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Rep. proposes feds keep leave that went unused due to pandemic

Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) wants to make sure that federal workers would be able to retain any paid leave they accrued but were unable to use due to added job obligations as a result of COVID-19.

Ordinarily, federal employees are only allowed to carry over 30 days of annual leave into a new year. Any additional leave, known as annual "use or lose" leave, essentially evaporates at the end of the year. Wexton is hoping to change that arrangement with the Federal Frontline Worker Leave Protection Act, introduced on May 5.

According to the Office of Personnel Management, "an agency may restore annual leave that was forfeited due to an exigency of the public business or sickness of the employee only if the annual leave was scheduled in writing."

Rep. Wexton’s bill would designate COVID-19 as an exigent circumstance in order to allow federal workers to roll over any unused leave hours due to the pandemic. The measure would retroactively apply to any leave an employee lost as a result of working through COVID-19 once it passed into law.

"Our federal workers are stepping up and working tirelessly to help Americans weather this crisis, [and] taking time off is not an option for many federal employees," Wexton said in a statement announcing the bill. "Federal workers should not be forced to lose their benefits while they carry out the essential work of government. We owe it to them to protect what they’ve earned."

Reader comments

Wed, May 27, 2020 Peggy

If you are not allowed to leave your home except to go the the grocery store, drug store and medical appointments if you can get a Doctor to see you physically then why do I want to take leave at home. I am high risk, almost 64, many long term medical issues and don't want to get sick and die. I like to travel and go outdoors to enjoy my leave. You think that is a choice because I am a law abiding citizen who follows the law and does not like to take chances I should take leave at home?????

Wed, May 27, 2020 J.D.

Not very many places to go. Should have lots of leave left.

Sun, May 24, 2020

The Dept of Defense has a travel ban of employees and military until June 30. Also, it is not safe on planes at this point or traveling. Fed Employees should not lose leave since we cannot travel effectively.

Mon, May 18, 2020

I think people aren't taking their leave because there is really no where to go, at this time. Not sure what will happen in summer, if there will be few restrictions. I personally don't want to take my leave, just to stay home, I'm doing that already by teleworking.

Mon, May 11, 2020

Annual leave for Federal employees is not GIVEN. It is part of their earned compensation. While there is time available between now and the end of the year to request and take leave, the limitations on what they can do while off work are limited due to no fault of the employee. Since annual leave is a limited resource it is natural that many employees will want to make the most of it. That may mean that far more employees than normal request leave near the end of the year than throughout the year which may require agencies to deny requests at a higher rate than normal. That is a justification for restoration of leave. The proposed Bill would streamline this and spread the impact across multiple years. While this isn't the most pressing issue of the day, it's good that some people are thinking longer term and about what other issues will come up as a result of the current situation.

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