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Legislation would allow FERS employees to cash in unused sick leave

By Jaime L. Hartman Feb 12 2009, 05:14 AM

New legislation that would allow more federal employees to cash out their unused sick leave upon retirement was introduced in the House this week. The benefit would apply to workers in the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) as well as employees covered under the Foreign Service Pension System and U.S. Postal Service retirement plan.

Currently, FERS employees cannot count unused sick leave toward their retirement annuity. But employees hired before 1984 and covered under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) do receive such credit for unused sick leave and are allowed to add the unused leave to the number of years they have worked in the government to determine their annuity at retirement.

The legislation, introduced by Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), would provide FERS employees with a benefit equal to the CSRS benefit.

All federal employees receive 13 days of sick leave annually and can carry over unlimited amounts of sick leave. But FERS employees have no incentive to save their sick leave and instead tend to use up their sick days as they approach retirement, while CSRS employees are more likely to use sick leave judiciously.

The National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) quickly endorsed the bill.

“The ‘use it or lose it’ sick leave policy under FERS is unfair to the workers," said Richard R. Brown, National President of NFFE. "The sick leave that federal employees accrue over their careers is a benefit they have earned. They deserve to be compensated in some way for not using that time.”

Moran also cited the indirect cost of the FERS use-it-or-lose-it system in productivity and increased training costs.

“We need to be incentivizing the accrual of sick leave, not encouraging employees to call in sick in the weeks leading up to retirement,” he said.

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Read More: Office Of Personnel Management (OPM), U.S. Congress, Pay And Benefits, Legislation


February 12, 2009 8:39 PM

Although the focus of this article has been on use of sick leave in calculating retirement employees should keep in mind that building sick leave can serve to off set short term disability insurance often available in private industry, but not in the federal government.   In addition at some point, when the US government sees the light and changes the laws or rules to include unused sick leave in calculating FERS retierment system (they will)  it will likely  be retroactive and included current accumulated unused sick leave.  Don't waste it!  

May 24, 2011 12:51 PM

There are many ways federal employees can curcumvent using the sick leave.  I retired from the Corps of Engineers.  Many times I seen employees in "favorable" positions take "comp time", thus not using sick or annual leave.  Although comp time is supposed to be accounted for as all other time taken off. ie. Comp time has to be documented and used within 30 days, it cannot be accrued.  I've seen people take 2 weeks off, comp time.  I challenge you to find any documentation allowing or accounting for individuals takin comp time in a federal position..












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