Sick leave is part of USPS’ policy which covers absence for medical reasons. The medical reasons may be because of the employees or their immediate relatives. It covers deaths and funerals of immediate family members. Employees who have exhausted their sick leave may use the annual leave. In effect, sick leave applies differently to part-time and permanent employees.
Sick Leave Duration
For permanent employees, sick leaves are added at the end of every two weeks, having 4 hours per pay period which equates to 13 days per year. And an hour for part-time employees for every 20 hours they work which amounts to 104 hours per year. On the other hand, non-executive part-time employees earn a sick leave period of 78 hours per year, which is similar to the non-executive full time employees.
Terms and Conditions for a Sick Leave
Employees should not engage in working elsewhere during their sick leave unless they seek approval from USPS. Those granted sick leave include:
- Employees who are debilitated by sickness.
- If employees have an appointment with their doctors, such as dental or eye checkups.
- When a doctor certifies that an employee may infect others with an illness they have or as a result of taking care of a sick relative.
- If an employee is sick and notifies USPS in advance on the number of days, they will be absent while seeking treatment.
- Employees should take a maximum of 3 days for bereavement leave. Family members that fall within the bereavement leave include:
- Biological or adopted children
- Daughter-in-law and sons in law
- Mother or father in law
- Siblings (may also be half or step-siblings).
- Brother and sister in law.
Difference between Sick Leave and Other Leaves
Sick leave is specifically given for medical reasons. Conversely, other leaves cover wider areas such as vacations, holidays and personal absence. Employees obtain sick leave days faster than other types of leaves. However, sick leave is unpaid as compared to other leaves. And while the other kinds of leaves expire at the end of the year, sick leave accumulates with no expiry.
Procedures for Obtaining a Sick Leave
An employee should fill out the PS form 3971 and submit it to their supervisor. Also, one should detail the reason for their leave in the remarks sector. The request should be in writing and photocopied. After that, the supervisor may approve or deny the form. However, if one’s illness is abrupt, they can call the supervisors instead. In this case, the supervisor will fill out the employee’s sick leave form on their behalf to account for their absence.
A supervisor may also disapprove of a leave. The supervisor should give reasons why they disapprove and give an alternative leave such as annual leave. One of the reasons a supervisor can decline to give a sick leave is when an employee fails to prove their illness.
A postmaster should notify the relevant authorities before taking a leave. If their leave exceeds 3 days, they should account for their progress regularly, such as after a month. Alternatively, they should submit a PS form 3971 for a shorter leave. The form should be submitted within 2 days.
How to Substantiate Sick Leave
An employee should submit a signed document by their doctor or someone in the same capacity as their doctor explaining the employee’s illness and that it hindered them from performing their normal duties. Employees should avoid general statements such as “under my care” or “received treatment”, which do not disclose the nature of the illness.
Sick Leave May be Limited if
At the discretion of the management, they have reason to believe that the employee is misusing their sick leave. The management may review the employees’ absent file and the number of times a file has been absent. The management should review the file with the employee’s supervisor and with the employee. After deliberation, the management may decide to place the employee on a restricted sick leave if their condition does not improve.
The concerned employee is then given written notice of the restricted sick leave. Therefore, the employees are to prove any reason for their sick leave with medical documents.
Sick leave is different from other types of leave because it is only given for medical reasons. Unlike other leaves that expire at the end of the year, employees can use accumulated sick leaves in the coming year. However, the management can deny an employee a sick leave after reviewing it with their supervisors and with the employees.
- How does USPS inform employees about their accrued number of sick leaves?
Employees are notified through the writing of the accumulated sick leaves.
- Can an unused sick leave be used in the next year?
Yes. An employee can use it in the next year.
- Can USPS limit the number of hours an employee uses sick leave if they already have accumulated sick leave from the previous year?
There may be a limit on the accrued sick leave an employee carries over if it exceeds 56 hours.
- Does the USPS pay its employees who terminate their contract from the accrued sick leave?
No. According to the EO final rule, an employer is not obliged to pay employees for any accrued sick leave.