Article 35 - Time and Leave
Section 1 - General
- Employees will accrue and use sick and annual and other types of leave in accordance with applicable statutes, OPM regulations, and this Agreement.
- All leave charges shall be in increments of one-quarter hour, except in the case of Title 38 physicians, dentists, chiropractors and optometrists, who accrue and use leave in full-day increments.
- For clearly compassionate and appropriate reasons, the Department may increase the stated limits applicable to all forms of leave in accordance with applicable government-wide regulation and law.
- Employees will not be denied leave based solely on their leave balance.
- No arbitrary or capricious restraints will be established to restrict when leave may be requested.
- Changes to the Department’s automated time and attendance system shall be negotiated in accordance with government-wide law, regulations and this Agreement.
- Employees should request, in advance, approval of anticipated leave.
- When the employee is present on duty, the employee can use the electronic time and attendance system or SF-71 to request leave.
- Leave will be denied only for appropriate reasons and not as a form of discipline. No approved leave or approved absence will be a basis for disciplinary action except when it is clearly established that the employee submitted fraudulent documentation or misrepresented the reasons for the absence.
- Employees will not be adversely affected in any employment decision solely because of their leave balances.
Section 2 - Annual Leave
- Annual leave is provided to allow employees extended leave for rest and recreation and to provide periods of time off for personal and unscheduled purposes. All employees may request at least two consecutive weeks of annual leave per year and take such leave subject to the Department’s approval.
- The use of accrued annual leave is an absolute right of the employee, subject to the right of the Department to approve when leave may be taken.
- Employees should submit requests for annual leave as far in advance as possible. The Department will render timely decisions on employees’ leave requests. The Department will make every effort to accommodate the employees’ requests, consistent with valid operational needs.
- Vacation - Employees should submit requests for vacation leave as far in advance as possible. The Department will render timely decisions on employees’ leave requests. The vacation plan for the next leave year will be completed by the end of the current calendar year. The procedures for vacation leave will be appropriate for local negotiations; where current practices are acceptable to the local parties, such negotiations need not occur.
- Unplanned Leave - When needs arise and the employee requests annual leave, employees must contact their supervisor or designee to request the leave. During operational hours of the facility/service, there will always be someone available who is authorized to receive and act on the request. The procedures for unplanned annual leave other than vacation leave will be appropriate for local negotiations; where current practices are acceptable to the local parties, such negotiations need not occur.
- Serious Personal Needs Situations - If the leave is requested to begin immediately, employees must contact their supervisor or designee to request the leave. The employee will be informed whether leave is approved or disapproved at the time it is requested. During operational hours of the facility/service, there will always be someone available who is authorized to receive and act on the request.
- If scheduling conflicts arise among employees’ annual leave requests, they shall be resolved consistent with past practices or as otherwise negotiated in local supplemental agreements/MOUs insofar as they do not conflict with the Master Agreement.
- When an employee requests annual leave in conjunction with scheduled days off at the beginning and/or end of the leave period, the Department will not change that employee’s days off except where necessary to meet valid operational needs.
- The Department recognizes the needs of employees to plan vacation and personal time off. However, previously approved annual leave may be cancelled if necessary to meet valid operational needs.
- The parties recognize that additional procedures for requesting and granting annual leave are appropriate for negotiation at the local level.
- Carryover (restored) leave will be addressed in accordance with applicable rules and regulations.
- All employees shall be excused or receive appropriate pay for all holidays prescribed by Federal law, and that may be added by Federal law, or that may be designated by Executive Order.
- Employees will be notified four times during each leave year of the maximum amount of annual leave that can be carried over by employees in each leave category (doctors, nurses, Title 5, etc.) and advise the employees they should request to use any amount the employee has accrued and will earn during the rest of the leave year that is over the maximum amount. This will include advising employees of the consequences of forfeiture and the law and regulations relating to forfeiture.
- Upon request, an employee will be provided, in writing, with the reason for a denial of annual leave. It is the responsibility of the Department to initiate action to reschedule annual leave that was denied. The times at which such rescheduled leave is used must be by concurrence of the employee and the Department.
- The Department will allow the maximum number of employees to use leave in accordance with coverage requirement.
