Premium Policy Change Proposed for Unpaid Leave

OPM meanwhile has proposed rules that could require employees who enter leave without pay status in certain situations to continue paying FEHB premiums on an ongoing basis, rather than incurring a debt to be repaid when returning to pay status. Currently, employees on leave without pay or other unpaid status generally may choose between those two options. The proposal says that when employees choose to incur a debt, essentially an advance in pay, the agency must pay the insurer the employee’s share—along with the regular government share—which can result in substantial unbudgeted costs to the agency. Under the proposed rules, agencies could require employees in unpaid status—or whose biweekly pay is too low for other reasons to pay their premiums–to remain current on their share with exceptions for those who go on family-medical leave, to perform active military duty, because of work-related injury or illness, or because of a furlough due to a lapse in agency funding.