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OPM Proposes Regulations to Implement the Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act, Giving Disabled Veterans Who Are Federal Employees Access to New Type of Leave for Medical Appointments

June 29, 2016

On June 6, 2016, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) proposed final regulations implementing a statute that increases the availability of medical leave for United States veterans with disabilities. The Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act of 2015 gives 104 extra hours of sick leave to veterans with disabilities (i.e., veterans with a disability rating of 30 percent or more) who work in the federal government to enable them to attend medical appointments related to their disability. This leave time, which would be available for 12 months beginning on the start date of employment, would be referred to as “disabled veteran leave.” This leave time is designed to cover the time period during which veterans have not been at a federal job long enough to earn ordinary sick leave. Veterans with disabilities, due to the need for regular medical appointments, tend to run out of ordinary sick leave quickly. The new law attempts to address several of these concerns. 

OPM’s regulations make several useful additions to the law’s implementation. First, it extends immediate eligibility to disabled veterans who worked for a short time in the federal government before the law was implemented (before November 5, 2016), then left and were rehired after the law was implemented (after November 5, 2016). Ordinarily, only disabled veterans with an employment start date after November 5, 2016 would be eligible. OPM indicated in its proposed regulation that it did not feel that Congress intended to exclude such individuals. The proposed regulations also define several terms used by the statute which clarify Congress’ intent, such as stating that “disabled veteran leave” only refers to medical appointments for the veteran’s service-caused disability. 

For more information, read the Government Executive article describing many of the major actions OPM intends to take in the regulations