Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

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njinvestor2019
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Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by njinvestor2019 » Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:08 pm

Hi. I am trying to plan ahead with my sick leave. Is it better to burn all your sick leave prior to retirement or is it better to get the extra annuity benefits of 1% a year or 1/12% a month. Basically which makes you the most money and is that extra month worth it or Is it better to take the extra time off over your long career?

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MikeWillRetire
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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave

Post by MikeWillRetire » Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:12 pm

I think it is more of an ethical decision.

Silk McCue
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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave

Post by Silk McCue » Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:25 pm

MikeWillRetire wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:12 pm
I think it is more of an ethical decision.
Would you like to expound on this comment. There are are other threads here that discuss the disposition of sick time for federal employees as a part of retirement planning. Are you familiar with the details of how the system works? If so please share. If not, please explain the ethical decision you refer to.

Cheers

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave

Post by Silk McCue » Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:29 pm

njinvestor2019 wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:08 pm
Hi. I am trying to plan ahead with my sick leave. Is it better to burn all your sick leave prior to retirement or is it better to get the extra annuity benefits of 1% a year or 1/12% a month. Basically which makes you the most money and is that extra month worth it or Is it better to take the extra time off over your long career?
Is this a near term implementation decision or 30 years out. Please provide more specifics.

You may want to use the search bar to find discussions on this same topic. It is the best place to start when looking for most any answer.

Cheers

rkhusky
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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave

Post by rkhusky » Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:33 pm

njinvestor2019 wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:08 pm
Basically which makes you the most money and is that extra month worth it or Is it better to take the extra time off over your long career?
Sick leave is for when you are sick, not for extra vacation time. I would prefer to not be sick and to use the sick leave to increase my annuity.

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave

Post by LadyGeek » Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:34 pm

This thread is now in the Personal Finance (Not Investing) forum (employee issues). I retitled the thread for clarity.
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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave

Post by junior » Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:40 pm

Silk McCue wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:25 pm
MikeWillRetire wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:12 pm
I think it is more of an ethical decision.
Would you like to expound on this comment. There are are other threads here that discuss the disposition of sick time for federal employees as a part of retirement planning. Are you familiar with the details of how the system works? If so please share. If not, please explain the ethical decision you refer to.

Cheers
Mikewillretire's meaning is obvious. Sick leave is for when you are sick, you can only take it when you are healthy if you lie about being sick. Claiming you are sick when you are not is an ethical issue.

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MikeWillRetire
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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave

Post by MikeWillRetire » Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:41 pm

Silk McCue wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:25 pm
MikeWillRetire wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:12 pm
I think it is more of an ethical decision.
Would you like to expound on this comment. There are are other threads here that discuss the disposition of sick time for federal employees as a part of retirement planning. Are you familiar with the details of how the system works? If so please share. If not, please explain the ethical decision you refer to.

Cheers
This may help you understand:
https://www.fedweek.com/reg-jones-exper ... ick-leave/

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave

Post by delamer » Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:44 pm

I wouldn’t take annual leave in lieu of using sick leave in order to preserve sick leave.

If you saved every hour of sick leave over the course of a 30 year career, you’d add roughly 16 months to your annuity.

So 1.3% times final high 3. If your high 3 is $100,000, you’d add $1300 to your annual annuity — or about $100/month. (A little more if you retire at 62 or later.)

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Summit111
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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by Summit111 » Wed Jul 31, 2019 7:38 pm

I retired from MegaCorp with 40 years service. Sick leave was tightly controlled and considered an “Incident,” If you didn’t use it within the fiscal year, you lost it. No rolling over. Vacation too. Use it or lose it. Special consideration was given if you had to miss vacation days because of company business. You were allowed to roll over one week to the following year.

The year I retired, my last six weeks there was actually vacation time.

So, in private industry, it is not the normal case to allow rollovers of vacation and sick leave over the course of a career.

Summit
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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by delamer » Wed Jul 31, 2019 7:44 pm

Summit111 wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 7:38 pm
I retired from MegaCorp with 40 years service. Sick leave was tightly controlled and considered an “Incident,” If you didn’t use it within the fiscal year, you lost it. No rolling over. Vacation too. Use it or lose it. Special consideration was given if you had to miss vacation days because of company business. You were allowed to roll over one week to the following year.

The year I retired, my last six weeks there was actually vacation time.

So, in private industry, it is not the normal case to allow rollovers of vacation and sick leave over the course of a career.

Summit
I don’t think you can generalize as to what is “normal” based on one company’s practices.

My husband is in the private sector and he can carry over unlimited sick leave from year-to-year. And he can carry over 1 week of vacation regardless of circumstances.

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by TomCat96 » Wed Jul 31, 2019 7:57 pm

njinvestor2019 wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:08 pm
Hi. I am trying to plan ahead with my sick leave. Is it better to burn all your sick leave prior to retirement or is it better to get the extra annuity benefits of 1% a year or 1/12% a month. Basically which makes you the most money and is that extra month worth it or Is it better to take the extra time off over your long career?
Everyone else has told you about the ethics and fraud. There's no need for me to rehash that point.

