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Bill would revise federal sick-leave rules for disabled vets

Jul. 31, 2014 - 04:54PM   |  
By ANDY MEDICI   |   Comments

Service-disabled veterans who become federal employees would start their careers with paid sick leave available, under legislation introduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers July 31.

Currently, there is no special accommodation for such employees. The Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act would give them 104 hours starting out, instead of starting from zero and accruing more leave as federal employees currently do. The bill’s sponsors said that a lack of sick leave unfairly hurts veteran efforts at getting regular medical care and in treating injuries. The employee must be 30 percent disabled to qualify.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., and cosponsored by Reps. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C. The sick leave provided would not carry over into the second year and veterans would still accrue sick leave normally.

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“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 in a statement. “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.”

Farenthold said in a statement that the extra leave would allow veterans to seek medical treatment and avoid the possibilities of having to take unpaid leave.

“While we can never fully repay the debt incurred by the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect our freedom, I am proud to support this legislation that would provide disabled veterans that enter the federal workforce the opportunity to seek medical treatment for their service-connected disabilities without being forced to take unpaid leave,” he said in a statement.

Patricia Niehaus, president of the Federal Managers Association, said the legislation was one of the group’s top priorities and the organization was currently looking for sponsors to introduce the bill into the Senate.

“FMA members have seen first-hand the stress this creates in the work environment, as both managers and employees try to meet congressionally-mandated missions and goal,” Niehaus said. “As these disabled veterans served their country on and off the battlefield, it is only right that the federal government provide this much needed leave.”

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