513 Sick Leave

513.1 Purpose

513.11 Sick Leave for Employee Incapacitation

Sick leave insures employees against loss of pay if they are incapacitated for the performance of duties because of illness, injury, pregnancy and confinement, and medical (including dental or optical) examination or treatment.

513.12 Sick Leave for Dependent Care

A limited amount of sick leave may also be used to provide for the medical needs of a family member. Nonbargaining unit employees, and bargaining unit employees if provided in their national agreements, are allowed to take up to 80 hours of their accrued sick leave per leave year to give care or otherwise attend to a family member (as defined in 515.2(a), 515.2(b), and 515.2(c) with an illness, injury, or other condition that, if an employee had such a condition, would justify the use of sick leave. If leave for dependent care is approved, but the employee has already used the maximum 80 hours of sick leave allowable, the difference is charged to annual leave or to LWOP at the employee’s option. (See 515 for information about FMLA entitlement to be absent from work.)

513.2 Accrual and Crediting

513.21 Accrual Chart

Time accrued is as follows:

 

Employee Category

Time Accrued

Full-time employees.

4 hours for each full biweekly pay period — i.e., 13 days (104 hours) per 26–period leave year.

Part-time employees.

1 hour for each unit of 20 hours in pay status up to 104 hours (13 days) per 26–period leave year.

513.22 Crediting
513.221 General

Sick leave is credited at the end of each biweekly pay period in which it is earned. Sick leave (earned and unused) accumulates without limitation.

513.222 Part-Time Employees

Part-time employees are not credited with sick leave in excess of 13 days (104 hours) per 26–period leave year.

513.223 Leave Replacements for Rural Carriers

Substitute rural carriers or RCAs assigned to and serving (a) a vacant route or (b) a route from which the rural carrier is on extended leave, and RCAs assigned to and serving an auxiliary route are credited with sick leave starting with the first pay period following the 90–day qualifying period.

513.224 Auxiliary Rural Carriers

Auxiliary rural carriers are not credited with sick leave in excess of 104 hours per leave year. If they serve in another capacity (e.g., flexible employees) in the Post Office, that service is also used in computing sick leave credit (see 513.21).

513.225 Substitute Rural Carriers in Dual Appointment

Substitute rural carriers in dual appointments earn sick leave only when their service is performed in a position that is subject to the Civil Service Retirement Act. The leave can be used only while they are serving in a leave–earning position.

513.226 Leave Credit Adjustment for LWOP

See 514.24.

513.3 Authorizing Sick Leave

513.31 Policy
513.311 General

Sick leave cannot be granted until it is earned, except as provided in 513.5.

513.312 Restriction

An employee who is in sick leave status may not engage in any gainful employment unless prior approval has been granted by appropriate authority (see 662, Federal Standards of Ethical Conduct).

513.32 Conditions for Authorization

Conditions for authorization are as follows:*

 

Conditions

Illness or injury.

If the employee is incapacitated for the performance of official duties.

Pregnancy and confinement.

If absence is required for physical examinations or periods of incapacitation.

Medical, dental, or optical examination or treatment.

If absence is necessary during the employee’s regular scheduled tour.

For eligible employees (as indicated in 513.12), care for a family member (as defined in 515.2(a) 515.2(c), and 515.2(e)).

Up to 80 hours of accrued sick leave per leave year if the illness, injury, or other condition is one that, if an employee had such a condition, would justify the use of sick leave.

Contagious disease. A contagious disease is a disease ruled as requiring isolation, quarantine, or restriction of movement of the patient for a particular period by the health authorities having jurisdiction.

If the employee (1) must care for a family member afflicted with a contagious disease, (2) has been exposed to a contagious disease and would jeopardize the health of others, or (3) has evidence supplied by the local health authorities or a certificate signed by a physician certifying the need for the period of isolation or restriction.

Medical treatment for disabled veterans.

If the employee (1) presents a statement from a duly authorized medical authority that treatment is required, and (2) when possible, gives prior notice of the definite number of days and hours of absence. (Such information is needed for work scheduling purposes.)