My guess is you want a numerical computation. I worked all this out at one point, and I'd rather give you the results repeat the entire set of maths here.

Answer:
the theoretical value of the sick leave hours is significantly greater than the annuity benefits you would otherwise receive from being credited additional time for your annuity.

Related point:
the theoretical value of the vacation hours is also significantly greater than the vacation pay out.

The reason is simple. Using sick leave or annual leave nets you additional sick leave and annual leave. It also nets you additional additional retirement benefits matching, as well as the in-duty status needed to accrue more time for the FERS annuity

Nevertheless, the computation I think is divorced from reality. Even ethical reasons aside, from an administrative perspective there are rules in place to prevent this type of burn even for annual leave.

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by UpperNwGuy » Wed Jul 31, 2019 8:57 pm

I am a retired Fed. For my first 15 years of Federal service, I used sick leave when I was sick and annual leave for my vacations.

When I hit the 15 year mark, I was in a high pressure job, just as I started earning annual leave at the highest rate. I found I was unable to use all the annual leave I was earning, so I started using it for doctors appointments and for sick days in lieu of using sick leave. I don't think I used even one hour of sick leave for the next 20 years. As a consequence, I had 3,200 hours of sick leave on the books as I approached retirement.

About a year before retirement, I started hoarding my annual leave so I would receive the highest possible payout for the unused balance when I retired. I think I took only one day of annual leave during that year. I went back to using sick leave for doctors appointments and some minor surgery during my last year of employment because the few hours I was using barely made a dent in the 3,200 hours balance.

At no point did I ever use sick leave for inappropriate purposes.

OP, you can figure this out with a pocket calculator and a sheet of paper. You don't need the Bogleheads to do this for you. Do the right thing. It is indeed an ethical issue.

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by Summit111 » Wed Jul 31, 2019 11:05 pm

delamer wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 7:44 pm
Summit111 wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 7:38 pm
I retired from MegaCorp with 40 years service. Sick leave was tightly controlled and considered an “Incident,” If you didn’t use it within the fiscal year, you lost it. No rolling over. Vacation too. Use it or lose it. Special consideration was given if you had to miss vacation days because of company business. You were allowed to roll over one week to the following year.

The year I retired, my last six weeks there was actually vacation time.

So, in private industry, it is not the normal case to allow rollovers of vacation and sick leave over the course of a career.

Summit
I don’t think you can generalize as to what is “normal” based on one company’s practices.

My husband is in the private sector and he can carry over unlimited sick leave from year-to-year. And he can carry over 1 week of vacation regardless of circumstances.
Well your husband is very fortunate, because they are very few private companies that allow carryover of vacation and sick leave. I was not basing my comment on one company’s practice. In fact in my 40 years of experience in industry, it was very rare to see the benefits you described...

Summit
“Got my mind on my money, and my money on my mind!” Snoop Dog

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave

Post by Paul78 » Wed Jul 31, 2019 11:17 pm

delamer wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:44 pm
I wouldn’t take annual leave in lieu of using sick leave in order to preserve sick leave.

If you saved every hour of sick leave over the course of a 30 year career, you’d add roughly 16 months to your annuity.

So 1.3% times final high 3. If your high 3 is $100,000, you’d add $1300 to your annual annuity — or about $100/month. (A little more if you retire at 62 or later.)
Hence the reason it is almost ALWAYS better just to use the sick leave... I mean if you just called in for 16 straight month and then retired you would receive

$125,000 in salary + the same monthly pension rate + 16 months worth of AL which you can cash out + access to TSP for another 16 months.

Obviously you can not call in for 16 straight months but the point is if you use sick leave appropriately (ie not force yourself to go to work sick, take as much appropriate fmla as afforded to you, take the full recovery time off work after any surgery, ect) it could easily extend you career/improve your work/life balance a bit which will more than make up for the slightly lower pension.

Again I am not saying you should unethically use SL just saying if you have any legitimate reason to use SL you should. Pension wise it makes zero sense to save it.

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by Small Savanna » Wed Jul 31, 2019 11:59 pm

I was a Fed and had the good fortune not to be sick very often. I also found that after 15 years of service the vacation time accrued faster than I could use it, so I occasionally used vacation time when sick leave would have been legit. I thought of the unused sick leave as a long term disability policy, which I fortunately never needed. If I had gotten a stroke or cancer, it would have provided income during an extended recovery.

At retirement I had about 3000 hours of unused sick leave, and it was credited toward the length of service part of the pension calculation, which increased my effective length of service from 34.5 years to about 36. The FERS pension is (length of service) x 1% x (average high three salary). For me, that was a very noticeable boost in pension.

I suppose it's possible to burn up most of your sick leave along the way, and if you're actually in poor health that's understandable, but I think faking sick to go fishing or whatever while your colleagues pick up the slack is wrong. My two cents.

