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Chapter 5, Section 2: Other Authorized Uses of Leave

Special circumstances such as childbirth and adoption, bereavement, serious illness and organ donation each have their own set of leave rules.

Childbirth

A birth mother is entitled to use accrued sick leave for medical appointments, hospitalization, and her period of incapacitation following childbirth. A birth father may use a total of up to 12 weeks of accrued sick leave each year to accompany the mother to prenatal appointments, to be with her during her period of hospitalization, and/or to care for her during her recovery period. An agency may request evidence of the mother's period of incapacitation for the use of sick leave.

Both parents may use up to 12 weeks of sick leave each year to care for a child with a serious health condition. Both parents may use up to 13 days of that 12-week period to care for a child with a minor illness or to accompany a child to medical, dental, or optical appointments. An agency may request evidence of a child's illness or treatment. Parents may not use sick leave to be absent from work to bond with or care for a healthy newborn child; however, with supervisory approval, they may use leave without pay for that
purpose.

A mother may use accrued annual leave for pregnancy and childbirth, a father may use accrued annual leave to care for the mother during pregnancy and childbirth, and both parents may use accrued annual leave to be absent from work to bond with or care for a healthy newborn. The use of annual leave is subject to the right of the supervisor to approve a time at which annual leave may be taken.

An agency may advance employees annual and/or sick leave for purposes related to childbirth. An agency may advance the amount of annual leave an employee would accrue during the remainder of the leave year. An agency may advance a maximum of 30 days of sick leave to a mother during her period of incapacitation for pregnancy and childbirth or to care for a child who is ill. An agency also may advance up to 30 days of sick leave to a father to care for the mother during her period of incapacitation for pregnancy and childbirth or to care for a child who is ill.
Each parent is entitled to use a total of up to 12 weeks of leave without pay under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for the birth of a child and care of the newborn. An employee's entitlement to FMLA leave expires 12 months following the date of birth of a child.

If either the mother or father exhausts her or his sick and/or annual leave, she or he may receive donated annual leave under the employing agency's voluntary leave transfer and/or leave bank programs. Donated annual leave may be used only for a medical emergency -- for example, the mother's period of incapacitation or the illness of a child -- and may not be used to care for a healthy child. See 5 CFR Parts 610 and 630 and the pertinent sections on these programs in this chapter.

Adoption

Under 5 U.S.C. 6307(c) (see 5 CFR Parts 610 and 630), an employee may use sick leave for purposes related to the adoption of a child. Examples include but are not limited to: appointments with adoption agencies, social workers, and attorneys, court proceedings, required travel, any periods of time during which adoptive parents are ordered or required by an adoption agency or by a court to take time off from work to care for the adopted child, and any other activities necessary to allow the adoption to proceed.

An agency may request administratively acceptable evidence for sick leave used for adoption-related purposes. Agency policies vary and in some cases are affected by collective bargaining agreements. Both adoptive parents may use up to 12 weeks of sick leave each year to care for a child with a serious health condition. Both parents may use up to 13 days of that 12-week period to care for a child with a minor illness or to accompany a child to a medical, dental, or optical appointment. Parents may not use sick leave to be absent from work to bond with or care for a healthy child.

Adoptive parents may use annual leave for purposes related to the adoption of a child or to be absent from work to bond with or care for a healthy child. The use of annual leave is subject to the right of the supervisor to approve a time at which annual leave may be taken.

An agency may advance annual and/or sick leave for adoption-related purposes. An agency may advance the amount of annual leave an employee would accrue during the remainder of the leave year. An agency may advance a maximum of 30 days of sick leave to each parent for adoption-related purposes or to care for a child who is ill.

There is no limit on the amount of sick leave that may be used for adoption-related purposes. Sick leave for such purposes does not count toward the 104-hour (13-day) limit of sick leave each leave year for family care and bereavement purposes or the overall limit of 12 weeks of sick leave each leave year for all family care purposes.

Other policies include (also see the pertinent sections on these programs in this
chapter):

  • Each parent is entitled to use a total of up to 12 weeks of leave without pay under the Family and Medical Leave Act for adoption and care of a newly adopted child. An employee's entitlement to FMLA leave expires 12 months following the date of placement of a child for adoption.
  • If either the mother or father exhausts her or his sick and/or annual leave, she or he may receive donated annual leave under the employing agency's voluntary leave transfer and/or leave bank programs. Donated annual leave may be used only for a medical emergency -- for example, to care for a child with a serious health condition -- and may not be used to care for or bond with a healthy child.
  • Subject to supervisory approval, both parents may use leave without pay for adoption proceedings or to be absent from work to bond with or care for a newly adopted child.

Leave for Bone Marrow or Organ Donation

Federal employees are entitled to take up to seven days of paid leave in a calendar year (in addition to sick or annual leave) under 5 U.S.C. 6327 to serve as a bone marrow donor and up to 30 days of paid leave in a calendar year to serve as an organ donor.

