Congressmen Re-Introduce FERS Sick Leave Bill

The following is a press release from Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA)

FERS Sick Leave Benefit Introduced

 Current “Use-it or Lose-it” Policy Wasting $68 million/yr
 Washington, D.C., February 10th – Congressman Jim Moran, Virginia Democrat, and Congressman Frank Wolf, Virginia Republican, introduced legislation today authored by Moran, the “FERS Sick Leave Equity Act” that provides federal employees under the FERS retirement system a sick leave benefit equal to that of employees under the CSRS retirement system. The so-called “sick leave” benefit adds any unused sick leave to the number of years an employee has worked for the purposes of determining their annuity during retirement. 
“FERS ‘use-it or lose-it’ system for sick leave hampers productivity and increases training costs,” said Moran. “We need to be incentivizing the accrual of sick leave, not encouraging employees to call in sick in the weeks leading up to retirement.”

The FERS retirement system, created by Congress in 1986, does not include a sick leave benefit.  OPM estimates that this flawed policy is costing taxpayers $68 million per year. However, federal employees under the old CSRS retirement system (those who joined the civil service prior to 1986) are currently able to convert unused sick leave at retirement into an increase in their annual annuity.

“This bipartisan legislation will correct a longstanding inequity between the two federal retirement programs,” Wolf said.  “It also will increase efficiency by cutting down on use of sick leave prior to an employee’s retirement, which has cost taxpayers $68 million each year.”

This has not always been the case.  In 1969, Congress added a sick leave benefit for CSRS employees after data showed that the use of sick leave went up dramatically nearing the time of retirement.  The Civil Service Commission – the forerunner to OPM – estimated that half of all retiring federal employees had ZERO sick leave; their reports showed that retiring employees prior to 1969 used an average of 40 sick leave days in their last year of employment.

“Congress ignored the lessons learned under CSRS and history is repeating itself,” Moran added.  “Our federal workforce is the best in the world; they deserve a benefit designed to reward, not punish, those who play by the rules.”

“The cost of sick leave used by federal employees continues to rise, and the loss of productivity becomes more apparent as there is no incentive for FERS employees to conserve sick leave,” commented Federal Managers Association National President Darryl Perkinson. “By placing a value on sick leave, FERS employees are encouraged to use their leave responsibly.”

John Gage, President American Federation of Government Employees stated “AFGE strongly endorses Rep. Moran’s legislation, which would correct a longstanding inequity between CSRS and FERS.  The incentive to save sick leave for retirement credit later is good for the government while the employee is working, and is an appropriate reward for dedicated employees upon their retirement.”

A Congressional Research Service report from August 2007, found that sick leave balances are lower for FERS employees than CSRS employees.  Independent studies by the Bureau of Prisons have reached the same conclusion with OPM confirming it in their own analysis.

In a recent survey of FERS and CSRS employees, 85% of CSRS employees said they conserved as much sick leave as possible.  On the other hand, 75% of FERS employees said they would use as much sick leave as possible during their last years.

The bill has been endorsed by the following organizations:
•        American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE)
•        American Foreign Service Association (AFSA)
•        American Postal Workers Union (APWU)
•        FAA Managers Association (FAAMA)
•        Federal Managers Association (FMA)
•        Federally Employed Women (FEW)
•        Government Managers Coalition (GMC)
•        Senior Executives Association (SEA)
•        National Council of Social Security Management Associations (NCSSMA)
•        Professional Managers Association (PMA)
•        National Association of Government Employees (NAGE)
•        National Association of Postal Supervisors (NAPS)
•        National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE)
•        National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE)
•        National Rural Letter Carriers Association (NRLCA)
•  National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU)

Original cosponsors of the “FERS Sick Leave Equity Act” include: Connolly (D-VA), Edwards (D-MD), Holt (D-NJ), Petri (R-MI), Ruppersberger (D-MD), Sarbanes (D-MD), Wolf (R-VA).