guess the coworkers should have figured out if the boss wanted the donations. I suppose he didn’t ask for them but someone else called for the donation? He/she should have checked with the boss or maybe the boss should have specifically said not to donate the time if it’s a common practice. Also, why can’t the boss just give all the sick time back, if it’s so transferrable?

      • KK on August 22, 2013 at 10:40 am
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      Agreed, it’s too bad that nobody contacted him first to find out what his wishes were. It sounds like everyone thought the boss would be appreciative of receiving the time, but nobody actually asked him and because this is a common practice everyone donated without consulting him first (which sort of makes sense since he’s not at work). I guess once the time is transferred they won’t transfer it back-they’ve never actually had a situation where someone didn’t want the extra time, so maybe after this there will be a new policy?

  7. I would donate my sick time, and a jerk wouldn’t make me not want to donate it in the future.

      • KK on August 22, 2013 at 10:41 am
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      I like your enthusiasm Nick! Don’t let one bad experience ruin all the times this donation system has really helped people.

  8. Ungratefulness is really disheartening. And you can’t blame people from being more protective about their sick time now. But I think giving without expecting anything (even gratitude) in return helps keep you from getting bitter about it. Awesome that so many generous people were willing to help out, and hopefully it doesn’t ruin their generosity if someone else needs help.

      • KK on August 22, 2013 at 10:44 am
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      I think you’re right Jacob. I suspect next time (hopefully there won’t be a next time), people will ask the individual first if he/she wants the time and/or will give without the expectation that their gift will be received with gratitude.

  9. I work for the state of New York and I think I was required by the union to give some of my sick time to a “sick bank” for employees who are ill. There is also an option to donate sick time. If an fellow co-worker is truly sick, I’d donate my time. I don’t generally use much time and have a good amount. I’d be upset if I donated time and the person was ungrateful like your step-dad’s boss. Like Mrs. Pop said…it sounds wierd because disability is usually less money than your full salary.

      • KK on August 22, 2013 at 10:45 am
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      Totally weird, I have no idea if there’s more to this story than we’re all aware, but from the outsider’s perspective it doesn’t make much sense. If I could donate time to someone who was in need, I absolutely would and if I ever needed time, I’d be very thankful to those who donated.

  10. I was thinking the same thing regarding disability – it’s usually only a percentage of your pay, versus sick days that are 100%. Either way, though, the boss’ ungratefulness is really disappointing. Donating my own sick time would depend on how much time I actually had and if it rolled over year after year, but I do like the idea of being able to donate.

      • KK on August 22, 2013 at 10:47 am
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      I love the idea of donating. Even if it’s just a few hours if each person gave a few hours that would add up quickly and really help someone out. Esp. if they had a really serious illness. And old co-worker of mine had a serious illness and ended up having to leave work permanently because he had no more time and used up his FMLA. Really sad!

  11. That is so weird… disability is less than sick pay. Although maybe he has a plan that is no-tax deducted which might actually be higher than getting paid in sick time so who knows.

    Sucks for your dad though!

      • KK on August 22, 2013 at 10:48 am
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      It doesn’t really make any sense to anyone who’s involved. There may be parts of the story that we’re missing, or the boss might now actually understand how the disability works.

  12. I think your dad and his co-workers are awesome for donating their sick time. As for said boss, it seems he has issues that go WAY beyond physical sickness. πŸ™

      • KK on August 22, 2013 at 10:49 am
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      You’re so right Laurie. Sometimes peoples’ true colors come out in the weirdest and most unbecoming ways.

  13. I work for the State of Colorado and I have accumulated a ton of sick leave. There is a point where I hit the maximum that I can accumulate and would “lose” each additional month after that. I will donate that day once that happens (I’m getting pretty close…have around 10 weeks of sick leave). Your stepdad’s boss has bad energy (am being serious) he will wish that he never said that and will regret taking disability. I am proud of your Stepdad and his colleagues for being nice above and beyond what they had to be.

      • KK on August 22, 2013 at 10:51 am
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      I think it totally makes sense to donate the time if you’re going to lose it anyway (but I bet a lot of people don’t bother).

      If we’ve learned anything in this whole situation, it’s that my step-dad’s co-workers are really good people and truly care about each other.

  14. What a douche! I don’t think I would donate my sick time because I am early 30s so could come to need it but at 55 I would probably do it. Unless it gets paid at the end of the career in which case I’d give money to the guy but keep my days.

      • KK on August 22, 2013 at 10:53 am
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      It’s pretty hard to feel bad for a guy who doesn’t appreciate other people’s kindness, even if he is ill. I keep telling myself that maybe he has other issues or other reasons for wanting the disability that we don’t know about. Otherwise I think he’s a first class jerk.

  15. I wish I had tons of rolled over sick time πŸ™ Nonetheless I think the boss is a jerk and seems a bit irrational in his response to such generosity, good luck getting that many people to help with anything later on.

      • KK on August 22, 2013 at 10:53 pm
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      I know, right? Now that this has happened I think it’s going to be pretty tough to convince people to be generous again (but they’re a good group of folks so I hope they won’t let this stop them in the future).

  16. We get a lot of sick time at my work, but we can’t donate it. I don’t know how I feel about this.

  17. Well this is really a sad situation that your step-dad’s boss behaved in such a way. People should not take advantage of generous people and these types of incidents force them to deny any help to others when they are really in need of such.

    • Rob on August 23, 2013 at 5:21 pm
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    My work allows me to donate vacation time but not sick time, which I don’t see myself doing anytime soon. I get tons of sick time, and I’ve been capped out on how much I can accrue for almost a year now. I would gladly donate sick time if it was allowed.

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