U.S. workers who now get 13 days sick leave each year would be cut back to five under a legislative proposal of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) to overhaul the government retirement system and put all new federal employes under Social Security.

Stevens' bill, which has been on the drawing board for months, would put all new federal workers under a combination of the Civil Service Retirement program and Social Security. Current employes could remain in the civil service pension system if they chose, or elect to come into the new program.

Federal workers now contribute 7 percent of their salaries to the CS retirement program and the federal government matches it. They are not covered by Social Security.

Under Stevens' proposal, new employes and those who come into the proposed combined system would not have to contribute to the CS retirement fund. They would have to pay Social Security taxes, which are 6.7 percent of salary on amounts up to $32,400 a year.

Stevens' plan also would allow employes to contribute up to 16 percent of their salary into a new trust fund, with the government contributing up to 3 percent.

A new addition to the bill, being circulated to union leaders for comment, is the cutback in the amount of sick leave for government workers. Union chiefs contacted yesterday said the thought of cutting back sick leave makes them sick.

An official of the National Treasury Employes Union said, "Like they say on the TV show, 'That's Incredible.' We find it incredible that a retirement overhaul bill would even address the issue of sick leave, or that anybody would propose cutting back sick leave".

Most union leaders feel that Stevens will be slow to introduce the legislation because of objections to earlier versions.

But the assistant majority leader has the muscle to get things done in the Senate. And, given the budget-cutting, anti-bureaucrat mood of Congress, this is one item civil servants should not dismiss just because it sounds too awful to be true.