Is it legal for state/county employees to be determined ineligible for a merit raise based on sick leave use?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Is it legal for state/county employees to be determined ineligible for a merit raise based on sick leave use?

I work for a county agency. Our calendar year is April-March re:sick/vacation use. Upon completion of our most recent calendar year, we were advised a new policy was being implemented stating anyone using more than 64 hours of sick time during the year would be ineligible for newly instituted merit raises and the policy is retroactive for the last calendar year.

Additionally, we were also advised our agency was out of compliance with all

other county agencies for years regarding flex time they all have a flex policy, our agency did not until 04/01. Is it legal to tie a merit raise to sick time use? Is it legal to apply the policy retroactively?

Asked on September 19, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

IF you have a written employment (including union or collective bargaining agreement) guarantying you the raise, then the employer must comply with it; and if they don't, you could take legal action (e.g. a "breach of contract" lawsuit) to enforce your rights under the contract. But if you don't have a contract, raises, especially "merit" raises, are purely discretionary on the part of the employer: they don't have to give them at all; and if they do give them, have 100% discretion or freedom as to the factors they will consider, who gets them, when, how large they are, etc. So without a contract, this is legal.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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