New Rules Would Combine Federal Sick Leave and Annual Leave

Recently, a proposal to combine federal worker’s sick leave and their annual leave has begun to gain traction on Capital Hill. There has been some pushback from federal workers, but the approach is fairly standard in the private sector. Here’s more information:


All federal employees are entitled to both sick and annual leave and the allocation of the annual leave is based on the number of years they have been able to serve at their respective federal agency. For instance, a full-time federal agency is entitled to annual leave or vacation of 13, 20, or 26 days depending on how long they have been in federal service.

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Also, a full-time federal employee is entitled to 13 days of sick leave. However, this does not apply to temporary or part-time federal employees as their days are pro-rated. Last month, there was a proposal by the White House budget plan to come up with paid time off by combining the two leaves.  However, it is important to point out that it was not clear whether there would be a reduction in the total amount or not.


According to the follow-up document, the primary objective of the proposal was to reduce the number of leave days that can be carried over from one year to another. Currently, federal employees can accrue as may leave days as possible during a particular year and this proposal will minimize the number of leave days that one can collect in a particular year.

However, the proposal does not in any way specify the number of days that will be reduced. It is this uncertainty that has left many federal employees worried about the new proposal.


The proposal is yet to move to Congress, and that is why some issues are not apparent. After moving to Congress, some of the pending issues will be ironed out for everyone to understand the real intentions of the new plan. Some of the issues that need to be made clear include; the number of leave days to be reduced, what would happen if a federal employee leaves government, and the number of leave days that an employee can carry over from year to another.


Most federal employees will not have peace of mind until all these issues have been addressed.  The problem of federal employees leaving the government with accrued leave days has been unclear, and this proposal will bring some clarity after it passes through Congress.


Presently, there are limits when it comes to annual leave accumulation. Regardless of a federal employee’s retirement eligibility, they receive a lump sum payment at separation. It is important to note that the accumulation limits only apply to the annual leave.


On the other hand, there are no limits when it comes to the accumulation of sick leave. For individuals that are not eligible for retirement, their sick leave has no cash value. The fact that sick leave is credited as the duration served toward a retirement annuity makes it unnecessary to have a limit on its accumulation.

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