PERMISS

Leave Options for Pregnancy, Childbirth and Infant Care

There are number of leave options available to employees regarding pregnancy, childbirth and infant care. Absence related to pregnancy may be charged to sick or annual leave, depending on the availability of each type of leave, or leave-without-pay (LWOP). Requests for sick leave for maternity reasons are treated the same as any certified temporary medical disability.

Family Medical Leave Act

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), an employee is entitled to use up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for the birth of a son or daughter of the employee and the care of that newborn. If both parents are Federal employees, each parent is entitled to use a total of up to 12 weeks of LWOP under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for the birth of a child and care of the newborn. Subject to the supervisor's approval, FMLA leave may be used on an intermittent basis for absences in connection with childbirth and care of the newborn. An employee may also elect to substitute annual leave and/or sick leave for any or all of the leave without pay used under the FMLA, consistent with the laws and regulations for using annual and sick leave (5 CFR 630, Subparts C and D).

Any period of incapacity due to pregnancy, childbirth, or for prenatal care, is considered a serious health condition, even if the family member does not receive active treatment from a health care provider during the period of incapacity or the period of incapacity does not last more than 3 consecutive calendar days. This includes the use of sick leave to accompany the family member to prenatal care appointments (See OPM Fact Sheet: Sick Leave to Care for a Family Member with a Serious Health Condition).

Sick Leave

Requests for sick leave for maternity reasons are normally treated the same as any certified temporary medical disability. A birth mother is entitled to use sick leave for medical appointments, hospitalization and her period of incapacitation following childbirth. A birth father may use up to 12 weeks of sick leave to accompany the mother to prenatal appointments, be with her during periods of hospitalization and/or to care for her during recovery (most doctors certify that the recovery period is about 6 weeks). Once the period of incapacitation is over, there is no entitlement to use sick leave. An agency may request administratively acceptable evidence of the mother's period of incapacitation for the use of sick leave.

Employees may be advanced sick leave for purposes related to childbirth. A maximum of 30 days (240 hours) of sick leave may be advanced to a birth mother during the period of incapacitation or to care for an ill child, and to a birth father to care for a birth mother during periods of incapacitation or to care for an ill child. There is no provision in law or regulation that permits the use of sick leave to care for a healthy newborn, bond with a healthy child, or for other child care responsibilities.

Annual Leave

A mother may use accrued annual leave for pregnancy and childbirth, and a father may use accrued annual leave to care for the mother during pregnancy and childbirth. Supervisors may grant annual leave for parents to bond with or care for a healthy newborn, however the use of annual leave is subject to the right of the supervisor to approve a time at which annual leave may be taken. Annual leave may be advanced up to the amount an employee would accrue during the remainder of the leave year.

Leave Without Pay (LWOP)

Subject to supervisory approval, both parents may use LWOP for pregnancy or childbirth or to care for or bond with a healthy newborn.

Voluntary Leave Transfer Program

Parents may be also eligible to receive donated leave under the voluntary leave transfer program. Donated leave under this program may only be used for a medical emergency (e.g. mother's period of incapacitation or illness of a child).

Supervisors and employees who have questions regarding leave for childbirth and child care,should contact their servicing Civilian Personnel Advisory Center for assistance.

Content last reviewed: 09/15/2014-SZ