Background: On September 15, 2019, VA Handbook 5011/32, Hours of Duty and Leave, was implemented changing the leave charge, leave accrual rate, and maximum carryover for full-time physicians, dentists, chiropractors, podiatrists, and optometrists from days to hours. The policy established the maximum annual leave carryover amount to be 685 hours.
On October 9, 2019, AFGE filed a National Grievance against the Agency concerning the implementation of VA Handbook 5011/32. On December 30, 2020, an Arbitrator found that the Agency violated the 2011VA/AFGE Master Agreement by converting the accrued leave balances of certain AFGE bargaining unit employees from “days” to “hours” using a universal conversion rate. The Agency was required to “make-whole” any employees impacted by the violations. On April 27, 2021 a settlement agreement was executed between VA and AFGE regarding the implementation of the policy.
On June 10, 2021, the Acting Under Secretary for Health authorized a one-time modification of the annual and sick leave conversion rates and maximum annual leave carryover for full-time employees who transitioned from a daily to hourly leave system.
The authorization applied to full-time physicians, dentists, chiropractors, podiatrists, and optometrists on established and approved work schedules as of September 14, 2019. The authorization was approved for leave conversion actions that were effective on September 15, 2019.
VA is currently processing the one-time modification of conversion leave actions for eligible physicians and some employees have received their supplemental leave. However, several errors were identified after the conversion leave actions were processed, to include the placement of all supplemental leave hours in frozen annual leave. The supplemental hours added to frozen annual leave needed to be redistributed to both annual leave and frozen annual leave. The majority of the leave conversions and almost all of the leave corrections have already been processed. The actions necessary to correct the remaining balances continue to be processed by the Defense Finance and Accounting System and VA Financial Services Center (FSC).
A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and Update to Employees (UTE) were developed to provide additional information regarding the one-time modification authorization and processing of leave conversion actions for eligible employees.
1. The attached FAQs, UTE and VA Handbook 5011/32, Hours of Duty and Leave, must be shared with supervisors and full-time physicians, dentists, chiropractors, podiatrists, and optometrists impacted by the implementation of the one-time modification to the leave conversion rates.
2. The attached Notice to All Employees must also be provided to impacted employees that were in AFGE bargaining unit positions when the policy was implemented on September 15, 2019.
3. VISN Directors must complete and return the attached Attestation memorandum attesting that all facilities within the VISN have completed the required action items by COB January 07, 2022. The signed memorandum should be emailed to Jeff Kleiner, HR Consultant, VHA HR Center of Expertise at Jeffrey.Kleiner2@va.gov.
Questions: If you have any questions regarding the one-time modification of the annual and sick leave conversion rates authorization, please contact Jeff Kleiner, HR Consultant, VHA HR Center of Expertise at Jeffrey.Kleiner2@va.gov or 615-945-2550. All efforts are focused on correcting the remaining leave balances. Once complete, each payroll office will be provided a summary to address any questions impacted employees may have.