Commonwealth Employment Relations Board Upholds Ruling That City of Boston Unlawfully Changed Vacation Accrual Rules

January 06, 2020

On January 7, 2020, the Commonwealth Employment Relations Board (CERB) affirmed the decision of its Hearing Officer that the City of Boston unlawfully changed its rules relating to when employees receive their vacation accruals.

In their last round of negotiations, the City and SENA, Local 9158 negotiated a new policy that reduced how much vacation leave is accrued when employees are on certain types of paid or unpaid medical leave for at least 12 weeks. However, a few years later, the City unilaterally decided to count all absences, including vacations, personal time and suspensions, toward this threshold, thus depriving members of their vacation accruals for reasons that had not been negotiated.

Aided in part by the testimony of Attorney Alfred Gordon O'Connell, who negotiated the contract on behalf of SENA, the Hearing Officer found that the City's change was unlawful. The City appealed, and the CERB unanimously affirmed the original decision, finding that the City's inclusion of non-medical leave absences in determining vacation accrual violated the contract's clear language. The CERB ordered the City to rescind its unlawful policy and post a notice to employees that it has done so.

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