Expert's View

While it’s been true for some time that in certain situations agencies may advance sick leave to an employee, under regulations made final on December 6, the list of situations that would qualify was clarified and expanded. Now agencies may, at their discretion, advance up to 240 hours (30 days) of sick leave to a full-time employee:

* who is incapacitated for the performance of his or her duties by physical or mental illness, injury, pregnancy, or childbirth;

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* for purposes relating to the adoption of a child;

* when the employee or a family member suffers from a serious health condition;

* when the employee’s presence would jeopardize the health of others because of exposure to a communicable disease, as determined by the health authorities; or

* to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness when the employee is using unpaid Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave to care for a covered service member.

Agencies may also advance up to 104 hours (13 days) of sick leave to a full-time employee for:

* medical appointments;

* general care for a family member or to accompany a family member to medical appointments;

* care of a family member who would, as determined by the health authorities, jeopardize the health of others by that family member’s presence in the community because of exposure to a communicable disease; or

* making arrangements necessitated by the death of a family member or to attend the funeral of a family member.

While providing for the advancement of sick leave for these purposes is surely the sign of a thoughtful and considerate employer, you need to remember that when you accept advance sick leave you are incurring a debt. And, because you as a full time employee can only earn a maximum of 104 hours of sick leave in a year, it might not be one that can quickly be repaid.