B-36617, SEPTEMBER 11, 1943, 23 COMP. GEN. 186

B-36617: Sep 11, 1943

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AN EMPLOYEE IS UNABLE TO PROCURE A CERTIFICATE BY A PHYSICIAN OR OTHER PRACTITIONER TO SUPPORT HIS APPLICATION FOR SICK LEAVE OF ABSENCE FOR A PERIOD OF MORE THAN THREE DAYS' DURATION. IT IS WITHIN THE DISCRETION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE UNDER SECTION 22 OF THE SAID REGULATION TO GRANT THE EMPLOYEE SICK LEAVE OF ABSENCE ON THE BASIS OF HIS PERSONAL CERTIFICATE AS TO SUCH FACTS. AS FOLLOWS: YOUR DECISION IS RESPECTFULLY REQUESTED IN A MATTER CONCERNING THE SICK LEAVE REGULATIONS. IN REMOTE LOCALITIES WHERE SUCH CERTIFICATE CANNOT REASONABLY BE OBTAINED THE APPLICANT'S SIGNED STATEMENT AS TO THE NATURE OF THE ILLNESS AND THE REASON WHY A CERTIFICATE IS NOT FURNISHED MAY BE CEPTED.'. ISSUE SUCH REGULATIONS AS ARE NOT INCONSISTENT WITH THESE REGULATIONS.'.

B-36617, SEPTEMBER 11, 1943, 23 COMP. GEN. 186

LEAVES OF ABSENCE - SICK - ACCEPTANCE OF EMPLOYEE'S PERSONAL CERTIFICATE TO SUPPORT ABSENCE OF MORE THAN THREE DAYS' DURATION WHERE, DUE TO A SCARCITY OF PHYSICIANS OR OTHER PRACTITIONERS IN A PARTICULAR LOCALITY, AN EMPLOYEE IS UNABLE TO PROCURE A CERTIFICATE BY A PHYSICIAN OR OTHER PRACTITIONER TO SUPPORT HIS APPLICATION FOR SICK LEAVE OF ABSENCE FOR A PERIOD OF MORE THAN THREE DAYS' DURATION, AS REQUIRED BY SECTION 15 OF THE SICK LEAVE REGULATIONS, IT IS WITHIN THE DISCRETION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE UNDER SECTION 22 OF THE SAID REGULATION TO GRANT THE EMPLOYEE SICK LEAVE OF ABSENCE ON THE BASIS OF HIS PERSONAL CERTIFICATE AS TO SUCH FACTS.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL YATES TO THE NATIONAL HOUSING ADMINISTRATOR, SEPTEMBER 11, 1943:

BY LETTER DATED AUGUST 20, 1943, THE COMMISSIONER, FEDERAL HOUSING ADMINISTRATION, PRESENTED FOR MY CONSIDERATION THE MATTER THEREIN STATED, AS FOLLOWS:

YOUR DECISION IS RESPECTFULLY REQUESTED IN A MATTER CONCERNING THE SICK LEAVE REGULATIONS. SECTION 15 OF EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 8385 PRESCRIBING REGULATIONS RELATING TO SICK LEAVE OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES STATES THAT "IN CASES OF A PERIOD OF ABSENCE IN EXCESS OF THREE WORK DAYS A CERTIFICATE OF A REGISTERED PRACTICING PHYSICIAN OR OTHER PRACTITIONER SUPPORTING THE APPLICATION FOR SICK LEAVE SHALL BE FILED NOT LATER THAN FIFTEEN DAYS AFTER RETURN TO DUTY. IN REMOTE LOCALITIES WHERE SUCH CERTIFICATE CANNOT REASONABLY BE OBTAINED THE APPLICANT'S SIGNED STATEMENT AS TO THE NATURE OF THE ILLNESS AND THE REASON WHY A CERTIFICATE IS NOT FURNISHED MAY BE CEPTED.' SECTION 22 OF THE SAME EXECUTIVE ORDER STATES FURTHER THAT "THE HEADS OF GOVERNING BODIES OF THE VARIOUS GOVERNMENT AGENCIES TO WHICH THIS ORDER APPLIES SHALL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE PROPER ADMINISTRATION OF THESE REGULATIONS IN SO FAR AS THEY PERTAIN TO THE GRANTING OF SICK LEAVE TO EMPLOYEES UNDER THEIR RESPECTIVE JURISDICTION, AND THEY MAY, WITHIN THE LIMITATIONS AUTHORIZED BY LAW, ISSUE SUCH REGULATIONS AS ARE NOT INCONSISTENT WITH THESE REGULATIONS.'

THIS OFFICE IS IN RECEIPT OF A REQUEST FOR SICK LEAVE FROM MR. HARRY R. KLINE, VALUATOR, IN OUR JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA, OFFICE COVERING FIVE DAYS' ABSENCE FROM JULY 20, THROUGH JULY 24, 1943. ON THE REVERSE OF THE REQUEST FOR LEAVE MR. KLINE HAS MADE THE FOLLOWING CERTIFICATION: " I HEREBY CERTIFY THAT MY ABSENCE FROM JULY 20 THROUGH JULY 24, 1943, WAS DUE TO PERSONAL ILLNESS; THAT DURING SUCH PERIOD I WAS UNABLE TO PERFORM OFFICIAL WORK OR TO BE PRESENT AT MY POST OF DUTY AND WAS CONFINED AT 658 RIVERSIDE AVENUE DURING SAID PERIOD WITH WHAT I BELIEVE WAS INTESTINAL FLU, BUT WAS UNABLE TO SECURE THE SERVICES OF A PHYSICIAN BECAUSE OF THE SHORTAGE OF DOCTORS IN JACKSONVILLE.'

