Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Connecticut Supreme Court Says State Employees Can't Factor Stockpiled Vacation Time Into Pension Calculations

Unused vacation time cannot be factored into a state employee's pension calculations, the state Supreme Court has ruled, in a case closely monitored by thousands of state employees.

The case was brought by two retired assistant attorneys general - Donald Longley and Richard K. Greenberg - who had challenged the decision by the state Employees Retirement Commission not to factor into their pension equation the dollar value of their accrued, unused vacation pay. Both lawyers had received lump sum payments for that accrued time - $53,183 in Longley's case and $42,934 in Greenberg's case.

"We think it is highly unlikely that the legislature intended to bestow a substantial annual windfall on them for the duration of their retirement - in essence, a lifetime annuity - merely because they chose to stockpile their vacation time rather than to use it," Justice Richard N. Palmer wrote. "This result penalizes workers who use their vacation days and rewards those who do not."

The commission had ruled, and the Supreme Court agreed, that the lump sum vacation pay-out could not be added on to the last year's salary because vacation pay represents time, and would exceed the statutory definition of a year as being 12 months of service and no more. State employees may accrue up to 120 days of vacation time. Longley had accrued the maximum; Greenberg had banked 97 days.

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