Federal employees will receive a new option on how to use their sick time and unpaid leave time under the Family Medical Leave Act. Federal employees will be able to exchange 26 weeks of paid sick time for unpaid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act to care for family members who have fallen ill from communicable diseases. The benefit can also be used to take care of family members serving in the military who have become ill or injured.
The new option will be available to federal workers beginning on January 3 of the new year. Federal workers may want to use the new benefit option if they have a small number of sick days and are concerned that they will not have enough sick days for future use. A pregnant woman may want to use the option in order to save paid time off while she cares for a sick relative or injured relative. Federal workers can also use the unpaid leave time if they can afford to take the time off without pay. The new unpaid sick time will have to meet certain standards set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will determine whether exposure to particular communicable diseases will affect the health of others. The Office of Personnel Management says that sick leave used for the exposure of communicable diseases should be limited. Though the new benefit is meant to guard against exposing a work force to the flu, last year’s H1N1 flu outbreak would not have qualified under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that people exposed to H1N1 could continue to go to work even if a worker had a household member who was sick with the virus.
Source: The Washington Post, “Federal Employees to Get Leave Option to Care for Relatives,” Ed O’Keefe, 12/7/10