Pay & Benefits

Bill boosting federal sick leave for disabled vets advances

Service-disabled veterans who become federal employees would start their careers with paid sick leave available, under legislation passed by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee March 4.

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 House Oversight and Government Reform committee passed its own version of the bill Jan. 27. Now both the full Senate and the full House need to vote on the legislation.

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 sick leave provided would not carry over into the second year and veterans would then accrue sick leave normally.

The senate bill is sponsored by Senators Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Jerry Moran, R-Kansas.

The House bill is sponsored by Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., and cosponsored by Reps. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, Elijah Cummings, D-Md., G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., Walter Jones, R-N.C., Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C.

Lawmakers had previously introduced the legislation July 31, 2014, but the bill did not become law and congressional rules required the lawmakers to re-introduce it in 2015.

Patricia Niehaus, president of the Federal Managers Association, which helped create the legislation, said veterans who become federal employees shouldn't have to choose between work and much-needed health care.

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 04: Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) rushes to the Senate chamber to vote on an attempt to override U.S. President Barack Obama's veto of the Keystone XL Pipeline legislation March 4, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Senate vote on overriding the veto failed to pass by the necessary two thirds majority by a count of 62-37. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 04: Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) rushes to the Senate chamber to vote on an attempt to override U.S. President Barack Obama's veto of the Keystone XL Pipeline legislation March 4, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Senate vote on overriding the veto failed to pass by the necessary two thirds majority by a count of 62-37. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

"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," Niehaus said. "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."

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