ALTHOUGH JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA, DEFINITELY CANNOT BE CONSIDERED A REMOTE LOCALITY WITHIN THE MEANING OF SECTION 15 OF EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 8385 QUOTED ABOVE, YOUR DECISION IS RESPECTFULLY REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER, IN VIEW OF PRESENT DAY CONDITIONS, THE GRANTING OF FIVE DAYS' SICK LEAVE ON MR. KLINE'S PERSONAL CERTIFICATE WOULD BE INCONSISTENT WITH EXISTING REGULATIONS. THE GRANTING OF SUCH LEAVE WOULD NOT CAUSE HIS SICK LEAVE ON PERSONAL CERTIFICATE IN THE CALENDAR YEAR TO EXCEED TWELVE WORK DAYS.

IN THE EVENT YOU DECIDE THAT THIS ACTION IS PERMISSIBLE UNDER THE REGULATIONS, MAY WE ASSUME, SHOULD THE QUESTION ARISE AGAIN DURING THE PRESENT EMERGENCY, THAT WE ARE PERMITTED, UNDER AUTHORITY CONTAINED IN SECTION 22 OF THE SICK LEAVE REGULATIONS, TO DECIDE ADMINISTRATIVELY WHETHER OR NOT CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING INDIVIDUAL CASES JUSTIFY THE GRANTING OF SICK LEAVE IN EXCESS OF THREE DAYS ON AN EMPLOYEE'S PERSONAL CERTIFICATE.

AS PROVIDED BY SECTION 22 OF THE SICK LEAVE REGULATIONS, TO WHICH REFERENCE IS MADE, THE GRANTING OF SICK LEAVE OF ABSENCE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONTROLLING REGULATIONS IS AN ADMINISTRATIVE RESPONSIBILITY. WHILE SECTION 15 OF THE REGULATIONS REQUIRES A CERTIFICATE BY A PHYSICIAN OR OTHER PRACTITIONER TO SUPPORT AN APPLICATION FOR SICK LEAVE OF ABSENCE OF MORE THAN THREE DAYS' DURATION, EXCEPT IN REMOTE LOCALITIES, NEVERTHELESS, SUCH CERTIFICATE IS BUT PRIMARY EVIDENCE OF ILLNESS AND DOES NOT PRECLUDE CONSIDERATION OF OTHER PROPER EVIDENCE OF ILLNESS. IN ANY CASE WHERE SUCH A CERTIFICATE MAY NOT BE PROCURED BECAUSE OF THE SCARCITY OF PHYSICIANS OR OTHER PRACTITIONERS IN A PARTICULAR LOCALITY, IT IS PROPER FOR THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE CONCERNED TO DETERMINE BY OTHER EVIDENCE WHETHER OR NOT THE EMPLOYEE WAS INCAPACITATED FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF DUTY BECAUSE OF ILLNESS FOR MORE THAN THREE DAYS. THE NATURE OF SUCH EVIDENCE MUST OF NECESSITY BE LEFT TO ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION, BEARING IN MIND THE POSSIBILITY OF ABUSE. HOWEVER, IN LINE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 15 OF THE SICK LEAVE REGULATIONS WHICH PROVIDE THAT-

* * * IN REMOTE LOCALITIES WHERE SUCH CERTIFICATE CANNOT REASONABLY BE OBTAINED, THE APPLICANT'S SIGNED STATEMENT AS TO THE NATURE OF THE ILLNESS AND THE REASON WHY A CERTIFICATE IS NOT FURNISHED MAY BE ACCEPTED. THIS OFFICE IS NOT REQUIRED TO OBJECT TO THE ACCEPTANCE OF A SIMILAR SHOWING IN CASES SUCH AS THE ONE HERE PRESENTED, WHERE THE EMPLOYEE CERTIFIES THAT HE "WAS UNABLE TO SECURE THE SERVICES OF A PHYSICIAN BECAUSE OF THE SHORTAGE OF DOCTORS IN JACKSONVILLE.'

ACCORDINGLY, IF THE FEDERAL HOUSING ADMINISTRATION IS SATISFIED THAT MR. KLINE WAS INCAPACITATED FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF DUTY FOR FIVE DAYS FOR WHICH APPLICATION FOR SICK LEAVE HAS BEEN MADE, THIS OFFICE IS NOT REQUIRED TO OBJECT TO THE ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION IN GRANTING SICK LEAVE ON THE BASIS OF THE CERTIFICATE WHICH HE HAS FILED.

THE QUESTION POSED IN THE CONCLUDING PARAGRAPH OF YOUR LETTER IS ANSWERED IN THE AFFIRMATIVE.