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by SDLinguist » Thu Aug 01, 2019 12:14 am

Summit111 wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 11:05 pm
delamer wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 7:44 pm
Summit111 wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 7:38 pm
I retired from MegaCorp with 40 years service. Sick leave was tightly controlled and considered an “Incident,” If you didn’t use it within the fiscal year, you lost it. No rolling over. Vacation too. Use it or lose it. Special consideration was given if you had to miss vacation days because of company business. You were allowed to roll over one week to the following year.

The year I retired, my last six weeks there was actually vacation time.

So, in private industry, it is not the normal case to allow rollovers of vacation and sick leave over the course of a career.

Summit
I don’t think you can generalize as to what is “normal” based on one company’s practices.

My husband is in the private sector and he can carry over unlimited sick leave from year-to-year. And he can carry over 1 week of vacation regardless of circumstances.
Well your husband is very fortunate, because they are very few private companies that allow carryover of vacation and sick leave. I was not basing my comment on one company’s practice. In fact in my 40 years of experience in industry, it was very rare to see the benefits you described...

Summit
Completely depends on state. For instance in California PTO is considered compensation and so can not be lost. The California department of labor used to say that the accrual cap could be no less that 1.75x a year's grant though has since switched to just saying the limit must be 'reasonable'. Some companies, mine included have since moved to 1.5x but anything less is assumed to start falling into the 'unreasonable' category.

delamer
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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by delamer » Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:14 am

Small Savanna wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 11:59 pm
I was a Fed and had the good fortune not to be sick very often. I also found that after 15 years of service the vacation time accrued faster than I could use it, so I occasionally used vacation time when sick leave would have been legit. I thought of the unused sick leave as a long term disability policy, which I fortunately never needed. If I had gotten a stroke or cancer, it would have provided income during an extended recovery.

At retirement I had about 3000 hours of unused sick leave, and it was credited toward the length of service part of the pension calculation, which increased my effective length of service from 34.5 years to about 36. The FERS pension is (length of service) x 1% x (average high three salary). For me, that was a very noticeable boost in pension.

I suppose it's possible to burn up most of your sick leave along the way, and if you're actually in poor health that's understandable, but I think faking sick to go fishing or whatever while your colleagues pick up the slack is wrong. My two cents.
You raise a good point about disability. Federal employees don’t have short-term disability coverage (provided through the job) and the only long-term disability is through disability retirement.

So it is good to have a cushion of sick leave.

That said, annual leave can be used as an alternative.

Sick leave abuse is a real thing, but that is not to say that it is widespread.

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by Sam1 » Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:28 am

Small Savanna wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 11:59 pm
I was a Fed and had the good fortune not to be sick very often. I also found that after 15 years of service the vacation time accrued faster than I could use it, so I occasionally used vacation time when sick leave would have been legit. I thought of the unused sick leave as a long term disability policy, which I fortunately never needed. If I had gotten a stroke or cancer, it would have provided income during an extended recovery.

At retirement I had about 3000 hours of unused sick leave, and it was credited toward the length of service part of the pension calculation, which increased my effective length of service from 34.5 years to about 36. The FERS pension is (length of service) x 1% x (average high three salary). For me, that was a very noticeable boost in pension.

I suppose it's possible to burn up most of your sick leave along the way, and if you're actually in poor health that's understandable, but I think faking sick to go fishing or whatever while your colleagues pick up the slack is wrong. My two cents.
You are also fortunate you didn’t give birth. As you know there isn’t any maternity leave and federal workers have to use sick leave. So to have kids for your husband or spouse you’re looking at around 8 weeks. Better than not having leave and having to quit your job, but still discriminatory towards women.

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave

Post by Kenkat » Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:32 am

MikeWillRetire wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:41 pm
Silk McCue wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:25 pm
MikeWillRetire wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:12 pm
I think it is more of an ethical decision.
Would you like to expound on this comment. There are are other threads here that discuss the disposition of sick time for federal employees as a part of retirement planning. Are you familiar with the details of how the system works? If so please share. If not, please explain the ethical decision you refer to.

Cheers
This may help you understand:
https://www.fedweek.com/reg-jones-exper ... ick-leave/
How does that make it an ethical question? Employee earns sick leave, employee chooses how to handle it based on the existing rules in place. It’s an earned benefit.

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by rich126 » Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:58 am

As others have mentioned, the increase in the annuity value is very small compared to actual value of that time. For example one full year of sick leave only adds 1% to your pension, maybe $1,500. But one full year of salary is $150,000 (or whatever).

I think the ethical question is straightforward. Sick leave is supposed to be when you are sick, have medical appointments, taking care of sick ones, etc. It isn't supposed to be for calling in and take a week off and going to Disney.

I've worked on/off with the government for ~20 years. In my younger days I was rarely sick and accumulated 1,000 hrs almost as soon as you could. In those days the leave was worthless if you didn't use it. Then later they allowed you to use it when you retired to increase your service time (I'm under FERS). When I returned, the sick leave was still on the books and I generally used it as I accumulated it. As I got older I had more and more medical appointments, issues, etc.

Unfortunately the government doesn't have what the military calls "terminal" leave (I think that is the name). When they retire/leave they often take off an extended period of time using up all their leave.