* Sick leave, annual leave, or LWOP is granted as may be necessary for any of these conditions in accordance with normal leave policies and collective bargaining agreements. (See also 513.6 and 514.22.)

513.33 Requests for Sick Leave
513.331 General

Except for unexpected illness or injury situations, sick leave must be requested on PS Form 3971 and approved in advance by the appropriate supervisor.

513.332 Unexpected Illness or Injury

An exception to the advance approval requirement is made for unexpected illness or injuries; however, in this situation the employee must notify appropriate postal authorities of his or her illness or injury and expected duration of the absence as soon as possible.

When sufficient information is provided to determine that the absence may be covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the following Department of Labor forms will be mailed to the employee’s address of record along with a return envelope:

  1. WH 381, FMLA Notice of Eligibility and Rights and Responsibilities; and
  2. One of the following forms, as appropriate:
    1. WH-380-E, FMLA Certification of Health Care Provider for Employee’s Serious Health Condition.
    2. WH-380-F, FMLA Certification of Health Care Provider for Family Member’s Serious Health Condition.
    3. WH-385, FMLA Certification for Serious Injury or Illness of Covered Servicemember for Military Family Leave.

Note: These forms are provided for the employee’s convenience, as they solicit all required information; however, employees may use another format as long as it provides complete and sufficient information as required by the FMLA. The information provided should relate only to the specific reason associated with the request for leave protection.

PS Form 3971, Request for or Notification of Absence, will be provided to the employee upon his or her return to duty.

When sufficient information to determine that the absence is covered by FMLA is not provided in advance of the absence, the employee must submit a PS Form 3971 and applicable medical or other certification upon returning to duty and explain the reason for the absence. Employees may be required to submit acceptable evidence of incapacity to work as outlined in the provisions of 513.36, Sick Leave Documentation Requirements, or noted on the reverse of PS Form 3971 or on Department of Labor Form WH-381, as applicable.

The supervisor approves or disapproves the leave request. When the request is disapproved, the absence may be recorded as annual leave or, if appropriate, as LWOP or AWOL, at the discretion of the supervisor as outlined in 513.342.

513.34 PS Form 3971, Request for or Notification of Absence
513.341 General

Request for sick leave is made in writing, in duplicate, on PS Form 3971. If the absence is to care for a family member, this fact is to be noted in the Remarks section.

513.342 Approval or Disapproval

The supervisor is responsible for approving or disapproving requests for sick leave by signing PS Form 3971, a copy of which is given to the employee. If a supervisor does not approve a request for leave as submitted, the Disapproved block on the PS Form 3971 is checked and the reason(s) given, in writing, in the space provided. When a request is disapproved, the granting of any alternate type of leave, if any, must be noted along with the reason for the disapproval. AWOL determinations must be similarly noted.

513.35 Postmaster Absences

There are special requirements for postmaster absences:

  1. Leave Replacement. A postmaster whose absence requires the hiring of a leave replacement must notify the appropriate official.
  2. Absence Over 3 Days. A postmaster who is absent in excess of 3 days must submit PS Form 3971 within 2 days of returning to duty or, for an extended illness, at the end of each accounting period.
513.36 Sick Leave Documentation Requirements
513.361 Three Days or Less

For periods of absence of 3 days or less, supervisors may accept the employee’s statement explaining the absence. Medical documentation or other acceptable evidence of incapacity for work or need to care for a family member is required only when the employee is on restricted sick leave (see 513.39) or when the supervisor deems documentation desirable for the protection of the interests of the Postal Service. Substantiation of the family relationship must be provided if requested.

513.362 Over Three Days

For absences in excess of 3 days, employees are required to submit medical documentation or other acceptable evidence of incapacity for work or of need to care for a family member and, if requested, substantiation of the family relationship.

513.363 Extended Periods

Employees who are on sick leave for extended periods are required to submit at appropriate intervals, but not more frequently than once every 30 days, satisfactory evidence of continued incapacity for work or need to care for a family member unless some responsible supervisor has knowledge of the employee’s continuing situation.

