President Calls for Change to Sick Time and Annual Leave

Feb 19, 2015

Our federal workers compensation lawyers report on the change to sick time and annual leaves.

A memorandum recently issued by President Obama directs federal agencies to allow employees six weeks of advanced annual leave.

As a firm that provides help for federal workers in a wide range of areas, including disability retirement benefits, we want federal workers to be aware of this significant change. It will be important that your agency understands the requirements of this memo and applies it fairly to your needs.

This directive will increase by 700 percent the amount of time off available to federal workers who need that time to care for a newborn or adopted child or ill family members, or who have other sick-leave eligible needs.

The memo also directs agencies to consider offering employees help in finding emergency backup care for children, seniors, and adults with disabilities, or to provide that care such as through an existing Employee Assistance Program.

Prior to the January 15 executive order, federal employees were only able to accumulate a maximum of 30 days of annual leave.

When Does the Change to Sick and Annual Leave Time Begin?

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has 90 days from the date of the President’s directive to issue guidance to agencies regarding implementing advanced sick and annual leave policies, including their application to part-time employees.

Federal agencies are to make appropriate changes in their policies within 60 days of OPM guidance. They must also ensure that employees experiencing the birth or adoption of a child or foster care placement in their home, or who have other circumstances eligible for sick or annual leave, are made aware of the full range of benefits to which they are entitled.

The President prefaces his order by saying parents should be provided the support necessary to ensure they can contribute fully in the workplace while meeting the needs of their families.

“The availability of paid maternity leave, for example, has been shown to increase the likelihood that mothers return to their jobs following the birth of a child, and paid maternity and paternity leave has been shown to improve the health and development outcomes of the infant,” the President’s memorandum says.

“Offering family leave and other workplace flexibilities to parents can help achieve the goals of recruiting and retaining talent, lowering costly worker turnover, increasing employee engagement, boosting employee morale, and ensuring a diverse and inclusive workforce,” the memorandum adds. “Yet, the United States lags behind almost every other country in ensuring some form of paid parental leave to its federal workforce; we are the only developed country in the world without it.”

Some agencies, unfortunately, may be slow to implement new leave policies or may have trouble interpreting the rules in a manner that appropriately benefits employees. This doesn’t have to happen to you.

As a federal employee, you have rights that deserve to be protected. Make sure your agency fully adheres to this directive and the guidance that will be coming soon from OPM.

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