Its one thing to call in a bit more frequently using sick leave when you are feeling a "bit" out of it but another thing to call in and say you are out for a week and go on vacation. Some offices require a doctor's note for taking sick time. I think our office policy was for 3+ days.

And if anything, you are better off taking as much sick leave as possible when needed and let the annual leave accumulate to the max of 240 hrs (or whatever) and then get paid for the annual salary. I also made sure to keep a fairly sizable amount of sick leave for emergencies (800+ hrs).

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave

Post by dm200 » Thu Aug 01, 2019 10:05 am

rkhusky wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:33 pm
njinvestor2019 wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:08 pm
Basically which makes you the most money and is that extra month worth it or Is it better to take the extra time off over your long career?
Sick leave is for when you are sick, not for extra vacation time. I would prefer to not be sick and to use the sick leave to increase my annuity.
I agree - for multiple reasons.

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by trueblueky » Thu Aug 01, 2019 1:45 pm

Small Savanna wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 11:59 pm
I was a Fed and had the good fortune not to be sick very often. I also found that after 15 years of service the vacation time accrued faster than I could use it, so I occasionally used vacation time when sick leave would have been legit. I thought of the unused sick leave as a long term disability policy, which I fortunately never needed. If I had gotten a stroke or cancer, it would have provided income during an extended recovery.

At retirement I had about 3000 hours of unused sick leave, and it was credited toward the length of service part of the pension calculation, which increased my effective length of service from 34.5 years to about 36. The FERS pension is (length of service) x 1% x (average high three salary). For me, that was a very noticeable boost in pension.

I suppose it's possible to burn up most of your sick leave along the way, and if you're actually in poor health that's understandable, but I think faking sick to go fishing or whatever while your colleagues pick up the slack is wrong. My two cents.
^ This.

When I was a young fed, they kept talking about a certain man who I never saw at work. When I asked, they told me he had had a stroke and was using a year of sick leave until retirement.

Accumulated sick leave is a disability policy (short or long). I never used sick leave because I learned that early.

Sick leave accumulates at 4 hours per 80-hour pay period and is unlimited. Thus, it can add 5% to your annuity. (If you work 20 years, it's as if you worked 21.) For me, it was as if I had worked almost two more years.

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by ponyboy » Thu Aug 01, 2019 2:19 pm

At my previous job, we were given 10 sick days/year. Use or lose them, they did not carry over. You betcha I was sick 10 days a year. Im not giving them back time that is for me. Being sick is completely subjective. If I woke up any day and didnt feel great, imo I was sick, hence the reason I used sick time. Simple as that.

For the feds...where sick days could be used towards years of service, I would save every hour I could.

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by dm200 » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:18 pm

As a taxpayer, I regard use of "sick leave" by federal employees for anything other than being "sick" [or other situations clearly documented as proper] - as wrong and a financial abuse.

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njinvestor2019
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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by njinvestor2019 » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:24 pm

rich126 wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:58 am
As others have mentioned, the increase in the annuity value is very small compared to actual value of that time. For example one full year of sick leave only adds 1% to your pension, maybe $1,500. But one full year of salary is $150,000 (or whatever).

I think the ethical question is straightforward. Sick leave is supposed to be when you are sick, have medical appointments, taking care of sick ones, etc. It isn't supposed to be for calling in and take a week off and going to Disney.

I've worked on/off with the government for ~20 years. In my younger days I was rarely sick and accumulated 1,000 hrs almost as soon as you could. In those days the leave was worthless if you didn't use it. Then later they allowed you to use it when you retired to increase your service time (I'm under FERS). When I returned, the sick leave was still on the books and I generally used it as I accumulated it. As I got older I had more and more medical appointments, issues, etc.

Unfortunately the government doesn't have what the military calls "terminal" leave (I think that is the name). When they retire/leave they often take off an extended period of time using up all their leave.

Its one thing to call in a bit more frequently using sick leave when you are feeling a "bit" out of it but another thing to call in and say you are out for a week and go on vacation. Some offices require a doctor's note for taking sick time. I think our office policy was for 3+ days.

And if anything, you are better off taking as much sick leave as possible when needed and let the annual leave accumulate to the max of 240 hrs (or whatever) and then get paid for the annual salary. I also made sure to keep a fairly sizable amount of sick leave for emergencies (800+ hrs).
For example, today I have the flu and couldn't go to work. This is a legitimate reason to use 9 hour of sick leave. However I am considering using 9 hours of annual leave instead. I feel like I am sacrificing time of for a higher pension payout at the end.

I plan on taking early retirement once it's offered and I am eligible to do so. I am eligible in 14 years where i will be in my late 40s. By then I should have 1 year of sick leave saved. Therefore if I live to my expected life expectancy I should received the extra 1% for the next 40 years. Remember that our pension receives a COLA as well.

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njinvestor2019
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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave

Post by njinvestor2019 » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:29 pm

Silk McCue wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:29 pm
njinvestor2019 wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:08 pm
Hi. I am trying to plan ahead with my sick leave. Is it better to burn all your sick leave prior to retirement or is it better to get the extra annuity benefits of 1% a year or 1/12% a month. Basically which makes you the most money and is that extra month worth it or Is it better to take the extra time off over your long career?
Is this a near term implementation decision or 30 years out. Please provide more specifics.

