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COVID-19 Relief and Stimulus Package

FLEOA Applauds FECA Presumption, Emergency Leave Provisions in COVID Stimulus Bill

March 11, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

 

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Larry Cosme of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) hailed the passage of two of the organization’s legislative priorities as part of the COVID-19 relief and stimulus package that cleared the House yesterday. Specifically, FLEOA supported two provisions intended to protect the health and safety of FLEOA members: (1) providing for COVID-19 paid leave and (2) a presumptive disability standard under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) for COVID-19-related injuries.

"The legislation that passed Congress, H.R. 1319, the American Rescue Plan Act, contained two provisions that FLEOA has advocated for since the start of the pandemic. The first is the establishment of a $570 million Emergency Federal Employee Leave Fund to reimburse agencies for the costs of providing up to 600 hours of paid leave to federal employees who are unable to work because they or a family member has been impacted by COVID-19. Working to extend paid leave to law enforcement officers and other federal employees has been a FLEOA priority since passage of FFCRA in February 2020.FLEOA fought to ensure that the final language applied not just to Title 5 employees, but to its members at the U.S. Postal Service, Veterans Administration, and Transportation Security Administration,” FLEOA President Cosme said.

"When the COVID-19 pandemic struck last year, as an association, our first thought was about the health and safety of federal law enforcement officers and the families of those who continued to serve on the frontlines. Many did not have the option of working from home as other federal employees do,” said Cosme. "As we have witnessed, these brave federal law enforcement officers remained on post and helped keep America safe; however, that courage and patriotism has a price. Our members joined the ranks of other professions that saw some of the highest rates of COVID-19 exposures and infections. For the foreseeable future, our members remain at high risk. We are pleased that Congress has ensured that paid leave will be available throughout 2021.”

"The second provision of H.R. 1319, which FLEOA worked to include in the House-passed HEROES Act in May 2020, establishes a presumptive disability standard under FECA. Under this presumption, a federal employee’s diagnosis with COVID-19 between January 27, 2020 and January 37, 2023, would be deemed to have been contracted as a result of the employee’s employment for any claim for benefits under federal workers’ compensation program. These benefits include disability compensation, medical services, and survivor benefits. This language codifies and clarifies an administrative presumptive standard that the Labor Department put in place in April 2020 at FLEOA’s request. Under that administrative presumption, DOL has approved over 3,500 claims. Still, the numbers are climbing and to protect FLEOA’s members, a more permanent presumption was necessary. FLEOA worked to create a similar presumption in 2020 for the provision of death and disability benefits under the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program through the enactment of the Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act last August,” Cosme explained.

"The experience of the 9/11 First Responder community over the past 20 years has taught us that lingering and long-term health effects are not to be ignored and are often hard to pinpoint, but must be considered for the health and security of our members and their families,” said President Cosme. "That is why we are grateful for the support of leaders in Congress like Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chair Gary Peters, House Oversight & Reform Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney, and House Subcommittee on Government Operations Chair Gerry Connolly who fought with us for the inclusion of these provisions in H.R. 1319. We appreciate their continued advocacy on behalf of law enforcement officers and other federal employees throughout this public health emergency, and their willingness to work with us to protect the health and safety of our members and their families.”

FLEOA is the nation’s largest non-partisan, not-for-profit professional association representing close to 30,000 federal law enforcement officers and agents across 65 federal agencies.

 

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