The director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management has asked Congress to let it set up a worker-paid short-term disability insurance program for federal employees.

“If we are to maintain an efficient and effective federal workforce, it is imperative to ensure workers are protected in the unlikely event of a short-term disability,” OPM Linda Springer writes in a message to both houses of Congress.

Springer says OPM could take advantage of the purchasing power of the 2.6 million federal employees in the executive, legislative and judicial branches, as well as at the U.S. Postal Service, to obtain low STD rates.

Adding STD insurance would fill a gap in the federal benefits program and help the government attract better workers, she says.

OPM’s proposal calls for voluntary participation, with all insurance premiums paid by the policyholder.