513.364 Medical Documentation or Other Acceptable Evidence

When employees are required to submit medical documentation, such documentation should be furnished by the employee’s attending physician or other attending practitioner who is performing within the scope of his or her practice. The documentation should provide an explanation of the nature of the employee’s illness or injury sufficient to indicate to management that the employee was (or will be) unable to perform his or her normal duties for the period of absence. Normally, medical statements such as “under my care” or “received treatment” are not acceptable evidence of incapacitation to perform duties.

Supervisors may accept substantiation other than medical documentation if they believe it supports approval of the sick leave request.

513.365 Failure to Furnish Required Documentation

If acceptable substantiation of incapacitation is not furnished, the absence may be charged to annual leave, LWOP, or AWOL.

513.37 Return to Duty

An employee returning from an FMLA–covered absence because of his or her own incapacitation must provide documentation from his or her health care provider that he or she is able to perform the functions of the position with or without limitation. Limitations described are accommodated when practical. Bargaining unit employees must also comply with requirements in 865.

513.38 Performance Ability Questioned

When the reason for an employee’s sick leave is of such a nature as to raise justifiable doubt concerning the employee’s ability to satisfactorily and/or safely perform duties, a fitnessforduty medical examination is requested through appropriate authority. A complete report of the facts, medical and otherwise, should support the request.

513.39 Restricted Sick Leave
513.391 Reasons for Restriction

Supervisors or installation heads who have evidence indicating that an employee is abusing sick leave privileges may place the employee on the restricted sick leave list. In addition, employees may be placed on the restricted sick leave list after their sick leave use has been reviewed on an individual basis and the following actions have been taken:

  1. Establishment of an absence file.
  2. Review of the absence file by the immediate supervisor and higher levels of management.
  3. Review of the absences during the past quarter of LWOP and sick leave used by employees. (No minimum sick leave balance is established below which the employee’s sick leave record is automatically considered unsatisfactory.)
  4. Supervisor’s discussion of absence record with the employee.
  5. Review of the subsequent quarterly absences. If the absence logs indicate no improvement, the supervisor is to discuss the matter with the employee to include advice that if there is no improvement during the next quarter, the employee will be placed on restricted sick leave.
513.392 Notice and Listing

Supervisors provide written notice to employees that their names have been added to the restricted sick leave listing. The notice also explains that, until further notice, the employees must support all requests for sick leave by medical documentation or other acceptable evidence (see 513.364).

513.393 Recision of Restriction

Supervisors review the employee’s PS Form 3972 for each quarter. If there has been a substantial decrease in absences charged to sickness, the employee’s name is removed from the restricted sick leave list and the employee is notified in writing of the removal.

513.4 Charging Sick Leave

513.41 Full-Time Employees
513.411 General

General provisions are as follows:

  1. Sick leave is not charged for legal holidays or for nonworkdays established by Executive Order.
  2. Exception: If employees shown to be eligible in 434.422 elect to receive annual leave credit in lieu of holiday leave pay (see 512.65) and then become ill during their scheduled tour, sick leave may be charged to supplement work hours, up to the limit of their regular work schedule, on the holiday worked, provided the requirements of section 513.32 are met.

  3. Sick leave may be charged on any scheduled workday of an employee’s basic workweek.
513.412 Minimum Unit Charge

Minimum unit charges are as follows:

 

Employee Category

Minimum Unit Charge

All full–time nonexempt employees.

One–hundredth of an hour (0.01 hour).

Full-time exempt.

(See 519.7)

Regular rural carriers.

1 day (8 hours).

Substitute rural carriers and RCAs when in a leave–earning status and serving:

 

  1. Vacant routes.

1 day (8 hours).

  1. Routes from which rural carriers are on extended leave.

1 day (8 hours).

RCAs when in a leave–earning status and servicing auxiliary routes.

1 hour.

Auxiliary rural carriers.

1 hour.

Triweekly rural carriers.

(See 512.54).

