WHITMAN — The Board of Selectmen has voted to approve a town-wide vacation policy for municipal public employees. Employees may now carry over no more than nine vacation days, and is affected by collective bargaining agreements already in place.
Any days over the nine not used within a fiscal year will be forfeited.
Town Administrator Frank Lynam said during discussion on the issue Tuesday, Sept. 24. He said the new policy is not meant to affect people’s right to vacation time, but to encourage them to use it instead of carrying it over year after year.
“One of the issues that we’re addressing in the updated policy is the carry-over of vacation over the last few years,” said Lynam. “We have had financially significant payouts for accrued and unused vacation.”
The 4-0 vote — Selectmen Chairman Dr. Kowalski was absent from the meeting — came after months of discussion in executive session, because the policy included compensation issues that needed to be negotiated, according to Lynam.
“The nine days that we settled on is not arbitrary, it was the maximum vacation rollover in a collective bargaining agreement,” Selectman Justin Evans said.
Lynam said the new policy will mean meetings with “a couple of people who have far in excess of the nine days that will be permitted” under the new policy in an effort to help them use the time rather than lose it.
Lynam said that, in connection with the new policy, a vacation accrual line item will be in the next budget cycle to recognize the remaining vacation time liabilities.
In past years, he noted the town has had to pay out amounts exceeding the appropriation for the current and future plan. Lynam said the issue has been brought before the board a number of times.
“I’ve always felt, working 43 years at the same company that I worked for, that vacation time is very important and needs to be used,” said Selectman Vice Chairman Dan Salvucci. “You need to be able to divorce your mind from the job, rest your mind, get a vacation, enjoy your family — whatever it takes.”
He said not taking vacation time to roll over vacation pay is not the right thing to do for a person’s mental health.
“You need to take the time,” he said. “They need to understand that vacation time is there for a purpose and it’s there to relax your mind so that, when you come back, you can do a better job.”