OPM Issues Guidance on New Disabled Veterans Leave Category

The Office of Personnel Management has issued guidance on the new disabled veterans leave program that will soon be available for new federal employees, and also reminded current federal workers about leave and workplace flexibilities available to them.

The Office of Personnel Management recently issued a memo with information for agencies and employees on the new leave category for disabled veterans that was put into place by the Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act of 2015.

By law, “disabled veteran leave” must be provided to any Federal employee hired on or after November 5, 2016, who is a veteran with a service-connected disability rating of 30 percent or more for purposes of undergoing medical treatment for such disability for which sick leave could regularly be used. Disabled veteran leave is available as a one-time benefit during a 12-month period beginning on an eligible employee’s “first day of employment” and may not exceed 104 hours for a regular full-time employee. Disabled veteran leave not used during the 12-month eligibility period may not be carried over to subsequent years and will be forfeited.

For a detailed summary of the new benefit, see OPM’s detailed summary document on disabled veteran leave.

OPM acting director Beth Cobert also noted in the memo that while current federal employees cannot take advantage of the new veterans disabled leave program, there are numerous other leave benefits available to them. Cobert wrote:

“These options may include annual leave, sick leave, advanced annual leave, advanced sick leave, leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), donated leave under the voluntary leave transfer program or voluntary leave bank program, alternative work schedules, credit hours under flexible work schedules, compensatory time off and telework. I also note that, under Executive Order 5396, July 17, 1930, Federal employees who are disabled veterans are entitled, upon proper notice, to use accrued annual leave, accrued sick leave, or leave without pay for necessary medical treatment associated with the service-connected disability. An employee can use leave without pay under EO 5396 without having to invoke FMLA leave.”

Employees with questions about leave programs for their personal situations should contact their servicing human resources office for assistance.

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.