“I have a medical emergency and have been approved for the Family Medical Leave Act. I am out of leave. I heard about a voluntary leave transfer program. What is it?”
Statutory provisions of the Voluntary Leave Transfer Program (VLTP) are codified at Title 5, Part III, Subpart E, Ch. 63 (2006) and Title 5 C.F.R. Pt.630 (2008). For the purpose of this post, specific agency regulations are not considered as they vary widely. However, this post is sourced to statutory provisions as primary authorities. When determining methods of VLTP program administration, supervisors and employees should consult agency regulations and local union agreements. Legal and regulatory citations are included in this document only to the extent necessary.
Note: Once an employee is approved for the Voluntary Leave Program, they are considered in a “transferred leave status” and the use of any type of leave is subject to greater scrutiny.
VLTP Frequently Asked Questions
- Can an employee use donated leave for any purpose?
- No. Statutory law and (typically), agency regulations, requires all donated leave transferred to the recipient in the VLTP program be used “only for the purpose of a medical emergency for which the leave recipient was approved.”
- Will the employee continue to accrue leave while in the VLTP program?
- Yes. 5 U.S.C. § 6337 (b) (1) provides that both annual and sick leave “shall continue to accrue at the same rate as if employee were in a paid leave status.” However, neither an employee’s sick leave nor annual balance may exceed forty-hours.
- Must an employee have a “zero leave balance” before using donated leave?
- Yes. Most Agency regulations require all accumulated leave (both sick and annual) available at the time the VLTP request is approved, must be exhausted prior to using donated leave.
- Can an employee use annual leave for personal reasons while in the Voluntary Leave Program? For example, can an employee use annual leave to go on vacation while in a transferred leave status?
- No. All leave accrued while in a transferred leave status (in the VLTP) is maintained in a separate account and typically monitored by the local Payroll office. This leave is not made available for employee personal use until either all donated leave is exhausted or the medical emergency terminates (see, 5 U.S.C. § 6337 (b) (2) . Additionally, upon termination of the medical emergency, leave accrued is not available until the beginning of the first pay period after the date on which the emergency terminated (see, 5 U.S.C. § 6337 (c)(1)(a)).
- What is “transferred leave status?”
- Once an employee is approved for the VLTP, he or she enters a “transferred leave status.” Simply stated, as long as the employee is receiving leave donations, they are in a transferred leave status in that leave from donors is transferred to their account for use during the stated medical emergency only for the purpose of the stated emergency. The term “leave recipient” is also used both in regulatory and statutory language.
- Can an employee receive transferred leave from personnel at other facilities and/or Federal agencies?
- Yes. This is typically coordinated via payroll offices.
- Isn’t the VLTP the same as the Family Medical Leave Act, a Leave without Pay request, and/or advanced sick leave?
- No. Each program is distinct and requires separate application, review, and approval. An employee may be approved for one program yet denied participation in another.
- Can a supervisor monitor the medical emergency of an employee in a transferred leave status?
- Yes. See your agency regulations.
- Can an employee retroactively use donated leave?
- Yes. 5 U.S.C. § 6333 (a)(3)(c)(2) provides that an employee may retroactively use donated leave to cover LWOP for dates following the date of the start of the medical emergency as stated in the VLTP application.
- Can an employee use donated leave after termination of the medical emergency or termination of participation in the VLTP?
- No. All unused donated leave is restored to donors as determined by the local Payroll office (see, 5 U.S.C. § 6336).
- When does a medical emergency terminate?
- Through a pre-determined date established in the VLTP application (normally determined by the employee’s personal physician), upon other notification made by a leave recipient or personal representative, separation from Federal service, and agency determination (see, 5 US.C. 6335).
- What happens if an employee is suspected of misrepresentation of a medical emergency?
- Important Note: If actionable information exists to suggest an employee fraudulently applied to the VLTP, fraudulently remains in the VLTP, or engaged in some other type of misrepresentation, the information may be reported to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). If OIG declines criminal investigation, the matter will likely be administratively investigated and, if determined factual, disciplinary or adverse action may result, including removal from employment. Never defaud the government.