New sick leave rules for federal workers
Federal workers are preparing for a two-year freeze in pay, but also can expect some positive changes to their sick leave policy in the new year.
Starting Jan. 3, feds may swap up to 26 weeks of sick leave for unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act to care for family members sick with serious communicable diseases, including the flu. They may also use the benefit to care for an ill or injured family member serving in the military.
In both cases, federal workers could receive up to 30 days of advanced sick leave if necessary, the Office of Personnel Management announced Friday.
But -- as with most federal personnel policy -- there is a catch: OPM said it will only authorize this special type of sick leave if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determines that exposure to certain communicable diseases could impact the health of others.
For example, last year's H1N1 flu outbreak would not have qualified under the new policy because the CDC advised that employees could continue working even if a member of their household contracted the disease, OPM said.
"The use of sick leave for exposure to a communicable disease should be used only in very limited circumstances, and agencies should not grant sick leave for this purpose until they receive guidance from the appropriate officials," OPM said in its announcement published Friday in the Federal Register.
Family members -- as defined by OPM -- now include spouses, children, foster children, stepchildren, stepparents, grandparents and grandchildren, same-sex and opposite domestic partners. The definitions were expanded to include same-sex relationships in June as part of President Obama's pledge to expand worker benefits to the partners of gay and lesbian federal workers.
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• Cabinet and Staff News: Presidnet Obama grants his first pardons. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates visits the Sultan of Oman. Gates's lawyer, Jeh C. Johnson, gets the Old Gray Lady treatment. From WikiLemons, Hillary Clinton tries to make Lemonade.
• CIA's new top dog makes Christmas party debut: CIA Director Leon J. Panetta left the CIA's holiday party Friday night with his latest new staffer: Bravo, his Irish Setter.
• Drinking water debacle deals a blow to CDC and EPA: When it comes to something as basic as ensuring that our drinking water doesn't poison our children, you'd think federal scientists and environmentalists would hustle to give the public the fullest and most reliable information as quickly as possible.
• Congressional calendar endangers repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell': With the lame-duck session of Congress hurtling toward a chaotic close, the effort to repeal the policy is in peril.
• WikiLeaks off-limits to federal workers without clearance: The site is publishing sensitive and classified government information for all the world to see, but that doesn't mean federal workers and contractors should take a peek.
• Health insurance choices can ease the pain of the pay freeze: One benefits adviser suggests government workers should concentrate on making the best choices they can with rates and plan information already available to them.
IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT:
• Unusual methods helped ICE break deportation record, e-mails and interviews show: In reaching 392,862 deportations, the agency included more than 19,000 immigrants who exited the previous fiscal year, according to agency statistics.
• Tension grows between Calif. Muslims, FBI after informant infiltrates mosque: The undercover FBI informant says he spied on dozens of worshipers in a quest for potential terrorists.
• Justice Dept. ends inquiry on Jerry Lewis: The California congressman (not the entertainer).
• USPS job cuts barely dent $49B payroll: From 2008 through 2010, work hours fell 14 percent to about 1.2 billion. But pay raises and other expenses cut into the savings, and total personnel costs fell only 6 percent, to $49 billion.
• Schumer seeks bill to deter body scan image misuse: It calls for punishing anyone who misuses full-body scan images by up to a year in prison. They could also face fines of up to $100,000.
• Pearl Harbor survivors ponder organization's end: The motto "Remember Pearl Harbor" is taking on a more poignant, urgent tone.
| December 6, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: Eye Opener, Workplace Issues
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