- Where vacation schedules are used, the approved vacation schedule will be conspicuously posted and remain posted and be kept up-to-date for the leave year. Upon request, changes in the vacation schedule will be provided to the local union on a monthly basis.
Section 3 - Excused Absence
Supervisors should excuse, without charge to leave, tardiness/absences which are brief, infrequent, and for a good cause.
Section 4 - Sick Leave
- It is the responsibility of the employee who is incapacitated for duty to notify the immediate supervisor or designee (or to have any responsible person make the notification for the employee) at the work site as soon as possible but no later than two hours after the employee is scheduled to report for duty unless mitigating circumstances exist. The Department will assure a designated number is established for the supervisor or designee to receive such notifications; the employee’s obligation is to complete one phone call, to either the established number, or to an alternate number the employee was notified to use. In the event that the supervisor or designee is not available, employees may use voice mail to notify the supervisor or designee of the type of leave requested.
- An employee who expects to be absent more than one day will inform the supervisor or designee of the expected date of return to duty and notify the supervisor of any change. In the case of extended illness, daily reports will not be required.
- Sick leave is an employee’s earned benefit and will be granted to the employee for appropriate absences.
- Title 5 and hybrid employees are entitled to sick leave when the employee:
- Receives medical, dental or optical examination or treatment;
- Is incapacitated for the performance of duties by physical or mental illness, injury, pregnancy, or childbirth;
- Provides care for a family member who is incapacitated by a medical or mental condition, or attends to a family member receiving medical, dental, or optical examination or treatment, or provides care for a family member with a serious health condition;
- Makes arrangements necessitated by the death of a family member or attends the funeral of a family member (this includes use of sick leave to make arrangements for and attend a funeral or memorial service; necessary travel, pre-funeral and after-funeral/burial gatherings or ceremonies, memorial services; and reading of the will);
- Would, as determined by the health authorities having jurisdiction or by a health care provider, jeopardize the health of others by being present on duty after exposure to a contagious disease; or,
- Must be absent from duty for purposes relating to the adoption of a child, including appointments with adoption agencies, social workers, and attorneys, court proceedings, required travel, and any other activities necessary to allow the adoption to proceed.
- Sick leave shall be granted to Title 38 employees when:
- They are incapacitated for the performance of their duties because of personal illness, disease, injury, pregnancy and confinement;
- For necessary medical, dental, or optical examination or treatment;
- When a member of the immediate family of the employee is afflicted with a contagious disease and requires the care and attendance of the employee; or,
- When through exposure to contagious disease, the presence of the employee at the post of duty would jeopardize the health of others.
- The Department should make an effort to accommodate employees who request in advance, a change in work schedule to meet medical, optical or dental appointments.
- If an employee has insufficient sick leave accrued, the employee can request Leave Without Pay (LWOP) or other available leave instead of sick leave for an absence for which sick leave would otherwise be appropriate, subject to approval of the absence by the supervisor.
- Employees will not be required to reveal the nature of the illness as a condition for approval of sick leave.
Section 5 - Documentation for Sick Leave
- Where an employee requests sick leave, or annual leave, or LWOP in lieu of sick leave, for periods of illness exceeding three consecutive workdays of the employee’s work schedule, the employee must make an appropriate request and may be required to furnish evidence of the need for sick leave upon return to duty. An employee may support the request for sick leave:
- By medical certificate from the Department’s employee health care provider or the employee’s health care provider that is administratively acceptable; or,
- By the employee’s self-certification in instances where the illness was not treated by a health care provider. The statement will indicate why a health care provider was not seen; for example, remoteness of area, general condition of the illness, or other specific reasons. The supervisor may request clarification should the employee’s written statement not be sufficient to support the request.
- An employee with a chronic medical condition that does not require medical treatment but does result in periodic absences from work will not be required to furnish a health care provider certificate on a continuing basis if the employee is:
- Not on leave restriction; and,
- Provides, if requested, an administratively acceptable medical certificate every six months which clearly states the continuing need for periodic absences.
- Unless there is reasonable evidence to doubt the required information, administratively acceptable evidence for medical certification is a statement that says the employee was incapacitated for work and date(s) of incapacitation. This information will generally be considered sufficient for medical certification purposes. However, employees will not be required to reveal the nature of the illness as a condition for approval of sick leave. This applies to sick leave of more than three consecutive workdays or certification for sick leave restrictions.
