Some New Feds Could Soon Get Bonus Sick Leave

Lawmakers want to give certain new hires up-front time off for medical appointments.

Disabled veterans entering federal civilian service should not have to wait to receive sick leave, according to a bipartisan group of lawmakers.

The 2014 Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act -- introduced by Reps. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C.; Elijah Cummings, D-Md.; Stephen Lynch, D-Mass.; and Blake Farenthold, R-Texas -- would give former military members injured during combat access to their full year’s sick leave immediately upon starting their federal jobs. Currently, vets -- along with all new feds -- enter the civil service with no sick leave, and accumulate it over each pay period.

This bill would instead enable disabled veterans to take up front all 104 hours of sick leave they would eventually compile over a full year. The lawmakers said veterans starting a new federal job do not have sufficient leave to attend the medical appointments necessary to treat disabilities connected to their service.

“The lack of initial sick leave for new federal workers places a significant burden on our disabled veterans during their first year of federal employment,” Lynch said. “Our wounded warrior federal employees who are just starting out in the federal workforce are often faced with the difficult choice of having to take unpaid leave to attend their VA appointments or miss their medical visits.”

The bill would apply to first-year federal employees with a service-connected disability rating of at least 30 percent. During their first year on the job, the veterans would still accumulate their normal sick leave. The employees would not be able to carry over the one-time “wounded warrior leave.”

Farenthold said the bill would enable disabled veterans to seek medical treatment “without being forced to take unpaid leave.” The employees would only be able to use their extra sick leave for treatments directly related to their service.

Several federal employee advocates, including the American Federation of Government Employees, the National Treasury Employees Union and the Federal Managers Association have endorsed the legislation.

FMA National President Patricia Niehaus noted the federal government is the nation’s largest employer of veterans, and called the bill a win-win.

“The Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act will ensure that federal agencies and departments' missions and goals will be met while treating our disabled veteran first year federal employees with the treatment they deserve,” Niehaus said, “and ensuring the federal government is a model employer.”

Combined Federal Campaign 2014

Attention feds: Expect to get an email soon asking you to relinquish a bit of your paycheck each pay period.

No, Congress is not considering a new bill to once again raise your retirement pension contribution; the Office of Personnel Management is, however, looking to get the ball rolling on the federal government’s annual giving drive.

OPM Director Katherine Archuleta sent a letter on Tuesday to human resources representatives at agencies across government to prepare employees, volunteers and managers for the 2014 Combined Federal Campaign. Archuleta recommended the HR reps remind employees that for the first time, they can donate to any participating charity regardless of where they are located.

CFC administrators are likely hoping for improved results from last year. As Archuleta noted, CFC raised $209 million in 2013. That was the lowest haul in 10 years, marking a 19 percent drop since the year before. 

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