March 15, 2016

Hirono and Fischer Release Bipartisan Legislation to Provide Disabled Veterans Additional Paid Leave

Disabled Veterans In Federal Civilian Service Shouldn’t Choose Between A Paycheck And Getting The Care They Need

WASHINGTON, D.C.– Senators Mazie K. Hirono and Deb Fischer (R-NE) introduced legislation Tuesday to ensure veterans with a disability rating of 30 percent or higher who are hired by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) can access additional paid sick leave during their first year on the job for the purposes of receiving medical care related to their service-connected condition.

This additional paid leave has been available to newly hired eligible veterans at other federal agencies since enactment of the Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act of 2015. Hawaii is home to more than 30,000 total federal employees, as well as 12,000 veterans with a disability rating of 30 percent or higher.

The Hirono-Fischer legislation will help to ensure that moving forward, all newly hired disabled veteran FAA employees will have parity with their counterparts in other federal agencies and will not have to face the financial hardship of taking unpaid leave to receive necessary medical treatment. Currently, thirty-seven percent of the FAA’s 41,000 employees nationally are veterans, which is approximately the same percentage among FAA employees in Hawaii.

“As Congress works to update our federal aviation laws we must ensure that additional paid sick leave approved by Congress last year is available to the FAA’s disabled veteran employees as it is for other agency employees. Disabled veterans have already given so much to serve our country, and those who choose to continue their federal service should not have to choose between getting a paycheck and getting the care they need,” said Senator Hirono. “More than a third of Hawaii’s FAA workforce are veterans, and this legislation will help ensure there are no barriers for future disabled veterans to continue serving our country at this critical agency.”

“Our veterans face many obstacles after re-entering civilian life. Often, they require medical attention for injuries they sustained while serving our country,” said Senator Fischer. “With this bipartisan legislation, we can help ensure disabled veteran employees at the FAA have access to sick leave while receiving treatment for their injuries.”

On November 5, 2015, the Wounded Warrior Federal Leave Act (P.L. 114-75) was signed into law after unanimous passage by Congress. The Act made up to 104 hours of paid sick leave available to newly hired veteran federal employees with service-connected conditions rated 30 percent or higher. The law currently applies to most federal agencies, but as certain federal personnel policies do not automatically apply to the FAA, the additional sick leave created by the new law will not apply to new FAA employees without a legislative change. The FAA Veteran Transition Improvement Act requires FAA to prescribe policy and procedures that ensure disabled veterans hired by FAA have access to the new disabled veteran sick leave benefit that their counterparts receive in other agencies.

The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), Federal Managers Association (FMA), American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS) support this legislation.