- Documents regarding employee absence for sick leave purposes are highly sensitive. The Department will ensure that they are maintained in a secure and confidential manner.
- Where there is substantial reason to believe that an employee is abusing sick leave entitlement, medical certificates may be required for any period of absence provided the employee has been formally notified in writing that such a requirement has been established for that person.
- If an employee has not used sick leave for three months after the notification in Paragraph E, the employee may request that the requirement be reviewed. If it is determined that a medical certificate is no longer warranted for sick leave of three consecutive workdays or less, the employee shall be so notified in writing.
- The requirement for medical certification must be reviewed six months after such requirement is imposed. If the requirement is not lifted, the employee may request a review of the certification requirement three months after a previous review. If it is determined that a medical certificate is no longer warranted for sick leave of three consecutive workdays or less, the employee shall be formally notified in writing.
- Frequency or amount of leave used will not be the sole factor for determining sick leave abuse, nor will leave for which acceptable medical documentation has been provided.
- When the Department determines that the sick leave abuse has ceased, the Department will remove the restriction and notify the employee in writing of this action.
- The employee will also be notified of the reasons in writing if the restriction is to be continued beyond six months.
Section 7- Registration and Voting
The Department agrees that when the voting polls are not open at least three hours before or after employees’ regular hours of work, employees will be granted an amount of excused leave to vote, or to register to vote, which will permit them to report to work three hours after the polls open or leave work three hours before the polls close, whichever requires the lesser amount of time, so long as the absence does not seriously interfere with valid operational needs. Where release of an employee at the beginning or end of the day would seriously interfere with valid operational needs, the supervisor to the extent possible shall make other arrangements to allow the employee a reasonable amount of time during the workday to vote or register to vote. Under unusual circumstances an employee may be excused up to the full day.
Section 8 - Unavoidable Delay While on Official Business
- When employees are unable to return to their home station through no fault of their own while away on official government business, the employees will notify their supervisors as soon as possible and obtain appropriate instructions. In such instances, the employees will be paid overtime or approved compensatory time, as appropriate, for any time beyond normal duty hours that they are determined to be performing official duties. If the employees are unable to return to their duty stations and must stay overnight at some other location, per diem expenses will be paid when appropriate.
- Employees also will be entitled to compensatory time for time spent in travel, in accordance with the Workforce Flexibility Act of 2004, as amended.
Section 9 - Employee Absences for Court or Court‑Related Services
- In accordance with applicable law, government-wide regulations or other outside authority binding on the Department, an employee summoned or subpoenaed in connection with a judicial proceeding by a court or other authority responsible for the conduct of that proceeding shall be authorized to attend the judicial proceeding without charge to leave or loss of VA salary in the following instances:
- For jury duty;
- To appear as a witness on behalf of the Federal, District of Columbia, state, or local government;
- To appear as a witness on behalf of a private party in an official and job-related capacity or to produce official records; or,
- To appear as a witness on behalf of a private party in an unofficial capacity and one of the parties to the proceeding is either the United States, District of Columbia, or a state, or local government.
- Even though no compensation is received for serving on jury duty in a federal court, employees may keep expense money received for mileage, parking, or required overnight stay. Money received for performing jury duty in state or local courts is indicated on the pay voucher or check as either “fees for services rendered” or “expense money.” “Expense money” may be retained by the employee; “fees for services rendered” must be submitted to the appropriate financial office.
- It is agreed that days off and/or schedules will not be changed to avoid granting absence for court or court-related services.
- An employee who is granted court leave and is excused or released by the court for any day or substantial portion of a day is expected to return to the employee’s regular Departmental duties except when:
- Only a small portion of the work day would be involved and thus no appreciable amount of Department service would be rendered;
- The distance from the court to the place of duty is such that this would be an unreasonable requirement; or,
- The employee is regularly scheduled to work on a tour any part of which includes 6:00 pm - 6:00 am.
- An employee who is granted court leave and serves for a full day or substantial portion of a day is not expected to report for the next tour of duty if that tour occurs within twenty-four hours of the court leave and if any or all of it occurs during 6:00 pm - 6:00 am.
