Paid Leave for Feds Included in COVID Relief Bill

posted March 12, 2021

Federal employees suffering from COVID-19 or caring for an individual affected by the virus may be eligible for up to an additional 600 hours of paid family medical leave, under a provision in the recently passed American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

According to (read the article here), the legislation included $570 million in funds specifically to support an additional 15 weeks of paid leave for all federal employees for COVID-19 related reasons for themselves or their families through September 30 of this year.

To qualify for the leave, federal employees must be subject to a COVID quarantine order, experiencing symptoms themselves, or caring for an individual with the virus under certain circumstances. Feds will also qualify for the leave if they must look after their children because the child is not attending in-person classes because of school closure or virtual learning, including hybrid of in-person and virtual learning, whether required or optional for the student.

The leave also applies if a fed is unable to work due to receiving COVID immunization, including recovering from an injury or condition related to the immunization.

According to the FedSmith article, the leave would be paid at the same hourly rate as other leave payments and "may not be provided to an employee if the leave would result in payments greater than $2,800 in aggregate for any biweekly pay period for a full-time employee, or a proportionally equivalent biweekly limit for a part-time employee."

The leave is to be in addition to any other leave provided to a federal employee and "may not be used by an employee concurrently with any other paid leave."

Lastly and very importantly, the FedSmith article says the legislation creating the COVID leave stipulates that "any paid leave provided to an employee under this section shall reduce the total service used to calculate any Federal civilian retirement benefit."

FEA will be asking DoDEA to quickly issue guidance to employees about this leave and how to apply for it.