513.413 Special Situations

The following provisions concern special situations:

  1. AE Postmasters. A–E postmasters are charged sick leave the same as annual leave (see 512.524).
  2. Rural Carriers. Rural carriers who are absent because of illness on Saturdays are charged sick leave based on the computations used for their annual leave charges (see 512.53).
  3. Replacement Rural Carriers. Substitute rural carriers and RCAs in a leave earning status and serving (a) vacant routes and (b) routes from which rural carriers are on extended leave are charged sick leave in the same manner as rural carriers. RCAs in a leave earning status and serving auxiliary routes are charged sick leave in the same manner as auxiliary rural carriers.
  4. Triweekly Rural Carriers. Triweekly rural carriers are charged sick leave the same as for annual leave (see 512.54).
513.42 Part-Time Employees
513.421 General

General provisions are as follows:

  1. Absences due to illness are charged as sick leave on any day that an hourly rate employee is scheduled to work except national holidays.
  2. Exception: If employees shown to be eligible in 434.422 elect to receive annual leave credit in lieu of holiday leave pay (see 512.65), sick leave may be charged to supplement work hours, up to the limit of their regular work schedule, on the holiday worked, provided the requirements of section 513.32 are met.

  3. Except as provided in 513.82, paid sick leave may not exceed the number of hours that the employee would have been scheduled to work, up to:
    1. A maximum of 8 hours in any one day.
    2. 40 hours in any one week.
    3. 80 hours in any one pay period. If a dispute arises as to the number of hours a part-time flexible employee would have been scheduled to work, the schedule is considered to have been equal to the average hours worked by other part-time flexible employees in the same work location on the day in question.
  4. Limitations in 513.421b apply to paid sick leave only and not to a combination of sick leave and workhours. However, part-time flexible employees who have been credited with 40 hours or more of paid service (work, leave, or a combination of work and leave) in a service week are not granted sick leave during the remainder of that service week. Absences, in such cases, are treated as nonduty time that is not chargeable to paid leave of any kind. (Sick leave is not intended to be used to supplement earnings of employees.)
513.422 Minimum Unit Charge

Minimum unit charges are as follows:

 

Employee Category

Minimum Unit Charge

All part-time nonexempt employees.

One–hundredth of an hour (0.01 hour).

Part-time exempt employees.

(See 519.7.)

513.5 Advanced Sick Leave

513.51 Policy
513.511 May Not Exceed Thirty Days

Sick leave not to exceed 30 days (240 hours) may be advanced in cases of an employee’s serious disability or illness if there is reason to believe the employee will return to duty. Sick leave may be advanced whether or not the employee has an annual leave or donated leave balance.

513.512 Medical Document Required

Every request for advanced sick leave must be supported by medical documentation of the illness.

513.52 Administration
513.521 Installation Heads’ Approval

Officials in charge of installations are authorized to approve these advances without reference to higher authority.

513.522 Forms Forwarded

PS Form 1221, Advanced Sick Leave Authorization, is completed and forwarded to the Eagan ASC when advanced sick leave is authorized.

513.53 Additional Sick Leave
513.531 Thirty–Day Maximum

Additional sick leave may be advanced even though liquidation of a previous advance has not been completed provided the advance at no time exceeds 30 days. Any advanced sick leave authorized is in addition to the sick leave that has been earned by the employee at the time the advance is authorized.

513.532 Liquidating Advanced Sick Leave

The liquidation of advanced sick leave is not to be confused with the substitution of annual leave for sick leave to avoid forfeiture of the annual leave. Advanced sick leave may be liquidated in the following manner:

  1. Charging the sick leave against the sick leave earned by the employee as it is earned upon return to duty.
  2. Charging the sick leave against an equivalent amount of annual leave at the employee’s request provided the annual leave charge is made prior to the time such leave is forfeited because of the leave carryover limit.

513.6 Leave Charge Adjustments

513.61 Insufficient Sick Leave

If sick leave is approved but the employee does not have sufficient sick leave to cover the absence, the difference is charged to annual leave or to LWOP at the employee’s option.

