Millville City Commission will meet at noon today to consider an ordinance that would allow city workers to donate sick or vacation time to fellow employees.
This issue comes up periodically in towns and school districts - and, frankly, we can't see why any public agency (or private employer, for that matter) would not allow its employees to donate time to a fellow worker facing a serious health issue or injury.
Or, in Millville's case, a worker facing this: Susan Reeves is a Millville police officer. On July 8, her husband, Christopher Reeves, also a Millville police officer, was killed in the line of duty when a car police were pursuing slammed into his patrol car.
Millville's police union has asked the City Commission to allow officers to donate sick and vacation time to Susan Reeves so she can have more time off before returning to work.
Allowing workers to donate sick time to others is the compassionate thing to do. It doesn't cost the city anything. And we can't think of a more compelling reason to allow the practice than helping out someone who is in Susan Reeves' situation.
Granted, allowing the donation of sick and vacation time is not without potential complications and pitfalls. The decision would always have to be made on a case-by-case basis. The loss of a key employee for an extended period of time could compromise the ability of an employer, public or private, to get its job done.
But the state Civil Service Commission, which must approve all time-donation plans, already has some stringent guidelines in place: An employee cannot donate more than 10 days to a fellow worker. The time can only be donated to an employee with a serious health issue or injury or to someone who must care for a family member. And that person must be facing an absence of at least 60 days.
If anything, you could argue that those guidelines are especially strict for a program that amounts to a wash for the employer.
And true, there are other options - the state disability system and paid family leave - that might apply in some cases. But neither of those programs pays workers 100 percent of their salaries - and if a co-worker wants to donate his or her vacation time, which has already been budgeted for, why not?
As long as Millville's proposed ordinance is written so that the city retains the right to consider such requests on a case-by-case basis, we can't see the harm. And in the unusual case of Susan Reeves, we see a world of good in allowing her more time to grieve and to care for her 2-year-old son.