You may want to use the search bar to find discussions on this same topic. It is the best place to start when looking for most any answer.

Cheers
For example, today I have the flu and couldn't go to work. This is a legitimate reason to use 9 hour of sick leave. However I am considering using 9 hours of annual leave instead. I feel like I am sacrificing time of for a higher pension payout at the end.

I plan on taking early retirement once it's offered and I am eligible to do so. I am eligible in 14 years where i will be in my late 40s. By then I should have 1 year of sick leave saved. Therefore if I live to my expected life expectancy I should received the extra 1% for the next 40 years. Remember that our pension receives a COLA as well.

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by Tdubs » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:34 pm

There is another reason to bank your sick leave. Every year I have donated some of my AL to employees in my agency who have exhausted their SL due to an unexpected serious illness that they or a family member is suffering.

People really do get serious illnesses before retirement. I bank all my SL.

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by dm200 » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:41 pm

Tdubs wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:34 pm
There is another reason to bank your sick leave. Every year I have donated some of my AL to employees in my agency who have exhausted their SL due to an unexpected serious illness that they or a family member is suffering.
People really do get serious illnesses before retirement. I bank all my SL.
Very good strategy, in my opinion.

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njinvestor2019
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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by njinvestor2019 » Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:05 pm

Sam1 wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:28 am
Small Savanna wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 11:59 pm
I was a Fed and had the good fortune not to be sick very often. I also found that after 15 years of service the vacation time accrued faster than I could use it, so I occasionally used vacation time when sick leave would have been legit. I thought of the unused sick leave as a long term disability policy, which I fortunately never needed. If I had gotten a stroke or cancer, it would have provided income during an extended recovery.

At retirement I had about 3000 hours of unused sick leave, and it was credited toward the length of service part of the pension calculation, which increased my effective length of service from 34.5 years to about 36. The FERS pension is (length of service) x 1% x (average high three salary). For me, that was a very noticeable boost in pension.

I suppose it's possible to burn up most of your sick leave along the way, and if you're actually in poor health that's understandable, but I think faking sick to go fishing or whatever while your colleagues pick up the slack is wrong. My two cents.
You are also fortunate you didn’t give birth. As you know there isn’t any maternity leave and federal workers have to use sick leave. So to have kids for your husband or spouse you’re looking at around 8 weeks. Better than not having leave and having to quit your job, but still discriminatory towards women.
There's legislation to add 12 weeks of paid family leave.

https://www.govexec.com/pay-benefits/20 ... ll/158208/

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by LadyGeek » Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:15 pm

Yes, but please refrain from discussing proposed legislation. Here's why: Political comments and proposed tax plan remain off-topic
LadyGeek wrote:
Sun Nov 20, 2016 12:01 pm
The whole point of the policy is to (1) eliminate contentious disagreements that result from these discussions and (2) keep investors from making bad decisions. Proposed legislation changes many times between the time it's introduced and signed into law.
It's paid leave, but the same principles apply. Don't risk your leave until the the details are finalized (signed into law).

The status can be tracked here: H.R.1534 - Federal Employee Paid Leave Act
Latest Action: House - 03/05/2019 Referred to the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and in addition to the Committee on House Administration, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.
The latest activity was on 03/05/2019.
Wiki To some, the glass is half full. To others, the glass is half empty. To an engineer, it's twice the size it needs to be.

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by greg24 » Fri Aug 02, 2019 1:46 pm

Federal sick leave is not just for when an employee is sick.

Applicable uses:
- personal medical needs
- family care or bereavement
- care of a family member with a serious health condition
- adoption-related purposes

I have been fortunate enough to have a generous sick policy in my position. Since I can use that time for family care, basically any time one of my children has been sick, I've been the one to stay home with them.

So there are applicable situations where the employee can elect to use more sick time or bank it. It'd be great if people could stop acting like any elective usage of sick time is fraud.

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by MnD » Sat Aug 03, 2019 8:14 am

I retired near year-end 2018 at age 56 with 34 years 8 months of actual fed service and my 2400+ hours of unused sick leave added 1 year 2 months to my service for annuity purposes. My family has average longevity and DW's family has extreme longevity so the initial 3.44% increase in service and pension will pay out and compound for possibly 40+ years. I always used sick leave when actually sick and the unused balance served as a short and medium term disability policy for decades. I also used very little annual leave in my final year of service so retired with 400 hours which was paid in cash and essentially paid for a very fancy teardrop camping trailer which we are enjoying immensely.

In decades of federal service I found leave balances were pretty binary - people were either "burners" for both annual and sick leave and had chronically low balances for both or were "savers", that built up the max 240 annual leave hour carryover relatively early in their career and had significant unused sick leave balances in store for a rainy day health-wise and to boost retirement income if that rainy day did not arrive.

