New Bill Seeks to Safeguard Federal Workers’ Annual Leave

October 5, 2020 by Sara Wilkerson
Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., at a recent meeting of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. (Photo by Dan McCue)

Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., and his House colleagues recently introduced the Federal Worker Leave Fairness Act of 2020, legislation that will allow all federal workers to carry over their earned annual leave received during the coronavirus pandemic. Approximately 2 million federal employees would benefit from the bill’s passage. 

According to a press release from Kilmer’s office, federal workers who accumulate over 240 hours, or 30 days, of annual leave are mandated to either lose the hours they collected above the cap threshold, or use their hours of leave before the end of the year. 

However, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of leave hours has been near impossible since most federal workers provide critical services to the nation, including but not limited to social security services, postal work, and more. 

If passed into law, the bill’s text states that any leave that is lost by a federal employee during a pandemic that is declared to be a nationwide public health emergency under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act will be restored to the employee. 

As to how long the annual leave rollover would last, Andrew Wright, the communications director for Rep. Kilmer, told The Well News that, “The leave will be rolled over into the next calendar year, so if the pandemic is still declared during 2021, the leave would then roll over into 2022.” 

Wright went on to say that the bill’s effects would last until the public health emergency is declared to be over by the Centers for Disease Control. 

Federal workers have not only taken on their pre-pandemic roles, but they have also helped in the need to limit exposure to COVID-19 on state and local levels. 

“Federal workers at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard have been working tirelessly throughout this pandemic to maintain the Navy’s readiness to respond to national security threats and have avoided unnecessary travel to minimize health risks that could threaten this important work,” said Kilmer.

“They shouldn’t have to sacrifice the paid leave benefits they’ve earned because they chose to prioritize national service,” he added. 

“With COVID-19 travel restrictions still in place across the country, taking time off to spend with family or visit loved ones is not an option for many federal employees across Virginia right now,” said Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-Va., who introduced the bill alongside Kilmer. 

“Pandemics don’t line up with benefit years. That’s why I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this legislation that would allow all of our federal workers to rollover their ‘use it or lose it’ time off at the end of this unprecedented year. They deserve to have their hard-earned benefits protected, particularly as many continue to serve on the frontlines of our government’s response to this crisis,” continued Wexton. 

The Federal Worker Leave Fairness Act was also introduced in the Senate by Sen. Mazie K. Hirono, D-Hawaii, and several of her Senate colleagues, including Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. and others. 

“Thousands of dedicated federal workers have been tirelessly responding to the coronavirus pandemic, including U.S. Postal Service employees, Internal Revenue Service and Social Security Administration workers, and National Institutes of Health researchers,” Hirono said in a statement. 

Hirono continued, “Our nation has leaned on them as they deliver medicines and Social Security checks, assist Americans with filing their taxes, develop a vaccine, and provide other vital services. 

“This bill makes sure that no federal worker loses their leave because of this or any future pandemic.” 

The bill has been endorsed by a number of organizations and unions such as the National Treasury Employees Union, the Federal Managers Association, the National Federation of Federal Employees as well as the American Federation of Government Employees. 

“Too many of our nation’s civil servants, through no fault of their own, stand to lose paid time-off that they have rightfully earned, and we are pleased that Sen. Hirono and Reps. Kilmer and Wexton, with the Federal Worker Leave Fairness Act, have crafted a common-sense solution,” said Tony Reardon, national president of the National Treasury Employees Union. 

Reardon continued saying, “We urge Congress to move swiftly on the Federal Worker Leave Fairness Act and help federal workers keep the leave they have earned serving the nation’s taxpayers.” 

Employment

Push for Minimum Wage Hike Persists
Congress
Push for Minimum Wage Hike Persists
March 3, 2021
by Reece Nations

WASHINGTON — Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough quashed Democrats’ plans to add a $15 per hour federal minimum wage increase to President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package, but some members are not giving up. Democrats are planning to pass the bill by using the reconciliation process... Read More

Apprenticeships Benefit Individuals and Employers
Employment
Apprenticeships Benefit Individuals and Employers
March 2, 2021
by Victoria Turner

WASHINGTON - The Department of Labor’s apprenticeship programs benefit individuals seeking to master skills while gainfully employed, and provides employers with the talent needed to fill the current workforce shortage, according to two Congressmen yesterday. Apprenticeships differ from paid internships in that they are not temporary,... Read More

US Jobless Claims Fall to 730,000 But Layoffs Remain High
Economy
US Jobless Claims Fall to 730,000 But Layoffs Remain High

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell sharply last week but remained high by historical standards.  Applications for benefits declined 111,000 from the previous week to a seasonally adjusted 730,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. It is the lowest figure since late... Read More

Biden Picks Ahuja to Head OPM
Employment
Biden Picks Ahuja to Head OPM
February 23, 2021
by TWN Staff

WASHINGTON - President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced he's picked Kiran Ahuja to be his director of the Office of Personnel Management. If confirmed, Ahuja would be the first South Asian and first Asian American woman to lead the agency. Ahuja served for a little more... Read More

Congress Wants to Restore Its Workforce to Well-Being After Tumultuous Year
Mental Health
Congress Wants to Restore Its Workforce to Well-Being After Tumultuous Year
February 19, 2021
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON -- A congressional subcommittee tried to assess the well-being and mental health of its own workforce Thursday after a year that one of its members described as “like drinking from a firehose while in freefall.” Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-N.Y., was talking about how the COVID-19... Read More

Restaurants Urge Congress to Forgo Minimum Wage Hike
Employment
Restaurants Urge Congress to Forgo Minimum Wage Hike
February 16, 2021
by TWN Staff

The National Restaurant Association is urging Congress not to increase the federal minimum wage as part of President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package. The association said in a letter sent to congressional leaders Tuesday that fast-tracking a minimum wage hike to $15 an hour... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top