Part of the 2021 pandemic relief and stimulus law includes a $570 million fund for Federal Employees.
The new Federal Employee Leave Fund, created by Congress in March as part of the “American Rescue Plan,” is an added benefit for Feds that are currently and personally impacted by the pandemic. The fund will pay a maximum of 600 hours of additional paid leave, equivalent to 15 weeks, however, the weekly amounts are capped at $1400. Therefore, the maximum a fed could receive is $21,000 ($1400 x 15). Congress’ intention when creating the leave fund was to “create a backstop for feds in a dire situation.”
Eligibility for Leave
There have been misconceptions surrounding the law, one of which purports that all federal workers will receive an additional $21,000 stimulus payment. Another revolves around a requirement for a federal employee to utilize all their available sick and annual leave before they can have access to this new leave. Both of these suppositions are untrue. While there was once a rule in the legislation that did require annual and sick leave to be used up first, congress dropped it before the economic relief act was passed. As for specific eligibility, one of the following situations must apply for a federal employee to use the leave. They need to:
-Be in quarantine related to possible coronavirus exposure, or
-Sick with a confirmed case of COVID-19, or
-Caring for a kid whose school (or daycare) is either closed or being conducted virtually, or
-Caring for a family member who is sick with COVID-19 and cannot care for themselves
Frustratingly, OPM has yet to issue guidance to Federal Agencies regarding the leave fund. Some agencies, such as USPS, have taken the initiative to provide their employees with their own guidance on how the leave can be utilized until word from OPM is received.
Until Next Time,
**Written by Benjamin Derge, Financial Planner. The information has been obtained from sources considered reliable but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of Benjamin Derge and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. Links are being provided for information purposes only. Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize, or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors.