A group of Congressmen have introduced legislation that would provide federal employees, who are also disabled veterans, with 104 hours of “Wounded Warrior leave” during their first year in the federal workforce so that they may seek medical treatment for their service-connected disabilities without being forced to take unpaid leave or forego their appointments altogether.
The legislation is dubbed the Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act of 2014 (H.R. 5229) and is being introduced by Congressman Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA), Congressman Blake Farenthold (R-TX), Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), and Congressman G. K. Butterfield (D-NC).
Under current law, full-time federal employees accrue four hours of sick leave for each bi-weekly pay period for a total maximum of 104 hours, or 13 days, of annual sick leave. However, federal employees in their first year on the job begin their federal government careers with a zero sick leave balance. As a result, disabled veterans who have recently entered the federal workforce often do not have sufficient sick leave to attend medical appointments to treat their service-connected disabilities on a regular basis.
First-year federal employees with a service-connected disability rating of 30% or greater would be eligible for the 104 hours of leave. In order for eligible federal employees to make use of such leave, the bill would simply require employees to submit certification to their agency as prescribed by the Office of Personnel Management. Any unused leave would not carry over into their second year of employment.
“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,” said Congressman Stephen F. Lynch. “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 V.A. appointments or miss their medical visits. The Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act of 2014 provides vital federal leave for our heroic and dedicated wounded warriors so that they are able to take the time they need to address their disabilities, while continuing their much appreciated service to our country,” added Lynch.