Bill Aims to Fix Discrepancy in Retirees' Sick Leave Credit

By Joe Davidson
Friday, February 13, 2009

A long-standing gripe among civil servants who joined the government in 1987 or after is they cannot count unused sick leave days toward time worked when determining their retirement annuity.

Workers in the Federal Employees Retirement System feel they are cheated under the "use it or lose it policy" because their colleagues under the Civil Service Retirement System can credit unused sick leave toward retirement.

Now the FERS employees see relief on the horizon.

Northern Virginia Reps. James P. Moran Jr. (D) and Frank R. Wolf (R) introduced a bill this week that would allow FERS workers to convert sick leave just like CSRS employees, who joined the government before 1987.

"This bipartisan legislation will correct a long-standing 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."

Taxpayers get hit when Uncle Sam's productivity drops as FERS employees nearing retirement call in sick to use up their leave before they quit. If those days were credited toward retirement, there would be an incentive to conserve, rather than use, sick time.

A Congressional Research Service study found that "nearly 85 percent of CSRS employees and retirees said they would or did conserve as much sick leave as possible, [while] more than 75 percent of FERS employees and retirees said they planned to use as much sick leave as possible during their last year before retirement."

Employee groups, of course, eagerly support this legislation. Moran released a list of 16 that do.

"Our federal workforce is the best in the world," he said. "They deserve a benefit designed to reward, not punish, those who play by the rules."

VA Cracks Down on Contractors

It's the kind of incident that makes federal union leaders howl about the government's reliance on outside contractors.

The Department of Veterans Affairs said yesterday that one of its contractors had been a bit sloppy with medical information. The company provides medical transcription services, but it did not comply with the VA's standards for information technology security.

Fortunately, there is no evidence that patient information was disclosed, according to an agency statement.

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