Our story noted that large sick-leave claims have been a consistent problem in the department. When sick leave and overtime are connected, there’s the possibility of fraud. One employee can call in sick, causing overtime for another employee, who might be using it — as is possible in Hawaii — to build compensation for the purposes of bolstering retirement benefits.
The problem is so embarrassing that the union there put out a flier for its members, which says: “There is a misconception that sick time, a valuable benefit that our union fought long and hard for is ‘your time’ to be used for any personal need. It’s not ‘your time,’ to use in any way you deem appropriate and your fellow firefighters aren’t going to accept it.”