Supervisors know exactly which employees abuse the sick leave policy (those that don't have significant health problems themselves or a child/spouse) and who can't save up some annual leave if their lives depended on it. It costs those employees a lot more than they could imagine. It's essentially a sign on your back that you are ok with stealing a few hours of pay every month and are poor planners as far as PTO.

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave

Post by Dottie57 » Sat Aug 03, 2019 8:29 am

junior wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:40 pm
Silk McCue wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:25 pm
MikeWillRetire wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:12 pm
I think it is more of an ethical decision.
Would you like to expound on this comment. There are are other threads here that discuss the disposition of sick time for federal employees as a part of retirement planning. Are you familiar with the details of how the system works? If so please share. If not, please explain the ethical decision you refer to.

Cheers
Mikewillretire's meaning is obvious. Sick leave is for when you are sick, you can only take it when you are healthy if you lie about being sick. Claiming you are sick when you are not is an ethical issue.
I wish I had taken “mental health” sick days. Megacorp transferred to a PTO system and I lost every day of PTO I had banked. Sometimes being “ethical”. Is not always so hot. Losing a month of sick pay was a poor way to pay back people who didn’t take mental health days.

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by dharrythomas » Sat Aug 03, 2019 8:36 am

greg24 wrote:
Fri Aug 02, 2019 1:46 pm
Federal sick leave is not just for when an employee is sick.

Applicable uses:
- personal medical needs
- family care or bereavement
- care of a family member with a serious health condition
- adoption-related purposes

I have been fortunate enough to have a generous sick policy in my position. Since I can use that time for family care, basically any time one of my children has been sick, I've been the one to stay home with them.

So there are applicable situations where the employee can elect to use more sick time or bank it. It'd be great if people could stop acting like any elective usage of sick time is fraud.
I don’t think anyone means to imply that any of those uses is illegitimate. On the other hand, if you want to go fishing or to a baseball game, annual leave is appropriate. Misuse of sick leave is subject to adverse administrative action the can end in termination.

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by njinvestor2019 » Sat Aug 03, 2019 8:48 am

From what I gather from this post is that it's best to use sick leave when you can for legitimate purposes and not to use it for non legitimate purposes since it serves as a disability insurance. Is that correct?

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by Soon2BXProgrammer » Sat Aug 03, 2019 8:59 am

njinvestor2019 wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 8:48 am
From what I gather from this post is that it's best to use sick leave when you can for legitimate purposes and not to use it for non legitimate purposes since it serves as a disability insurance. Is that correct?
If you feel the need to keep some sick leave for "insurance" feel free.
If you have actual disability insurance, this might lesson the need for "sick leave insurance" for you, but it would be nice to have it in case you need to care for someone else.

That aside, becauase rules change over time. I know one megacorp that is switching from Sickleave + Vacation to PTO. Basically everything stored up in the old carry over sickleave bucket is worthless after the change unless you burn your PTO to 0. The new PTO rate is the old sickleave rate plus the old vacation rate. If i worked at that megacorp, i wouldn't want to get stuck having a worthless sickleave account. (Note sickleave only gets paid out partially if you make it to retirement, vs vacataion/pto gets paid out at full pay at any termination).

I am not saying to break the rules. I know there have been a lot of days personally, where it would have just been better if i didn't go to work and used sickleave. Ever been so exhausted? Ever go to work but do mostly nothing because your emotionally distraught? Etc etc etc. ever have an eye problem? (can't see yourself going to work?)

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by ChrisC » Sat Aug 03, 2019 9:18 am

njinvestor2019 wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 8:48 am
From what I gather from this post is that it's best to use sick leave when you can for legitimate purposes and not to use it for non legitimate purposes since it serves as a disability insurance. Is that correct?
That would be my take on this thread and it comports with my experience over many years as a Federal worker-bee and later as a Federal manager. In my experience, I found the instances of "slick leave" -- taking sick leave when it would be more appropriate to take annual leave-- to be very rare and mainly occurred for those who were "short timer" Federal employees under FERS, which at that time, did not permit sick leave to be treated as service credit for annuity purposes. During my last year of active duty, they changed the service credit rules for FERS employees to bring them in sync with the CSRS employees, which always credited sick leave for annuity purposes.

I believe most good managers don't rigidly apply leave rules when occasions arise where flexibility is warranted. When my wife and I started out in the Federal service, the concept of "family leave" was not present. My wife is still angry that she had to take annual leave for maternity care after one week of sick leave occasioned by the birth of a child because her Federal manager (a woman no less with children of her own) felt that you should go back to work after child birth within two weeks.

I truly believe it is foolish to "burn" sick leave as a financial measure for retirement purposes; sick leave, as others point out, is essentially short term disability protection, and could be used if you have an extended illness.

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by MathIsMyWayr » Sat Aug 03, 2019 9:21 am

ponyboy wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 2:19 pm
At my previous job, we were given 10 sick days/year. Use or lose them, they did not carry over. You betcha I was sick 10 days a year. Im not giving them back time that is for me. Being sick is completely subjective. If I woke up any day and didnt feel great, imo I was sick, hence the reason I used sick time. Simple as that.

