Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Retiring Soon? Contact Congress About Your Unused Sick Leave

On March 10, Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) sponsored a new bill that would allow federal employees to cash out part of their unused sick leave at retirement. H.R.5573 amends title 5 of the United States Code, "to provide for a lump-sum payment for certain Federal employees who retire with a substantial amount of unused sick leave for which they would not otherwise receive any compensation or benefit." The proposal applies to accrued sick leave in excess of 500 hours and is capped at $10,000. Employees covered under the old system (CSRS) have their unused sick leave converted into credits that increase their pension rates, however employees who joined the Feds under FERS (since 1983) do not have the same consideration. The WP's article cited an average of 13.5 hours more sick leave used annually by those who are near their retirement window. Congressman Moran is concerned that the "use-it-or-lose-it" policy is impacting productivity. I think, if approved, the proposal is also an excellent way of motivating FERS-enrolled employees to use their sick leave credits responsibly and rewarding those who do.

Considering that 60% of people in the federal workforce will be eligible to retire over the next 10 years, this is an issue that should resonate to a lot of people, hopefully, including you. Please contact your elected representative to request their support for H.R. 5573. Click here or here to write to your representative online. Click here for guidelines on writing to Congress. If you are not quite sure how laws are made, click here to learn about the process and why your support is needed on this.

You can read the entire text of the bill in PDF format here. H.R. 5573 is cosponsored by Rep Tom Davis (R-Va) and Rep Frank R. Wolf (R-Va) and has been referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on March 10.

Disclosures: I do not have any unused sick leave that I could cash in under this proposal, nor am I anywhere close to retirement. But I do have somebody dear to me who has over 1200 hours of unused sick leave who will be retiring in 2-3 years, as well as friends who are in the same retirement track.

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