Q & A Session – Not Enough Sick Leave


Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.


I have been a FERS civilian employee for 20 years. I recently had to use more sick leave than I had accrued. Normally, the difference would be taken out of my annual leave in that situation, but this time I was charged leave without pay instead. Is this legal when I did not “request” LWOP using our OPM-71 form? My ward is now requiring us to sign an AWOL letter. Is that legal?


If you run out of sick leave, you may request advance sick leave, leave without pay or, if qualified, use donated leave. Simply not coming in and not requesting leave can justify an AWOL situation. You might try to retroactively request another form of leave. You must also request annual leave, but must do so in advance and management is not required to grant it retroactively.

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.

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