For the feds...where sick days could be used towards years of service, I would save every hour I could.
In many private employers, sick leave is to be used only for valid reasons. I heard a case in which an employee was caught in a shopping mall after calling in sick. She was fired for the misuse of sick time-off. Her employer was known as one of the most progressive companies. Sick time-off policy is like health insurance in that you should feel lucky if you don't have to use it. One of my previous employers had an unlimited sick time-off policy. I believe it is beneficial to both parties. What will happen to the policy if some rogue employees start to abuse?

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by Tdubs » Sat Aug 03, 2019 9:22 am

njinvestor2019 wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 8:48 am
From what I gather from this post is that it's best to use sick leave when you can for legitimate purposes and not to use it for non legitimate purposes since it serves as a disability insurance. Is that correct?
And if you have maxed your banked annual leave and are accumulating more annual leave than you will use in a year (typically happens when you earn 8 hours per pay period), use annual leave instead of sick leave. Sick leave lasts forever and is unlimited.

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave

Post by ColoRetiredGirl » Sat Aug 03, 2019 9:32 am

Silk McCue wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:25 pm
MikeWillRetire wrote:
Wed Jul 31, 2019 6:12 pm
I think it is more of an ethical decision.
Would you like to expound on this comment. There are are other threads here that discuss the disposition of sick time for federal employees as a part of retirement planning. Are you familiar with the details of how the system works? If so please share. If not, please explain the ethical decision you refer to.

Cheers
The ethical comment comes from if you are not sick then why take sick leave. It is there for when you are sick. As a former federal employee, I used it when I was sick and not for mental health days or just because I didn’t want to go to work. I ended up with more than a years worth of sick leave which helped boost my monthly pension. Any hours which were not useable in the calculation HR encouraged me to use them right before retirement. Ironically, I get sick the month before retirement and used them at that time. Had I not been sick, I would have used them up as HR encouraged if it didn’t put my coworkers in a bind. Let your conscious be your guide. Everyone needs to do what will let them sleep well at night.

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by bikechuck » Sat Aug 03, 2019 9:40 am

If I were a Fed employee I would try to maximize my benefits and I would not feel guilty about doing so. As a taxpayer I feel the system should be reformed and people should only be paid for sick leave if they are sick. They should not be paid out for accumulated sick leave when they retire and there should be limits on how much can be carried over year to year.

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by njinvestor2019 » Sat Aug 03, 2019 9:44 am

bikechuck wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 9:40 am
If I were a Fed employee I would try to maximize my benefits and I would not feel guilty about doing so. As a taxpayer I feel the system should be reformed and people should only be paid for sick leave if they are sick. They should not be paid out for accumulated sick leave when they retire and there should be limits on how much can be carried over year to year.
Our sick leave does not get paid out. If we don't use it they give us 1% per man year extra in our annuity. Which typically means we get pennies on the dollar of what its value is during our careers.

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by Nestegg_User » Sat Aug 03, 2019 9:52 am

MnD wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 8:14 am
I retired near year-end 2018 at age 56 with 34 years 8 months of actual fed service and my 2400+ hours of unused sick leave added 1 year 2 months to my service for annuity purposes. My family has average longevity and DW's family has extreme longevity so the initial 3.44% increase in service and pension will pay out and compound for possibly 40+ years. I always used sick leave when actually sick and the unused balance served as a short and medium term disability policy for decades. I also used very little annual leave in my final year of service so retired with 400 hours which was paid in cash and essentially paid for a very fancy teardrop camping trailer which we are enjoying immensely.

In decades of federal service I found leave balances were pretty binary - people were either "burners" for both annual and sick leave and had chronically low balances for both or were "savers", that built up the max 240 annual leave hour carryover relatively early in their career and had significant unused sick leave balances in store for a rainy day health-wise and to boost retirement income if that rainy day did not arrive.

Supervisors know exactly which employees abuse the sick leave policy (those that don't have significant health problems themselves or a child/spouse) and who can't save up some annual leave if their lives depended on it. It costs those employees a lot more than they could imagine. It's essentially a sign on your back that you are ok with stealing a few hours of pay every month and are poor planners as far as PTO.

yep, it's often a binary situation
I can remember when there was a reorg.... new super was meeting those now assigned. Took a look and saw me with two thousand plus hours and "riding the 240"....
Now, consider who are you going to get into the critical position/projects? me or someone (assuming that they could come near the same training and experience) that needs to have the next pay period to have enough to take off a week? -- yep, I think that you know who that would be.

I did have some major surgeries at the end, and had the physician write for maximum time off, and super wanted me back earlier. I didn't actually have to say "did you notice those characters at the end of the name?", rather I said something along the lines of "I'll take that under advisement" ( I was already senior).... but I took enough time post surgery and PT. They apparently hadn't had someone like me that didn't need to ask for advanced leave; they expected to call all the shots.... Really nothing else for them to do.