Section 10 - Leave Without Pay (LWOP)
- Requests for LWOP will be given serious, bona fide consideration.
- LWOP may be requested in the same manner and for the same purposes as annual leave and sick leave. LWOP may be granted even though the employee has a sick or annual leave balance.
- Upon written request from the appropriate Union office, an employee may be granted LWOP to engage in Union activities on the national, district or local level or to work in programs sponsored by the Union or the American Federation of Labor - Congress of International Organizations (AFL-CIO). Such requests will be referred to the appropriate Department official. Such employees shall continue to accrue benefits in accordance with applicable OPM regulations. LWOP for this purpose is limited to one year but may be extended or renewed upon proper application.
- Employees granted LWOP for more than 30 calendar days will be notified that they can usually expect to return to their former position. However, it may become necessary in the interest of the service to reassign them to other positions at the same grade and pay within the commuting area of the employee’s current duty station during their absence or upon their return.
- Employees may request LWOP for educational purposes.
- LWOP is granted at the discretion of the Department, except in the following cases:
- When a disabled veteran requests LWOP for medical treatment;
- When requested by a reservist or National Guard member for military duties in accordance with appropriate military orders and/or documentation. Employees may request such leave after their military leave has been exhausted (38 USC 4316(d));
- When requested by an employee who has suffered an incapacitating job-related injury or illness and is waiting adjudication of a claim for employee compensation by the OWCP; or,
- When an employee makes a request pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and meets the criteria for that program.
Section 11 - Hazardous Weather/Emergency Conditions
- The Department and local union at each facility will jointly plan the procedures for hazardous weather/emergency conditions and will annually communicate these procedures to employees.
- The local union shall be informed by the appropriate Department official at the time the facility declares hazardous weather/emergency conditions. The method for such notification will be appropriate for local negotiations.
- When hazardous conditions (e.g., extreme weather conditions, serious interruptions in public transportation, earthquake, and disasters such as flood, fire or other natural phenomena) arise, the Department will determine whether all or part of the facility should be closed or whether the facility should be open as usual. If the Department decides to close all or part of the facility during periods the facility would otherwise be open, the Department will notify employees whether liberal leave or authorized absence will be authorized. Employees who are prevented from reporting to work due to the closure of all or part of a facility should be granted authorized absence in accordance with OPM guidance and/or government-wide regulations.
- Excused absence during emergency situations does not generally apply to employees who provide critical services because of the need to assure continuity of essential patient care operations. However, in extreme situations, where employees who provide critical services make reasonable efforts to get to work and are unable to do so, excused absence is appropriate except in rare circumstances.
- Facilities under emergency conditions should provide meals and accommodations for employees who are required to remain on duty.
- The VA Incentive Awards Program is an appropriate vehicle and will be utilized for recognizing exceptional services rendered by employees during emergency/hazardous weather conditions.
- Whenever employees are unable to leave the facility at the end of their shift, and the employee is assigned work, the employee will be paid in accordance with established policy for the payment of premium rates.
- In accordance with government-wide regulations, the Department will fully implement the provisions of any approved program designed to provide inter-agency leave donation for employees affected by natural disasters.
Section 12 - Accommodation for Religious Observances
- An employee whose personal religious beliefs require abstention from work during certain periods of time may elect to engage in overtime work to compensate for time lost by meeting those religions requirements.
- To the extent that such modifications in work schedules do not interfere with the efficient accomplishment of the Department mission, the Department shall in each instance, afford the employee the opportunity to work compensatory overtime and shall in each instance grant compensatory time off to an employee requesting such time off for religious observances when the employee’s personal religious beliefs require that the employee abstain from work during certain periods of the workday or workweek.
- For the purpose stated in Paragraph B of this section, the employee may work such compensatory time before or after the granting of compensatory time off. Advanced compensatory time off should be repaid with the appropriate amount of compensatory time worked within a reasonable amount of time. Compensatory overtime shall be credited on an hour‑for‑hour basis or authorized fractions thereof. Appropriate records will be kept of compensatory overtime earned and used.
Section 13 - Military Leave
- Military leave will be granted consistent with government-wide rules and regulations.
- Full-time permanent and part-time permanent employees who are members of the National Guard or the Armed Forces Reserves are entitled to 15 calendar days of regular military leave in a fiscal year for active duty or active duty for training.
