FMA and Congress Deliver Wounded Veterans a Well-Earned Benefit
Beginning November 5, 2016, managers have a new tool at their disposal to better accommodate our nation’s wounded veterans.
The Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act (P.L. 114-75) will formally take effect, providing paid disabled veteran leave for federal employees to attend necessary medical treatment of service-connected disabilities. The Federal Managers Association (FMA) originated this idea based on the concerns of a manager (and FMA member) at Fleet Readiness Center-East at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, and we are pleased disabled veterans will soon make use of this new leave category.
Disabled veteran leave allows eligible new hires immediate access to up to 104 hours of paid leave. There is a single 12-month eligibility period, and the time is use-it-or-lose-it. It does not carry over. Further, the leave must be used specifically for treatment of service-connected disabilities. If an employee gets the flu or needs to take their child to the orthodontist, for example, they need to use regular accrued sick or annual leave like any other federal employee. The idea behind disabled veteran leave is to give a boost to men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country and continue their dedicated service in the federal government.
The rules provided by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) were expansive and welcomed by FMA. To be eligible, the employee must have a disability rating of 30 percent or more. It applies to an employee’s initial appointment, reappointment (a break in service of at least ninety days), or a Return to Duty to a covered position following military leave. Furthermore, an employee who does not yet have their rating can apply for the benefit. For more information and specifics on the implementation of disabled veteran leave, please visit the Chief Human Capital Officers website.
As the implementation date draws near, FMA extends our deepest gratitude to Reps. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) and Blake Farenthold (R-TX), who championed the effort in the U.S. House of Representatives, and Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) who led the charge in the U.S. Senate. At a time of divisive, partisan politics, FMA is grateful Congress came together to enact this commonsense legislation and put our money where our mouth is in support of the best America has to offer.
As you may know, the Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act applies to Title V employees, approximately 85 percent of the federal workforce. Last month, the House and Senate passed legislation, the Federal Aviation Administration Veteran Transition Improvement Act of 2016 (S.2683), providing disabled veteran leave to Title 49 employees at the Federal Aviation Administration, who were not covered in the original bill. FMA worked with Sens. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Deb Fischer (R-NE) in the Senate and Reps. Rick Larsen (D-WA) and Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) in the House. President Obama signed this bill into law (P.L. 114-242) on October 7, 2016, and it will take effect in July 2017.
FMA is continuing to work with Congress, led by Sen. Tester, to extend coverage to all federal employees who remain uncovered by the original law or the FAA-extension. All of America’s disabled veterans who continue serving our nation deserve to have access to the disabled veteran leave they have rightfully earned with their sacrifices. They should not have to choose between getting a paycheck and getting the care they need during their first year on the job. We were thrilled to see the swift passage of the FAA bill, and we look forward to Congress considering and passing additional legislation.
Until then, FMA is delighted that disabled veteran leave will finally be a reality and available in a few short weeks.
Posted in Hear it from FMA