Frequently Asked Questions: Benefits

How can an employee become a member of the Leave Bank?

An eligible employee can enroll during an enrollment period using the “Leave Bank Membership” tab in ITAS. Existing employees may enroll during the annual fall open enrollment, which runs from mid-November to mid-December. A new employee may enroll within 60 days of his/her enter-on-duty date.  A membership contribution of one pay period’s accrual of annual leave is required.  Visit our membership page for more information.

What is FMLA?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides covered employees with up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave without pay (LWOP) during any 12 month period for certain family and medical needs.

What is the Leave Bank?

A Leave Bank is a pooled fund of donated annual and restored leave. Eligible members draw leave from the bank to cover time out the office due to a personal or family medical emergency.

If an employee is unable to make the Leave Bank membership contribution, are they unable to join?

If the applicant doesn't have sufficient leave to make the membership contribution or they're a VLTP or Leave Bank recipient, the membership contribution is automatically waived.

Who may donate leave to the Leave Bank?

Any Federal civilian employee. Visit our Leave Bank donation page for more information.

When can I enroll and become a member of the Leave Bank?

During the annual open enrollment period, which runs from mid-November through mid-December. The open enrollment period will last for at least 30 calendar days. A new employee may enroll within 60 days of his/her enter-on-duty date.

How much leave must I contribute to join the Leave Bank?

The yearly contribution amount will be one pay period’s worth of annual leave based on the employee’s annual leave category. This minimum contribution requirement also applies to part-time employees.

What are the eligibility requirements for becoming a Leave Bank recipient?

An applicant must:

  • Be a current Leave Bank member;
  • Experience a qualifying medical emergency, which is projected to result in at least 24 hours of non-pay status; and
  • Complete and submit a Leave Recipient package to the Leave Bank Office no later than 30 calendar days following the termination of the medical emergency.
Can an employee apply to be a recipient in both the Leave Bank and the VLTP?

Yes. Since the Leave Bank provides 100% of the medical need up to the yearly hourly caps (480 hours for personal medical emergencies and/or 240 hours for family medical emergencies), the only time a recipient would need leave under VLTP, in addition to the Leave Bank, is if he/she exceeds the cap.

Will I need to join the Leave Bank each year to continue my membership?

Once you join the Leave Bank, you will automatically be re-enrolled each year unless you take action in ITAS to opt out during the open enrollment period.

Who is eligible to become a member of Leave Bank?

Federal civilian employees of the NIH.

Does an employee have to recertify their medical certification?

Your leave approving official may require subsequent medical recertification on a periodic basis, but not more than once every 30 calendar days. If your health care provider has specified on the medical certification a minimum duration of the period of incapacity, NIH may not request recertification until that period has passed.

Under ELTP, what if I do not use all of the leave I am given?

If you have not used all the leave you were granted within a month of your estimated end date, you will be asked whether the time needs to be extended. If the original need for the leave is over, any remaining leave will be returned to the leave bank to be distributed.

Can I use ELTP to volunteer for disaster relief efforts?

No.  ELTP, as described above, is only for those employees directly affected or employees whose family members were directly affected by a major disaster or emergency. ELTP cannot be used in order to “volunteer” to help the situation.

Is there a limit on how much leave a person can receive under the ELTP?

Yes. You may not receive more than 240 hours of donated leave at one time.

How do I apply to become an ELTP Recipient?

Submit an OPM Form 1637, Application to Become a Leave Recipient under the Emergency Leave Transfer Program and OPM Form 71, Request for Leave or Approved Absence (both can be found on the OPM website) to your supervisor for approval.

Do I have to have a medical condition (or be caring for a family member who has one) because of a major disaster or emergency in order to apply to receive leave under ELTP?

No. The ELTP covers more than just medical conditions.  Perhaps you need time to file insurance claims for lost property, or to assist a family member relocate from a major disaster or emergency area.  In order to receive leave under ELTP, you need only to demonstrate “severe hardship resulting in required absence from work.”

Do I have to exhaust all my own annual and sick leave before I can receive leave donated under ELTP?

No.

Who is eligible to receive donated leave under the HHS ELTP?

To be eligible as a recipient under the ELTP, an employee or an employee’s family member must be adversely and directly affected by a major disaster or emergency which causes severe hardship to the employee or the employee’s family member to such a degree that the employee’s absence from work is required. An emergency leave recipient may only use donated annual leave to care for a family member if that family member has no reasonable access to other forms of assistance.

Who is considered a family member under ELTP?

The definition of family member covers a wide range of relationships, including spouse; parents; parents-in-law, children; brothers; sisters; grandparents; grandchildren; step parents; step children; foster parents; foster children; guardianship relationships; same sex and opposite sex domestic partners; and spouses or domestic partners of the aforementioned, as applicable. The list of family members for whom an employee may request donated annual leave under the ELTP may be found at OPM.

Can I use ELTP leave to assist a family member?

Perhaps.  It depends on the amount of leave in the bank available.  Employees directly impacted by the major disaster or emergency have first priority to available leave.  Employees who need to assist family members impacted by the event have secondary priority to the leave.

I am a member of the Commissioned Corps. Can I donate annual leave to the ELTP?

No. Commissioned Corps members are not eligible to participate in the HHS ELTP, either as a leave donor or as a recipient.

Does leave I donate to the ELTP count against the donation limit to the Voluntary Leave Transfer Program (VLTP)?

No.  Donations made to the ELTP do not count against the limitation to the donations under VLTP.

What if the annual leave I donate to the ELTP does not get used?

When the emergency ends, you will receive a proportional share of any unused leave remaining in the bank.

May I give my donated annual leave to a specific individual, as is the case under the Voluntary Leave Transfer Program (VLTP)?

No.  According to government-wide regulations, donations to an ELTP may not be directed to a specific individual.  Donations made to an ELTP are applied towards a central pool.

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