Los Angeles City Councilwoman Ruth Galanter on Wednesday called for a new policy that would allow city employees who have contracted AIDS to tap into a pool of unused sick leave benefits donated by co-workers.
Galanter said that in carrying out such a policy, which will be considered by the council next week, authorities would have to observe the city’s AIDS anti-discrimination ordinance that protects confidentiality. But she said it could be accomplished in much the same way that a bank lends money from depositors.
“One of the biggest problems that people with AIDS face is that they don’t want to advertise they have the disease and yet, as their energy fails, they wind up using more and more sick leave and they run the risk of eventually going over their allocation,” Galanter said.
“Most people don’t take their sick leave just to take a day off,” Galanter said. “They take it when they’re sick--exactly as they’re supposed to. They accumulate far more sick leave then they are going to need unless they come down with some dread disease.”
Galanter said she wants city officials to “figure out the best and most humane way of handling sick leave so that people’s ability to keep working is maintained for as long as possible and are not subjected to emotional distress.”
Not Allowed Under Current Policy
Assistant City Personnel Director Raymond C. Allen said current policy does not permit employees to lend unused sick leave to co-workers. Benefits in lieu of sick leave are paid by the city but only for those with 10 years or more of service or upon retirement.
Under city confidentiality rules, Allen said there is no way to determine how many employees might be affected by Galanter’s suggestion.
A spokesman for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation said he was unaware of any cases where a pool of unused sick benefits had been set aside for victims of acquired immune deficiency syndrome.