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Pay & Leave Leave Administration

Sick Leave for Personal Medical Needs

Sick Leave Entitlement

An employee is entitled to use sick leave when he or she:

  • receives medical, dental, or optical examination or treatment;
  • is incapacitated for the performance of duties by physical or mental illness, injury, pregnancy, or childbirth; or
  • would, as determined by the health authorities having jurisdiction or by a health care provider, jeopardize the health of others by his or her presence on the job because of exposure to a communicable disease.

There is no limitation on the amount of accrued or accumulated sick leave that an employee can use for his or her own personal medical needs.

Advanced Sick Leave

At the discretion of the agency, up to 104 hours (13 days) of sick leave may be advanced to an employee, when required by the exigencies of the situation, for an employee's own medical, dental, or optical examination or treatment. An agency may also grant up to 240 hours (30 days) of advanced sick leave for an employee's own illness, injury, pregnancy, childbirth, or exposure to a communicable disease. For further details, please see our fact sheet entitled Advanced Sick Leave.

Requesting Sick Leave

An employee must request sick leave within such time limits as the agency may require. An agency may require employees to request advanced approval of sick leave for medical, dental, or optical examination or treatment. If the employee complies with the agency's notification and medical evidence/certification requirements, the agency must grant sick leave.

Supporting Evidence for the Use of Sick Leave

An agency may grant sick leave only when supported by administratively acceptable evidence. For absences in excess of 3 days, or for a lesser period when determined necessary by the agency, an agency may require a medical certificate or other administratively acceptable evidence. An agency may consider an employee's self-certification as to the reason for his or her absence as administratively acceptable evidence, regardless of the duration of the absence. Employees should consult their agency-specific human resources guidance and review applicable policies set forth in collective bargaining agreements for information specific to their agency.

An employee must provide administratively acceptable evidence or medical certification within 15 days of the agency's request. If the employee is unable to provide evidence, despite the employee's diligent, good faith efforts, he or she must provide it within a reasonable period of time, but no later than 30 calendar days after the agency makes the request. If the employee fails to provide the required evidence within the specified time period, he or she is not entitled to sick leave.

Pregnancy/Childbirth

A pregnant employee who must be absent from work at some point before giving birth for her own health or that of her unborn child is entitled to use sick leave. According to the definition of serious health condition, any period of incapacity due to pregnancy or childbirth, or for prenatal care, is considered a serious health condition, even if the employee does not receive active treatment from a health care provider during the period of incapacity or the period of incapacity does not last more than 3 consecutive calendar days. Sick leave may be used for medical examinations and during the period of incapacitation for delivery and recuperation. Once the period of incapacitation is over, there is no entitlement to use sick leave. An employee may not use sick leave to voluntarily be absent from work to bond with a healthy newborn. There is no provision in law or regulation that permits the use of sick leave to care for a healthy newborn, bond with a healthy child, or for other child care responsibilities. Please see our fact sheet entitled Leave and Work Scheduling Flexibilities Available For Childbirth for more information.

Sick Leave for Exposure to Communicable Disease

An employee is entitled to use sick leave if health authorities or a health care provider determine that the employee's presence on the job would jeopardize the health of others because of exposure to a communicable disease. The use of sick leave would be appropriate in these circumstances even if the employee is not sick but would be limited to circumstances where exposure alone would jeopardize the health of others and would only arise in cases of serious communicable diseases, such as communicable diseases where Federal isolation and quarantine are authorized, which currently includes: cholera, diphtheria, infectious tuberculosis, plague, smallpox, yellow fever, viral hemorrhagic fevers, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), and influenza that causes or has the potential to cause a pandemic. For more information, visit the CDC website which provides an illustrative, but not exhaustive, list of the types of serious communicable diseases where exposure alone would jeopardize the health of others.

This provides an illustrative, but not exhaustive, list of the types of serious communicable diseases where exposure alone would jeopardize the health of others. If the employee actually contracts the communicable disease and becomes ill, sick leave for personal illness would be appropriate.

Other Available Leave Options and Work Schedule Flexibilities

Sick leave may be used only for those circumstances specified in law and regulation. The Federal Government offers a wide range of leave options and workplace flexibilities to assist an employee who needs to be away from the workplace. These flexibilities include annual leave, sick leave, advanced annual leave or advanced sick leave, leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), donated leave under the voluntary leave transfer program, leave without pay, alternative work schedules, credit hours under flexible work schedules, compensatory time off and telework. Agencies may also have a voluntary leave bank program.

References

5 U.S.C. 6307
5 CFR part 630, subparts B and D

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