Group Wants Paid Leave for Federal Employees to Get Out of State Abortions

A group within the Justice Department is urging the Biden administration to give federal employees administrative leave to get abortions across state lines.

An advocacy group within the Department of Justice is urging the Biden administration to require federal agencies to grant administrative leave to federal employees to travel out of state to get abortions.

The Department of Justice Gender Equality Network (DOJ GEN) sent a letter this week to the directors of the Office of Personnel Management and the Office of Management and Budget as well as the chair of the White House Gender Policy Council outlining its case.

The letter states, “…we ask that the Administration swiftly consider requiring federal agencies to grant administrative leave to cover the time it takes an employee, or an employee’s family member, to travel to another state to obtain reproductive healthcare services not available in their own state due to restrictive laws.”

The letter notes that some states, such as Texas and Mississippi, have effectively banned most abortions. However, a number of other states have looser restrictions on them.

The DOJ GEN group is apparently concerned about the leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court that could overturn Roe v. Wade and effectively return abortion law to the individual states.

It stated in its letter, “The DOJ Gender Equality Network is deeply concerned about the ability of hundreds of thousands of federal employees and their family members to access reproductive healthcare because of restrictive state laws that are already, or may soon be, in effect in their states.”

The letter further adds, “DOJ GEN is confident that providing administrative leave for federal employees’ travel to states where they or their family members can access reproductive healthcare would fall well within the Administration’s executive authority over agency management.”

It noted, for instance, that the Biden administration mandated that federal employees be given administrative leave so that they or their family members could get the COVID-19 vaccine which President Biden also made mandatory for federal employees last year as a condition of their employment.

According to its website, DOJ GEN has been “advocating for gender equity and equality since 2016” and says, “We fight daily to eradicate systemic injustice within the Justice Department and beyond.”

What is Administrative Leave?

According to the Office of Personnel Management, “Administrative leave (also referred to as ‘excused absence’) is an administratively authorized absence from duty without loss of pay or charge to leave.”

OPM also adds, “Administrative leave is not an entitlement, and agencies are not required to grant it. However, in special circumstances covered by Governmentwide directives or in reaction to emergencies, agencies may have policies and practices in place that provide for automatic application of administrative leave.”

Examples of Times Administrative Leave May Be Granted to Federal Employees

These are some examples of when administrative leave is sometimes granted to federal employees:

  • Time off to vote in Federal, State, county, or municipal elections or in referendums on any civic matter in their community
  • Leave before or after a holiday – the president will sometimes give federal employees an extra day off at Christmas
  • Death of a president – when a president or former president passes away, it is customary for the current president to close the federal government as a show of respect and a day of mourning. This last happened in 2018 for the passing of President George H.W. Bush and most federal employees were given a day off.

Other Forms of Paid Leave Recently Given to Federal Employees

Some lawmakers recently advocated for and successfully passed paid parental leave for federal employees in two categories: paid parental bereavement leave and paid parental leave.

Paid parental leave gives federal employees up to 12 weeks of paid leave in conjunction with the birth of adoption of a child.

Paid parental bereavement leave gives federal employees two weeks of paid leave in connection with the death of a child.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.