The Office of Personnel Management has released formal guidelines explaining how the new paid parental bereavement leave benefit for federal employees will work.
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 (S. 1605) added a new benefit for federal employees to give them two weeks of paid leave for purposes of bereavement in connection with the death of a child.
What is the New Paid Leave Benefit?
OPM notes that it is a new type of standalone leave separate from FMLA leave:
Bereavement leave is a new, stand-alone type of paid leave entitlement that is administered independently from any other type of leave, including sick leave, to make arrangements necessitated by the death of a family member or to attend the funeral of a family member. Even though it links to certain statutory terms in the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), bereavement leave is not authorized under the FMLA. The bereavement leave and FMLA leave limitations are separately administered. Bereavement leave may not be substituted for FMLA unpaid leave. Agencies should accommodate employees’ requests to use FMLA leave, sick leave, and bereavement leave in combination (for different hours that may or may not be adjacent), as appropriate. (For example, in the event that a child dies during the post-birth recovery period for an employee who gave birth to the child, the employee may be able to use FMLA leave, sick leave, or bereavement leave during certain periods of time.)
Eligibility for Paid Parental Bereavement Leave
Federal employees must meet these conditions in order to be eligible for the paid parental bereavement leave:
- The individual is (i) covered under the title 5 annual and sick leave program (i.e., an “employee” as defined in 5 U.S.C. 6301(2)) or (ii) a DOD overseas teacher holding a teaching position defined in 20 U.S.C. 901 (but excluding any individual employed by the government of the District of Columbia, the Government Accountability Office, or the Library of Congress);
- The individual is serving under a permanent or term appointment (i.e., does not have a temporary appointment of 1 year or less);
- The individual has an established part-time or full-time work schedule (i.e., does not have an intermittent work schedule as described in 5 CFR 340.401 and 340.403); and
- The individual has completed at least 12 months of service as an employee (as defined in 5 U.S.C. 2105) of the Government of the United States, including service with the United States Postal Service, the Postal Regulatory Commission, and a nonappropriated fund instrumentality as described in section 2105(c).
Also, OPM states that to be eligible, a federal employee, “must be in a status in which the employee must account for hours in the employee’s tour of duty by work or leave. An employee with a seasonal work schedule is not eligible during the off-season when the employee is placed in nonduty/nonpay status.”
Paid Parental Bereavement Leave Entitlement
OPM outlines when and how much leave eligible federal employees are entitled to in the event of the death of a qualifying child.
An eligible employee is entitled to a total of 2 workweeks of bereavement leave because of the death of a qualifying son or daughter of the employee, subject to the conditions set forth in this guidance. Bereavement leave should only be made available when the death of the child occurs while the parent is an eligible employee. The death of an employee’s child triggers the law’s one-time entitlement to 2 workweeks of bereavement leave in connection with that death, which must be used within the single 12-month period…
Federal employees may not receive more than 2 weeks of paid parental bereavement leave in any 12-month period. OPM states:
- The 12-month period used for this purpose commences on the date of the death of a child (or on the date of death for multiple children on the same day) of the employee and continues for 12 months. After that 12-month period expires, another 12-month period will not commence unless there is another later use of bereavement leave based on another child’s death.
- If one or more children of an employee dies at a later time during a 12-month period associated with the earlier death of another child of the employee, each later death will result in the commencement of a corresponding 12-month period. Thus, an employee may have overlapping 12-month periods. Any use of bereavement leave during an overlap period including parts of more than one 12- month period will count against the 2-week limit for each affected 12-month period.
Definition of “Qualifying Child” Under the Paid Bereavement Leave Benefit
Son or daughter means a biological, adopted, or foster child; a step child; a legal ward; or a child of a person standing in loco parentis who is
(1) Under 18 years of age; or
(2) 18 years of age or older and incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability.
A son or daughter incapable of self-care requires active assistance or supervision to provide daily self-care in three or more of the “activities of daily living” (ADL’s) or “instrumental activities of daily living” (IADL’s). Activities of daily living include adaptive activities such as caring appropriately for one’s grooming and hygiene, bathing, dressing, and eating. Instrumental activities of daily living include cooking, cleaning, shopping, taking public transportation, paying bills, maintaining a residence, using the telephones and directories, using a post office, etc. A “physical or mental disability” refers to a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of an individual as defined in 29 CFR 1630.2 (h), (i) and (j).
The term “adopted child” must be interpreted consistent with the definition of “adoption” in 5 CFR 630.1202, except that it includes a child who has been placed with an employee for the purpose of adoption pending finalization of the adoption process. The term “foster child” must be interpreted consistent with the definition of “foster care” in 5 CFR 630.1202. The term “in loco parentis” has the meaning given that term in 5 CFR 630.1202.
For additional details about this new paid leave benefit, see OPM’s guidance and also check with your local human resources office.
Paid Parental Bereavement Leave vs. Paid Parental Leave
It is important to note that the new paid bereavement leave benefit is separate and different from the paid parental leave benefit that federal employees got recently under a previous version of the National Defense Authorization Act.
Under paid parental leave, federal employees are allowed to take 12 weeks of paid leave for the birth or adoption of a qualifying child under the definition of the paid leave benefit.