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Bill Would Give Federal Employees 12 Weeks of Paid Leave

Recently introduced legislation would give federal employees 12 weeks of paid leave to use in certain situations.

Legislation introduced today would provide 12 weeks of paid leave to all federal employees relating to personal illness, illness of a family member, or military deployment.

The Comprehensive Paid Leave for Federal Employees Act (H.R. 564) would provide the 12 weeks of leave for one or any combination of the following reasons:

  • To care for an ill spouse, child, or parent;
  • To care for a serious personal medical condition; or
  • Any qualifying circumstance resulting from a spouse, child, or parent who is designated or soon to be designated to be active duty military.

It is being sponsored by Reps Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Adam Smith (D-WA), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA), Don Beyer (D-VA), and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).

The bill seeks to build on the recent success of getting paid parental leave passed for federal employees. The lawmakers also said that passing the legislation is necessary to “help ensure the government can recruit and retain the best and the brightest in service for the American people.”

Current Leave Options

Currently, under the Family and Medical Leave Act, federal employees may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for reasons relating to personal illness, illness of a family member, or military deployment.

Federal employees also currently accumulate sick leave to use for personal medical needs, family care or bereavement, care of a family member with a serious health condition, or adoption related purposes.

According to the Office of Personnel Management, sick leave for federal employees accrues at the following rates:

DescriptionTime
Full-time employees1/2 day (4 hours) for each biweekly pay period
Part-time employees1 hour for each 20 hours in a pay status
Uncommon tours of duty(4 hours) times (average # of hours per biweekly pay period) divided by 80 = biweekly accrual rate

There is no limitation on the amount of sick leave that can be accumulated.

Annual leave is another form of leave that federal employees get. According to OPM, annual leave accrues as follows:

Employee TypeLess than 3 years of service *3 years but less than 15 years of service *15 or more years of service *
Full-time employees½ day (4 hours) for each pay period¾ day (6 hours) for each pay period, except 1¼ day (10 hours) in last pay period1 day (8 hours) for each pay period
Part-time employees1 hour for each 20 hours in a pay status1 hour for each 13 hours in a pay status1 hour for each 10 hours in a pay status
Uncommon tours of duty(4 hours) times (average # of hours per biweekly pay period) divided by 80 = biweekly accrual rate.(6 hours) times (average # of hours per biweekly pay period) divided by 80 = biweekly accrual rate.**(8 hours) times (average # of hours per biweekly pay period) divided by 80 = biweekly accrual rate.
SES, Senior Level (SL), and Scientific or Professional (ST) positions, and employees in equivalent pay systems, as determined by OPM8 hours for each pay period, regardless of years of service. (See Extension of Higher Annual Leave Accrual Rate to SES and SL/ST Equivalent Pay Systems fact sheet)

There are limitations on the amount of annual leave that can be carried over each year.

Under the new paid leave bill being introduced, federal employees would not be required to exhaust annual leave in order to request paid family leave.

About the Comprehensive Paid Leave for Federal Employees Act

All federal employees who are currently eligible for paid parental leave would be eligible for paid leave under the bill as introduced. USPS and Postal Regulatory Commission employees would also be covered.

The bill stipulates that the requirements to use the new leave benefit would be the same as what is currently in place for federal employees and their use of unpaid family leave:

  • Federal employees must have worked for a federal agency for at least 12 months. The total amount of time that employees use paid leave for any reason would remain at 12 weeks.
  • Employees would not be required to exhaust annual leave in order to request paid family leave under this policy.
  • An employee must provide notice of his or her intent to take family and medical leave not less than 30 days before leave is to begin or, in emergencies, as soon as is practicable.
  • An agency may request medical certification for FMLA leave taken by the employee or a relative who has a serious health condition.

The bill states that funds are payable from any appropriation or fund available for salaries or expenses for positions within the employing agency.

Comprehensive Paid Leave for Federal Employees Act

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce.