Last week I wrote about additional ways that sick leave could be used, beginning with childbirth and adoption. This week I’ll describe several others.
General Family Care or Bereavement
You can use up to 13 days of accrued sick leave in a year to care for members of your family. This includes care for a family member who is incapacitated because of physical or mental illness, injury, pregnancy, childbirth, and also for medical, dental or optical exams or treatment. The same 13-day rule applies if you need to make arrangements to attend a funeral for a family member. If you run short of sick leave, you can ask your agency to advance you up to 104 hours. Alternatively, with your supervisor’s approval, you can take annual leave.
Serious Health Conditions
If you have a family member with a serious health condition, you can take up to 12 weeks of sick leave each year to care for him or her. The term “serious health condition” includes cancer, heart attacks, strokes, severe injuries, Alzheimer’s, pregnancy and childbirth. On the other hand, it doesn’t cover short-term conditions for which treatment and recovery are relatively short: for example, a common cold, earache, upset stomach, routine dental or orthodontic problems or headaches, with the exception of migraines.
Care is defined as providing psychological comfort and/or physical care, including spending time with the family member while being examined in a doctor’s office or during a hospital stay. Your agency may require you to provide a written statement from a health care provider certifying that your family member requires such care and that he or she would either benefit from your care or that you are needed to provide that care for a specific period of time.
Note: If you previously used any portion of the 13 days of sick leave available for general family care or bereavement in a leave year, that amount will be subtracted from that 12-week entitlement.
If you don’t have accrued enough sick leave, you can ask your agency to advance you up to a maximum of 30 days (or a proportional amount, if you are a part-time employee).
Serious Communicable Diseases
If you have a family member who has been exposed to pandemic flu or another communicable disease – even if the family member hasn’t been diagnosed as having contracted it – you may use up to 13 days of accrued sick leave to care for him or her. However, to qualify for that benefit, your health care provider would have to verify that 1) your family member’s presence in the community would jeopardize the health of others and 2) you would need to actively provide care for your family member. If it’s determined that your family member has, in fact, contracted the disease, you’d be entitled to use up to 12 weeks of sick leave to care for him or her. Further, you’d be eligible for up to 30 days of advanced sick leave.
Emergency Health Situation
If there is an emergency health situation, such as pandemic flu or other serious communicable disease, you may use sick leave only if your child has been exposed to the disease and it has been determined that the child’s presence in the community would jeopardize the health of others. If so, you can take up to 13 days of sick leave. Further, if the child contracts the disease, you can use up to 13 days of sick leave to care for him or her. And if the child’s illness rises to the level of a serious health condition, you can take up to 12 weeks of sick leave. Additionally, you can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.