{on the other hand, when one notorious leave burner had to have surgery and advanced leave, they came back and then had to have "accommodation" for desk duty. It was bad enough for those that had to pick up the slack (not me) but to also have a constant reminder in the office didn't help morale.}

ETA: I still had quite a few hours SL and about the 240 at the end (the policy had just been changed... I was one of the few that were "involuntary" changed from CSRS to FERS in the early days.... so SL savings only meant short term disability, but I still used appropriately but fortunately sparingly for use as such. The good thing about "riding the 240" is that they have to make every accommodation to allow you to use it... so I could almost always get the times I wanted (and could call in if something came up, like problem with something in the house that needed immediate resolution, and say I needed to take care of this. Their response was virtually always " Sure, just take care of the paperwork when you get in ").

Addn ETA: I think you can guess which end of the 62 versus 70 SS claiming continuum I am on 8-)
Last edited by Nestegg_User on Sat Aug 03, 2019 10:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by delamer » Sat Aug 03, 2019 10:03 am

njinvestor2019 wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 8:48 am
From what I gather from this post is that it's best to use sick leave when you can for legitimate purposes and not to use it for non legitimate purposes since it serves as a disability insurance. Is that correct?
I didn’t use it for non-legitimate purposes because it was against regulations and could result in disciplinary action.

Sick leave abusers were not otherwise high performers. The leave issues were part of a general “bad attitude” of unreliability, lack of effort, etc.

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by susleni » Sat Aug 03, 2019 10:25 am

IMHO, it's better to burn sick leave after your first day of retirement eligibility.

The following example is for a FERS employee with 30 years of service, retiring prior to age 62, and with a high-three of $100,000.

Pension: $30,000 (1% of high-three x 30 years)

Difference between pre-retirement salary and pension: $70,000

An entire year of sick leave on the books at retirement would add $1,000 (1% of $100k) to your annual FERS pension, or $38.46 per pay period ($1,000/26).

Using sick leave a few days per week through a single pay period beyond your earliest possible retirement date would add $3,846 ($100k/26), as opposed to the $1,153 ($30k/26) you'd get as a retiree - a difference of $2,693 per pay period.

2,693/38.46 = 70.02*

If you can manage to remain employed, while burning sick leave at whatever rate you choose (as long as you're sick), then burning the sick leave would be 70.02 times more valuable than adding it to your pension.**

*Gross numbers only
**Still gotta show up to work occasionally

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by Nestegg_User » Sat Aug 03, 2019 10:44 am

susleni

really not likely to use leave like that (two days every PP); we had someone like that... every other Friday had chiro or something like that and took off whole day - - it was used as evidence of SL abuse. The individual was required to have doctor provide full time of treatment, and when it didn't show sufficient time, that was used as evidence of abuse. They were then required to use SL for part and AL for rest of day ( but it needed to be approved or else it's AWOL, with concomitant penalties). They were also taken away from flex leave (it's a privilege not a right, and prior abuse gave probable cause to deny).... Long story short.... didn't last too long before they had to retire as the individual didn't want to change their behavior.

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by fundseeker » Sat Aug 03, 2019 10:46 am

njinvestor2019 wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 8:48 am
From what I gather from this post is that it's best to use sick leave when you can for legitimate purposes and not to use it for non legitimate purposes since it serves as a disability insurance. Is that correct?
"it's best to use sick leave when you can for legitimate purposes" MAINLY because that is the right thing to do! And it is best to "not to use it for non legitimate purposes" because that is the right thing to do, and there is no better reason!

You will do much better in your Fed career and in life if you don't try to work the system and just do the right thing! And, another great reason to never use sick leave for illegitimate reasons is so in your latter years, you don't become one of those sorry employees who applies for the voluntary SL program because you blew all of your SL early. It is best to save it for when you seriously need it, and if there is some left at the end of your career, then great.

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by Nestegg_User » Sat Aug 03, 2019 10:56 am

Yep, I sure wasn't gonna donate to a case like that ...especially since it was annual (not sick) that had to be donated. (has it changed to allow for SL to be donated? I'm retired, so it's just of interest)

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Re: Federal Employee Burn or Sick Leave [before retirement]

Post by UpperNwGuy » Sat Aug 03, 2019 11:08 am

Nestegg_User wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 10:44 am
susleni

really not likely to use leave like that (two days every PP); we had someone like that... every other Friday had chiro or something like that and took off whole day - - it was used as evidence of SL abuse. The individual was required to have doctor provide full time of treatment, and when it didn't show sufficient time, that was used as evidence of abuse. They were then required to use SL for part and AL for rest of day ( but it needed to be approved or else it's AWOL, with concomitant penalties). They were also taken away from flex leave (it's a privilege not a right, and prior abuse gave probable cause to deny).... Long story short.... didn't last too long before they had to retire as the individual didn't want to change their behavior.
Yep, as a Federal manager I saw it all: telework abuse, sick leave abuse, compressed work schedule abuse, flexible hours abuse, overtime abuse, government credit card abuse, etc — all in the name of "taking advantage of the benefits provided by the system." One of the reasons I finally retired after 40 years (with 3200 hours of sick and 500 hours of annual on the books) was because I got tired of constant battle to hold staff to high professional and ethical standards.

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