- The Department will not arbitrarily deny an employee’s request for military leave.
- For part-time employees, military leave is prorated based on the number of hours in the employee’s work week.
- Employees who do not use the entire 15 days can carry any unused military leave (not to exceed 15 days) over to the next fiscal year. Military leave may never exceed 30 days in any one calendar year.
- The Department will take into consideration the schedules of employees who work off-tours and will, when possible, arrange schedules to allow such employees to have scheduled days off immediately preceding and following the required military leave
- Those employees on 24/7 schedules will continue to be charged military leave on a daily basis for duty days.
- Employees Returning From Active Duty. In accordance with the Presidential Memorandum dated November 14, 2003, as a welcome home, returning Federal civil servants who were called to active duty in the Global War on Terrorism will be granted 5 days of excused absence for every deployment.
Section 14 - Advanced Annual/Sick Leave
- An employee may be advanced all annual leave that will accrue up to the end of the leave year. However, advanced annual leave may not be granted to a temporary employee beyond the date set for the expiration of the employee’s temporary appointment, or to any employee if there is a likelihood that the employee will retire, be separated, or resign from the Department before the date the employee will have earned the leave. Upon separation, employees must repay the balance of any remaining advanced annual leave; however, an employee may request a waiver in writing.
- Advanced sick leave may be combined with annual leave or LWOP when necessary to cover one continuous period of absence.
- Denials of requests for advance leave will be conveyed to the employee promptly and will contain an explanation of the reasons for the denial.
- Advanced leave may be approved in accordance with the employee’s type of appointment. The employee will not be required to utilize any annual leave prior to utilizing the advanced sick leave.
- It is agreed that advance leave, including both sick and annual, will be fairly and equitably administered.
Section 15 - Voluntary Leave Transfer Program
- As authorized by 5 CFR 630, Subpart I, as extended to Title 38 employees and consistent with this Agreement, employees are entitled to donate and receive leave for medical emergencies.
- The Leave Transfer Program allows an employee to transfer annual leave to an approved leave recipient (excluding the employee’s supervisor) up to one-half of the amount of annual leave the employee will accrue during the leave year.
- The minimum amount of annual leave that may be transferred to and from a Title 5 employee, or Title 38 employee who is charged leave in hours, is four hours.
- Title 5 employees may transfer to Title 38 employees and Title 38 employees may transfer to Title 5 employees.
- The minimum amount of annual leave that may be transferred from a Title 38 employee who is charged leave in whole day increments is one day. For a leave transfer between an employee who is charged leave in hours and an employee who is charge leave in whole days, the number of hours transferred for each whole day is eight hours. For a leave transfer between employees who are each charged leave in whole day increments, the recipient will be credited with one whole day for each whole day donated.
- Annual leave may not be transferred to an employee’s immediate supervisor.
- The Department will assist employees in preparing or will prepare the employee’s solicitation memorandum which is directed to employees whom the employee designates. The Department will advise employees of how and where to receive such assistance.
- When an employee receives donated leave, it may be used only for the medical emergency for which it was donated.
- If an employee has use or lose annual leave at the end of the leave year and would like to donate it, the employee should contact an appropriate Department official.
- The method of communicating the needs of employees who may want to participate in leave transfer is an appropriate subject for local negotiation.
- The parties are in the best position to determine whether donated annual leave is needed by its employees in disaster situations and can quickly facilitate the transfer of donated annual leave among administrations. They are responsible for:
- Determining whether, and how much, donated annual leave is needed by affected employees;
- Approving leave donors and/or leave recipients within the Department; and,
- Facilitating the distribution of donated annual leave.
- Forms for donating and receiving annual leave under the inter-agency Emergency Leave Transfer Program can be accessed on OPM’s web site at http://www.opm.gov/forms/html/emerg.htm.
Section 16 - Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- Maternity and Paternity Leave
- Under FMLA and this Agreement, bargaining unit employees are entitled to 16 weeks of LWOP during any 12 month period for the following reasons:
- Birth of a son or daughter and the care of such son or daughter; and,
- Placement of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care.
- Supervisors are encouraged to approve additional leave as circumstances warrant.