Absence for Funerals

A federal law enforcement officer or firefighter may be excused from duty without loss of pay or charge to leave to attend the funeral of a fellow federal law enforcement officer or firefighter who was killed in the line of duty. See 5 U.S.C. 6328.

An employee is entitled to up to three work days of funeral leave to make arrangements for or to attend the funeral of an immediate relative who died as a result of wounds, disease, or injury incurred while serving as a member of the Armed Forces in a combat zone. If the employee provides satisfactory reasons, the work days do not need to be consecutive. The agency may require the employee to document his or her relationship to that relative.

A veteran of a war, or of a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized, or a member of an honor or ceremonial group of an organization of those veterans may be excused from duty without loss of pay or charge to leave for up to four hours of excused absence to serve as a pallbearer, member of a gun salute squad, or guard of honor in a funeral ceremony for a member of the Armed Forces whose remains are returned from abroad. See 5 U.S.C. 6321.

An employee who is a member of the National Guard or a Reserve component of the Armed Forces may use military leave to attend to funeral honors duty under 10 U.S.C. 12503 and 32 U.S.C. 115. See Military Leave in Section 1 of this chapter.

Leave for Family Care or Bereavement Purposes

Employees can use sick leave for bereavement purposes or to care for certain family members -- see Qualifying Family Members in Section 1 of this chapter for the definition -- who have conditions for which an employee would qualify for sick leave himself or herself, if afflicted personally. This includes care for a family member who is incapacitated as a result of physical or mental illness, injury, pregnancy, childbirth or medical, dental or optical examination or treatment. (Note: Employees also may use annual leave for family care or bereavement purposes, subject to agency approval of scheduling.)

General Family Care or Bereavement -- All employees may use up to 13 days of sick leave in a year to care for family members or to make arrangements for or attend the funeral of persons meeting the definition of a family member. Part-time employees and employees under uncommon tours of duty are eligible to use the leave on a basis proportional to that of full-time employees. Note: Rules at 5 CFR 630.403(b) eliminated a previous requirement that employees had to maintain minimum balances of leave to use more than 40 hours of sick leave for these purposes.

At the discretion of the agency, an employee may be advanced up to 104 hours of sick leave each leave year (or a proportional amount for an employee on a part-time schedule or uncommon tour of duty) for family care or bereavement purposes.

Serious Health Conditions -- An employee may use a total of up to 12 administrative workweeks of sick leave each year under 5 CFR 630.401 and 630.1202 to care for an eligible family member with a serious health condition. If an employee previously has used any portion of the 13 days of sick leave for general family care or bereavement purposes in a leave year, that amount must be subtracted from the 12-week entitlement for a serious health condition. If an employee has already used 12 weeks of sick leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition, he or she cannot use an additional 13 days in the same leave year for general family care purposes.

The term "serious health condition" has the same meaning as under the Family and Medical Leave Act. That definition includes such conditions as cancer, heart attacks, strokes, severe injuries, Alzheimer's disease, pregnancy, and childbirth. It is not intended to cover short-term conditions for which treatment and recovery are very brief. The common cold, earaches, upset stomach, headaches (other than migraines), routine dental or orthodontia problems, etc., are not considered serious health conditions unless complications arise. The agency may require medical certification of a serious health condition.

At the discretion of the agency, an employee may be advanced a maximum of 30 days of sick leave (or a proportional amount for an employee on a part-time schedule or uncommon tour of duty) to provide care for a family member with a serious health condition.

Care of a family member with a serious health condition includes psychological comfort and/or physical care, including being with the family member during a hospital stay or while being examined in a doctor's office. Agencies may require an employee to provide a written statement from a health care provider certifying that the family member requires such care, that the family member would benefit from the employee's care or presence, and that the employee is needed to care for the family member for a specified period.

Serious Communicable Diseases -- Under regulations at 5 CFR 630 effective January 3, 2011, employees may use up to 13 days of accumulated sick leave under the general family care policy to care for a family member who has been exposed to pandemic flu or another serious communicable disease, even if that person has not been diagnosed as having contracted it, if the employee is actively providing care for that family member and if it has been determined by health authorities or by a health care provider that the family member's presence in the community would jeopardize the health of others because of that exposure. If a health care provider later determines that the family member has contracted the disease, the employee would be entitled to use up to 12 weeks of sick leave to care for that person as someone with a serious health condition, and would also become eligible for up to 30 days of advanced sick leave.

School Closures -- The closure of a school due to an emergency health situation such as pandemic influenza or other serious communicable disease does not necessarily entitle an employee to use sick leave for family care. For example, when the school is closed but the employee's child is healthy and has not been exposed to a communicable disease, the employee may not take sick leave. If the child has been exposed to a communicable disease but is not sick, the employee may take up to 13 days of sick leave only if it has been determined that the child's presence in the community would jeopardize the health of others because of that exposure. If the child is sick due to a communicable disease or otherwise, the employee may use up to 13 days of sick leave to care for that child, and if the child's illness rises to the level of a serious health condition, the employee may use up to 12 weeks of sick leave and/or may invoke leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, which would provide up to an additional 12 weeks of leave, although unpaid.

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