513.62 Insufficient Sick and Annual Leave

If sick leave is approved for employees who have no annual or sick leave to their credit, the absence may be charged as LWOP unless sick leave is advanced as outlined in 513.5. LWOP so charged cannot thereafter be converted to sick or annual leave.

513.63 Disapproved Sick Leave

If sick leave is disapproved, but the absence is nevertheless warranted, the supervisor may approve, at the employee’s option, a charge to annual leave or a charge to LWOP.

513.64 Absence Without Leave

An absence that is disapproved is charged as LWOP and may be administratively considered as AWOL.

513.65 Annual Leave Changed to Sick Leave

If an employee becomes ill while on annual leave and the employee has a sick leave balance, the absence may be charged to sick leave.

513.7 Transfer or Reemployment

513.71 Transfer
513.711 Crediting

Individuals who are transferring from a federal agency to the Postal Service are credited with their sick leave balance provided there is not a break in service in excess of 3 years.

513.712 Recrediting

The following provisions concern recrediting:

  1. If a Postal Service employee transfers to a position under a different leave system to which only a part of the employee’s sick leave can be transferred, the sick leave is recredited if the individual returns to the Postal Service provided there is not a break in service in excess of 3 years.
  2. If a Postal Service employee transfers to a position to which sick leave cannot be transferred, the sick leave is recredited if the individual returns to the Postal Service provided there is not a break in service in excess of 3 years.
513.72 Reemployment

Sick leave may be recredited upon reemployment provided there is not a break in service in excess of 3 years.

Note: For sick leave to be recredited, the employee must be reemployed in a position where sick leave may be earned and used.

513.73 Reemployment — OWCP

All individuals who were originally separated and who are subsequently reemployed from a continuous period on OWCP rolls have any previously unused sick leave recredited to their account, regardless of the length of time these employees were on OWCP and off postal rolls.

Exception: Sick leave may not be recredited if an employee applied and was approved for disability retirement regardless of whether the employee actually collected the annuity.

513.8 Retirements or Separations

513.81 General

No payment is made for accumulated sick leave when an employee retires or separates from Postal Service employment.

513.82 Retirement
513.821 Credit for Sick Leave

Provisions of the Civil Service Retirement Act provide for the granting of credit for unused sick leave in calculating retirement or survivor annuity at the time of an employee’s retirement or death (see 562.4). Each 8 hours of sick leave represents 1 day of retirement credit. Unused sick leave days are converted to calendar time retirement credit, based on a 260-day work year (260 days x 8 hours = 2,080 hours).

Previously, there were no provisions for credit of sick leave upon retirement for employees under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), except for those who were in the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and transferred to FERS. See 580, Federal Employee Retirement System, for details for credit of sick leave upon retirement for FERS employees who formerly were covered by CSRS.

Enacted in 2009, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (Public Law 111-84) changed this. FERS employees will receive credit for unused sick leave in the same manner as CSRS employees. The change will be phased in, as follows: (a) 50 percent of accrued sick leave hours will be credited for all FERS retirements commencing October 28, 2009, through December 31, 2013; and (b) 100 percent of the accrued sick leave hours will be credited for all FERS retirements that begin on or after January 1, 2014.

513.822 Disability Retirement

If the OPM has approved an application for disability retirement effective on expiration of accumulated and accrued leave, or if the employee is being otherwise separated for physical or mental disability resulting in inability to perform the work, sick leave is granted at the rate of 8 hours per day, 40 hours per week, or 80 hours per pay period until the employee’s sick leave is exhausted. Payments may not be made, however, for any hours for which the employee received salary or leave payments from another federal agency.

513.83 Separation by Death

If an ill employee dies without returning to duty and without making application for sick leave, the postal official who is in charge of the installation grants sick leave for the period of illness or disability immediately prior to death. If the employee was in pay status on the day of death or immediately prior to death, the employee’s beneficiary is entitled to receive compensation without charge to leave for the date of death. The latter applies whether or not employees have leave to their credit.

513.9 Collection for Unearned Sick Leave

Collection for used but unearned sick leave at the time of separation is made in the same manner as for unearned annual leave (see 512.72).