When you, the federal employee, are faced with an illness that will require you to take extended leave, the agency provides you with several options to accommodate your leave request. Of those options, the one you should choose first is to use your sick and annual accrued leave. When that runs out you may want to seek out your agency’s Voluntary Leave Transfer Program (normally called VLTP, but may be called something else at your agency). Once that leave runs out – or even better, before it runs out – I would encourage federal employees to anticipate the need to request leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Title I or II, depending on your agency. A request for FMLA leave allows you, as a federal employee, to protect your job and stop the agency from attempting to remove you from your federal government position for at least 12 weeks.
One thing that confuses many of our clients is the fact that FMLA leave IS NOT PAID LEAVE. You may use your own paid leave during the 12 weeks. If you are able to get the VLTP mentioned in the above paragraph you should use that as well. However, what happens when you run out of paid leave? Again, the agency does not need to advance you any sick or annual leave or award you paid administrative leave. Instead you can use unpaid leave or Leave Without Pay (LWOP).
If your agency chooses to charge you AWOL or discipline you during those 12 weeks of protected FMLA time then it is time for you to contact a competent federal employee attorney like our firm the Law Offices of Eric L. Pines, PLLC.