Guidance Issued on Impact of Special Sick Leave Entitlement

The special sick leave entitlement created by the Families First Coronavirus relief law will not have a direct impact on most federal employee pay and benefits policies, OPM has said, and the compensation will not count for purposes such as retirement calculations.

That law created a new form of sick leave over and above normal sick leave entitlements for situations such as an employee who is quarantined due to the virus or who is caring for such a person or for a child due to a virus-related closing of a school or day care center. Amounts payable vary according to the conditions cited and generally are limited to 80 hours; U.S. Postal Service employees and certain other employees are eligible for more.


The new OPM guidance says that with certain exceptions, only basic pay—the fixed, recurring pay established for a position—counts for certain purposes and that the Families First law did not create an exception for the new sick leave entitlement. The law further created a payment formula for the leave that differs from regular federal employee pay rates, it said.

That means, OPM said, that the leave will not affect an employee’s rate of pay used for purposes including promotions, grade and pay retention, locality pay, recruitment, relocation, and retention incentives, holiday pay for nonwork hours, premium pay that is computed as a percentage of basic pay, percentage-based award payments, post differentials, retirement contributions, life insurance amounts and premiums, and high-3 salary average for computing a retirement annuity.

However, the value of the leave does count in the “total remuneration” calculation for Fair Labor Standards Act overtime calculations, OPM said.

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