January 30, 2014 --
Some Department of Defense civilian employees, who are facing medical and family medical emergencies, may be eligible to take advantage of benefits offered by the Office of Personnel Management’s Voluntary Leave Transfer Program at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany and other federal agencies nationwide.
According to the DOD’s Administrative Instruction, No. 67, employees experiencing personal or family medical emergencies, who have exhausted their own leave, may request the use of annual leave donated by other federal employees.
Terry Cosper, transition manager, Marine and Family Programs, Marine Corps Community Services, MCLB Albany, is one of the many recipients, who has benefited from the VLTP here.
According to Cosper, he experienced medical complications a few years ago, which resulted in his being absent from work for approximately 10 months, and forced him to exhaust all of his sick leave and annual leave.
After about four months into his medical leave, Cosper’s then-supervisor, Eric Ashley, recommended that he consider the VLTP to assist him. With that, Ashley took it upon himself to set out to find possible donors to “help (Cosper) through the dry spell.”
“There were a couple of people - and I won’t (mention) their names - who came forward and donated 10-20 hours here and there,” Cosper said. “Then, there was one person, who I call my guardian angel here on base, who probably gave me over a month of (his or her) leave.”
According to Cosper had he not received the donated leave from his anonymous donors, it would have caused a great financial burden on him.
“Between the leave that I had built up, and with getting my income tax refund, the donated leave and (certainly) with the help of God, I (had the resources I needed to) nurse myself back to health and was (finally) able to return to work,” he continued.
Cosper attributes his faith and his strong belief in God for his ability to begin his recovery, both physically and financially, following his extended medical emergency and lengthy absence from work.
“God gave me that blessing, and that blessing was somebody saying, ‘Terry, I’m going to try and find you some leave,’” Cosper recalled. “Then, (those) special (persons) came forward and gave it to me. It really made a difference in my quality of life that year.”
“What I’ve been trying to do is to build up enough leave so that I can pass that to somebody else,” Cosper added. “Unfortunately, I’ve been sick a few times and I (haven’t) been able to save up my leave, but, I can’t wait until that day when I can say, ‘Hey, you know of somebody who’s sick, here’s some leave (he or she) can have’,” Cosper concluded.
In order to qualify for the VLTP, an applicant must meet the DOD’s medical emergency criteria, and be in a “zero” leave balance status, having exhausted all available sick and annual leave.
The DOD’s Administrative Instruction, No. 67, defines a medical emergency as a situation, which will normally require an employee’s absence from duty for a prolonged period, resulting in a substantial loss of income to the employee because of the unavailability of paid leave.
Once that zero-balance criteria has been met, eligible personnel can request to move into the next phase for the program, according to Amanda Taylor, labor and employee relations assistant, Labor and Employee Relations Division, here.
The first step of the process requires an employee to submit a written request for extended medical leave to his or her immediate supervisor for approval. The next step of the request is to complete the OPM’s forms 630a or 630b, and attach a physician’s statement supporting the need for the extended medical leave requested.
After completing the appropriate documentation, an intended recipient’s supervisor forwards the approved, proposed packet to the LER Division for final approval. Once approved by LER Division, the forms are submitted to the payroll office for processing.
The VLTP allows the recipient to receive donated leave, which may be anonymously donated or transferred from one or more employees to another.
“There are currently seven employees (at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany) awaiting donated leave,” Taylor said. “Although we know the donors, the recipients won’t know who the donors are.”
“Donated leave can only be transferred from the donor’s annual leave,” Taylor added. “No sick leave can be donated for transfer to another recipient.”
The OPM’s website indicates that each agency must administer a VLTP for its employees, and there is no limit on the amount of donated annual leave a leave recipient may receive from the leave donor(s). However, any unused donated leave must be returned to the leave donor(s) when the medical emergency ends.
According to OPM, employees are entitled to 12 weeks of sick leave each year for all family care purposes.
This means, if the employee is applying for a medical emergency affecting a family member and the employee has exhausted his or her entitlement to 12 weeks of sick leave for family care in that leave year, any remaining sick leave is not considered available paid leave.
(Therefore, the employee) would not be required to exhaust his or her sick leave balance before being eligible for donated leave.
For other benefits and restrictions to the VLTP process, refer to the Civilian Personnel Policy Manual; visit the LER Division, located in the Civilian Human Resources Office, Building 3010 or call 229-639-5255.
For additional information, visit the OPM website at: http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/leave-administration/fact-sheets/voluntary-leave-transfer-program/.