Q&A: Sick Leave Requests


Q: When making a request for sick leave, may my employing agency demand that I inform them of the medical condition that I am seeking treatment for? If I do not, may the agency deny my sick leave?

A: It depends on the agency and its requirements regarding acceptable documentation for sick leave. Under 5 U.S.C. § 6307, an employee is entitled to sick leave with pay. In order to request sick leave, an employee must file an application under the procedures and time limits required by the federal agency in which he or she is employed. A federal agency must grant sick leave to an employee when he or she receives some form of treatment or examination; is incapacitated from the performance of his or her duties by a physical or mental illness, injury, pregnancy, or childbirth; or would jeopardize the health of others by his or her presence at work.

Still, an agency may grant sick leave only when the need for sick leave is supported by “administratively acceptable evidence.” Employees consult their agency-specific human resources for guidance and review the applicable policies set forth in collective bargaining agreements for information on sick leave specific to their agency. You can also review the applicable regulations at 5 C.F.R. §§ 630.401 et seq.

The agency may find the employee’s self-certification regarding the reason for his or her absence “administratively acceptable” regardless of the duration of his or her absence.  Additionally, the agency may demand a medical certification or other “administratively acceptable evidence” for an absence in excess of 3 workdays or a lesser period when necessary. An employee must provide “administratively acceptable evidence” or medical certification within 15 days of the agency’s request. If unable to provide this evidence within 15 days, he or she must provide it within a reasonable amount of time, but no later than 30 calendar days after the agency’s request. The agency may deny the employee’s request for sick leave should he or she fail to provide documentation within this time-frame.


This case law update was written by Michael J. Sgarlat, Associate Attorney*, Shaw Bransford & Roth, PC.

*Not admitted in D.C.  Admitted only in the State of Maryland.  Practicing in the District of Columbia under the supervision of Debra L. Roth, Julia H. Perkins and Christopher J. Keeven while application for admission is pending per Rule 49(c)(8) of the D.C. Court of Appeals.

For thirty years, Shaw Bransford & Roth P.C. has provided superior representation on a wide range of federal employment law issues, from representing federal employees nationwide in administrative investigations, disciplinary and performance actions, and Bivens lawsuits, to handling security clearance adjudications and employment discrimination cases.


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Shaw Bransford & Roth provides legal representation on a wide range of employment and federal employment law issues. For more information visit us at: http://www.shawbransford.com

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