September 22, 2016

Senate Passes Hirono-Fischer Bill to Equalize Paid Leave for Disabled Veterans

The U.S. Senate today passed S. 2683, the Federal Aviation Administration Veteran Transition Improvement Act, legislation authored by Senators Mazie K. Hirono and Deb Fischer (R-NE) to equalize paid sick leave for veterans who work for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA). S. 2683 is cosponsored by Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS).

“Disabled veterans who work at the FAA and TSA currently are forced to take unpaid leave to treat service-related injuries. This is unacceptable,” said Senator Hirono. “Passing this bill in the Senate today is the first step toward giving FAA and TSA veteran employees parity with their counterparts throughout the federal workforce. I am proud to have worked on this bipartisan bill with Senator Fischer, and urge my colleagues in the House to see this effort through.”

“Veterans working at the FAA have struggled to find the time and needed flexibility to receive medical treatment for their combat-related injuries,” said Senator Fischer. “The FAA Veterans Transition Improvement Act corrects this problem. It provides these veterans with the same access to sick leave as their counterparts at other federal agencies. I was proud to work with Senator Hirono on this bipartisan bill and hope the House will take it up soon.”

The bipartisan Hirono-Fischer measure ensures that new disabled veteran employees at the FAA and TSA have access to the sick leave benefit that their counterparts in other agencies receive. In 2015, Congress enacted the Wounded Warrior Federal Leave Act which makes up to 104 hours of paid sick leave available to newly hired veteran federal employees with service-connected conditions rated 30 percent or higher. However, since certain federal personnel policies do not automatically apply to the FAA and the TSA, the additional sick leave created by the new law will not apply to these agencies without a legislative change.

The Hirono-Fischer measure allows veterans with a disability rating of 30 percent or higher who are hired by the FAA or TSA to 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. Currently, approximately 40 percent of FAA employees in Hawaii are veterans. Veterans form over 10 percent of the TSA’s Hawaii workforce.

The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Paralyzed Veterans of America, Reserve Officers Association, American Federation of Government Employees, Federal Managers Association, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, National Air Traffic