Government affairs

Legislative Updates

‘Wounded warriors’ bill introduced in House

On Tuesday, House Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce and U.S. Postal Service Chairman Blake Farenthold (R-TX) and Ranking Member Stephen Lynch (D-MA), along with House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD), and Rep. G. K. Butterfield (D-NC), introduced the Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act, H.R. 5229.

If passed, this bill would give newly hired postal and federal employees who are also disabled veterans 104 hours of leave time to seek medical treatment for their service-related disabilities during their first year in the workforce. The bill also would prevent such workers from being forced to take unpaid leave to keep medical appointments.

Under current law, full-time federal employees accrue four hours of sick leave for each bi-weekly pay period, for a 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 accrued to allow them to seek regular treatment for their service-connected disabilities.

Under H.R. 5229, first-year employees with a service-connected disability rating of 30 percent or greater would be given 104 hours of leave to obtain medical treatment for their disabilities. Employees also would submit certification to their agencies in accordance with Office of Personnel Management guidelines. (The legislation does not allow for any portion of the 104 hours to be carried over to the following year.)

“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. “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. This act 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.

The NALC is proud to endorse this legislation and encourages members to voice their support when meeting with members of Congress.

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