Congressman Lynch’s Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act Passes House

Sep 29, 2015 Issues: Veterans

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, Congressman Stephen F. Lynch’s legislation H.R. 313, the Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act of 2015, passed unanimously on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. H.R. 313 provides federal employees, who are also disabled veterans, with 104 hours of “Wounded Warrior leave” during their first year in the federal workforce so that they may seek medical treatment for their service-connected disabilities without being forced to take unpaid leave or forego their appointments altogether.

“The bipartisan passage of the Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act signifies our commitment to the dedicated wounded warriors continuing their service to our country by entering the federal workforce. As wounded warriors transition to civilian life through new careers in the federal workforce, they should not be saddled with the burden of no sick leave, which hinders their ability to keep service-related, medically-necessary appointments,” said Congressman Lynch, Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on National Security.

Newly hired federal employees begin their federal government careers with a zero sick leave balance. As a result, disabled veterans who have recently entered the federal workforce do not have sufficient sick leave to attend medical appointments to treat their service-connected disabilities on a regular basis. Many veterans are returning from multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan with physical wounds, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other health issues. Congressman Lynch introduced H.R. 313 to address the concerns raised by many veterans regarding the substantial burden placed on wounded warriors in the federal workforce who have to skip appointments, rather than miss work.

In order for eligible federal employees to make use of such leave, the bill requires employees to submit certification to their agency as prescribed by the Office of Personnel Management or the Postmaster General, in the case of postal employees. Given that these dedicated federal workers will have accumulated up to 104 hours of traditional federal sick leave by the beginning of their second year on the job, this legislation also provides that any unused “Wounded Warrior leave” would not be carried over to the following year.   

“Advancing this important legislation affords our wounded warriors the flexibility to receive medical care as they transition to serving our nation in a new capacity,” Lynch added. “I extend my sincere thanks to Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Jason Chaffetz and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings for their leadership bringing this important legislation to the floor. I also thank the over thirty members of Congress from both sides of the aisle who co-sponsored H.R. 313.”

H.R. 313, the Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act of 2015, has received endorsements from a number of federal employee and veterans’ organizations, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion. It is also strongly supported by the thirty-one member organizations of the Federal Postal Coalition, which represent nearly 5 million federal and postal workers and annuitants.

The bipartisan legislation was introduced by Congressman Lynch on January 13, 2015. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) and Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) introduced S. 242, the Senate companion bill, on January 22, 2015. Congressman Lynch first introduced the legislation in the 113th Congress.

The text of the legislation is available here