Leave - Sick
Sick leave is designed to allow an employee time off from work with pay
for periods when they or any one of their family members are ill or are
undergoing medical treatment. Specifically, sick leave is granted to
employees when they:
- receive medical, dental or optical examination or treatment;
- are incapacitated for the performance of duties by physical or
mental illness, injury, pregnancy, or childbirth;
- provide care for a family member who is incapacitated as the result
of physical or mental illness, injury, pregnancy, or childbirth or who
receives medical, dental, or optical examination or treatment. Number of
hours an employee may use for this purpose is limited. See
“Sick Leave for Family Care or Bereavement”;
- make arrangements necessitated by the death of a family member or
attends the funeral of a family member. Number of hours an employee may
use for this purpose is limited. See “Sick Leave
for Family Care or Bereavement”;
- would jeopardize the health of others by their presence on the job
because of exposure to a communicable disease (as determined by the
health authorities having jurisdiction or by a health care provider);
- are required to be absent from duty for purposes related to the
adoption of a child.
An OPM final rule effective July 14, 2010 amended the definition of
"family member" for purposes of leave administration (excluding leave under
the Family and Medical Leave Act), including sick leave under 5 CFR 630.201
(b). Family members include:
- Spouse and spouse's parents.
- Sons and daughters, and their spouses.
- Parents and their spouses.
- Brothers and sisters, and their spouses.
- Grandparents and grandchildren, and their spouses.
- Domestic partner and domestic partner's parents, including domestic
partners of any individual named in (2) through (5), above.
- Any individual related by blood or affinity whose close association
with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.
- For leave purposes, a domestic partner is an adult living in a committed
relationship with another adult. A "committed relationship is one in which
the employee, and the domestic partner of the employee, are each other's
sole domestic partner (and are not married to or domestic partners with
anyone else); and shares responsibility for a significant measure of each
other's common welfare and financial obligations." Both domestic partners of
the same sex and of the opposite sex are included, along with those living
in relationships acknowledged by states as marriages or equivalent to
marriage. The children of domestic partners are considered the equivalent of
the employee's own children, and in loco parentis relationships are included
under “parents” and “sons and daughters”.
Sick Leave Accrual
- Full-time Employees
- 1/2 day (4 hours) for each biweekly pay period (13 days per year).
- Part-time Employees
- 1 hour for each 20 hours in a pay status.
- There are no limits on the amount of sick leave that can be accumulated.
Unused sick leave accumulated by employees covered by the Civil Service
Retirement System (CSRS) will be used in the calculation of their
- Sick leave was initially not creditable for Federal Employees Retirement
System (FERS) employees hired since
January 1, 1984. However, the FY 2010 Defense Department Appropriations
Act of October 2009 provided a phased in arrangement for FERS retirees.
Through December 31, 2013, 50 percent of unused sick leave will count toward
FERS annuities. From 2014, 100 percent of sick leave will be used.
Requesting Sick Leave
- Typically, an employee should request supervisory approval for sick
leave as far in advance as possible. Requests should be made in writing
by use of the Request for Leave or Approved Absence Form (OPM-71) or
other approved method of requesting leave. Under normal circumstances,
no further documentation (other than the OPM-71 or other approved method
of requesting leave) is necessary to support a sick leave absence for up
to three (3) days. Medical certificates may be required for absences
extending beyond three workdays. Under certain circumstances, employees may be placed on a Letters of Requirement, making it mandatory
that employees provide medical documentation to support any absence due
to illness or medical treatment.
- Employees should schedule leave for prearranged examinations or
treatment in advance of the absences. However, when it is necessary for
employees to be absent from work due to illness (either the illness of
the employee or a family member), employees should notify their
supervisor before, or as soon as possible after, they are scheduled to
report for duty. Typically, this notice should be done within two hours
of the start of an employee’s scheduled workday. (An employee covered by
a union contract should refer to any specific provisions set forth in
the contract to ensure they are following the proper leave procedures.)
Employees should obtain supervisory approval prior to departing early
from work for illness or to leave to care for a family member who is
Granting Sick Leave
- An agency may grant sick leave only when supported by evidence
administratively acceptable by the agency. For absences in excess of 3
days or for a lesser period and when determined necessary by the agency,
an agency may require a medical certificate or other administratively
acceptable evidence to support the absence.
Advancing Sick Leave
- A maximum of 30 days (240 hours) of sick leave may be advanced to full-time employees at the beginning of a leave year, or at any time
thereafter when required by the exigencies of the situation, for a
serious disability or ailment of the employee or a family member or for
purposes relating to the adoption of a child. Thirty days is the maximum
amount of advance sick leave an employee may have to his or her credit
at any one time.
- The maximum amount of sick leave an agency may advance to part-time
employees (or employees on an uncommon tour of duty) is prorated
according to the number of hours in the employees’ regularly scheduled
- Requests for advanced sick leave should be made in writing through
the supervisory chain, and should include the amount of leave requested
and the reason the advance sick leave. Applications should also be
supported by documentation appropriate to the situations (e.g., for
adoption purposes, the employee's certification and attorney's
certification may be required; for medical/illness purposes, a medical
certification would be required). In the case of advanced sick leave for
illness or disability, the medical documentation must include a
diagnosis, prognosis, and the physician's estimate of the time of
- Typically, advanced sick leave will not be granted to employees when
it is known that employees do not intend to return to duty or when
available information indicates that there is only a remote possibility
that employees will be returning to work; when employees have applied
for disability retirement; or when employees have signified their
intention to resign for disability reasons.
- Advances of sick leave are considered debts due the U.S. Government,
and therefore obligate employees to repay the advances either by charges
against subsequently earned leave or by repayment upon separation.
However, employees with advanced sick leave who enter active military
duty with restoration rights, who die, or who are separated due to
disability are not required to liquidate their indebtedness for advanced