- Other family medical leave under FMLA and this Agreement, bargaining unit employees are entitled to 12 weeks of LWOP during any 12 month period for one or more of the following reasons:
- The care of a family member of the employee with a serious health condition. Family member is defined as:
- Spouse and parents of spouse;
- Children, including adopted children; and,
- A serious health condition of the employee that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of the position of such employee.
- Substitution of Paid Leave - For either Paragraphs A or B of this Section, the employee may elect to substitute annual leave, sick leave, compensatory time off, or credit hours for unpaid family or medical leave for any part of the applicable period consistent with governing laws and regulations. Employees may also combine annual leave, compensatory time, sick leave, or credit hours with unpaid family or medical leave for any period of approved leave. An employee may not retroactively substitute paid time off for unpaid family and medical leave.
- Notice of Leave
- The employee will make an appropriate request for use of family and medical unpaid leave.
- When the need for unpaid family and medical leave is foreseeable and the employee fails to give 30 days notice with no reasonable excuse for the delay of notification, the Department may delay the taking of family and medical unpaid leave until at least 30 days after the date the employee provides notice of his/her need for family and medical leave.
- If the need for leave is not foreseeable, the employee shall provide notice within a reasonable period of time appropriate to the circumstances involved. If necessary, notice may be given by an employee’s personal representative (e.g., a family member or other responsible party). If the need for leave is not foreseeable and the employee is unable, due to circumstances beyond his/her control to provide notice of his/her need for leave, the leave may not be delayed or denied.
- The time frame in Paragraph 2 above will be waived for good cause.
- Medical Certification (when requesting leave for serious health conditions)
- An employee shall provide written medical certification to the Department in a timely manner.
- The written medical certification shall include:
- The date the serious health condition commenced;
- The probable duration of the serious health condition;
- The appropriate medical facts within the knowledge of the health care provider regarding the serious health condition including a statement as to the incapacitation, examination, or treatment that may be required; and,
- A statement that the employee is unable to perform the functions of his/her position.
- The Department shall not require any personal or confidential information in the written medical certification other than that required by Paragraph E 2 of this section.
- If the Department doubts the validity of the original certification, the Department may require, at the Department’s expense, that the employee obtain the opinion of a second health care provider designated or approved jointly by the Department and the employee concerning the information certified under Paragraph E 2 of this section.
- If the opinion of the second health care provider differs from the original certification, the Department may require, at the Department’s expense, that the employee obtain the opinion of a third health care provider designated or approved jointly by the Department and the employee concerning the information certified under Paragraph E 2 above. The opinion of the third health care provider shall be binding on the Department and the employee.
- “Health Care Provider” is defined as any of the following individuals:
- A licensed Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Osteopathy or a physician who is serving on active duty in the uniformed services and is designated by the uniformed service to conduct examinations;
- Podiatrists, dentists, clinical psychologists, optometrists, and chiropractors (limited to treatment consisting of manual manipulation of the spine to correct a subluxation as demonstrated by x-ray to exist) who are authorized to practice by state law;
- Nurse practitioners and nurse midwives who are authorized to practice by state law or Christian Science practitioners listed with the First Church of Christ Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts;
- Any health care provider recognized by the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program or who is licensed or certified under federal or state law to provide the service in question;
- A health care provider as defined in Paragraph d of this definition who practices in a country other than the United States, who is authorized to practice in accordance with the laws of that country, and who is performing within the scope of his/her practice as defined under such law;
- A Christian Science practitioner listed with the First Church of Christ Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts; or,
- A Native American, including an Eskimo, Aleut, or Native Hawaiian, who is recognized as a traditional healing practitioner by native traditional religious leaders and who practices traditional healing methods as believed, expressed, and exercised in Indian religions of the American Indian, Eskimo, Aleut, or Native Hawaiians, consistent with Public Law 95-314, August 11, 1978 (692 Stat. 469), as amended by Public Law 103-344, October 6, 1994 (108 Stat. 3125).
- To remain entitled to leave under FMLA, an employee or the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent must comply with any requirement from the Department that he/she submit to examination (not treatment) to obtain a second or third medical certification from a health care provider other than the individual’s health care provider.
- If the employee is unable to provide the requested medical certification before leave begins or the Department questions the validity of the original certification provided by the employee and the medical treatment requires the leave to begin, the Department shall grant provisional leave pending final written medical certification.
