As we enter the fourth quarter, there is another choice we recently bargained for that you will need to make. You see, one of the under- publicized benefits of our recent sick leave Agreement with BNSF is also member choice. For the first time in our history, the choice of how you will use your personal leave day(s) qualified for under Appendix N is up to you.
Prior to our March 2023 Sick Leave Agreement, personal leave (PL) days not taken in a calendar year were forfeited. While this remains to be true if those days left as PL days and not taken, the same is not true if you take advantage of an option created by our Sick Leave Agreement. As a term of that Agreement, all PL days can be converted to sick days by the member at any time during the year. In the future, we expect an automated process for handling PL to Sick day conversions. For now, however, simply contact your timekeeper and inform them of your desire to convert unused PL days to sick days. This can be done at any time during the year.
You may read this and think, “Big deal. What’s the difference if I take the day as a sick day or a PL day?” The difference is not realized if you take the day off during the calendar year. Rather, the difference, thus the value of the choice created, is when you opt to instead receive a cash equivalent for any unused days.
Under the Agreement, all your unused sick leave days, as well as any PL days you opted to convert to sick leave, are to be paid out the following year under one of two methods you select from. You can choose to receive a cash payment for the total days remaining (8 hours/day), or you can choose to have the amount contributed on your behalf to your 401K plan. Once again, this is a choice you have that you did not have before, but be sure to take advantage of it before the year is up.