Use of Sick Leave for Treatment By Marriage/family Counselor, B-201099

CourtComptroller General of the United States
Docket NumberB-201099
Decision Date22 December 1981


No. B-201099

Comptroller General of the United States

December 22, 1981

Digest: employee requested sick leave for period of emotional stress and request was certified by licensed marriage/family counselor. Since such counselor is considered "practitioner" who May certify for use of sick leave, agency May accept certification as evidence of reason for absence.

The issue in this decision is whether an employee May properly charge sick leave during a period of emotional stress while she was under the care of a licensed marriage/family counselor. We hold that since licensed marriage/family counselors are considered to be "practitioners" capable of certifying the employee's incapacitation to work, we have no objection to the agency granting the use of sick leave based upon this evidence.

This decision is in response to a request from an authorized certifying officer, reference w1819 (wraf, national park service, western region, department of the interior. The request from interior states that an employee requested sick leave for the period from April 14 through April 22, 1980, due to emotional stress in her personal life. The employee's application for leave was signed by a licensed marriage/family counselor certifying that the employee was under his professional care during that period.

The agency questions whether a marriage counselor qualifies as a "practitioner" for the purpose of certifying sick leave. The agency obtained an advisory opinion from the office of personnel management (OPM) that a marriage counselor, licensed by the state, is legally defined as a practitioner for the purpose of certifying sick leave. In addition, under interior regulations a troubled employee whose work performance or behavior is adversely affected by personal problems such as alcoholism, drug abuse, and mental health or family problems, May have sick, annual, or leave without pay approved for treatment of those problems. On the other hand, the request from interior cites a decision of our office, B-181686 (charles T. Turner, published at 55 Comp.Gen. 183 (1975)), for the proposition that charges of sick leave must specifically and literally meet the criteria contained in the applicable OPM regulation.

We requested comments on this matter from opm. The reply from OPM dated November 4, 1981, states that in accordance with 5 C.F.R. Sec. 630.403 sick leave must be supported by evidence that...

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