- An employee must provide the written medical certification required by this section, signed by the health care provider, no later than 15 calendar days after the date the Department requests such medical certification. If it is not practicable under the particular circumstances to provide the requested medical certification not later than 15 calendar days after the date requested by the Department despite the employee’s diligent, good faith efforts, the employee must provide the medical certification within a reasonable period of time under the circumstances involved, but no later than 30 calendar days after the date the Department requests such medical certification.
- If, after the leave has commenced, the employee fails to provide the requested medical certification, the Department may:
- Charge the employee as AWOL, unless:
i. The reason for not providing the medical certification was beyond the control of the employee;
ii. The employee made a good faith effort to provide the certification.
Prior to being placed on AWOL, an employee will be provided written advance notice of at least 10 working days and given the reasons why AWOL is being charged. During this period, the employee may comply with the Department’s request for certification, and the AWOL charges will be rescinded.
- Or allow the employee to request that the provisional leave be charged to leave without pay or charged to the employee’s annual and/or sick leave account, as appropriate.
- Any health care provider designated or approved by the Department shall not be employed by the Department or be under the administrative oversight of the Department on a regular basis unless the employee’s official duty station is located in an area where access to health care is extremely limited.
- Medical Recertification - While an employee is using leave under FMLA, the Department may require, at the Department’s expense, subsequent medical recertification from the health care provider only if the circumstances described in the original medical certification change significantly or if the Department receives bona fide information that casts doubt upon the continuing validity of the medical certification. Such requests for medical recertification shall not occur more frequently than every six weeks.
- An employee eligible under the Department’s Family Medical Leave Program may request to participate in the telework program consistent with Article 20 - Telework of this Agreement.
- Protection of Employment and Benefits - Upon return from family and medical leave, the employee will be restored to the same position as occupied before the leave or to an equivalent position in the same commuting area with equivalent benefits, pay, status, and other terms and conditions of employment.
- The Department shall inform its employees of their entitlements and responsibilities under FMLA, including the requirements and obligations of employees.
- An employee who meets the criteria for leave and has complied with the requirements under this section may not be denied leave, consistent with all applicable rules governing annual or sick leave, as appropriate.
Section 18 - Leave for Bereavement
- Upon request, subject to any documentation requirements, leave‑approving officials shall approve up to five days of annual leave, sick leave, and/or LWOP for employees to mourn the death of the following family members:
- Children, including adopted and step-children;
- Parents, including stepparents;
- Siblings, including step-brother/sister; or,
- Any individual related by affinity, i.e., whose association with the employee is the equivalent to one of the family relationships identified above.
- Upon request, subject to any documentation requirements, leave approving officials shall approve one day of annual leave, sick leave, and/or LWOP for employees to mourn the death of a grandparent or parent of their spouse.
- The supervisor has discretion to require documentation (e.g., obituary, death certificate) prior to final approval of bereavement leave. However, this documentation will normally be required only in unusual circumstances.
Section 19 - Funeral Leave
- Funeral leave is granted to allow an employee to make arrangements for, or to attend, the funeral or memorial service for an immediate relative who died as the result of a wound, disease, or injury incurred while serving as a member of the armed forces in a combat zone. The Department shall grant employees such funeral leave as is needed and requested, not to exceed three workdays of excused absence, without loss of or reduction in pay. The three days need not be consecutive but if not, the employee shall furnish the approving authority satisfactory reasons justifying a grant of funeral leave for nonconsecutive days.
- The Department may grant funeral leave only from a prescribed tour of duty, including regularly scheduled overtime, from a period during which, except for absence on funeral leave, the employee would have worked.
Section 20 - Rest and Relaxation Title 38 Physicians, Dentists, Podiatrists, and Optometrists
The Under Secretary for Health and facility directors or the professional person acting for them, are authorized to approve absence for a period not to exceed 24 consecutive hours for rest and relaxation for full-time physicians, dentists, podiatrists, and optometrists who have been required to serve long hours in the care and treatment of patients.
Section 21 - Excused Absence (Administrative Leave)
Excused absence (sometimes referred to as administrative leave) is absence from assigned duties without charge to leave or loss of pay. Excused absence may be granted for ac