FAA may soon provide paid sick leave to newly-hired disabled vets

McClatchy DC: FAA may soon provide paid sick leave to newly-hired disabled vets
By Rob Hotakainen

WASHINGTON - Newly-hired veterans working for the Federal Aviation Administration could soon qualify for paid sick leave, if their disability rating exceeds 30 percent.

The House voted Tuesday to approve a bill aimed at closing a loophole in the Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act of 2015 that prevents those veterans from getting additional benefits.

They would receive up to 104 hours of paid leave, under a bill sponsored by Democratic Rick Larsen of Washington state and Republican Rep. Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey.

More than 15,500 veterans currently work for the Federal Aviation Administration, including 650 in Washington state, Larsen said.

It’s uncertain how many veterans would qualify under the legislation. But Larsen said the FAA hired between 150 and 350 veterans with disability ratings of 30 percent or more each year from 2012 to 2016.

Larsen said it’s “a moral injustice” to force disabled veterans to choose between earning a paycheck or receiving health care.

His office said the change would come at no added cost. In a review of the legislation, the Congressional Budget Office said the FAA is already updating its personnel policies to provide medical leave benefits and that the bill not affect either its spending or revenues.

The bill now moves to the Senate, where a vote could come by the end of the week.