Currently, federal employees are allowed to use 24 hours of leave without pay (LWOP) for several activities including:
- school and early childhood educational activities;
- routine family medical purposes; and
- elderly relatives’ health or care needs.
In a new announcement, OPM director John Berry states that “President Obama continues to support this LWOP policy with a current emphasis to extend coverage to Federal employees with same-sex domestic partners.” (emphasis supplied)
The OPM letter directs federal agencies to “analyze its existing policies and make revisions, as appropriate, to incorporate language that will support Federal employees’ with same-sex domestic partners use of up to 24 hours of LWOP each leave year to support the three activities outlined above.”
In expanding the employee benefits to same-sex domestic partners, OPM outlines reasons that LWOP may be granted for the activities outlined in more detail below:
- School and Early Childhood Educational Activities.
Federal agencies should allow employees to participate in school
activities directly related to the educational advancement of a child,
including children of an employee’s same-sex domestic partner. This
includes parent-teacher conferences or meetings with child-care
providers, interviewing for a new school or child-care facility, or
participating in volunteer activities supporting the child’s educational
advancement. “School” refers to an elementary school, secondary
school, Head Start program, or a child-care facility.
- Routine Family Medical Purposes. Federal
employees should be permitted to accompany the children, including the
children of their same-sex domestic partners to routine medical or
dental appointments, such as annual checkups or vaccinations.
- Elderly Relatives’ Health or Care Needs. Federal agencies
should allow employees to accompany an elderly relative, including the
elderly relative of their same sex domestic partner to routine medical
or dental appointments or other professional services related to the
care of the elderly relative, such as making arrangements for housing,
meals, phones, banking services, and other similar activities.
You can read the OPM announcement, distributed in the form of a memo to Chief Human Capital Officers, in its entirety.
OPM has also issued a “frequently asked questions” document about the new policy for federal employees with same-sex partners.